7th District candidate Isabelle Kerner: ‘I would not say downtown is safe’
Jul 27, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2023, 12:17 pm
The Gee & Ursula Show is doing a series of interviews with Seattle City Council candidates who represent downtown and the 7th District. Today’s interview is with challenger Isabelle Kerner, business owner. Kerner is running against incumbent Andrew Lewis and other challengers including Olga Sagan, owner of Piroshky Piroshky; Robert Kettle, retired U.S. Navy.; Aaron Marshall, Seattle Police Officer; and Wade Sowders, software engineer at Amazon. The 7th District represents downtown, Queen Anne, and Interbay.
Isabelle Kerner is a Seattle business owner and a candidate for the 7th District of the Seattle city council.
“Being a female, especially a younger female, I would not say downtown is safe, especially if you’re walking alone,” Kerner told The Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO 97.3 FM, emphasizing that public safety is her top priority. “I live in the Belltown corridor. I have eyes. I hear that crime is going down. But at the same time, we hear a lot of gunshots.”
“As a council member what would you say needs to be done first to get to proper staffing in the Seattle Police Department?” Ursula Reutin asked Kerner.
“I think what we need to do is incentivize our police department and also recognize them,” Kerner said. “Fire and police operate differently. You see a lot of firefighters reviving the dead here. I don’t want to put it so gruesomely, but that’s typically what I see. I don’t think it would hurt to create some kind of a liaison between fire and police where you have calls that are flagged, where [the fire department] arrives there first, but they can’t respond due to the danger of the individual or the site that they’re responding to until there’s a police response, which can delay times. And so I think it’s kind of twofold.”
Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Incumbent Andrew Lewis
Kerner believed that police retention is one of the biggest problems the city faces.
“I know there’s been ideas about bringing retired police back, I can tell you, I don’t think they want to come back,” she explained. “I’ve heard from police that are like ‘I’ve got three years, 13 days’ or whatever, like counting down the clock almost. So as far as retention goes, I think we need to start recruiting newer police officers that are better equipped to police their own communities that they work in.”
When it comes to homelessness, Kerner labeled it a “camping crisis” because people are using public land and sidewalks to “camp effectively.” She said attacking homelessness and mental health problems will have a cascading impact to resolve issues in the city.
Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Olga Sagan
“I do support banning open drug use open drug sales and, public drug consumption,” Kerner said. “I think the one thing that is still a problem is that our County Executive Dow Constantine runs the King County Jail. And as long as he’s running that jail, even if there is a law passed that prosecutes these individuals, most offenses are not getting booked into the King County Jail. So that’s a larger conversation somebody’s going to need to have with the County Executive to make sure that those people are held accountable.”
“I’m curious if you’re going to be in this position, what are you doing on Day 1 to make a difference?” fill-in host Angela Poe Russell asked Kerner.
“The whole goal of [my proposed] program [to help solve the homelessness problem] was to partner with businesses using the state apprenticeship program, which would give businesses a tax cut and not place individuals like what we do in King County where we just throw them all in a hotel or something,” Kerner responded. “I’ve actually been inside those hotels and heard some pretty horrific stories.”
Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Bob Kettle
She said that cargo containers could be used to help house people. Kerner said that sites could be placed all over the city. On her campaign website, Kerney explained that the cargo containers would be equipped with windows and electricity.
“I think you need to have sites all over the city,” she said. “I get that nobody wants them in their backyard, but they are already in their backyard. The sites need to cater to [people] and need to be placed appropriately with the specific issues people are facing so you don’t put women and children fleeing domestic violence into a shelter-type area where there are severely mentally ill or violent people. There are some people that are homeless, that have lost their jobs, and are just struggling. I would say you start with the top people that are willing to do that.”
Kerner explained that the whole goal of her proposed program would be that it would eventually expand itself by recruiting people using trade skills.
“The whole goal of the program was to eventually expand itself by recruiting some of those people using trade skills so that they can eventually obtain the skills, get a job, have health insurance,” Kerner stated. “And then, in return, they would get like a sum of money that’s kept in a trust so that they can afford the upfront costs associated with housing.
Kerner said she didn’t realize there was so much incentive to not solve the problem, so the city needs to address the “homeless industrial complex.”
Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.