[Hpn] Mayoral candidates tackle homeless issue;Seattle Times;7/20/01
Morgan W. Brown
Fri, 20 Jul 2001 10:51:48 -0400
Friday, July 20, 2001
Seattle Times <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com>
[Seattle, Washington, USA]
Local News section
Mayoral candidates tackle homeless issue
By Jim Brunner <email@example.com>
Seattle Times staff reporter
Eight Seattle mayoral candidates took the stage yesterday at Mount Zion
Baptist Church in the first major forum of the campaign season: one focused
narrowly on affordable housing and homelessness.
The forum put all the rivals on equal footing. Seated shoulder to shoulder
with Mayor Paul Schell, Metropolitan King County Councilman Greg Nickels and
City Attorney Mark Sidran were five lesser-known candidates.
In answers of one minute or less, each tried to offer a sense of how they
would try to aid city residents struggling to afford rising rents and
housing prices. The forum was sponsored by the Housing Development
Consortium, a group of nonprofit housing developers.
Each of the three major candidates offered general support for renewing the
city's housing levy. The current $59.2 million levy expires next year, and
housing advocates want to ask voters to renew it, perhaps at a higher level.
They split on Initiative 71, which would require the city to pay for 400
additional shelter beds out of existing city dollars, at an estimated cost
of $5 million a year. Nickels said he supported it, but Schell and Sidran
questioned the cost and wisdom of the measure, for which sponsors are still
trying to gather signatures.
Schell said his administration, with a supportive City Council, more than
doubled city funding for the homeless, adding 20 percent to the city's
shelter capacity. He added that hundreds of affordable housing units have
been developed with the help of the city's Office of Housing, which he
"If you vote for me, I'll deliver. I have delivered and I will deliver in
the future," Schell said.
Nickels said he would prioritize transitional housing and addiction
treatment over short-term shelter beds.
"Transitional housing gives a person a path back into the community,"
Nickels said he supports boosting wages for low-income workers, referring to
a union-backed plan to require developers to guarantee decent wages to
employees of new hotels.
Sidran challenged critics who want to demonize him as callous, saying he has
"a heart as well as a brain."
"I feel very strongly it is not a civil right, it is not humane and it is
not even fiscally sound to allow people to live on the street and die in the
gutter even if we are providing them with shelters," Sidran said.
Sidran advocated making it easier to force some homeless people with drug or
mental-health problems into treatment. And he said the city should be
cautious of asking voters for too many more property-tax increases, even for
Other candidates also made their cases to the audience of about 100 people.
Caleb Schaber, an artist and bartender at the Blue Moon Tavern, said he'd
enlist the help of rock stars and others to pay for more housing. He said
he'd donate $25,000 of his mayoral salary to charity.
Bob Hegamin, a retired City Light employee who has run for local office
seven times since 1984, frowned on what he said was government's tendency to
screw up when trying to solve problems.
"I have been concerned about it for the past 30 years, but I just can't get
elected to do anything about it," said Hegamin.
Ernest Mailhot, an avowed socialist, held up Cuba as an example of a nation
where the government keeps housing costs low.
Christal Wood criticized Seattle's civility laws, which ban aggressive
panhandling and sitting on sidewalks in business districts. "We're
victimizing those among us that are arguably the most vulnerable," said
Scott Kennedy, a Capitol Hill businessman, admitted at the outset he didn't
have many answers, though he was willing to find them. "I am here to learn
and I'm really eager to hear anybody's ideas," he said.
Declared candidate Max Englerius did not show up. Nor did Charlie Chong, who
has said he's exploring a mayoral bid. And Omari Tahir-Garrett, the African
American activist and declared candidate who has been charged with
assaulting Schell, remained in jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Sidran, Schell and Nickels have been stacking up the endorsements and
campaign war chests needed to get their message out and win.
Through the end of June, Schell had raised nearly $275,000 and had $140,000
in the bank.
Nickels was a close second, with $241,000 raised, and $143,000 in the bank.
Sidran, who started later than his two main rivals, had raised about
$170,000, with $109,000 in the bank.
Jim Brunner can be reached at 206-515-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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-------End of forward-------
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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