Why I’m the Best Candidate for South Seattle: Sara Nelson

The Emerald invited top candidates running for Seattle City Council’s District 9 position to tell readers why they deserve South Seattle’s vote. Voters have until Aug. 3 to cast their vote in the primary election.

by Sara Nelson

I’ll cut to the chase: if you think things are going well in Seattle, I’m probably not the candidate for you. I’m running for Seattle City Council because I believe Seattle has lost its way and I’m best equipped to restore our city and meet the ongoing and COVID-caused challenges we face — most of which have disproportionately impacted Seattle’s Black, brown, and low-income neighborhoods.

I’m Sara Nelson and I’m a progressive small business owner running to bring some common sense to the City Council. I’ve lived in Seattle for 30 years and I have two teenage sons. I served as a Legislative Advisor for a Seattle City Councilmember for almost 10 years. There I learned that good policy is made by paying attention to detail and integrating input from the widest possible range of stakeholders and constituents.

My husband and I own Fremont Brewing, and I know how difficult this pandemic has been for small businesses. We were hit hard but we managed to retain all our employees and increased their wages to make up for lost tips. As the only candidate in this race with experience in the public and private sectors, I’ll bring the pragmatic and experienced leadership needed right now to meet our city’s challenges as we emerge from this pandemic. 

Crime is up all over the city and people don’t feel safe. In the first half of 2021, there were 230 gun assault cases, including 9 homicides in June alone, concentrated in the Central District and South End. In the wake of recent shootings, where is Council? They need to step up and treat this emergency as the public health crisis that it is. That means — in addition to addressing the root causes of gun violence such as income inequality and lack of opportunity — speaking out, acknowledging the pain and grief of people who’ve lost loved ones (like Alicia Dassa who tragically lost her son on Mothers Day), and leveraging all available policy tools and community-based initiatives to prevent a continued escalation.

Defunding the police by an arbitrary percentage won’t reduce crime or end systemic racism in policing. We need to reform the police in a manner that keeps communities safe and holds officers accountable for all forms of misconduct — and fund accordingly. In other words, we don’t need less policing, we need good policing based on a community policing model (which the Council has cut) and recruiting officers from the neighborhoods they will eventually serve. 

Hundreds of small businesses have closed and many more are on life support. BIPOC- and immigrant-owned businesses are particularly vulnerable because they often lack the resources and capital needed to weather economic downturns like the one we’re in. Council isn’t acting with enough urgency to help, and hoping South End businesses will be fine is not a plan. 

Forging an equitable, long-term recovery is my top priority because, for me, it’s all about jobs and the ability to create intergenerational wealth. I supported Seattle’s $15/hour minimum wage, but that’s not enough to live on in Seattle. I’m focused on developing our workforce through apprenticeship and job training opportunities to open pathways toward middle-class careers.  We need to invest more in homeownership assistance programs, access to low- or no-interest commercial loans for community-based businesses, and direct cash relief to renters. My policy proposals support small businesses in the South End and reduce displacement by enabling residents, local entrepreneurs, and their customers to remain in the community. 

My plan to provide a city-funded trust account to every child born into a low-income family will help growing families in the South End. Modeled on Cory Booker’s “baby bonds” proposal, the City will deposit $1,000 into a savings account at birth and every year after until age 18. This interest-accruing nestegg will help reduce the wealth gap in Seattle and provide an unrestricted resource for tuition, rent, or simply an as-needed rainy day fund. 

Voters across Seattle have a clear choice this election, and the stakes are high. They can vote for the same old empty rhetoric and failed policies that have gotten us into the state we’re in now, or they can elect a candidate with pragmatic, progressive solutions to make Seattle a safe and livable city — for everyone.

I’m endorsed by the Seattle Times, Seattle Fire Fighters, Ironworkers, Plumbers and Pipefitters, and a broad range of community leaders. I ask for your vote.

Learn more about me at SaraForCityCouncil.com.

Editors’ Note: A previous version of this article did not include a link to Sara Nelson’s campaign website. This article was updated with a link on 07/16/2021.

📸 Featured Image courtesy of the candidate

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