Tonight we continue our city-candidate closeups; we took a look at them all before the primary election, and with the general election nearing, we’re checking back in with the finalists in five city races – mayor and council. We’ve already looked at mayor (Mike McGinn here, Joe Mallahan here), City Council Position 6 (Nick Licata here, Jessie Israel here) and City Council Position 8 (Mike O’Brien here and Robert Rosencrantz here); tonight, it’s Council Position 2, and we’ll conclude tomorrow night with Position 4.
By Jack Mayne
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
City Council Position 2 candidate David Ginsberg — the only West Seattle-residing council candidate on the November ballot — isn’t that happy about the decision to build a deep-bore tunnel, but he says he will support the project unless there are some unforeseen increases in its cost.
“I think the decision that has been made amounts to a large misallocation of public resources on a small piece of highway that will essentially bypass downtown, and the solution won’t work for a portion of our freight and many of our commuters,” Ginsberg says. “But the decision has been made and it’s taken eight long years to get to this point. Barring big changes in projected costs or mobility, I’m not inclined to revisit this decision, although if there are big changes in projected costs to the city I’ll lead the fight for a better solution. The opportunity to reconnect downtown to its waterfront is the single greatest benefit of both this solution and the surface/transit option, and we must not let this opportunity pass us by as we did with the Seattle Commons.”
He supports the housing levy on the ballot because he supports a “market-based measure to keep housing affordable.”
Though there’s currently a somewhat tense relationship between the City Council and outgoing Mayor Greg Nickels, Ginsberg believes the Council and the executive should work together. “There will be occasions, however, when the two branches will disagree and in those moments it’s important to have the sort of leaders on the Council who aren’t afraid to stand up to the mayor publicly, using the bully pulpit of their office to help shape public opinion and debate.”
Unlike most other candidates in the race, Ginsberg, a High Point resident, has created his own plan to reenergize the local economy. He calls it “Investing in Our Future for an Ecologically, Economically and Socially Sustainable Seattle.”
In it, he says that “12 years ago voters were talking about some familiar issues, many of the same issues voters are talking about today: transportation, youth violence, affordability and public safety.”
The 12-years reference happens to be the same amount of time Ginsberg’s opponent, Council President Richard Conlin, has been in office.
“It’s clear that it’s time for change at City Hall,” Ginsberg’s manifesto says. “We need a new generation of leaders who aren’t afraid to make the tough decisions that will get us moving forward again and yield a more ecologically and socially sustainable city we can be proud to leave to future generations.”
He says it is within the power of the “citizens to create a future where the vast majority of our residents live in communities that eliminate the need for daily driving, and make it possible for many people to live without owning cars altogether. If we start now developing compact neighborhoods with green buildings and smart infrastructure, we can increase economic output and individual prosperity while reducing our ecological impacts.”
To do this, Ginsberg says, “we must have a vibrant and resilient local economy that reaches all people. We must also have a good stock of affordable housing for all ages of people, not just the young or wealthy.”
The recession has driven off many jobs, some that will never return, Ginsberg says. Now is the time to lay a solid future. He proposes a “$100 million self-sustaining venture capital fund to jumpstart the next wealth-generating economy.” He also suggests the city partner with the Small Business Administration, community colleges and local chambers of commerce to “help people with good ideas get them off the ground.”
Ginsberg suggests creating “Emerald Dollars,” which he calls a local currency to encourage Seattleites to spend their money locally. He would “reduce or repeal ill-thought out taxes on small business that (Conlin) has supported,” for example, the head tax and the square-footage tax, and replace the revenue where necessary “with fair taxes that set incentives aligned with our priorities.”
Because as “gas prices climb inexorably up, people will migrate from the suburbs” only to drive back into the city to work. We should start rebuilding our aging utility and transportation infrastructure now which will stimulate our local economy and prepare us for the future.”
Ginsberg says we need “strong, walkable neighborhoods in our urban centers and urban villages, with vibrant neighborhood business districts and housing to meet people’s needs at all stages of their lives.”
He advocates replacing the complex city Land Use code with a “SmartCode,” that encourages walking and includes “design guidelines and frees architects to design solutions that fit their context rather than one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter construction.” That goes along with streamlining the permitting process so it does not have to take a year to get a building permit.
Neighborhood plans need to be leveraged to involve citizens from the start, “so that each neighborhood has a voice in how it develops.”
His plan includes transportation with an aim to cut down the necessity of personal automobiles.
He suggests a rapid rail “backbone,” a transit system that permits people to get downtown and all over the city with “fast, frequent and reliable service.” As part of this, he proposed bringing back the old West Seattle streetcar line, perhaps from Admiral District to the Morgan District along California, and maybe even a spur to include the Delridge neighborhoods.
Buses, he says, would be available “to get people who don’t live near transit stations from where they live to the stations that will get them quickly to their destination.” Bus Rapid Transit (RapidRide), Ginsberg says, is an “interim measures to decrease commute times, and for service to areas where rail infrastructure doesn’t make sense . . .”
As a West Seattleite, Ginsberg says he is particularly concerned about mobility to downtown with a deep-bore tunnel that he feels doesn’t serve West Seattle’s needs and a lack of rapid transit, even though he will support the decisions already made by the city.
Affordable housing has eluded the city so far, he says. “We need immediate short-term solutions like the housing levy and living wage jobs as well as long-term solutions such as ensuring broader participation in our economic prosperity, including implementing a Green Technology Corridor in the Rainier Valley to help spur economic development and living wage job creation there,” he says. “On the other side of the equation we need to be sure we’re building enough housing of the right types to keep housing affordable.”
Ginsberg, who turns 45 this week, spent the past six years as a “solutions architect,” or a person who designs solutions to problems: “These are skills that will serve me well on the Council as I introduce and build coalitions to support important legislation designed to create a better, more livable future for Seattle.”
David Ginsberg’s page in the online city Voters’ Guide (text and video) is here. His campaign website is here. Disclosure note: A paid political ad for Ginsberg’s campaign is currently running here on WSB.