David Freiboth, King County Labor Council
David Freiboth is executive secretary of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, the umbrella group for King County’s 125 AFL-CIO-affiliated unions. He serves on Mayor Murray’s 43-member transition team.
Address Seattle’s growing wealth inequity. Growing wealth inequity needs to be addressed while momentum of SeaTac’s minimum wage victory is fresh.
Get ahead of the minimum wage issue. If the city is going to study the issue, the process must be scaled to produce immediate, tangible direction with an end point. Resist those who want to study it to death. Failing to do so will result in a comprehensive initiative battle where outside forces will wage massive messaging wars.
Create living wage jobs. In addition to addressing unsustainable minimum wage jobs, wages for all low-wage workers need to be included in economic development. Livable wage job creation must be prioritized over raising the minimum wage for the lowest-paid workers. Aerospace, maritime, and the industrial sector still produce solid middle class employment. The same cannot be said for workers in nonunion retail and hospitality. No one should be left behind.
Lead the charge for better wages and jobs. High-profile infrastructure items like education and transportation remain priorities, but without well-paid consumers and taxpayers the resources to support such infrastructure will remain scarce—rebuilding the dwindling middle class is our only hope in this regard. Neither the market nor state and federal legislatures will address wage inequity, and it is up to progressive urban cores like Seattle to lead the way.
Eric de Place, Sightline Institute
Eric de Place researches and writes about transportation, development, climate, and other topics as policy director for the Sightline Institute, a public policy think tank that promotes sustainability in the Northwest.
Take notes on the state of Seattle’s roads and sidewalks. Go for a walk some evening north of 85th Street or south of Dearborn. Go for a bicycle ride to the Ballard Locks or simply bike to your new office at city hall. Go for a drive pretty much anywhere in the city. Jot down a few notes on Seattle’s appalling lack of sidewalks, profusion of scary intersections, and abysmal pavement conditions.
Get up to speed on funding. Read through any of the recent transportation funding packages that the state legislature has seriously considered in recent years. You may recall that you were head of the House Transportation Committee, during which time you passed two big revenue packages, in 2003 and 2005. This could take a while, so you’ll need to find a big chunk of time.
Ride the bus. Fortunately, you’ll find yourself with plenty of time for reading if you take a bus trip along Seattle’s most in-demand commute corridors, perhaps even at the bus stop while overcrowded coaches pass you by. (Once you get on the bus, however, it may be hard to read while being squashed in the standing-room-only aisles.)
Study the current transportation proposal. Linger over the Senate package currently under consideration that would devote 71 percent of funds to unpopular highway expansions while setting aside a paltry 20 percent to basic road repair and only 4 percent to bicycling, walking, transit, and other environmental priorities. Your bus is probably stuck in traffic right now, so you’ll have time to reread that section of the bill that holds Metro bus funding hostage as a bargaining chip.
If King County doesn’t support pork barrel roads spending elsewhere in the state, the county won’t even be allowed to pass a motor vehicle excise tax to pay for buses on our own dime. Without adequate bus service, city traffic is going to get a whole lot worse.
Bridge the state and city divide. Remind yourself that probably no one in the state is better suited than you are to bridge the divide between the upside-down world of state transportation funding and the needs of the state’s biggest city and most critical economic engine. You can point to years of leadership in the state legislature and you have the clout and credibility to bring lawmakers to the negotiating table. Remind yourself too that Seattle foots a disproportionate share of the bill for state spending, that workers need transit to get to their jobs, that low-income households can’t afford the costs of car ownership, and that fatality statistics show that many of the city’s streets are flat-out dangerous for elders and kids alike.
Now get on the phone to Olympia. It’s time for you to fix this mess.
Sherry Carr, Seattle School Board
Sherry Carr, a senior manager at Boeing, has served on the school board since 2007. She helped implement a neighborhood-based student assignment plan and improved accountability in the schools.
Keep standards high. Enrollment is growing in Seattle’s public schools, and the prospect of increased state funding finally appears real. But not all of our students are achieving at levels that position them for success in life. Murray must partner with Seattle Public Schools to ensure a city where families want to live and where each student can achieve.
Help keep the school levy on schedule. Seattle voters generously approved a $700 million levy to provide additional school capacity in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Partnership with the city’s Department of Planning and Development will be essential to achieving the carefully sequenced construction timeline. The new mayor’s team will need to identify issues early, be nimble when making decisions, and listen carefully to our shared constituency to ensure new classrooms are available on schedule. Ensuring safe walk zones and assessing traffic impacts related to growth will ensure students get to school safely and on time. All the responsible departments will report to the mayor.
Focus on results for disadvantaged students. The mayor assumes a lead role over the Families and Education Levy work, which is rightly focused on supporting the academic achievement of our most disadvantaged students and measuring results. His engagement with the city council and Seattle Public Schools is vital to enabling the continued success of this important work.
Support the Preschool for All initiative. The proposed Preschool for All initiative strives to ensure our early learners enter school better prepared.
We must work together to ensure quality preschool is available and affordable and consider carefully classroom space and the fiscal impacts on Seattle Public Schools. The mayor will play an important role as we advance this opportunity for Seattle’s children to flourish.
Dan Bertolet, citytank.org
Dan Bertolet is an urban designer, advocate for cities, recovering electrical engineer, and blogger at Citytank, a website devoted to exploring ideas intended to fulfill the promise of cities.
Embrace change. Seattle is on a roll. Great people want to be here. Great businesses want to be here. As human energy pours into Seattle, the one sure thing is change. And what the new mayor needs to do is lead Seattle in embracing that change rather than fearing it.
View Seattle’s prosperity as opportunity. Because buildings are so tangible, development is one of the most polarizing aspects of change in Seattle. And when people respond from the perspective of fear, all they can think about is all the ways big new buildings are going to make things worse.
The alternative is to see Seattle’s prosperity and the development that comes with it as a phenomenal opportunity. The prospects have never been better for creating one of the most sustainable cities on the planet while at the same time abating sprawl’s decimation of the region.
Set a national example for growth. As with every human endeavor, development sometimes comes with warts. But if the reaction is to attack developers, everyone will lose in the end. And those hit hardest will be the poor because, when demand for new housing outstrips supply, prices skyrocket, and the result is a city accessible only to the wealthy—case in point, San Francisco.
The next mayor’s task is to inspire Seattleites to channel their abundant passion and creativity into positive collaboration on development that will set a national example for how cities can grow in a way that benefits everyone.
Lisa Daugaard, Public Defender Association
Lisa Daugaard serves as policy director of the Public Defender Association, a nonprofit that represents indigent clients and advocates for reform of the criminal justice system.
Appoint a Department of Human Services director with a strong commitment to harm reduction and Housing First principles. We need to acknowledge openly that we are asking human services providers to work with behaviorally challenged people who will not stop having problems overnight just because they have access to services.
Designate a high-level mayoral aide to champion the Center City Initiative roundtable process. Neighborhood, business, civil rights, and human services leaders have forged a common agenda to improve conditions for everyone downtown by coordinating human services and law enforcement in a strategic, humane way.
Define priorities in the search for a new police chief. Frame the search in a way that values the new generation of innovation and leadership that has emerged from within the Seattle Police Department over the past several years and doesn’t assume that an outsider could do better.
Support the Community Police Commission. Give the Community Police Commission an opportunity to implement its recommendations on new policies for SPD and a voice in how the police reform process should be structured and timed.
Tim Harris, Real Change
A McGinn supporter, Tim Harris is the founder and director of Real Change, which operates the Real Change weekly newspaper, the region’s only paper sold by and focusing on homeless and low-income people.
Get a grip on homelessness. Teen homelessness is a problem, but when folks who work in this issue hear you say this is your priority, we wonder what planet you’re on. It can take six months for a woman with kids to get into housing. Homeless families are getting sent to Nickelsville. Mentally ill and addicted people have been abandoned, and your friends at the statehouse are the ones who cut back critical services for those people. Become an effective crusader for regional and statewide priorities that protect the most vulnerable, and we’ll all love you for it.
Get right with the Center City Initiative. When you held a press conference on downtown violence the day before the election with city council member Tim Burgess, King County sheriff John Urquhart, and Rich O’Neill of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, you were standing with the very handful of people who don’t understand that the center of gravity has shifted on downtown civility.
We’ve moved from angry, simplistic,finger pointing to real solutions. Real Change and the Downtown Seattle Association have about 95 percent agreement on how to create a downtown that works for everyone—one that includes public spaces, support for businesses and residential neighborhoods, transit, and services for people in need. People who are closest to these issues are on the same page. You need to get there with us.
Create affordable housing. Many of us are tired of having whatever financial progress we manage to make each year automatically absorbed by the rising cost of housing. Even a nonstarter like rent control is sounding really good. Seattle needs to follow the lead of other major cities in more aggressively extracting public good in exchange for developer profits. Balance growth and affordability with creative solutions that protect our pocketbooks.
Dorry Elias-Garcia, MEDC of King County
Dorry Elias-Garcia heads the Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County, a group of minority leaders of nonprofit human services and community development agencies in Seattle and King County.
Appoint a broad cross-section of advisers. Ensure the mayor has a representative, knowledgeable, and capable group of members on his transition team that includes people who did not vote for him and that includes ethnic diversity, community leaders, and activists.
Study the budget that the city council is getting ready to vote on! Start to prepare your midyear budget changes now.
Reduce the number of positions in the mayor’s office. Then appoint qualified, ethnically and otherwise diverse, approachable, community-known, community-engaged members for the few positions of his executive team left.
Engage the community in hiring a new police chief. Charge the Community Police Commission and Minority Executive Directors Coalition’s Multiracial Task Force on Police Accountability with developing a community-based process for hiring a highly qualified police chief (perhaps think locally and save the quarter million dollars it’s going to take to do a national search). And perhaps some of those funds could be redirected to MEDC—restoring city funds that were cut four years ago just as the recession hit.
Maud Daudon, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Maud Daudon heads up the largest business group in the Puget Sound region, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She’s also a member of the new mayor’s transition team.
Unite us with a shared vision. Being a great global region requires that we think bigger, moving beyond issue-by-issue politics into a more coherent sense of vision and purpose. We have much to celebrate and also many time-critical challenges that our new mayor is uniquely positioned to address.
Keep Seattle livable. As the city updates its Comprehensive Plan, set the stage for land-use policies that promote livable urban density in our core so our neighborhoods can retain their character and our green space outside the city can remain green.
Retain and grow in-city businesses. Examine and report publicly on the economic impacts of proposed policies and legislation and implement lean practices such as streamlined permitting processes.
Roger Valdez, Urbanist
Roger Valdez is a writer and researcher and a former city employee who worked for elected officials (including in the city council office of another of this year’s mayoral candidates, Peter Steinbrueck).
Let them know who’s boss. City employees are generally hardworking people who want to do the best job they can; but they need leadership. It can be easy for city staff to forget they work for the mayor, not for the people and especially not the city council. The mayor is accountable to the people of the city; city staff are there to advise, guide, and implement his agenda.
Pick a few issues and then delegate. The city is a huge organization, and it can be tempting for a mayor to drill down into the weeds or approach problems with broad, general statements. Pick a few signature initiatives and guide those forward. Everything else—the day-to-day grind of government—has to be largely delegated. The mayor has to provide vision and leadership, but micromanagement is a recipe for distraction and sapping staff morale.
Remember who isn’t in the room. It’s easy to respond to interests who show up. But there are many voices in the city that can’t or won’t be heard. The mayor, to be effective over the long term, has to think and plan not just for the people who attend meetings, write, and show up but for others who can’t or won’t advocate for themselves, including people who aren’t here yet.