The Emerald invited top mayoral candidates to tell readers why they deserve South Seattle’s vote. Voters have until Aug. 3 to cast their vote in the primary election.
by Casey Sixkiller
South Seattle is ground zero for every challenge and opportunity in our city today.
From the conditions of our parks, to the widening income and opportunity gaps, to not feeling safe as we walk down the street, Seattle is in a crisis that could soon become uncontainable. Worst of all, our residents and businesses have little faith in the City’s ability to fix it — for good reason.
The challenges we are facing are worse than any time in recent memory, but they are not new. They have been escalating for years, exacerbated by a City Council that over this past decade has been more focused on slogans and divisive politics than doing the hard work of solving problems.
If we truly want Seattle to be a place where every family sees their future, then we need more than a rebranding of failed City Council policies or reboot of an unremarkable City Council career.
I’m running for Mayor because I know we can do better. And I am not afraid to make the tough decisions that need to be made, and to do the hard work that needs to get done. This is a defining moment for our city. The stakes are high. What we need now is a leader with fresh energy and ideas, with a focus on action rather than talk, solutions instead of endless questions and process.
I grew up in Seattle. After attending college on the east coast, I moved to Washington, D.C., to serve on the staff of Congressman Jim McDermott and later Senator Patty Murray. I worked on legislation to create jobs and housing, expand transit, replace aging infrastructure, protect the social safety net, and restore our natural environment. I quickly learned that to make real, lasting change you have to be willing to work with anyone — especially those who may not agree with you.
I returned home a few years ago to manage the daily operations of King County as chief operating officer, where I used my position to cut through bureaucratic barriers and worked with community partners to deliver 1,000 new shelter units and established new, community-centered approaches to addressing inequitable access to transit and open space.
During this past year I helped manage the City through a global pandemic as deputy mayor — standing up services to support vulnerable families, maintaining basic city services, and rapidly scaling testing and nation-leading vaccination efforts. I drove the strategy to temporarily use hotels and expand the tiny home village program to transition folks out of parks and off our streets. And when the SPD component of the Navigation Team became a distraction, I worked with the City Council to retool how the City engages encampments while preserving the ability to conduct removals, when necessary.
No other candidate can match my two decades of management, policy, and business experience at the federal, county, and local levels. I have earned my reputation for being a collaborative partner who brings people together around creative solutions to complex problems, and as a leader who is not afraid to make tough decisions.
Now is our moment to come together as neighbors to tackle the issues we experience every day when we walk out our front door.
I have a plan to:
● Add 3,000 new permanent places for folks living in shelters to end their experience with homelessness.
● Get every tent out of every park in my first 100 days in office
● Help us all feel safe again by hiring officers who share our values, scale up community-based alternatives, and fix our broken crisis response system
● Add housing options while preserving the nature of our neighborhoods — especially those who have shouldered the brunt of gentrification and displacement — and ensure families can hold onto their homes
● Work with businesses to create and retain jobs in Seattle and support those neighborhood-based businesses that have struggled over this past year with direct financial support
● Make childcare more affordable; and
● Expand access to transit I know we can get our City back on track. But it is going to take a new generation of elected leaders. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and channel the Cherokee spirit of gadugi to push through the gridlock. To work in partnership with our communities to solve problems and create opportunities for families and future generations.
Featured image is courtesy of the candidate.
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