LOCAL NEWS

Mayoral candidate: Seattle isn’t growing in a strategic way

Apr 25, 2017, 5:34 AM | Updated: 6:18 pm
Nikkita Oliver. (Zorn Taylor)
(Zorn Taylor)

Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver says growth isn’t bad, but the Emerald City isn’t doing so in a “strategic way.”

The community organizer, slam poet, and boxer with a law degree says that’s at least what she chooses to believe.

“If I don’t believe it’s a lack of vision, then it looks intentional that we’ve allowed cash-poor black and brown folks to be pushed out of their communities,” she told Seattle’s Morning News.

What the city needs right now, she says, is a strategy for building affordable housing, a definition of affordable housing, and improved access to jobs and opportunities for people in lower income brackets, so they may remain in the city.

“So folks can have the sort of income that allows them to live here and stay in the neighborhoods that they built up …” she said.

RELATED: Who is running against Mayor Ed Murray

Seattle and King County governments face the challenge of balancing a booming economy that favors high-paid workers in the tech industry, with the need to keep the area affordable for thousands more. It’s become such a dire need that the county recently announcedan effort to establish a Regional Affordable Housing Task Force.

“Nearly 50,000 households earning minimum wage are paying over 50 percent of their income towards their housing needs,” King County Executive Dow Constantine wrote in a letter.

Even businesses are complaining of the high costs.

Business owner: Seattle is ‘way past’ the point of affordability

Oliver says the city needs to be willing to build even more housing without relying on the private market. However, she says that can be done while preserving the identity of Seattle’s neighborhoods.

“There’s a lot of city property that could become affordable housing,” she said.

Oliver admits that she, like fellow mayoral candidates Mayor Ed Murray and former Mayor Mike McGinn, supports the idea of a city income tax.

“I believe all Seattlites are invested in seeing it as a place we can all live,” she said. She added that she believes wealthier people in the city would support an income tax to ensure the city remains a place where “everyone has the right to stay.”

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Mayoral candidate: Seattle isn’t growing in a strategic way