By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
34TH ENDORSES ST3: The group voted to endorse the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, shortly after the chair of the Sound Transit board, County Executive Dow Constantine, got up and told the 34th DDs that he never thought he’d be standing before the group and able to say, “Light rail is coming to West Seattle.” He gave a short, raucous speech – including his note as a UW alum that light rail would mean a ride to Husky Stadium – urging the group to give it their support. Constantine is scheduled to talk about ST3 at this afternoon’s lunch meeting of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and we’ll include his 34th DDs speech in that report.
MAYOR MURRAY: We recorded his entire appearance on video:
He started by saying he wants to keep his speech short, so he can answer more questions. But first – “the events of last week – in Minnesota, in Louisiana, in Dallas. … This is a pivotal moment in our history as a country. The unfinished business of racism is once again at the forefront of our discussion, and it’s a good thing if we are able to engage in that discussion.” He recapped local communities with whom he spoke in the past week – both “communities of color” and the “police community,” both experiencing pain and fear. He talked about his plans to change the Office of Police Accountability and auditor positions, which recently made citywide headlines. But, he warned, “We did not get here overnight and we are not going to get out of this overnight.” And he warned that this all must be dealt with in the context of the other issues with which police deal, including domestic violence and sexual assault. And the fact “there are bad police officers, the same way there are bad politicians.”
Next, he acknowledges “the growing homelessness crisis in this country,” and says other cities are dealing with it too, not just Seattle.
He lists contributing factors including federal funding cuts. “There are a lot of things we need to do on homelessness, but the thing we can do this year is pass the housing levy. It will actually create homes for those at the very lowest level (of income).”
He touched quickly on other issues from income (touting the minimum-wage increase) to education, which he says is the focus of his “year 3,” because the achievement gap “has not changed at all” over the past 20 years. “If we care about the future of this city – if we can’t get equity right when it comes to children of color, particularly African Americans -” it’s important to solve this problem, he says.
Before moving to Q&A, he thanked the group again for its endorsement in the last election.
In Q&A, the first question was about LEAD (law enforcement assisted diversion); the mayor says it’s a pilot project for starters. Second one is about police reform, and the mayor responds by touting some of the achievements so far. Third question, transportation and health, and whether police can use data and research to see if crime rates are truly higher along freeway routes. The mayor promises to have SPD look into it.
Fourth question, Seattle Public Schools Board director Leslie Harris of West Seattle notes that the number of family-support workers has been reduced, related to the Families and Education Levy. The mayor says what’s happening with the funding formula is something that was put into place before he took office. He then moves to discussion of the Preschool Program.
Next, Lisa from East Admiral brings up the case of the tree that is slated to be cut down for one house to be built. The mayor says he’s not familiar with the issue but directs her to speak with his staff.
Question after that brings up the Community Service Officers program of the past. Murray says funding for it went away, and that’s why it went away, but he says they’re trying to replicate the program.
Others included police accountability; and then the fact that we are all on historic tribal land and the Duwamish Tribe has not yet been recognized federally, so what is the city doing to help with that? Murray notes that the tribes don’t agree amongst themselves and “we are not going to pick one tribe over another.” But he also acknowledges that the city has “a sacred obligation.”
Next question leads to an answer about the terminology of homelessness – it’s not just a homelessness crisis, says the mayor, but also an addiction crisis, a racism crisis, and more.
That’s followed by Elaine Ike of the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition thanking him for the hours-earlier decision about the Myers Way Parcels (WSB coverage here), and also thanking Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who was at the meeting too. The mayor says that he’s glad it came out that way, though it started with him designating the land to bring $5 million for homelessness programs through a sale – so now he has “a lot of money to find.”
No one asked about another announcement earlier in the day, the one regarding a new “community involvement” system, replacing neighborhood-district councils (WSB coverage here).
The mayor wraps up by speaking about the passing of community leader Ruth Woo.
OTHER ENDORSEMENT VOTES: The vote on endorsing the I-732 carbon tax failed – 41 for, 32 against, but 60 percent approval was required.
UPCOMING FUNDRAISER: The 34th DDs’ annual summer fundraiser this year is a Casino Night party, set for July 29th – details on this page.
The 34th District Democrats meet on second Wednesdays at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 7 pm. Check for updates between meetings at 34dems.org.