NEWS GLEAMS | Social Housing Initiative Leads After Initial Count; Democracy Vouchers Available Soon; Shin Yu Pai Is New Seattle Civic Poet

A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

Last Updated on February 15, 2023, 3:58 pm.

✨Gleaming This Week✨

Initiative 135 for Social Housing Leads After Initial Count

In early returns following the City of Seattle’s Feb. 14 Special Election, Initiative 135 had the support of 52.82% of voters, with a 5,739 vote lead, according to The Cascadia Advocate. Initial voter turnout by the end of Election Night was 21.23%, with 47.18% of voters opposing the I-135.

If passed, this initiative would set up a public development authority, or PDA, focused on building publicly financed and controlled housing. The City of Seattle would provide office space and some staffing to start, but would not be involved in the later stages of the initiative.

Vote percentages are subject to change as mail-in ballots are tabulated. Updated results will be shared daily at 4:30 p.m. via King County Elections’ website.

See the Emerald’s previous coverage of I-135.

Photo depicting a Black-presenting hand holding two envelopes for City of Seattle Democracy vouchers from 2021.
(Photo: Mark Van Streefkerk)

Democracy Vouchers for 2023 City of Seattle Elections

The City of Seattle will mail all eligible Seattle residents $100 in Democracy Vouchers, starting Feb. 21. The vouchers can be used by mailing them using a pre-paid envelope, or following the instructions on the vouchers to create an online account where Democracy Vouchers can be submitted for all future elections.

Democracy Vouchers were passed via a November 2015 citizen-led initiative known as “Honest Elections Seattle” (I-122), which enacted a number of campaign finance reforms. Democracy Vouchers use $3 million a year in property tax revenue every year towards funding the Democracy Voucher Program for 10 years. 

By assigning a Democracy Voucher to a candidate, citizens are essentially donating to a candidate’s campaign. They will be valid this year for all candidates running for Seattle City Council.

Every participating candidate has a 200-word self-introduction on the City’s Democracy Vouchers website. Those in need of interpretation assistance or help via the phone can call (206) 727-8855.

Photo depicting Shin Yu Pai in a black tank-top recording in a sound studio.
Shin-Yu Pai is the new Civic Poet of Seattle, shown here working on KUOW’s podcast, The Blue Suit. (Photo: Whitney Henry-Lester)

Shin Yu Pai Named 2023 Civic Poet of Seattle

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with the Seattle City of Literature, has selected Shin Yu Pai to be the City’s Civic Poet from 2023–2024. Pai is the first Asian American to be selected for the role and will be the City’s fourth Civic Poet in the program’s history.

She is recently known as the writer, host, and producer of KUOW’s The Blue Suit — a podcast centered on storytelling around culturally important Asian American objects — and has authored 11 books, including 2021’s Virga. She will be releasing new poetry books in 2023, via Empty Bowl Press and Blue Cactus Press.

In accepting the opportunity, Pai writes, “As the first Asian American poet to serve in the Civic Poet role, I’m excited to collaborate with the diversity of Seattle’s cultural communities to create projects that celebrate expressions of poetry throughout our city. I see this opportunity as a powerful platform to amplify the work of the many talented poets living and working here together in our City of Literature. As the former Poet Laureate of the City of Redmond, I worked with the City to develop poetry-based public art projects and elevated poetry through curated public programming and outdoor activation of public spaces. I can’t wait to do the same for Seattle, and more.”

On her website, she continues, “In this poet laureateship role which extends through the end of 2024, I’ll be an ambassador for poetry and work on public art and poetry projects with partners like Northwest Film Forum, Seattle City of Lit, Alliance Francaise, Ballard Public Library, and other partners.”

Previous Civic Poets include Jourdan Imani Keith (2019–22), Anastacia-Renee Tolbert (2017–19), and Claudia Castro Luna (2015–17).

Stay tuned for more coverage with Pai around this honor and her plans for it.

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