With just two weeks left before the general election, mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon sparred again Tuesday night at a debate broadcast live and presented by KING 5, Seattle CityClub, KUOW, and GeekWire. They faced questions on housing and homelessness, the city budget and taxes, and their new administration.
If you're one of the many still teetering between the two candidates, and missed the debate, here were some of their notable answers. (Watch the full debate posted by King 5 here.)
The city budget: The candidates were asked the cost of their proposals. Durkan talked about her $5 million free college tuition plan and criticized Moon for putting out proposals without cost estimates or using tax proposals that would need changes in Olympia. Moon said she would sit down with the budget office to determine what's viable from her ideas. Moon would also cut the budget in the mayor's office, which she says increased 50 percent during Ed Murray's term.
"I think it's irresponsible to say, 'I want to do x,' and not tell voters how you’re going to pay for it," Durkan said.
Their new administration: When asked which two previous mayoral candidates they'd consider putting in their cabinet, Moon said Jessyn Farrell and Nikkita Oliver. Durkan said she would consider all of them, including Moon—but Moon wouldn't take the job.
"I don't think so," Moon said. "There's too much difference in the future city we're aiming for, and how we intend to get there and how we govern, and I don't think I'd be a good fit."
Council members' proposed head tax: Mike O'Brien and Kirsten Harris-Talley proposed an employee hours tax of 4.8 cents per person, per hour (about $100 a year per full-time employee) for businesses making gross revenues above $5 million.
Neither Moon nor Durkan said they support the tax as is—Moon said she wants the tax to truly affect only the top 10 percent of businesses (using gross revenues rather than net profits still leave some businesses on the margins qualifying for the tax). And she didn't support the Rapid Rehousing program, which she said only works for a small population of those experiencing homelessness.
Durkan said she would look at the policy and try to find agreement between the business community and council members. "There’s too many times that we’ve passed these things with unintended consequences," she said.
Affordable housing: On how the candidates plan to keep the city affordable for struggling middle-class working families, Durkan said it was "the existential threat to Seattle’s soul" and pointed to economic opportunities as an important part of the solution.
Moon quipped, "This is one of the issues where I came with solutions, not a further description of the problem," and said she wanted to stop speculation and build more of the missing middle housing.
Municipal internet: Moon supports creating a municipal broadband and said Durkan is being backed by Comcast and CenturyLink.
"It's an equity issue," Moon said. "Everybody deserves access to high speed internet as a utility."
Durkan said the city's studied the possibility already, that there's a high cost attached ($500-$700 million) and remains skeptical that it would work.
"We don't have that money, and if we have it right now, the crisis is housing," Durkan said.
Amazon's HQ: When asked what advice they would have for cities vying to have Amazon's second headquarters, both talked about the growing pains Seattle has faced. Durkan said the city is rapidly getting new residents and believes companies will continue to want to be here.
"Be careful what you wish for," Moon said.
Homelessness: Candidates were asked whether they would continue to allow homeless people to sleep in doorways to buildings. Both said they would support the policy; Durkan said the focus should be getting people into longterm housing, while Moon said she would stop the sweeps and focus on shelters.
Annexing White Center: Durkan said she supports annexing White Center, while Moon said she would want to sit down with members of the community and "see if it's a good fit." Moon said she had concerns about what it would mean for the area to develop its infrastructure and get the investment it needs.
Updated 2:26pm on October 25, 2017, to include Moon's statement on cutting the mayor's office budget.