[Hpn] Mayoral candidates tackle homeless issue;Seattle Times;7/20/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Fri, 20 Jul 2001 10:51:48 -0400


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Friday, July 20, 2001
Seattle Times <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com>
[Seattle, Washington, USA]
Local News section
Mayoral candidates tackle homeless issue

By Jim Brunner <jbrunner@seattletimes.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.

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 
good causes.

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 jbrunner@seattletimes.com.


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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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