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Seattle District 3 candidates distinguish themselves from Sawant

If there is one common sentiment among the District 3 candidates running for Seattle City Council, it’s that many residents don’t feel like they are being heard, and want officials to work with everyone.

Candidates hit upon those points at a District 3 forum Tuesday night, hosted by Speak Out Seattle at the Northwest African American Museum, and moderated by KIRO 7 TV’s Essex Porter.

One candidate said he would elevate the “voices of those who have been ignored.” “I will find a way for all of us to work together,” said another. Others said District 3 residents were being overlooked and disregarded.

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Councilmember Kshama Sawant currently represents District 3 and is running for re-election. While the six other candidates at the forum largely opened by addressing a desire for better communication and working together, Sawant began with familiar rhetoric.

This year’s elections will be a referendum on one question: Who gets to run Seattle? Amazon and the chamber of commerce, or working people? The political establishment has utterly failed to address affordable housing and the homelessness crisis. Seattle needs rent control. Tax big business, not working people to fund a massive expansion of social housing and homeless and mental health services. But to bring any of this, working people will need to build fighting movements just like we did to win the $15 minimum wage and many renters’ rights.

District 3 candidate forum

Logan Bowers

Bowers is a local business owner who operates local marijuana shops. He emphasized affordability and homelessness that the city has struggled to address.

We can solve these problems but we need a council that tries. We’ve elected political insiders and opportunists who promote themselves over the needs of our city. This time, we need someone different. I’m a leader that delivers results and elevates the voices of those who have been ignored. Doing nothing is not an option and I get things done.

Sara Brereton

STEM programs, trade, small businesses ownership have proven to break inter-generational poverty. In 2017, 63 percent of homeless engaged during sweeps turned down housing. That is unacceptable. We must afford people the dignity of personal responsibility as we offer them a hand up. No elder in D3 should be displaced from their home because they can’t afford to pay taxes. I’ll press for audits of all tax-funded nonprofits and community organizations in D3.

Zachary DeWolf

DeWolf started by noting he is currently the Seattle School Board director and a member of the Chippewa Cree Nation.

I’m actually running for Seattle City Council now because our representation isn’t working for all of us. We need leadership that is focused on solutions. In native culture we often talk about the seven generations principle, which says that what we do now must create positive and sustainable solutions for today and seven generations into the future. I will find a way for all of us to work together to create a Seattle for everyone, even if we disagree because every neighbor has value and every neighbor deserves to be heard by their elected officials.

Pat Murakami

Murakami said she wants to bring her “progressive, practical solutions to the problems Seattle is facing today.”

I am running because I have witnessed residents of District 3 being overlooked and disregarded by the city. I am running because I care about everyone. No one should be living in tents, ramshackle RVs, or sheds. Everyone deserves solutions to solve our problems and our council has failed to do that.

Ami Nguyen

Nguyen noted that she is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, and grew up relying on food stamps and free food from schools.

I know what it means and feels like to not be heard. And as a public defender and former tenants rights attorney, I work with the most vulnerable communities, including communities who are homeless, fighting addiction and suffering from mental illness. I want to bring my personal and professional experience to the council because it’s important to make sure the policies we set actually work on the ground.

Egan Orion

Orion is the founder and organizer of Seattle’s Pride festival. He is also executive director of the Capital Hill Chamber of Commerce, and the Broadway Business Improvement Area.

I spend every day working in my neighborhood making sure the streets are clean and making sure the businesses are prosperous, and that citizens are heard and represented. I don’t feel that is happening right now at the city level, so I stepped up to run.

Crowd response

Crowd member Molly Johnston didn’t support any specific candidate when she came to the forum. She said she attended to become more involved in local politics. It was the first time she had experienced her council member.

“My take on (Sawant) is that she is very convicted in her thoughts,” Johnston said. “Her approach is slightly aggressive and forward. The crowd I was sitting near, a lot of them were plugging their ears … I had a challenging time following her because of her tone and approach … it seemed like a lot of her talking points were quite like sound bites, it seemed like it was auto-populated, and she always closed with ‘tax big business.’ For me, I’d rather hear ‘tax big business and do x-y-z,’ or ‘tax developers and provide affordable housing with X percent.’ Just more details versus that sound bite, which created applause but not results.”

Sawant supporter Ty Moore was very satisfied with the council member’s comments Tuesday.

“I think she has a proven track record of being able to get things done,” Moore said. “I think the only way you get things done in this city is building real pressure from below … Kshama is the only one who has a strategy to do that.”

District 3 resident Steve Bunin had a different perspective.

“I came here knowing I mostly support one (candidate) and I completely dislike another … Logan Bowers and Sawant,” he said. “I don’t think Socialism is the answer, I don’t like her form of Socialism. I don’t like a lot of things she says. I’m pro-cop, not anti-cop … and an Amazon tax and being anti-business is not the way to raise revenue and build a city.”

“(Bowers) actually thinks and uses data,” he said. “He is open to different options. He doesn’t have an ideology that is dictated to him from another organization, from outside Seattle, that tells him how to vote.”

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