VIDEO: Four City Council Position 8 candidates answer questions from West Seattle Democratic Women

(WSB photo: L-R, Alexis Mercedes Rinck, Tanya Woo, Tariq Yusuf, Saunatina Sanchez)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

In a little over three weeks, King County Elections will mail ballots for the August 6 primary. Among the positions for which you’ll be narrowing the fields is Seattle City Council Position 8, one of the council’s two citywide positions. It’s on the ballot because of the complex situation resulting from Teresa Mosqueda moving to the King County Council midway through her term – under city rules, first the council had to appoint a replacement to serve until the next general election, and now someone will be elected to serve the final year of the unexpired term.

Four candidates filed to run for that remaining year – Alexis Mercedes Rinck, Saunatina Sanchez, Tanya Woo (who was appointed to serve until the fall election), and Tariq Yusuf. The only West Seattle forum for the race so far – perhaps the only one pre-primary – was held during last Thursday’s West Seattle Democratic Women dinner meeting at West Seattle Golf Course.

WSDW’s Ann Martin moderated. We recorded it on video – the acoustics were a bit challenged because of the fan running in the room on a very warm night, but our summaries of each answer are below the video so you can read them too.

FIRST: Opening statements:

MERCEDES RINCK: She’s a renter, a transit rider, a former waitress, has worked across many cities and organizations, and is a UW graduate who built King County’s first severe-weather response system. Because of her upbringing by her grandparents, she says she’s a “living testament” to the power of investing in youth. She believes we need “progressive revenue … to fully fund city services.”

WOO: She’s a “small mom-and-pop restaurant owner as well as an affordable-housing provider.” She grew up on Beacon Hill, lives in the Rainier Valley. As a community advocate, she’s worked on organizing people to tackle community-safety issues. Her three priorities are safety, homelessness response that “works,” affordability. Focused on “compassionate results,” describes herself as a “true team player that wants to serve you.”

YUSUF: Born and raised in NewHolly, lives in Fremont. Can’t take our rights for granted. We need a global perspective seen through a local lens, City has failed to plan for growth, and is reaping results of bad past decisions such as not taking federal dollars for a transit system. His perspective comes from growing up in public housing, having relied on programs from food stamps to Pell Grants – “I’m tired of seeing people in communities I’m part of slowly being forced out, cultural institutions vanishing.” What’s needed are “innovative solutions.”

SANCHEZ: She grew up in Holly Park then moved to Yesler Terrace. Being bused showed her how “the people of my community get left behind. Still lives in public housing, by choice. She’s been doing organizing work for more than 20 years, including forming resident advisory boards at “every building,” as well as advocating for voting rights and transit riders’ rights.

QUESTION: What issue will you tackle immediately on being sworn in, and what issue will take more time?

WOO: Housing – how to incentivize development and streamline the process, examine what’s working and what’s not working. She’s working on legislation. Also looking at cease-and-desist orders on predatory real-estate solicitations – homeowners are inundated.

YUSUF: Expanding alternative response, for better outcomes. A more holistic way of looking at growth beyond the Comprehensive Plan, empower communities so that housing isn’t just a building.
tariq – more gracefil interaction – would like to work on building out more holistic plan beyond comp plan, empower local communities so their members can stay, ensure that when building houdin – one challenge

SANCHEZ: The homelessness crisis. If we stabilize people where they are and provide services, it can make a big impact on people – making sure they have supportive services like sanitation, bathrooms – ensuring they can survive. Long-range goal: “24/7/365 bathrooms in every single park in the city.”

MERCEDES RINCK: The financial health of our city – we’re facing a big budget deficit – don’t know where the cuts will be, but there will be cuts if we don’t pursue more revenue. By focusing on city’s financial health, we can also do well by our city workers. It’s “important to know how we got here” – the city stepped up to address need, with federal help, during pandemic; that help expired but the need didn’t, may even be higher than ever.

QUESTION: You’re running for one of two citywide council positions – how does the role of this position differ from that of district seats, and how will you collaborate with other members?

YUSUF: This requires a holistic perspective of the city; Seattle still suffers from the history of redlining, and from a regressive tax system. This also gives you a broader perspective- if he was representing District 1, for example, transportation would no doubt be a big deal given the West Seattle Bridge shutdown, but the citywide perspective might provide a more productive lens.

SANCHEZ: You have to consider the needs of everybody in Seattle; this position is something of a pressure release for district offices, another place for residents to come if their particular district rep is not working with them. A diversity of perspectives is important, and it’s important to ensure everybody is comfortable interacting with the community – that’s not happening now. Wants to solve problems “interconnectedly.”

MERCEDES RINCK: So far, campaigning has been exciting because of the chance to learn about the different needs around the city. She’s already done work in which she had to deal with more than 30 cities, bringing people together. She sees the potential for aligning with other governments too, in solving problems.

WOO: Growing up in Seattle and working in her parents’ business has given her a knowledge of the city’s many different neighborhoods, and running last year for a district council spot did too. A lot of coordination is needed.

QUESTION: West Seattle has no services for unsheltered people beyond what private citizens and churches are offering. What could the city do to help West Seattle’s unsheltered neighbors?

SANCHEZ: “I think we should support … neighbors who take care of each other,” provide them supportive services – sanitation, human services, etc.

MERCEDES RINCK: As a planning director working on homelessness, she had to catalog which services were being provided where. Held district-specific discussions.

WOO: We focus a lot on “housing first” but also need services and seeing what’s working – appreciates work of LEAD, REACH, groups/agencies like that, focused on meeting people’s needs, building trust.

YUSUF: Need to see how we can bridge what’s happening in community with the official agencies and institutions. Need more partnership, and also need to expand what’s available in a variety of ways, such as community resilience.

QUESTION: Housing – how do we help those who are struggling, while also watching out for housed neighbors’ security?

MERCEDES RINCK: Heralds the State Right of Way Initiative (which included Myers Way east-side and 1st Avenue S. Bridge west-side encampment clearances) and emergency housing vouchers that resulted from pandemic-related aid.

WOO: “No one likes sweeps” but sometimes they’re necessary, and sometimes “resolution happens” if there’s early attention to a site. Has much to say about public-private partnership, example given of community walks she’s led in which the unhoused people they contact are surprised by the friendliness of visitors.

YUSUF: – We need to build more housing so that people can stay where they are instead of having to move “further and further from the place they call home.” For encampments, more “embedded” resources will lead to safer environments.

SANCHEZ: Talks about the “hostile” nature of the encampment-resolution process, and how while people are asked if they want shelter, what’s offered doesn’t necessarily meet the person’s needs, and no effort is made to do so – “we don’t have the resources and they know it.” Wraparound services are needed to support them first.

QUESTION: Effects of climate change are surfacing in disastrous ways. As daunting as that all is, what would you do to make Seattle a leader in both trying to reduce carbon emissions and trying to protect people from climate-change effects?

WOO: The council committee she chairs is tackling this. Conservation, working harder to meet tree-canopy goal, helping people be able to afford the switch from natural gas to electric.

YUSUF: Need to be sure we are doing everything in an economically just manner – a lot of what needs to be done is costly, like switching to electric vehicles. He believes we have the innovation to solve all this.

SANCHEZ: Cars are the biggest problem so we need to work harder on moving away from driving, especially fossil-fuel-burning driving. Also must respect the knowledge of the Duwamish people. Must work to balance housing needs and tree canopy.

MERCEDES RINCK: “We need a just transition to a green economy.” Need to do more to make transit easier and more enticing than using a vehicle. Lowering emissions from buildings is important too. Need to ensure that JumpStart revenue meant for green initiatives keeps going there.

QUESTION: What actions would you take/support to tackle the crisis of school/student violence?

YUSUF: We’re not addressing the systemic causes of violence – we need to build a social safety net – food, shelter – people will be less drawn to (crime) if their needs are being met and they feel they’re being listened to.

SANCHEZ: We know that Universal Basic Income works – when people are fed, housed, clothed, they thrive – we do need to invest in a social safety net; Seattle could implement a citywide EDI. In teacher training, we were taught to ask questions like ‘are you hungry?’ We have these problems because we treat each other like we don’t matter.

MERCEDES RINCK: We need to look at policies of prevention, response, and healing. She was at Garfield after the recent deady shooting, saw a lot of pain there. We need to invest in young people – they are still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic, or going to school hungry, or problems at home.

WOO: She recalls being affected by violence in her neighborhood in her youth. Prevention and mental health are important to pay attention to, because “hurt people hurt people.” Wants to see more mentorship, more programming for youth, listen to the affected communities on questions such as whether we need to go back to having school resource officers. She’s working on a “Youth Prevention Initiative.”

QUESTION: First the council passed the 20-year Transportation Plan; then the mayor proposed the eight-year Transportation Levy. Do you support the levy, and what will be the most important features of the levy and the plan?

SANCHEZ: She’s active in groups supporting the levy and trying to “make sure we maintain good transit access for our city” … if the priority is clean, safe buses, hire people to clean them, rather than engaging in security crackdowns … need “much much more money” and need to focus on sidewalks.

MERCEDES RINCK: She doesn’t have a car so is very excited about investments in transit. She says identified needs have actually been estimated to total about $3 billion, far more than the levy is currently proposed to raise. “People want to move through the city in a climate-friendly way” and be safe too. Traffic deaths are troubling; Vision Zero work is important.

WOO: Must pass the levy – otherwise we won’t have money for our roads. Currently in the process of amending it, she too hopes for more sidewalk money, notes that the city sees a lot of sidewalk-related lawsuits, agrees we need to ensure people aren’t “dying on our roads.”

YUSUF: “This in the long term is going to save money.” Important to ensure “everyone has the capability to live without a car” and that it’s convenient to travel without one. “It shouldn’t take more than 50 percent longer to take a bus than a car” to get somewhere.

QUESTION: Since only one of you will win – if that’s not you – what skill from your toolbox would you give the winner?

MERCEDES RINCK: Being able to work across all communities.

WOO: Being able to listen, to hear what you have to say, what issues are most important to you.

YUSUF: – Understanding what drives people, where they’re coming from.

SANCHEZ: – Compassion – had to develop a lot of it for others, understanding how the rest of the world saw things, not realizing she was autistic until her 30s.


WOO: She’s a person of action; during the pandemic, rolled up her sleeves and went out to get busy. She worked to help people connect to government and other resources. She likes to look at all sides of issues. She wants to look at closing the wealth gap.

YUSUF: Need to think about how to bring someone to this position “who really makes government work better for everyone.” We need to look at “what challenges we’re facing as a broad community” and address them at a high level.

SANCHEZ: For 20 years, she’s served Seattle “despite having very little” but feels the more she gives, the more she gets back. Has worked for nonprofits including Treehouse and Cascade Bicycle Club. She’s working on rental standards so it’s easier for renters and housing providers to resolve conflicts.

MERCEDES RINCK: Seeing her family’s challenges has led her on a path to this work, and community resources are what got her here. She testified twice to protect the EDI, need to protect those investments, fund city services, get corporations to pay their fair share. She works on solutions and feels ready to work to solve the crises the city faces.

Again, what’s above are our summaries and highlights of responses – nothing is an exact quote unless it’s within quotation marks.

WHAT’S NEXT: We have not heard of any other planned West Seattle forums for this race before the primary election (if you have, please let us know – – thank you!). King County Elections will mail ballots July 17; you’ll have until 8 pm August 6 to return yours. The two candidates with the most votes will advance to the November 5th general election, for which voting will start in mid-October. Then next year, the position will be back on the ballot, this time for a full four-year term; you’ll vote on the other citywide position, 9 (currently held by Council President Sara Nelson), next year too.

19 Replies to "VIDEO: Four City Council Position 8 candidates answer questions from West Seattle Democratic Women"

  • WS Guy June 24, 2024 (11:02 pm)

    Well, nothing votable here.  More of the usual that got us here.  Time to look at alternative candidates.

    • Anne June 25, 2024 (7:32 am)

      You’re are 100% right about “ more of the usual” -throwing out words like holistic, systemic, the typical vague mumbo jumbo. The only halfway common sense sentence I saw-“it shouldn’t take 50% longer to get somewhere using public transportation as opposed to a car.”None of these candidates will get my vote unless one can come up with more clear, concise, & practical ideas. The underlying message from them all is we need more more more money. Gotta love that Universal Basic Income idea from Sanchez. A social welfare program of the top order. Just give everyone  free everything & problems solved. 

      • BlairJ June 25, 2024 (10:55 am)

        I believe that candidate’s statement was that it should take no more than 50% longer to get somewhere using public transportation as opposed to a car.   But I would agree with the statement either way.

      • Scarlett June 25, 2024 (5:27 pm)

        The wealthy are subsidized far more than the low-income so maybe what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.. So maybe a UBI should be in the mix, taking some of arbitrariness of the feds deciding who and who they won’t deide to reward.   I know this comes as an uncomfortable truth for many of the “bootstrap” crowd who claimd to have earned every shiny nickel in their pocket through blood, sweat and tears.   

  • Pelicans June 25, 2024 (3:21 am)

    Dear Voters,Looking at all this, it is a slog to sift through all the candidates’ viewpoints and statements. But slog we must to ensure we understand whom we are electing and to work to ensure  our outcome for our city. It’s not an easy thing…

  • Jeepney June 25, 2024 (6:47 am)

    Very informative article, really helped describe the candidate’s priorities.  From reading the article I came to these conclusions:  big NO on Sanchez, and a tentative YES on Woo.

    • Pelicans June 25, 2024 (2:29 pm)


  • Meeee June 25, 2024 (8:28 am)

    Definitely not Woo.

  • Peter S. June 25, 2024 (9:12 am)

    Thank you WSB for condensing this into something easy to digest.  You have way more patience than I.

  • jissy June 25, 2024 (9:17 am)

    That all reads like a Word Salad Special.  

  • Derek June 25, 2024 (9:19 am)

    So Woo was given a free post after losing her election and now we have to endure her again? I’m an easy Yusuf vote.

  • Karl Tull June 25, 2024 (10:47 am)

    Woo Hoo — Tanya is clearly the smart choice.  Stay safe West Seattleites!

  • Conan June 25, 2024 (11:11 am)

    I work from home so I usually have city council meetings playing in the background.  (I’ve essentially watched/listened to all post-turnover meetings).  While Woo may not have the intelligence/confidence/strength as the rest of the council members, she is the safest vote if we want to keep the moderate majority.  We don’t need another Morales (or Strauss for that matter) on the council.

    • Pelicans June 25, 2024 (2:34 pm)

      Wow, Conan! Thank you for your patience and attention. I may not agree with you, but I absolutely admire your devotion to being involved in the process!

  • None of the above June 25, 2024 (12:36 pm)

    I’m voting GOP across the board. We need REAL changes, not more failed, dangerous Democrat policies.

    • Pelicans June 25, 2024 (2:42 pm)

      To None of the above,  Dude/dudette, there are no Republicans running in this race, as far as I understand. If you have other info, please tell.

      • None of the above June 25, 2024 (3:04 pm)

        Hence, none of the above. I’ll vote GOP in every other statewide and federal race with a Republican candidate (but not for Semi Bird).

        • Jake June 28, 2024 (2:11 pm)

          No one asked.

  • Madmatt June 28, 2024 (5:43 pm)

    Same old reterick. No NOon Sanchez and Rick.  Maybe Woo if that’s our only choice.  I wish a  GOP would throw their hat in the ring

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