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Homeless crisis again the banner issue in latest Seattle council forum

Speak Out Seattle held a debate Saturday night for candidates running for Seattle City Council in District 4.

District 4 represents the University District, Fremont, Ravenna, Wedgewood, Sand Point, Magnuson Park Laurelhurst, Portage Bay, Windermere, View Ridge, Wallingford, and parts of Eastlake, Maple Leaf and Fremont.

RELATED: Seattle City Council candidates hold first forum for District 1

Al Duffy, a longtime Seattle resident and publisher of Northeast Seattle Living magazine, moderated the event. Speak Out Seattle posted video of the entire panel here.  Check out Speak Out Seattle’s YouTube channel for more videos.

District 4’s race is one of the more crowded fields in this year’s council election, featuring upwards of 10 registered candidates, seven of whom were in attendance at Saturday’s forum.

Many in the forum called for a fresh approach and new energy in City Hall.

“I think we can all agree that the current council has proven they are incapable of providing solutions to the most pressing issues that our city faces,” said 19-year-old candidate Ethan Hunter.

“I firmly believe that Seattle can change for the better — City Hall needs new voices, and a new approach to solve the problems in our city,” said business leader Heidi Stuber.

Much like the first forum, homelessness was one of the banner issues that came up among many of the candidates.

“Homelessness is the end result of a failed system,” said Washington MESA Director of Strategic Engagement Abel Pacheco.

“The rise of homelessness in Seattle is another example of a lack of accountability in City Hall,” said Alex Pedersen, who served as an aid to former Councilmember Tim Burgess.

The candidates are all vying for current councilmember Rob Johnson’s seat. Johnson is expected to part ways with the council on April 5. Johnson announced in November 2018 that he would not seek reelection on the November 2019 ballot. Soon after, Johnson accepted a position with Seattle’s new NHL team as a transportation adviser.

RELATED: Candidates running for Seattle City Council in 2019

Voters will get a chance to pare down the candidates in the August primary and make their final vote on Nov. 5. The next candidate forum will take place on District 2 on April 4, and District 7 on April 17. The schedule for the remaining districts’ forums has yet to be announced.

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