Published with permission from Asian Counseling and Referral Service. The International Examiner is a 501-c3 and does not make endorsements.

2021 mayoral candidate written Q&A

Courtesy of ACRS

Andrew Grant Houston

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

Our campaign’s priorities are the climate crisis, housing, and harm reduction. But, more specifically our prioritized policies are the Just Transition tax (a 1% income tax, that will fund four buckets of items), building 2,500 tiny homes as an immediate response to the homelessness crisis, and making sure Seattle is a 15-minute bus city. The four buckets that the Just Transition Tax will fund (to a total of at least $400 million) are unionized apprenticeships, a green affordable housing Public Development Authority, additional funds for the Equitable Development Initiative, and Business and Occupation tax relief.

All of these would directly benefit Seattle’s A&PI communities. Namely, the B&O tax relief would be particularly helpful for the many A&PI-owned small businesses in Seattle since the B&O tax hits our small, minority-owned businesses hardest (and they are who I will prioritize for receiving these funds). In addition, focusing sustainable, affordable housing in a way that allows us to build it closer to the scale we need to address our housing and homelessness crisis means giving Seattle’s residents the stability they need to stay in Seattle. It is also no small truth that our A&PI communities are transit-reliant just like me! From our elders to our children, we need the bus to be frequent and reliable. But the pandemic severely affected that. So I will make sure that our bus service returns to pre-pandemic levels through combinations of putting buses back on the ballot to return to what we had before Tim Eyeman so rudely intervened, and using that revenue to split between service hours and first/last mile improvements. That way, it’s not just the buses themselves that we can improve but also the ways in which we can safely reach them.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

When I first began forming my policies, I asked people for input writ large and that’s what shaped my plans—alongside my knowledge as an architect who knows firsthand how difficult our city makes it to build housing for those who need it most.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I would say I’m pretty familiar. I live in Capitol Hill but my favorite area in Seattle really is the International District. From our A&PI communities’ long-standing public safety coordinator and crisis intervention roles, sprouting from leadership like Donnie Chin, to the organized outreach, clean-up, and food banks, Seattle’s A&PI community is living proof of what it looks like when community stands strong together despite long histories of racist redlining, highways to break up A&PI and Black neighborhoods, and the US’ racist interment camps during WWII. That said, I know the key issues at the forefront of our A&PI communities’ minds tend to involve homelessness, public safety, medical care, and places for our youth to grow and shine. I share these same concerns and certainly have plans to do something about it.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

My campaign has made it a point to include language access from the start, so our website (www.agh4sea.com) is available in 8 of Seattle’s top non-English languages—and we hope to add even more soon. That’s also why I have a plan to make the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs become integrated with Non-English services particularly for all its resources, as well as throughout more City departments. With that in mind, we did reach out in the beginning to Seattle’s A&PI outlets but unfortunately not with much success, and we aim to try again. Certainly, myself and my campaign always know there’s room to grow, and aim to not just empower communities to self-determine their futures but ensure they have decision-making power within the City. I recognize that a large part of that is not putting the burden on others to come to me, but actually instead meeting people where they are.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

Chloe Yeo as an individual has endorsed me; she’s an organizer with Sunrise Movement Seattle. I otherwise unfortunately cannot say that prominent A&PI community leaders have endorsed me, but I encourage folks to look at my endorsements by both organizations and individual Seattleites to see if you know any! www.agh4sea.com/endorse

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Bruce Harrell

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

We will urgently address the homelessness crisis and housing affordability; economic and community recovery from COVID-19; needed police reform, gun violence and public safety; the climate crisis, public transit expansion, and transportation solutions; and so much more.

I am running because we need a Mayor to meet this moment of unprecedented challenge and opportunity, a Mayor with the lived experience to tackle big issues; a decisive leader fully committed to productive dialogue, planning and execution. We must rebuild the fundamental trust between city government and the people it serves. We need the highest standard of collaboration and vision.

I will be an advocate for the types of bold, innovative policies that will make Seattle a national leader in driving opportunity and ensuring fairness and equity. A few of my new ideas: a Seattle Jobs Center, the Race and Data Initiative, and a universal healthcare program.

These priorities and policies were developed in collaboration with the support of leading voices in Seattle’s large and diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. My public safety and recovery platform will direct and provide all necessary resources and investments in response to an increase in anti-Asian bias and hate crimes. Our small business recovery plan will include significant resources to support recovery and revitalization efforts in the Chinatown-International District. The healthcare program will address the obstacles AAPI community members, specifically seniors, face regarding healthcare because of factors including limited English proficiency with healthcare providers.

I would be remiss if I did not state that the use of the Asian and Pacific Islander term is often too general and the impact it has on policies and investments as a result. Both locally and nationally, we should avoid broad-brush strokes to paint the Asian and Pacific Islander community. There are over 45 different ethnicities. According to the census, approximately 15% of Seattle’s population is Asian and Pacific Islander, representing the largest racial/ethnic group of color in Seattle.

So we will be thoughtful, targeted, and driven by community engagement as we develop and implement policies to address the economic, educational, and social challenges facing the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and work to build a Seattle where all can thrive.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

I have listened and spoken with AAPI leaders, small businesses in the Chinatown-International District, community and grassroots organizations within our Asian and Pacific Islander communities. I am also honored to be endorsed by Gary Locke (America’s first Chinese-American Governor, and served as both Commerce Secretary and Ambassador to China under President Obama), State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, State Representative Cindy Ryu, Tomio Moriguchi, Frank Irigon and many more in our Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

As candidates, determining and stating policy is the easy part. Taking action and delivering results to better our Asian and Pacific Islander communities is a record I am most proud of as a community leader. I championed budget investments and legislation to support vital programs in the Chinatown-International District by restoring funding for the International District Emergency Center Citizen Foot Patrol program and the Chinese Information and Service Center for the Sunshine Garden Day Center. I fought for funding for the Wing Luke Museum and increased funding for the City’s technology matching fund to support the Vietnamese Friendship Association, Asian Pacific Island Community Services program, Helping Link, and capital improvements at Danny Woo Park. We passed legislation to allocate $300,000 in funding for public improvements to Hing Hay Park in the Chinatown-International District. We added millions to the budget to support the Equitable Development Initiative projects.

We must always have a voice of the AAPI community in City Hall. As Mayor, I promise to have the AAPI community at the table in setting priorities, developing policies, and forming the city’s budget. One of my earliest actions was the Race and Social Justice legislation to heighten the City’s awareness of institutional racism and social disparities. The legislation states the strategies and tools to address racial and social disparities and describes the goals of improving workforce equity and contracting equity.

The recognition and voice of AAPI matters. Working with the community, we drafted Resolution 31827 to honor the legacy of community activist Alan “Al” Sugiyama and Resolution 31591 to recognize the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom flag as the symbol for Seattle’s Vietnamese community. I worked with stakeholders to develop the Chinatown/International District Public Safety Action Plan. When Council made an error in not including “Manilatown” or “Filipino Town” in Resolution 31754, I listened and acted by introducing Resolution 31769 to incorporate Filipino Town, and recognized the important history and contributions of Filipino-Americans to the City of Seattle.

I am also proud of my relationship with local AAPI media leaders like the Northwest Asian Weekly, International Examiner, and the North American Post. I value the opinion of these great AAPI leaders and I listen to them to make sure the issues impacting our community are brought to the forefront and addressed.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

Over the past year we have seen the rise of anti-Asian bias and hate not seen since WWII, when Japanese Americans were singled out for incarceration, their lives interrupted and often destroyed by bigotry and scapegoating.

My mother Rose was nine when she, her siblings, and my grandparents watched as government agents seized their family-owned flower shop on Jackson St. – a storefront where they lived and worked in a vibrant Asian business district. Like other families of Japanese descent, they were placed in custody, under armed guard, until the end of the war.

I wrote about my mother’s experience in a piece published in the Seattle Times as both a testament to the strength of my mother and her family – and to express my deeply personal commitment to speaking out against hate and violence directed toward the Asian community and underscoring my lifelong fight against racism in all forms. I am running an inclusive campaign for racial justice and needed representation in City Hall. Together, we can bring new leadership to City Hall committed to action, and send a message that we will not allow racism and hate to spiral out of control in this community – or this nation.

I’m running for mayor to unite Seattle and bring our communities together to solve the challenges we face by embracing our progressive values – listening and acting. My extensive experience knows solutions that will work are community-driven. We have historic opportunities to recover and rebuild with equity at the forefront – we cannot squander this chance.

I have listened to and spoken with many AAPI leaders, small businesses in the Chinatown-International District, community and grassroots organizations within our Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The following are some key issues we must immediately address and as Mayor, I will approach them with an all hands on deck mindset: 1) Provide all necessary resources and investments in response to an increase in anti-Asian bias and hate crimes; 2) Support recovery and revitalization efforts in the Chinatown-International District; and 3) Implement a plan supporting small businesses and the impact of the statewide rent moratorium ending in 2021.

What has occurred over the last year in the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes sweeping our country and city brought back the many conversations I had with my mother. My mom and her family faced internment – they lost their flourishing local business and their community, the direct result of intolerance and hate. Violence and discrimination against immigrants continues today, a tragic shared experience for many who come here seeking a better life. My mom’s family didn’t give up – they rebuilt their business and stayed in Seattle – like so many immigrants in this country who’ve made clear they are here to stay in the face of bias and bigotry. Her experiences and values – along with those of my father – taught me to work hard and to stand up for the community and our beliefs.

I know violent, hate-filled acts are not new. However, I believe representation matters – I would be Seattle’s first Asian and second Black Mayor. I have a unique perspective and real lived experience that has informed my steadfast commitment to and proven record of delivering on equity, inclusion, and racial justice.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

Our campaign has worked tirelessly to engage AAPI communities and we’re energized and excited by the robust support we have received so far. This includes direct outreach to AAPI voters, holding events with AAPI leaders, speaking out against AAPI hate, including the previously mentioned Seattle Times op-ed, and holding a large campaign event at China Harbor with over 200 AAPI supporters.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

Gary Locke, Former Governor of Washington, Marilyn Strickland, US Representative (WA-10) and former Tacoma Mayor, Sharon Tomiko Santos, 37th LD State Representative, Cindy Ryu, 32nd LD State Representative, David Della, former Seattle City Councilmember, Conrad Lee, Bellevue City Council and former Bellevue Mayor, Betty Patu, former Seattle School Board Member, Denise Moriguchi, CEO, Uwajimaya, Inc., Tay Yoshitani, former CEO, Port of Seattle, Tomio Moriguchi, former CEO, Uwajimaya Inc., Jamie Asaka, Rita Brogan, Matt Chan, Henry Chen, Phillip Fujii, Danielle Higa and Francis Eugenio, Warren Higa, Taylor Hoang, Frank and Felicita Irigon, Fred Kiga, Elaine Ikoma Ko, Benjamin Lee, Jerry Lee, Perry Lee, Dr. Lawrence Matsuda and Karen Matsuda, Jill Nishi, Paul Patu, Harold Taniguchi, Tony To, John Yasutake, Mike Yasutake, Joan Yoshitomi

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Casey Sixkiller

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

I’m running for mayor so that every family in Seattle has the opportunity to thrive here, including those in the API community. Specifically I will focus on three priorities:

1. Public safety: People in Seattle don’t feel safe, and the numbers don’t lie. Crime is up across the city, and police response times have doubled. We lost 300 cops since last summer, and we need to hire back, invest in more alternatives when folks call 911, and hire a police chief that’s a change agent capable of making SPD more transparent, and more accountable, while rebuilding trust in the communities SPD is sworn to protect.

2. Small businesses: Reestablishing a strong, working partnership between City Hall and small businesses. Applying a lens to decision making to ensure City policies and regulations support the creation and growth of small businesses, and the thousands of people that they employ across the city. And for those businesses struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, investing directly in them by providing more (and larger) business stabilization grants and removing barriers to accessing this critical support. Simply put, we want Seattle to be a place where businesses want to be; not a city businesses want to leave.

3. Homelessness: Despite two decades of trying and a record amount of spending by Seattle and King County, the conditions of our parks and streets are unacceptable. We need to invest in what we know works. My focus will be on creating 3,000 new permanent places for individuals to call home, linking funding to performance metrics that meet all our expectations, and fully supporting a regional approach to closing service gaps and ensuring coordination and accountability. My plan will get every tent out of every park and business district to ensure folks are connected to housing and the services they need and our neighborhoods are safe and clean.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

We need to get back to the basics and connect the City’s efforts to the daily experiences of our residents, what folks experience every time they step out their front door. Do they feel safe? Is your park encampment free for all to enjoy? As a business owner, is Seattle treating you as a partner or are City’s policies, regulations, and taxes pushing you to relocate your business or retire? As Mayor, I want our residents to be proud of their city, but to get there we have to be laser focused on solving problems, always prioritizing progress over process.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I grew up in Seattle and have learned about rich history, diversity, and issues facing the API community through my friends and through my work at the City of Seattle and King County. Among the top issues:

1. Hate crimes and discrimination. This past year proved yet again how much work have to do to root out hate, support victims of racial and ethnically targeted discrimination, and educate our residents.

2. Crime and public safety. Every category of crime is up across the city. At the same time, our city is down 300 police officers and 911 response times are double what they were just a year ago, due in large part to budgetary decisions made by the City Council. Businesses are being broken into or vandalized, and residents don’t feel safe walking down their own street.

The CID is an area that is not just integral to our history but is a cultural treasure that is feeling the impacts of rapid growth, a changing economy, and crime and homelessness. We need to do a better job of addressing the challenges facing the CID so we can ensure it is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

During this campaign I have been meeting with members of the API community across the city, including the CID. I’ve participated in virtual forums in all parts of our city, including events organized for BIPOC folks in Seattle and their priorities.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

N/A

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Clinton Bliss

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

Protecting Civil Rights is non-negotiable. In 2019 the 9th Circuit Court ruled that charging a person with vagrancy when they have nowhere else to go is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of their civil rights. In response our city allows living in tent encampments and promotes policies and legislation encouraging theft, vandalism, and violent crimes as a way to meet basic needs. The Seattle Police Department has been under federal decree since 2012 for repeatedly violating our resident’s civil rights. The judge determined these violations stemmed from a lack of police oversight. Specifically, our police union contract protects rogue police officers from disciplinary action and prosecution. In response, our city negotiated minor revisions to the existing police union contract in 2018. In 2019, the federal court found the city remains in violation. The city currently has no timeline for resolution. As a leader, I understand that core values like police accountability can never be safely negotiated away. If elected I would immediately:

1) Provide basic emergency food, shelter, security, and treatment to our residents who have no other options.

2) Permanently remove tent dwellers from city parks.

3) Nullify any section of the police union contract that limits accountability and oversight.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

Many of the actions the city has been taking to resolve our problems are making them worse instead of better. Tent encampments grow, police accountability decreases, with no plan for resolution and no end in sight. This is not acceptable. When we react to a problem, rather than studying it carefully, we typically get more of what we don’t want. Instead we need wise action, based on a deep understanding of the core problems facing our city. Building affordable housing will not move people from tents indoors. People who want affordable housing move to an affordable neighborhood. People live in tents on public lands because it’s free.

I have the vision, courage and compassion needed to address these and other pressing issues. As a graduate of one of the top ten US medical schools, I’ve spent my career as a medical leader developing sustainable systems that provide compassionate care for all.

I will make our city safe by removing tent dwellers from city parks and city streets. I will protect our civil rights by nullifying any section of the police union contract that limits accountability and oversight. And I will provide real treatment and real housing solutions for those who have nowhere else to go. My campaign has three pillars: Integrity, compassion and wise action. The first pillar of my campaign is integrity. Unlike other candidates, I don’t accept contributions nor seek endorsements. As your mayor, I won’t have campaign debts and endorsements to pay back with public funds and contract favors. I will be free to use our assets for public good, not just private benefit. For me civil rights are not an afterthought, they are the main event.

My campaign is grounded in compassion. As a physician, I’ve spent my life caring for people on a daily basis who struggle with homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and caring for our poor and ignored who have nowhere else to go. I understand their struggles and I take the time to listen and make a difference in their lives. I am committed to providing real options for treatment and housing for those who have nowhere else to go.

It is important to note that the cause of people living in tents in our city parks is not the lack of affordable housing. People who need affordable housing move to affordable neighborhoods, not into tents. Our city loses community strength and meaning when our service workers, our firefighters, our teachers, our police, our artists, and others who can’t afford to live here move to another city. The need for affordable housing is important, but no amount of affordable housing will alleviate the problem of tent dwellers living in our public spaces. Our homeless problem is a medical problem, not just a housing issue, and it needs someone who understands medical issues to solve it.

The medical definition of addiction is someone who will choose to support their habit over anything else in their lives. Addicted individuals will choose their habit over their partner, their parents, their children, their jobs, their bodies, their health, their reputation, and their housing. Those of us who have any personal experience in working with addiction can testify to this. Addicted people live in tents primarily because it’s free. Housing is not their priority, their addiction is. And unfortunately, if given housing that can be traded to support their habit, they will trade it away to support their addiction. In fact, some receive disability payments that are meant for housing but are used instead to support their addiction.

Addiction is a disease. Addicted individuals need opportunities and limits just like everyone else. Punishing them for living in our parks when they have nowhere else to go is unreasonable and cruel, as the courts have determined. We have the moral and legal responsibility to provide a place to live that is safe. A safe place has real limits with restrictions on who comes and goes and what is brought in and out. It is not a free-for-all. This is what all treatment facilities for addiction and mental illness look like, whether voluntary or involuntary. They are not city parks or streets with no restrictions. This is why I am running for mayor. We must give our less fortunate Seattlites the opportunity to do the right thing. To live in a safe place and the opportunity to recover from their disease and lead meaningful and productive lives.

The third pillar of my campaign is wise action. Repeatedly, I have observed our city leaders reacting to problems without understanding them, and then making our problems worse rather than better. For example, our city leaders say they want more affordable housing. They pay back developer donations with friendly zoning laws and ordinances that tear down affordable housing and replace it with million dollar townhomes and tiny condos that cost $400,000. They can’t see how they contribute to the failure of affordable housing with their zoning laws and ordinances, and instead make the problem worse with legislation to outlaw eviction of people who can’t pay their rent – but don’t fund it. This unfunded short-term compassionate re-action punishes landlords who provide affordable housing, especially the local small businesses who cannot afford a tenant who does not pay rent for 6 months. It sends them a message to get out of the rental business. Now there is even less affordable housing, and a strong discouragement of development of new affordable housing. Would you invest your life savings in affordable housing if you knew there was a strong chance your tenants would not pay the rent for 6 months out of the year? If we want affordable housing, we need to make different choices based on a deep understanding of our system. Our city leader’s reactions to the lack of affordable housing has given us less affordable housing, not more. This is why I am running for mayor. We need to reward and protect small businesses, including landlords who provide affordable housing, not punish them. Our city council’s decision to allow living in tents and encouraging theft and vandalism as a way to solve the homeless problem is giving us more of what we don’t want.

Our city leaders react to the problem of people living in city tents by blaming the rising cost of real estate. When we view tent dwellers as victims of rising housing prices, we fail to see that there are actually medical causes that require medical solutions. Believing our tent dwellers have no other options, the city takes a further step of not arresting and not charging these people for criminal offenses because they have no other options. This is then followed by proposing legislation promoting criminal behavior as a way to meet basic needs. Now the reaction is to enshrine tent living in city parks as a permanent solution, with permanent structures and protections proposed, because our city continually fails to understand the problem and provide appropriate solutions.

Any person who presents an immediate danger to themself or others or who is gravely disabled can and should be legally involuntarily detained for treatment. Instead, we release them because we do not have beds. We must have treatment beds if we are to solve this problem.

Those with addiction who do not present an immediate danger to themselves or others are free to refuse treatment. Just because a person refuses drug treatment does not mean we have to enable it. When we follow our moral and legal responsibility to provide a safe place that has real limits with restrictions on who comes and goes and what is brought in and out, we remove the right to live in public spaces. Those who choose their addiction over public safety will now be held accountable for their actions just like we would for ourselves and anyone else. We must stop enabling criminal activity.

From an addicted person’s perspective, prior to 2019, living in city parks led to jail terms that limited their ability to support their addiction, so they would find other solutions themselves whenever possible. Now we are offering permanent free housing on prime Seattle park real estate with a get out of jail free card for stealing from our homes and businesses to meet their needs – including their addiction. The combination of free housing, no expectations, and no consequences is an open invitation for more people with addictions to move onto our public lands. And now that this practice has become an accepted way of living, others who want free housing are also moving in. Each day that we fail to provide medical treatment in a safe and controlled environment makes our homeless, addiction, crime, graffiti and trash problem bigger and our public spaces smaller. Just as we can build emergency treatment facilities in stadiums for the COVID pandemic, we can build emergency treatment facilities to manage our addiction and mental health crisis and deal with the backlog of treatment caused by years of inaction. People who live in public spaces have demonstrated that they are unable to care for themselves and we need to help by simultaneously opening permanent residential treatment facilities that provide housing, personal growth, work experience, education, and eventually independence. Our city council leader’s reactions to our homeless problem have created more homelessness, not less. This is why I am running for mayor. We need to provide a safe city for everybody.

Defunding the police is another reactive idea that is giving us more of what we don’t want. The city council has already shifted funds from police. Now all of us are victims of rising crime and delayed 911 response times. Defunding the police is a political reaction. This kind of thinking goes that if we don’t have police, we won’t have police abuses. It misses the fact that we have criminals perpetrating civil rights abuses on us , just as we did in the latter days of CHOP. Defunding the police doesn’t lead to fewer civil rights abuses, it leads to more, especially among our poor and most vulnerable. The wealthy are now buying private security. Who will protect our poor and minority neighborhoods? Defunding the police is reactive and irresponsible. We need constitutional policing that responds to community needs. Our city leader’s reactions to police accountability have created less police accountability, not more. This is why I am running for mayor. We need accountable police. We need accountable city leaders.

There is a kind of naivete that believes that our good fortune in our city is endless. It is not, and if we do not take care of our city, people and businesses will leave, just as they are doing in California. If we do not take care of our city and each other, our unemployment will rise, our property values will fall, and our tax base will dwindle. Each day that we wait is a missed opportunity. We have a responsibility to take care of our city and all Seattlites. This is why I am running for mayor.

Our city needs a leader who understands that our homeless problem will never be solved by more affordable housing. If we want more affordable housing we need to build it, not tear it down, and we need to reward those who provide affordable housing, not punish them. The homeless problem is rooted in addiction and mental illness. These are medical problems that need medical solutions. We need a leader with experience creating medical systems that work for all. A leader who will provide our homeless population with real options for treatment, housing, and hope, and will end the fiasco of tent living in city parks. And, we need a city leader who will hold resolutely onto our civil rights, not someone who talks about community policing and police accountability, and then approves the 2018 police union contract that ignores community input and takes away police accountability. That is why I am running for mayor! The City of Seattle has been found guilty of violating our citizens civil rights repeatedly since 2012. Our city council leaders who are now running for mayor have had 9 years to resolve this issue. Do you think 9 years was enough time? Do you think we should give them 4 more years and see what happens?

We need someone who acts wisely, rather than reactively. We need someone who doesn’t have to sell off our civil rights to pay for campaign debts and endorsements. We need someone who is able to lead, not just follow the money. I am that person. That is why I am running for mayor.

If you want more of what you’re getting, vote for my opponents who brought it to you. Vote for the candidate who brings in the most campaign money. If you want lasting solutions based on an understanding of the actual causes of our problems, vote for Doctor Bliss. That is why I am running for mayor. I will make our city safe by removing tent dwellers from city parks and city streets. I will protect our civil rights by nullifying any section of the police union contract that limits accountability and oversight. And I will provide real medical treatment and real housing solutions for those who have nowhere else to go.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

Hate is a powerful motivator for all people of all communities. Racism and oppression are societal issues that effect people of all communities of all color. It is hard not to hate people who oppress others. It is hard not to hate people who enslave others. Unfortunately, when we hate them, we become an engine of hate and oppression ourselves.While it may be true that, within the controlling elite of most countries, there is a disproportionate percentage of people who have very little care for their fellow human beings, capable of treating them as most of us might treat some animal that we fear or despise such as a rat or a spider, the truth is that almost all of us have that capacity in some form or another. The way I think of it is: from a chicken’s perspective, almost all of us are sociopaths.

Mostly the difference between us is not actually our differences, but how we choose to define them. How we define our tribe. A sociopathic person might describe their tribe as one person: themselves. A saint might be described as having a tribe of all mankind. Most of us are somewhere in between. Human beings, and for that matter most all life forms, have a kind of hierarchy. We are programmed via our DNA to try to achieve dominance. This is part of our animal nature, and we cannot get rid of it. While this tends to insure the survival of the species, it often leads to immense cruelty. Some of us pride ourselves on not being hierarchical, but even then, there is pride involved, or as Chogyam Trungpa would say spiritual materialism. Examples include bragging about our superior enlightenment, reveling in the depth of our humility, feeling superior to others because of our great selflessness, showing off in how much more socially conscious we are than others. Our creative capacity for showing our superiority is really quite amazing, and also quite horrifying, as we often use this to justify notorious acts of inhumanity.

To help limit the effects of this constant striving and fear of inadequacy, we have developed different religious and political belief systems. Our democracy was the first modern democracy, born out of the religious reformation of European Catholicism combined with a fascination and renewed understanding of the ancient Greek democracy and the ancient Roman republic. Our democracy had ideals, but was also born within and at least partially embracing harsh human customs, among them war, slavery, cultural persecution, religious persecution, oppression of women, oppression of the poor. In general, these were justified with some form of divine right: nationalism, racism, sexism, economic elitism.

Each of these isms, is a kind of tribalism, a justification for treating some group that we do not belong to as less than. While we have made great strides in understanding our tendency towards tribalism and have changed many of our attitudes and policies to be more compassionate, fair, and representative, our outcomes in education and incarceration in particular remain remarkably biased against our poor and minorities. In our frustration, we blame the police, the teachers, the politicians, and we elect new politicians, change our teaching and testing methods, reform our policing. And yet the results persist. We become angry and start talking about defunding the police, replacing public schools with charter schools and placing term limits on politicians. What we fail to see is that these disparate outcomes remain because they are built into the very framework of our system of governance, our system of justice, and our system of education. Each of these institutions plays a prominent role in our economic elitism and oppression of the poor and until we make fundamental reforms to these systems, we will continue to get the same results.

While our system of democracy grants us rights and freedoms that few in this world are privileged to experience, our two party system promotes majority interests at the expense of the minority and our system of legalized bribery through campaign contributions means that the wealthy elite have extremely disproportionate say in who gets nominated and who gets elected. In fact, I believe these two main issues are the root of most of our problems in this country, and that any gains that we make in equality will continually be eroded until we amend our Constitution.

The injustice of our System of Justice. We have much to be grateful for in our system of justice. It gives us protections, rights and freedoms; great privileges that few in this world are granted. Never-the-less, our adversarial system of justice, while ostensibly applying a level playing field, gives the wealthy elite remarkably disproportionate outcomes. If you are wealthy, you can hire a team of elite lawyers who work just for you against a public prosecuting team that has many other priorities. If you are poor, you get a public defender who has 70 other clients to defend. The rest float somewhere in between. Until we reform this adversarial system, we will continue to have vast disparities in the percentages of poor and minorities in our prisons. Institutionalized Inequality: our System of Education. Our system of higher education in the United States is one of our national treasures. People of wealth and privilege come from all over the world to attend our universities, both public and private. Education is one of our last remaining branches on the tree of American opportunity. If you are fortunate to have wealthy parents you can afford a private education. And those who live in wealthy towns and neighborhoods often get “private education at public school prices”. Wealthy children have choices. The rest go to the school they are assigned to. The average American child now gets an primary public education on par with Uzbekistan and Mongolia, and our children in poor neighborhoods get even worse. While exceptional individuals may win the educational lottery and get scholarships, and above average students may enter into a kind of indentured servitude with student loans, the rest generally get long hours, low paying jobs with higher risks. Until we reform the way we fund education and provide all our children with similar opportunities in excellence and school choice, we will continue to get vastly different outcomes in high school graduation and college attendance rates.

It is easy to see these inequalities as caused by our economic elite, our top one percent, who get a kind of special treatment in all of these areas of life. But the truth is that most of us, placed in a similar situation, would behave similarly. Hating some elite group will not change anything. In fact, in some sort of perverse manner, it actually ensures its continuation. This brings us to an important life lesson: What You Resist Persists. On the face, at least to me, this initially seemed counter-intuitive. Why should it be that when we push back against something terrible, we tend to get more of it. Why did the American Civil War, even though successful, not rid us of racism? Why did the French Revolution, even though successful, turn into Napoleon? Why did the socialist revolution in Russia, even though successful turn into Stalin? Why did the occupy movement fail? Why are our efforts to be be more compassionate to the oppressed in our city seeming to create more hate and oppression?

I think the answer in each of these cases is that when we continue to focus on what we don’t want, we fail to focus on what we do want. If we truly wish to be free of brutality, we need to stop cutting off each other’s heads, literally and figuratively. Failing to do so just begets more brutality. We need to envision peace. If we truly want to have different results, we must design a different system that truly reflects our ideals. We must make carefully considered plans based on a deep understanding of ourselves. We must develop and follow well considered principles that move us away from our natural tendency towards brutalising each other in the name of some ism or anti-ism. We must step off our war path, drop the tug-of-war rope, and embrace a new and peaceful beginning.

But how do we do this? Well much has been done during my lifetime to expand upon the ideal of religious freedoms, applying these same principle to concepts of culture, sex, race, and gender, and creating not just a tolerance of diversity, but a true embracing of all we have to offer. But in order to truly realize these transformations in our culture, we need to recognize and reorganize our system of governance that continues to give widely unfair advantages to our wealthy, and wildly unfair disadvantages to our poor, and leaves most of us dangling uncomfortably somewhere in the middle.

While we cannot change our national system of governance, justice, and education unilaterally through our actions in the City of Seattle, together, we can make a difference and contribute to the national dialog. If elected as your mayor, I intend to work with all of you to make meaningful changes in our city departments of public health, public education, public safety to help alleviate some of the suffering, help to balance some of the inequality, and move our city and ourselves ever closer to our American ideals of liberty and equality for all, and the opportunity to pursue our destiny and reap the rich rewards of diversity in our ever evolving American Dream

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

My campaign is inclusive of all peoples and does not cater to any one group to the exclusion of others. I am running on a foundation that all people matter and we must make changes to our systems for real equality. Our system of economic privilege in our systems of education, justice, and governance are the engines of institutionalized racism. The Root causes of racial inequality are that The wealthy elite get special treatment from our government institutions and our poor get treated poorly. Examples:Public primary education is funded through property taxes. Wealthy neighborhood children get “private education on public school prices”. Average US public primary schools provide education on par with Uzbekistan and Mongolia. Poor neighborhood children get even worse. Our justice system functions as an adversarial system of rough justice where you hire guns in the form of attorneys to defend your interest. The amount of justice you receive is directly proportional to the number and quality of the attorneys you can hire, with public defenders spread thin and no attorneys to represent non-criminal law for those who are poor. Our system of governance favors the wealthy elite. The wealthy elite choose who will run, who gets airtime, who is in the debates, who is a viable candidate. Then the wealthy elite, through campaign contributions determine what messages are heard. And then the two party system suppresses minority opinions and values.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

In my observation, endorsements in the political races today are a sort of transactional exchange. Once endorsed, a candidate has made an implicit bargain – owing something. An endorsement is also a kind of co-branding contractual obligation to a party that may or may not have an interest that reflects the public. One of the main reasons we have the problems we now do with police union contracts, is former candidates traded police oversight for police endorsements. It is my belief that elected officials should represent the interests of the people – and never of special interests, and I will run my candidacy without seeking – or competing for – endorsements. 

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Colleen Echohawk

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

My number one priority is ending homelessness. It’s been almost 6 years since the Mayor and City Council declared a state of emergency on homelessness and the crisis has only gotten worse. 5,000 people will sleep on the streets of Seattle tonight and the City is not doing nearly enough. This homelessness crisis also harms our City in other ways. Specifically, I’ve spoken to many Chinatown-International District (CID) businesses who are concerned about homelessness and how homelessness affects their businesses. Tents often make it difficult for customers and clients to access business and other public areas. Last fall, Chief Seattle Club worked with JustCare to move the entire CID encampment under I-5 into hotels. Getting everyone sleeping outside into shelter benefits everyone in the City.

I’ve also talked to CID residents and businesses about how frustrating the lack of public safety response is. When calling 911 it can take hours for police to respond. I will seek to create a robust Crisis Response Team that can adequately respond to calls that don’t require an armed response, which is the vast majority of calls. That way, residents and businesses will have a way to address their public safety needs quickly and efficiently.

With Seattle reopening from Covid, we need to invest in an equitable post-Covid recovery. I’ll ensure resources are disbursed to the API Community. For example, CID businesses struggled to obtain PPP from the federal government and small business support from the City of Seattle. I’m so impressed that API leaders rallied around your community and raised $900,000 in small business relief. As Mayor, I’d commit to providing small business support or even matching those donations.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

I’ve been working as the Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club for 7 years. I worked everyday for 7 years to try and solve this City’s homelessness crisis. I saw everyday how much our leaders have failed this City. It’s why I entered this race. I know I can solve this crisis. I’m the only candidate with actual experience building affordable housing and providing services to the homeless community.

I’ve also served on the Community Police Commission for 4 years. I I joined after the murder of John T. Williams. In both my work with homelessness and as a Commissioner, I saw firsthand the Mayor and City Council’s disregard for establishing accountability in the police department. I saw police officer misconduct go unpunished. I even sent complaints about officers targeting our homeless community but who remained on the force.

In my 40+ Town Halls I heard over and over again that these two priorities, and related issues such as affordable housing, are what Seattle residents are most concerned about. Being grounded in community and directly listening to Seattlies is how I came to these priorities, and how I would determine my priorities as Mayor.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I’m very lucky to have strong relationships with numerous API leaders and community members. I’m also very lucky to have heard from API residents all over the City. I’ve heard three common themes: 1) homelessness, 2) public safety, 3) economic recovery which I have already spoken about directly. My husband and children are also API, and I know a concern that I have as a partner and a mother is the stark increase in API hate crimes. We have so much work to do to stop this violent racism. I will ensure that our City addresses these hate crimes head on and prosecutes them as such. I will also work to proactively stop misinformation about our API neighborhoods and residents.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

We have an AAPI’s for Colleen Committee, a group of volunteers and supporters who are spreading the word about my campaign. In addition to my campaign manager, we have API in prominent roles in all aspects of the campaign: consultants, volunteers, Kitchen Cabinet, Policy, and Youth teams. I have conducted over 40 Town Halls all over Seattle including a Chinatown-International District one. I also recently went on a walking tour of Little Saigon hosted by Friends of Little Saigon. I believe strongly that our City government is not available to our residents, particularly our residents of color. I seek to change that. I want to create the most accessible City Hall that Seattle has ever seen. I will also lead based on the expertise of those with lived experience.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

Michael Byun, Anne Xuan Clark, Priya Frank, Theresa Fujiwara, Bookda Gheisar, Rahul Gupta, Migee Han, Katie Hong, Mari Horita, Mary Hsu, Lyn Wong Hunter, Bree Kame’enui, Anne Katahira, Grace Kim, Marie Kurose, LiLi Liu, Mai Nguyen, Tam Nguyen, Nina Park, Sili Savusa, Sue Taoka, Wendy Watanabe, Boting Zhang

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Don L. Rivers

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

I want a direct link. I want ambassadors from all POC. To have direct access to the Mayors Office. Safety is a main concern.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

I have to do a audit of all departments some forensic to see where money can be reallocated if not producing the needs of Seattle citizens.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I ran 10 times for office. They knows me, traveling the world speaking on cultural competency and understanding. peace negotiations . In North and South Korea . All through Asia for decades. I got a plan. I call the 3 L’s – Listen, Learn and then lead.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

My campaign is diverse. We listen and engage in people concerns. I am a black and Native man we know about oppression. Racial systemic practices. At this point we need a humanitarian to get things done. Not another politician. Check out my website www.donlrivers.com more info there.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

I was mentor by many greats And I’ve mentored many greats like Governor Gary Lock. I’m not new to this I’ve been an activist and a mentor to many elect official, over 300, so I really don’t need an endorsement at this point. I just need to continue to be the activist that I am and stand on convictions of righteousness and humanitarian first thought process in life. I’ve mentored many greats like Gary Locke and mentored many before and after him. I’m not new to this I’ve been an activist and a mentor to many elect officials over 300. The people will decide at the end.

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James Donaldson

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

1)Building back a strong economy post-covid. Our Asian and Pacific islander communities were negatively effected immensely by covid on the economic front, and prioritizing small business owners and workers from these communities in the form of tax credits and subsidies from the city will make sure we can properly recover from these economic struggles we have faced

2) Helping to coordinate a regional response to address our homeless crisis working with other jurisdictions at the tri-county and state levels. This directly impacts our Asian and Pacific Islander neighbors that are currently struggling and homeless, and have been for too long neglected by city government in the form of oversight with collaboration of resources to get them off the streets, as well as Asian and Pacific Islander business owners that are dealing with public health and safety issues this crisis causes around their storefronts.

3) Supporting our first responders, the men and women of our police and fire departments putting their lives on the line every day for the people of our community. I have spoken to many folks around our city from the Asian and Pacific Islander community, and violent crimes towards these neighbors has drastically increased during the pandemic. We must support our officers and enforce prosecutions when these crimes occur, and we are not currently doing so to the standard our city is capable of.

4) Provide more transportation choices so people have viable, reliable and inexpensive ways of moving around our city.

5) Affordable housing for people at all income levels.

6)Environmental stewardship.

7) Youth engagement/ empowerment with constructive out-of- school activities, apprenticeships, financial literacy and job opportunities.

8) Affordable and reliable childcare for working families.

9) I hear over and over that the residents, workers and business owners of Seattle want more of a focus on basic services – the humble acts ofgovernment that make a difference in the quality of our lives, including safe streets, clean parks, and transportation infrastructure improvements such as filling potholes and providing crosswalks at busy intersections.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

The high cost of living and out-of-reach  housing costs for many working families 2) Public safety and addressing the complexity of root  causes of homelessness more effectively on a regional basis with a coordinated response 3) The  city needs to track performance measures with the goal that public investments are helping people  exit homelessness to build more productive lives with job prospects, meeting their mental and  physical health care needs, and providing substance abuse treatment. Concern for public safety is a part of what is compelling me to run for Mayor and it’s a top of-mind issue for a growing number of people in Seattle. I have had many people tell me  that they didn’t use to pay too much attention to local politics but they are now engaged in  the outcome of this election because they are deeply unsatisfied with the state of our city  and would like to see changes. I do not think it is safe or hygienic to condone people  sleeping in tents in public places. I would like to work with other elected officials at the  city, county and state level along with members of our community on developing a multi county funding package and coordinated approach to ensure vulnerable members of our  community have transitional housing and ultimately permanent housing coupled with  supportive services and substance abuse treatment to address their mental, physical and  emotional needs.  

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

Living here in Seattle for the last 40 years, and being involved with Asian and Pacific Islander communities such as the Washington Cultural Exchange, International schools in China, and the Seattle Ethnic Chamber of Commerce, I have first hand seen the issues facing these communities. Anti-Asian and Pacific Islander hate crimes have drastically risen under our current leadership, and concern for public safety is a part of what is compelling me to run for Mayor and it’s a top of-mind issue for a growing number of people in these communities.

I have had many people tell from Asian and Pacific Islander communities tell me that they didn’t use to pay too much attention to local politics but they are now engaged in the outcome of this election because they are deeply unsatisfied with the state of our city and would like to see changes. I do not think it is safe or hygienic to condone people sleeping in tents in public places. I would like to work with other elected officials at the city, county and state level along with members of our community on developing a multi county funding package and coordinated approach to ensure vulnerable members of our community have transitional housing and ultimately permanent housing coupled with supportive services and substance abuse treatment to address their mental, physical and emotional needs.

Another key issue facing these communities is property taxes. I believe we should waive any property taxes due on their home that they have lived in for at least 30 years, or they themselves are at least 75 years of age and they are the homeowner.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

Our campaign has hosted events such as meet and greets at local Asian and Pacific Islander owned businesses, as well as talked to many and had productive conversations with business owners and residents in Chinatown and surrounding neighborhoods that have the highest populations of Asian and Pacific Islander residents.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

David Leong

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Jessyn Farrell

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

The top issues of my campaign all intersect in the drive to create a more just and equitable Seattle where we can all afford to live and thrive: setting Seattle on a course to actually meet our climate goals, funding a massive investment in affordable housing to create 70,000 new units of housing and a variety of income types around the region’s 54 new transit centers, and establishing universal birth-to-5 childcare accessible to every parent in the city regardless of where they live.

I’m campaigning on big, bold investments in affordable housing, universal childcare, and climate-conscious infrastructure to help lower family costs and put money back in people’s pockets. In particular, Asian and Pacific Islander working families stand to benefit from our campaign’s policy to create subsidized childcare centers accessible in every neighborhood, both because of the disproportionately high costs of childcare for those families and because of the upward pressure on wages created by the surge in high-quality jobs in staffing those facilities. Finally, my proposal for a huge public investment in affordable housing is intentionally crafted to create alternative pathways to housing stability for those Asian and Pacific Islander working families who have been excluded from the opportunity to build intergenerational wealth through homeownership by redlining and predatory lending practices that preceded the Great Recession.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

I’ve chosen to run on these issues because my years of experience as a policy advocate have shown these are the areas where the government can do the most to lower household costs and improve the lives of folks who our economy does not provide for. My decision to highlight these issues also stems from my work leading Governor Inslee’s COVID economic recovery taskforce, where I had the opportunity to meet with and listen to countless community members from across the state about which needs they struggled to meet during the pandemic.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

In my three terms as a state legislator, I was proud to be a fierce advocate for all of my constituents, including those in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The most important lesson I learned from engaging with those community members is that the A&PI community is far from a monolith and each community has its own specific needs. Broadly speaking, access to in-language services for government programs remains a significant barrier to equitable participation in our community. Finally, reversing the rising trend of hate crimes and racially-motivated harassment of A&PI members of our community throughout the pandemic will be a key priority for my administration.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

My campaign has made a priority out of providing translations of my website’s materials into both Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese, and we have been intentional about seeking input from policy experts with an A&PI background in developing our housing, climate, and gun violence prevention policies.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

Yes, Rep. Cindy Ryu of the 32nd Legislative District, Faith Li Pettis, and Emily Ho

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 Lorena González

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

Inclusion of immigrant and refugee communities has long been a priority of mine as a Councilmember; I come from the immigrant justice community and have served on boards for OneAmericaVotes, OneAmerica, and Casa Latina. When we fight for the inclusion for all immigrant communities, it means that every community can access education, opportunity, and prosperity. My campaign will build on my work as a Councilmember to build an equitable, inclusive city where we meet residents where they are and speak to them in their own languages.

I will continue to work on policies and programs to create more affordable housing so people can stay in their neighborhoods and it becomes easier for immigrants to open small businesses (Asians own the largest number of restaurants in Seattle!). I created and will continue to fund the Immigrant Legal Defense Network, the first program of its kind in Washington State to provide immigrants facing deportation with legal representation, as well as services to help undocumented immigrants and those seeking asylum to find a path to safety and security in Seattle. I will ensure that our systems and programs at the City become more welcoming, and help to repair the damage caused by the Trump Administration and COVID-19.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

My own lived experiences as the daughter of once-undocumented immigrants taught me empathy and the power of immigrants organizing to determine and implement their own priorities for justice and community well-being. I’ve spent years fighting side by side with other BIPOC folks, winning battles for crucial services like naturalization support, law enforcement that was responsive to the needs of immigrant communities, and, as we saw with the pandemic, there is ongoing need to include and engage immigrant communities early in every effort by local government to ensure no one is left behind because of their immigration status or what language they speak at home.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

One of the perks of organizing and advocating with the immigrant justice community has been developing close relationships and friendships with several Asian-American leaders in the Seattle area and I have prioritized having Asian-American representation on my staff as a Councilmember. These allies keep me updated and reach out when there are unique issues facing the Asian and Pacific Islander community, and they certainly keep me accountable to do right for our communities as immigrants.

These relationships have enabled me to turn gaps in service for Asian and Pacific Islander communities into legislation and investments, such as Council Bill 190029, which provided $1.5M in community safety investments for the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the wake of the March 2021 Atlanta spa shooting tragedy. Safety is an issue which cuts across API communities, but they are not all the same! COVID and its economic impacts have struck hard in different ways, and supporting elders with long-haul symptoms and their caregivers, workers who have lost jobs or wages, and small business owners trying to stay afloat will be critical responsibilities for the City to address. API families also are highly motivated to seek greater opportunity for their children; Seattle’s next Mayor must be able to navigate challenging partnerships with all levels of government to make sure Seattle is an excellent place for young people to learn, grow and thrive.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

I’ve been honored to have the support of strong community organizers and advocates from API communities, who’ve helped me find venues to listen and speak to their friends, neighbors, and colleagues. My campaign will be doing continued outreach and organizing in API communities.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

I’m proud to have the support of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Sudha Nandagopal, Vy Nguyen, Rich Stolz, Cindy Domingo, and many others in the API community.

City Council: Position 8

Teresa Mosqueda  

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

My priorities are to address the growing housing crisis and economic resilience for our Seattle families, workers, and small businesses. While I believe in broader coalition efforts to fight for what we all want, I believe we must especially focus on the attack on the rights and economic prosperity of immigrants and refugees, including those from Asian and Pacific Islander communities. I will fervently protect vulnerable folks from discrimination based on country of origin, especially those that are low-wage laborers and women, so that everyone in Seattle can benefit from our Covid recovery and future prosperity.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

Listening to impacted communities is how I always create policy, and not only listening by following their lead. Building a stronger, safer, more resilient Seattle that reflects all of our shared values through solving the housing crisis and promoting economic resilience will help all those who call Seattle home, especially those in marginalized communities. In housing – we must build more housing in the city so fewer people are getting displaced and pushed out of the city limits. The lack of affordable housing is causing more workers, and high numbers of workers of color specifically, to be pushed further away from their place of employment and community, causing Seattle to be the third highest mega commuter city in the country. To address this I am proud that of the $214 million JumpStart raises,  an estimated $135 million per year will go toward affordable housing, homeownership opportunities and more to address the housing and homelessness declared states of emergency by building more housing, preventing displacement, improving access to services, and protecting public land for public good. To achieve economic resilience, I will work diligently for equitable access to help for small businesses, support for low workers, and investments in economic activity to create greater resilience across our city. Investments in childcare and out-of-school activities will support workers and small businesses to get back to work safely.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

Asian and Pacific Islander communities have a deep history within Seattle, and their needs and priorities are interrelated with the health and prosperity of the city as a whole. We also have a dark and horrific history in this region of engaging in racist targeting of API communities that led to many families and residents losing their homes, small businesses and being separated from families when families were sent to camps. The recent uptick in racist violence and harassment against these communities has been appalling, and building trust with other communities and working to stop such violence and rebuild safety is essential for the future. Additionally, many restaurants in the International District have been suffering more than those in surrounding neighborhoods. The xenophobic rhetoric around the virus has impacted many Asian and Pacific Islander communities and has caused customers to shy away from their restaurants. Increasing the economic prosperity in the International District and preventing further gentrification is crucial for helping uplift Seattle’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

I am so proud to have earned the endorsements of APACE along with the community leaders mentioned below because they know that throughout my career I have been a coalition builder, reaching out to community, bringing everyone to the table, and working collaboratively to deliver workable solutions. I have also hosted a campaign event at Hood Famous to highlight the need for our community to support API small business owners, especially in the CID in the wake of COVID, the subsequent racist tropes against the API community and growing hate crimes. Our campaign event was an opportunity to drive business to support small business in the CID, and to call attention to the experience of API and women small business owners.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

 US Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-7th CD); State Senator Joe Nguyen (D-34th LD); State Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-32nd LD); Former State Rep. Velma Veloria (D-11th LD); Former Seattle City Councilmember and Former Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell; Candace Inagi, formerly with ACRS; Derek Lum, APACE; Doris Koo, Affordable Housing Advocate; Frank Irigon, Community Justice and API Leader; Hiroshi Nakano, Valley Medical Center; Janet Chung, Women’s Rights, Health, and Economic Justice Advocate; Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown ID Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda); Sudha Nandagopal, Environmental Advocate; Kristina Logston; Binah Palmer; Uncle Frank Irigon

Kenneth Wilson

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

My top campaign priorities are Homelessness, Infrastructure including West Seattle Bridge, and protecting Seattle’s Critical Green Canopy in Development.  My focus is on improving the quality of life for all citizens.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

It was never my career path as a professional civil engineer and bridge structural engineer (PE SE) with 30-years of experience on infrastructure projects to run for public office.  However, with the City of Seattle allowing through mismanagement of our important infrastructure and poor maintenance the creation of an island community of West Seattle, it has become very apparent that our City Council must immediately include technical partners such as myself.  We are at a critical point in our infrastructure, where there are major upgrades and rehabilitation necessary for power, water, sewer, storm water, and bridge facilities, including partnering with Sound Transit to bring new valuable transportation modes to all communities.  Our council is missing important information and opportunities that would be best served by having a technical person knowledgeable and experienced with heavy infrastructure.  All communities have seen the City Council’s statements for years regarding the emergency status of homeless conditions, but for the last 6 years these situations along with addictions and mental problems have become magnitudes worse and more extensive throughout our region making sanctuaries in our parks, schools, and next to the downtown Courthouse.  A situation that even King County is now stepping in to override our inattentive council and take on the matter themselves in condemnation of this City property.  Our communities have also seen, including even my own important infrastructure projects locally for SDOT and Sound Transit, where important critical green canopy that sustain our environment and moderate the built City temperature torn out and destroyed.  My expertise and training in infrastructure make me a unique candidate in being able to ensure that projects improve quality of life for the city’s occupants in a timely manner and on budget.  These are my most important priorities that if completed well and efficiently now can pay dividends and create added value for all our communities including A&PI communities for generations to come.  

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

Our campaign is very new, just now working to find and consider Asian and Pacific Islander community issues in Seattle, and frankly speaking not yet very knowledgeable.  I am very familiar with the Asian communities concerns regarding trends of hate and violence directed toward them.  To me this is unacceptable, and I feel very strongly about correcting the roots and misunderstandings that might drive such problems and assuring that policing and the judicial responsiveness is supported, consistent, and just.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

Current work has included seeking out invitation to the July A&PI Candidate forum and reading webpage information of your community partners.  Our family friendships happened naturally through mutual interests with those in this A&PI community.  My wife and daughters are musicians and have met many of their Asian friends in this community as well.  My college roommate (high school friend) is Pacific Islander, as is my step-mother.  My college-age older daughter is in a serious 3-year relationship with a young man she met in her engineering classwork at school who is an Indian national.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

No current endorsement.

Kate Martin

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

My priorities are all on my website: https://electkatemartin.com 

How did you determine these policy priorities?

Years of paying attention to city government, raising my family here, running my business here and volunteering from one end of the city to the other.  

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I don’t single out any community, but rather conclude that we’re all in this together and that solutions need to help all people, not just some people. 

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

I worked on cleaning out abandoned encampments from Jose Rizal park for 5 Saturdays earlier this year and was able to meet and talk to many residents of Beacon Hill, including Asian and Pacific Islander communities at those clean ups as well as at the recent celebration at the park. 

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

 I don’t think so. 

Jordan Elizabeth Fisher

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

– Challenge and reform systems of oppression that perpetuate the same cycles of poverty, lack of resources, and aid. Focus on healing an individual verses subjecting them to the traumas of our criminal justice system and shame.

I want to protect marginalized communities from the modern day slavery institutions that our criminal justice system perpetuates. This system inhibits opportunities, reform, expansion, unity, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Addiction is a tricky subject because I think what works for some people is different from others. The programs I do see working consistently incorporate a level of acceptance back into the community instead of shame. Currently, we have way too many programs that do not meet this basic need of acceptance monopolized in our court system. Someone struggling with addiction has to want to get clean, not be forced or pressured into it. Creating healing environments, utilizing aspects of plant medicine, ceremony, nature, are all components i’d like to see expanded in options presented to the public without a $30k price tag. 

– Set up and incentivize a public interface in which citizens can interact with their government and hold them accountable. In addition, upgrading the technology in our city; including machine learning/AI technology, access to internet, blockchain.

 As we get organized, we get more powerful. With blockchain, we would have considerable control over our legislative practices and be able repeal red tape put there by self-serving lobbyists. I would propose integrating a voting system or Pulse in which each Seattle resident could be assigned a wallet and an equal distribution of tokens that gives them an opportunity to cast a vote, like GoFundMe. Residents would have the capability to determine how grants are allocated, city projects, elections, small business ventures, property development, how much Police or Social Workers are funded. Blockchain allows for accountability and impacts to be already programmed in. Our elections would have integrity; people could provide feedback, fresh ideas, suggestions from new voices who want to contribute, and log complaints that would otherwise go unnoticed. 

– Audit and measure the effectiveness of our city budget, tax dollars, and how they are being used. Find and divest from programs or non-profits that lack results or necessity to the city.

We have the technology available to audit how every donation or tax dollar is spent while measuring the efficiency of those allocations. This can be achieve through either blockchain technology or machine learning.

A great example is state and federal money that is consistently misused by many Non-profits who have had a stronghold on these funds. Allowing this technology to sort through, rank, and recommend which ones are deserving of funds (voted on by the people) could save us a substantial amount of money in the long run and streamline change.

Here is an example of an unnecessary expense the city spends:

The Seattle Times reported that “The Seattle-area vacancy rate was higher in 2020 than at any point in the last decade, according to CoStar. The 7.3% rate was up from 5.8% from a year earlier”. Furthermore, the city of Seattle spent $627k just on monitoring vacant buildings? With office vacancies rising to 17%, this spending will most likely only worsen as many companies are transitioning to remote work.

Blockchain technology would monitor, tax, and incentivize homeowners/ investors who have vacant homes flagged by the city. 

Rather than solely taxing or fining these owners, we could levy a program in which vetted homeless individuals could access vacant housing, provide necessary upkeep, or even small renovation projects based on the experience of the individual—resulting in a large portion of the homeless population getting access to housing and saving the city money, which would go towards helping more complex problems associated with homelessness.

One of the more useful applications of this technology, is that it would allow homeless people the ease of access to register and vote in our elections. Especially, on charter amendments that directly impact them.

Finally, blockchain is being implemented worldwide, and I feel like the United States is getting left behind. Before regulations are imposed by big businesses, banks, lobbyists, etc., I’d like to set the example for what the future of this technology holds for the city of Seattle. It is not a matter of if it will be implemented, it is a matter of when!

Getting our budget in order would provide substantial resources we could flood our communities with.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

I came up with these policies because I feel there is a big disconnect from what the city of Seattle wants/needs versus what is implemented or relayed to the public. There is virtually no communication, no discourse, no strategy sessions, or brainstorming with the average public citizen. Seattle is allocated $600+ billion dollars of funding every year and I know that budget is being squandered due to a lack of technology, political favors, and prioritizing outdated systems instead of prioritizing an equitable community. Yes, these are big picture implementations, however I feel they will have the most impact on society as a whole.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

My best friend from childhood, Leona Mullen, is from Micronesia and i’ve learned a lot from her, her partner, and her large family over the years. Here are some of the key issues presented to me from this family:

– There seems to be a level of discrimination against this community that alarms me, specifically relating to access to housing, employment, education, and healthcare.  

Fractionalizing Real Estate, similar to a real estate investment trust would bring much needed equity and wealth building opportunities to current renters. They would also be able to dictate a fair rental price instead of landlords. 

Expanding Pre-K so that childcare costs do not keep families living paycheck to paycheck.

Make internet a public utility as it is classified as a human right by the United Nations

Opening up publicly funded health clinics and expand methods of treatment towards a more holistic approach and away from evangelical treatment centers or big pharmaceutical influence.

Access to education, financial literacy, and jobs that pay a livable wage should be transparent, accessible, and easy to understand. 

Reforming systems of our oppressive criminal justice center is key. Investing in community policing, social workers, mental healthcare workers, crisis response teams to ensure public safety versus relying on a police union who continuously demonstrates a practice of criminalizing poverty is important. 

Creating a public interface that incentivizes participation from residents will help move progressive legislation much quicker. I truly believe we are running out of time to save the environment and prevent or prepare for a disastrous economic meltdown that is looming. 

– Not everyone is meant to work a 9-5 job or 3 jobs for that matter. The educational system and government don’t provide much clarity or emphasis on how to maximize creative talents, self-employment, and trade jobs in a way that would support cultures financially. I feel like our society is set up to use immigrants, people of color, and low income communities as slave labor. Offering jobs that don’t support a livable wage or healthcare often lead to a continuing cycle of poverty, early death, or jail.

The process of starting a business is confusing and pressuring instead of supportive. Information that is provided by the government is written in a language that the average person is intimidated by. I’d really like an opportunity to restructure the process of such systems in a way that meets the needs of each culture. We need to start emphasizing more opportunities outside of tech and finance. In addition, streamlining access to financial literacy, resources, aid, education, and training without the need for traditional documentation is imperative to help those integrating into the community. Climate change and U.S. intervention that destabilize other countries will bring even more immigrants and refugees to our country. A shift of priorities that emphasize a solidarity of people and respect for culture versus emphasizing division is what’s most important to me. Seattle needs to set the example, not enable alienation.

– This may be controversial to put out there as well, but what has been relayed to me directly is a disparity between the generations in this culture. Much of the youth seem to want more expression of their culture in public, to predicate the worth of someone on merit versus a traditional caste system, and to be fully accepted by the community for who they are and their culture. Whatever I can do to support both generations to feel safe expressing pride in their culture is a big priority to me.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

I am working diligently 12+ hours a day to ensure every demographic of the community has their voice heard and policies met on my platform. In addition, I am prioritizing voices of the community who have been marginalized by systemic oppression.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

As I am the candidate, treasurer, content creator, website designer, and advertiser for this campaign it has been challenging to prioritize fundraising for donations while I refine my message. I know this is important to most political committee’s and hope that for the primary election this can be overlooked. I am an outsider in the political world. I know my heart, intelligence, and adaptability. I know I would be a wise leader who would prioritize and emphasize the needs of the most vulnerable over corporate interests. I have consistently demonstrated leadership, wisdom, and activism throughout my life. I feel I am at a place where I can put my hard work, knowledge, and skills towards the community as a full time job versus working an unfulfilling job at a corporation. This is my passion and my life’s purpose.

City Council Position 9

Photo courtesy of ACRS.

Brianna Thomas

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

My campaign has three priorities: equitable COVID19 recovery and supporting small businesses, criminal justice reform, and building a sustainable Seattle. All of these priorities impact the quality of life for Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle. Asian, and especially Pacific Islander American, communities were hit hard by COVID19 and hit early, ensuring they have language access supports means they are able to fully participate in all of our recovery efforts. This includes our small business owners. Criminal justice reform under my watch will ensure we are not allowing immigrants and refugees to be fed to the deportation pipeline or school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and brown communities. Our students, especially students made invisible by aggregated data should be supported to achieve their full potential, not treated like they don’t belong or criminalized. Access to education and opportunity has been crucial to me becoming a candidate, and I will work for that as a Councilmember for every family.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

My campaign priorities are a result of over a decade of work on behalf of working families, by listening to the many impacted communities, trusted leaders and advocates. Oftentimes, the answers to many of the challenges we face are already in our communities. Much of my work and views is built on working in coalitions and partnerships with people who agree AND with people who disagree (at first) on what is the best path forward to move us towards progress. 

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I have close relationships with several Asian-American leaders in the Seattle area who I learn from, whether it’s about their community or their issues. The pandemic has magnified a number of the challenges that so many families face on basic needs like food access, internet access, and this is shared by small business owners. We need to provide support and relief for individuals and families who have been hit hard by the pandemic. And as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, there are many families who are concerned about what this means about access to good jobs and opportunity for themselves and their children. Access to living wage jobs and opportunity is part of my campaign platform as a vital part of equitable COVID19 recovery and a sustainable Seattle.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

My campaign has worked diligently to engage with the close to 100 organizations, unions, and community groups that have reached out over the last few months. From forums, to volunteer recruitment, to community roundtables, my campaign has focused outreach on Asian and Pacific Islander communities as well as Black and Indigenous people of color because we cannot have a truly equitable democracy until we prioritize those most impacted by the issues and crises we’re facing.

I’m deeply committed to uplifting and listening to those who’ve been left out systemically, so my campaign team including consultants is mostly women and majority POC. While I only have two paid campaign staff, one of them is first generation Southeast Asian. 

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

Joe Nguyen, Joaquin Uy, Vy Nguyen, Nicole Keenan, Trang Tu, Cindy Ryu, Steve Hobbs, Mona Das

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Nikkita Oliver 

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle?

1. Affordable Housing and Housing & Homelessness Support

The housing affordability crisis and the state of emergency regarding homelessness are only worsening. The City has failed to effectively address the root causes of these crises. We must build green, social, affordable housing, invest in cooperatives and community land trusts, and increase our short term and mid-term support for residents without homes such as parking lot programs, hotel-based housing and care, and tiny house villages.

The Chinatown International District is deeply impacted by the housing affordability and livability crisis as well as the state of emergency regarding homelessness. More affordable housing means more people, including workers in the Chinatown International District, can live closer to work, play, services, and amenities. This will decrease commute times, improve safety in the CID through positive presence, and decrease the impacts of the crisis on rent burdened workers.

Getting residents without homes into safer, more stable places will decrease the number of houseless residents in the CID that are experiencing crises outside without effective support systems. This will increase safety for the residents and elders of the CID, as well as increase safety and the quality of life for residents without homes. Doing so will also respond to the safety concerns many in the CID have expressed. At the root of these safety concerns is the failure of the City to get people into homes because we have not provided enough affordable housing, supportive housing (with the requisite social services), and non-congregate shelter spaces fast enough to meet the need in the City.

2. Transportation for All

Many workers, especially those who live on the edges of the City, lack access to rapid, affordable, efficient public transit. This includes workers who work in the CID or Downtown Seattle but cannot afford to live in the CID or park in the CID.

High-capacity, efficient, rapid transit to BIPOC neighborhoods such as Beacon Hill, White Center, South Park, Rainier Beach and farther South in King County will ensure that more BIPOC communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander communities, have access to affordable (if not free) public transportation. Many AA and PI families are cost-burdened with rent, mortgages, and transportation. By alleviating costs, we can decrease the impacts of the racial wealth gap.

**I want to recognize that Asian communities are not a monolith and do not experience economic marginalization in the same way across tall Asian communities. Some Asian communities are statistically doing better when it comes to access to wealth and high-earning jobs than others. It is important that we disaggregate data and have policy conversations about the specific needs of each Asian community.

3. Achieving our Climate Goals

Neighborhoods like Beacon Hill are impacted by very high rates of environmental pollution from the freeway, airplanes, and freight traffic. If we are to achieve our climate goals, we need to build green, decrease the number of cars on the road, increase urban density, improve how freight moves through the city so that they spend less time idling, and address the impacts of flight paths upon communities. Taking these steps will improve health and health outcomes for Asian and Pacific Islander communities living on Beacon Hill, in South Park, Rainier Beach, and the SODO.

In addition to building green, increasing our urban density, and building an accessible and affordable transportation system for all, we need to weatherize and retrofit existing homes and buildings. The City of Seattle has a weatherization program for low-come homes. Weatherization is key to decreasing utility costs and will help keep more elders on fixed incomes and low-income families in their homes.

One of the major concerns for many BIPOC communities related to the climate catastrophe is food insecurity. We need to continue to grow spaces like the Beacon Hill Food Forest and the Rainier Beach Food Innovation District to ensure that our communities, even in the midst of the climate crisis, have access to healthy, local, sustainable foods.

4. Public Health & Safety
Everyone deserves a public health and safety system that works for them.

When people’s basic needs are met, we build safety. Meeting basic needs is a baseline for community safety. Our city deserves better options than violent policing and mass incarceration as our only choices for public safety. The majority of what we call crime happens because people do not have their basic needs met. In order for us to create the safer city we imagine, we need affordable and social housing, equitable transportation, affordable childcare, fully funded schools with school counselors, restorative justice coordinators, and health services, more culturally responsive and accessible youth programs, health and sex education that teaches healthy relationships, accessible mental health supports, an array of community-based options for supporting domestic violence survivors and restorative and transformative responses for those who cause harm, civilianized 911, community-based drug user supports, and thriving wage employment opportunities. We must make investments in mobile mental health and crisis support teams immediately, so we can get the right care to people experiencing emergencies when they need it.

Asian and Pacific Island communities are impacted by a failed system of public safety and police brutality. Tommy Le (murdered by the King County sheriff deputy) and Iosia Faletogo (murdered by the Seattle Police Department) were murdered by police in our region. Tommy Le deserved to be met with mental health support and not by armed officers. A traffic stop, being pulled over for an improper lane change, never should have resulted in Iosia Faletogo being murdered by Seattle Police. Police should no longer be doing traffic stops or pretextual stops. These were preventable deaths.

We cannot thrive as a city when some of our neighbors are being left behind. Many in our City are being pushed out by the rising cost of housing, over policing and criminalization, and an overall lack of access to supportive services and opportunities to not simply meet basic needs but to ensure people can be self-determined and have control over their own lives. Equity and justice for all means that your race, gender, where you were born or the work you do does not prevent you from living a whole, healthy, thriving life. Thriving means that we have the right to joy, to health, to rest, to work, to balance, not just to getting by. We need economic, social, racial, and environmental justice, and a radical redistribution of wealth and political power to have the safer city of which we dream.

Meeting basic needs and developing, strengthening, and growing prevention and intervention systems for the whole of the City will make a safer city for everyone; including our Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

How did you determine these policy priorities?

Policy priorities are determined by what we hear from communities most impacted by historic and present day systemic oppression and inequities in our City. We believe that those who have proximity to struggle should also have proximity to power to be able to develop and implement the solutions that will dismantle oppressive systems and ensure racial, economic/class, and gender equity for our communities.

We determined these top priorities by talking with a broad cross-section of impacted community members throughout our city and region, deep canvassing, mutual aid, and community organizing. Unlike most campaigns and people running for office, Nikkita4Nine is deeply rooted in and in relationship with those communities most impacted by the crises in our region.

We also held a worker policy summit to hear from workers what their goals and priorities are for our region. Our working class and low-income families face many obstacles to thriving in our city and region from a lack of affordable housing, the rising cost of rent, high-transportation costs, an inaccessible public transportation system, lack of access to high-earner jobs and workers protections, a lack of affordable childcare, food insecurity, the high cost of utilities, and environmental and climate injustice.

We are in the process of organizing many more community listening posts. The goal of community listening posts is to come together to develop an evolving community platform that identifies the priorities and solutions of communities living and/or working in Seattle, and those who have been gentrified out of Seattle, who have been impacted by racism, ableism, poverty, police violence and other core areas where City policy can make a difference. This will change our platform and will change it for the better.

As organizers and members of impacted communities we have identified some policy areas and possible solutions. None of this is set in stone–nor should it be. The greatest flaw of most electeds is the inability to change course when the community tells them to move in a different direction. The platform, policies, and solutions we develop together will chart the course for our next four years in office together continuing to build on the movements that have already brought us to this moment.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

I am familiar with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities, but I will never pretend to have a holistic view of what is needed in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Communities should have the opportunity to speak truth to power and identify their own needs and solutions.

A few issues that I am aware of:

  1. It is important to not speak of Asian and Pacific Islander communities as a monolith. Asianand Pacific Islander communities have different needs and identities. Furthermore, even within Asian and Pacific Islander communities, there are unique communities that have their own histories, experiences, needs, and views. It is important to take time to learn more about these nuances and to build collaboratively and specifically, rather than via generalizations or stereotypes.
  2. Language services and accessibility remain a major issue for many Asian and Pacific Islander communities when it comes to city services, city council meetings, and other aspects of city government.
  3. There have been requests made to the City, specifically from Asian communities, to provide more residents with immigration support through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.
  1. Graduation rates in Pacific Islander communities. PI youth have specific needs and the City and school district need to do a better job of responding to those specific needs with culturally relevant and rooted services and supports.
  2. The rising violence and hate against Asian and Pacific Islander communities, especially in ways exacerbated during and because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. The very high rates of COVID-19 amongst Pacific Islander communities. In fact, PI communities have some of the highest rates of COVIDin our entire region. These data are likely due to the fact that many PI households are intergenerational.
  4. The lack of affordability and gentrification of theChinatown International District. There are many who oppose the building of new hotels.
  5. Many Asian elders and seniors live in the Chinatown International District. Senior services and safety are a major concern and need.
  6. There is a lack of affordable housing and residential parking in the Chinatown International District.
  7. Within Asian and Pacific Islander communities, there are sometimes disagreements between the youth, young adults, and elders. The City of Seattle has often taken advantage of this and pitted communities against each other. This is a bad practice that causes harm to communities. It needs to stop. We need to find better ways to build communities intergenerationally, respectfully, and multiculturally.
  8. Environmental injustice and the climate crisis have disproportionate impacts on neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach, SODO, and South Park. Pollution from planes, freight, and automobiles on major freeways are grave and cause many health issues.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

Nikkita has been organizing with the CID Coalition for a number of years. We know that actions of hate against Asian and Pacific Islander communities have increased throughout the pandemic. One way to decrease violence and create safer communities is through mutual aid, neighborhood beautification, and community presence. We worked alongside the CID Coalition to host a neighborhood clean-up day in the CID where we provided food to all participants, residents and those living in the CID without homes. We also supported planning, staging, clean-up, and purchasing of food and supplies. We plan to do this again in the future.

We are endorsed by Unite HERE! Local 8. UH8 represents lots of members of the AAPI community who work in hotels and other areas of the hospitality industry. UH8 informed us that many Chinese and Latinx workers, specifically those Chinese workers who speak Cantonese, were not getting equitable access to vaccines. So we organized a vaccination clinic with UH8 specifically for UH8 workers. We had translation services, food and care packages, and hot meals for workers. Through the clinic we were able to get 48 people fully vaccinated.

Sili Savusa, the Executive Director of the White Center Community Development Association, is a friend and mentor. Through meeting with her over the years and recently during the election, the campaign has been working on developing a deeper understanding of the needs of our Pacific Islander community, White Center, and the Highline area. Specifically, we discussed the rising cost of housing and property, gentrification and displacement, the lack of affordable housing, what would it look like if White Center were to be incorporated into Seattle, and what are the needs and demands of the White Center and PI communities more broadly.

Of our 8 member campaign team, 4 identify as asian: Indian, Vietnames, and Pakistani. Many of whom are deeply involved in organizing and advocacy in their respective communities and bring their lived experience into our work on the campaign.

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

Sili Savusa*, former Highline School District School Board Director and current Executive Director of White Center Community Development Association
Sutapa Basu*, Executive Director of the University of Washington Women’s Center
Velma Veloria, Former State Representative 11th Legislative District

  • Cindy Domingo*, Board Member, Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing (among many other things)
  • Julie Chang-Schulman*, Organizer with Forever Safe Spaces
  • Lalita Uppala*, Commissioner with the Washington State Commission on Asian Affairs
  • Shomya Tripathy*, Director of Policy and Civic Engagement at Asian Counseling and Referral Services and Seattle South Asians for Black Lives

* : Indicates an individual endorsement, which does not necessarily reflect the views of the endorser’s associated organization

Are you okay with your response to this questionnaire being published? We plan on translating and publishing responses in order to make voter education more accessible to A&PI residents in Seattle.

YES.

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Sara Nelson

What are your campaign’s policy priorities, and how will they impact Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? 

Economic Recovery: Thousands of businesses have closed or moved out of Seattle. Tens of thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of people have lost their jobs and Seattle’s working families are hurting as a result. Our neighborhood business districts are struggling, our downtown core is boarded up, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to achieve a long-term, equitable economic recovery. It’s important to note that the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing challenges many businesses and organizations face. As a small business owner, I know what businesses need to survive this pandemic and thrive as we reopen. In addition, we need to incentivize growth that preserves housing and amenities in our predominantly ethnic neighborhoods for the people who live there now, such as Little Saigon. The Chinatown/International District (CID) in particular is experiencing rapid development that threatens to price out the elderly and working class people who have called the neighborhood home for generations.

There are many steps City leadership could take right now to help neighborhood small businesses and protect the jobs they provide but City Council is not acting with any urgency whatsoever. It’s time for the missing perspective of a  small business owner on Council!

Public Safety: Public safety is a central policy issue in my campaign because it lies at the heart of a well-functioning city – both for residents and businesses – and Seattle is failing on this front. I support urgent calls for police reform and I’ve been working with leaders in the Black community such as Reverend Harriett Walden and Victoria Beach to determine my police reform platform.

At the same time, crime of all forms is on the rise and people – residents, employees, visitors – do not feel safe on our streets and in our open spaces or in our homes and workplaces. I expand on the impacts of crime in A&PI communities below. Crime is also driving businesses of all sizes out of town because they are burdened by theft, property crime, vandalism, violence, and employee harassment. Small businesses in particular are struggling. They create jobs (70% of private sector employees work at small businesses), spur innovation, and form the fabric of our neighborhoods and when they close or move away, so do the jobs and Seattle’s unique character. So public safety is also an economic recovery issue.

I am concerned about Council’s move to “defund” the police. Yes, we need to reduce police misconduct, abuse of force, and systemic racism but defunding SPD is the wrong approach. Good policing requires more money, not less, in order to pay for anti-bias and de-escalation training as well as support community policing patrols — – both of which are essential to reducing misconduct and ensuring that officers are accountable to the communities they serve. 

If elected, I will oppose indiscriminate cuts to SPD. 200 officers left the force in 2020 alone, leaving SPD staffing so thin that the average response time for Level 1 911 calls is 14 minutes. I will also work to restore funding to the Crisis Intervention Team and Community Police Officers. And I will take my lead from respected leaders in the Black community who want more policing — but accountable policing. As Chief Carmen Best said, we can walk and chew gum. Meaning, we can invest in both community safety and accountable law enforcement.

Homelessness. City spending on our homelessness crisis has doubled in the past three years and the problem continues to worsen. What’s going on in Seattle is a humanitarian and policy failure and our response to the growing number of people living unsheltered needs to be completely restructured. Homelessness should be treated as any other public health crisis — with compassion and resolve. First of all, we must stop thinking about people experiencing homelessness as a monolithic block. These are individuals who have become homeless for a number of different reasons. To get people off the streets and out of parks, the City must provide the specific services they need and invest only in service providers who meet performance benchmarks and succeed in getting people into stable, permanent homes. 

If elected, I will push for the City to accurately count and analyze our unsheltered population to understand how many people need what kind of services, how much that will cost, how to provide those services, and how we’ll pay for it with existing resources. Before creating a new, Seattle-only revenue stream, Council must show they can responsibly spend the money they already have. We must also track individuals to establish continuity of care. We must require that agencies communicate and share information with each other and with the City to eliminate redundancies and identify gaps in services. Finally, Seattle can’t go this alone. I’m impatient for the Regional Authority on Homelessness to get up and running and for other cities to step up to the plate with dollars to fund behavioral health services and housing options in their jurisdictions. 

Regarding encampments, unfortunately, it’s increasingly clear that they are a safety risk for both residents and surrounding neighborhoods. From exploitation and crimes committed against homeless residents, to property crime issues in surrounding neighborhoods, to health and hygiene issues, encampments are a problem – not a viable solution. Seattle owes it to all of our neighbors, housed and unhoused, to find another plan and I am committed to that. 

Basic City Services: There are five basic service departments listed in the Charter of the City of Seattle: transportation, parks, libraries, police, and fire. They don’t grab headlines often but they’re like housework: nobody notices it except when it’s not done. One reason why our bridges are failing and our streets full of potholes; our parks are overgrown with invasives and full of litter and tents; our libraries have reduced their hours of service; our community centers are in disrepair; and our fire department is short on staff and essential equipment is because Councilmembers are not doing their job to oversee the departments in their committee assignments and adequately fund these services. This is a violation of the oath they take to uphold the Charter. More importantly, it’s a broken promise to Seattle residents.

Basic services aren’t sexy but they touch everyone’s daily lives and marginalized communities depend even more on well-delivered and adequately funded basic services because they disproportionately rely on these public services such as libraries. If elected, I will require quarterly updates from the Directors of the department I oversee, track their annual work plans, and work closely with executive staff to make sure basic services are delivered right. I will also oppose any unreasonable cuts to basic services — and to me, a proposed cut must be backed up by facts and evidence that a project is unwarranted or adequate funding already exists for it to be reasonable. I will oppose attacks on critical services. 

How did you determine these policy priorities?

I served as a Legislative Aide for Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin for almost ten years and  focused primarily on transportation, land use, environmental, and economic development policy. In his office, I learned that to minimize negative impacts and unintended consequences, it’s imperative to dive into the complex details of legislative proposals and seek input from the widest possible range of stakeholders and constituents. I also learned how local government should work and if elected, I’ll waste no time getting to work on Seattle’s challenges and opportunities.

My husband and I own Fremont Brewing which is now the second largest independent craft brewery in Washington and we have over 70 full time employees. I’m proud that Fremont Brewing gives back to our community by partnering with and sponsoring a diverse array of organizations and by donating a lot of free beer to non-profits across the region. We provide extensive benefits to our employees such as paid family leave, a matching 401k plan, and a top-notch subsidized healthcare plan which we extend to their families. Finally, we lead the craft beer industry in sustainability. We were hit hard by COVID but we managed to retain all our employees and increase their hourly wage to make up for lost tips. I don’t just talk about being progressive. I lead with values shared by the vast majority of Seattleites and I get things done.

I’ve lived in Seattle for 30 years and I have a husband and two sons, aged 15 and 17. I love Seattle and I’m invested in its future. In addition to my personal life and professional experience, I’ve sought out issue experts, community leaders, neighborhood organizations, labor unions, former electeds, and advisors across the city to sharpen my priorities and inform my policy proposals. The mix of all these inputs has determined my policy priorities.

How familiar are you with issues facing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Seattle? What do you believe are some key issues?

First, what I understand is that the Asian and Pacific Islander community is not a monolithic block as it’s often treated in politics and the media. Issues of concern vary across generation, socio-economic status, country of origin, citizenship/immigrant/refugee status, neighborhood, age, and so on. I also don’t buy into the “model minority” myth which erases this diversity and blocks public resources from getting into the hands of individuals and specific segments of A&PI communities. 

That said, I’ve learned that there are some issues that cut across these differences, especially in the CID: crime in general and anti-Asian hate and violence in particular, the impacts of homelessness on the neighborhood, pedestrian safety or lack thereof, COVID’s impact on small businesses, displacement, and the vulnerability of the elderly to name a few.

One overarching issue is the paucity of resources the City provides to non-profits focused on the needs of A&PI communities. When I was working on City Council, it seemed like every budget season, highly effective organizations requested help in blocking cuts in the Mayor’s budget. I’m not an insider right now so I’m not privy to what’s going on these days but it’s been my experience that this peanut-buttering of scarce City resources ends up pitting social justice-oriented organizations against each other because they are competing for a slice of a limited pie. I say, grow the pie! I would like to learn from A&PI communities and the nonprofits that serve them how best to prioritize spending so you can fulfill your missions.

How has your campaign worked so far to engage Asian and Pacific Islander communities?

I toured the Chinatown neighborhood with Miss Nora Chan early in my campaign which is how I became aware of — or actually witnessed — these issues. She brought me to the International …[get name] and I spoke at length with a resident (name withheld for privacy) who told me stories of other residents being robbed or accosted on the street, having necklaces ripped from their neck, race-based violence and verbal assaults and many other examples of how rising crime rates are hitting the CID particularly hard. She told me that the police often fail to respond to 911 calls and when they do, the officer and caller cannot understand each other because of language barriers. 

If elected, I will work to increase the number of A&PI SPD officers who live in the CID to help reduce communication and cultural barriers. At the very least, I will invest much more resources in translation services by hiring neighborhood residents. This will require money for training in professional translation but that’s money well spent because it will create jobs. Speaking of translation, this same woman showed me several flyers on the walls from the City of Seattle about COVID safety and other topics. But they’re all in English! Next to them were posted flyers in Chinese that residents voluntarily produced and posted. This shows that the City needs to up its translation game and hiring native non-English speakers is a worthy investment — rather than contracting with for-profit translation services providers.

That same day I met with the owner of a prominent Chinese restaurant who told me that Trump’s linkage of the coronavirus with China had exacerbated the pandemic’s blow to business at his and other restaurants. That’s in addition to property damage and other street crime that predated the pandemic due to the City’s lax response to misdemeanor offenses. 

Walking around the neighborhood, Nora pointed out the dangerous condition of the streets and sidewalks: potholes, lack of curb cuts, very high curbs, cracks, faded crosswalks and other manifestations of poor maintenance. She told me that she shows every candidate she tours with the same thing and nothing ever improves. I told her that won’t happen on my watch and she looked at me wearily and said, “That’s what all politicians say.” I made an internal promise to bump up street and sidewalk repair in the CID on SDOT’s road maintenance work plan and surprise her when it actually gets done!

I’ve spoken at length with Maiko Winkler-Chin, Director of SCIDPDA to understand current neighborhood concerns (public safety, displacement) and the ongoing struggle for City support of SCIDPDA. That was always an issue when I staffed Councilmember Richard Conlin and our office was the go-to Councilmember office for support of SCIDPDA assessments, staffing needs, and so on. 

On my last trip to the CID, I had lunch with Tony Au who introduced me to prominent community leaders who had gathered in Hing Hay to launch the neighborhood campaign against defunding the police. They’d circulated petitions and planned to send a letter to the Mayor and Council opposing further cuts to SPD. 

I look forward to engaging with other people and organizations in A&PI communities to find out exactly what I can do for them on City Council. And I mean specific policies I can advance on their behalf. 

Have you been endorsed by any prominent Asian or Pacific Islander community leaders? If so, please list them.

David Della, Mike Fong, Tony Au, David Namura, Taylor Hoang, Elaine Ko, Julien Loh, Branden Sigua. 

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