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Seattle mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon once again tackled hard issues, such as homelessness, transportation, and taxes in a televised debate on Tuesday at Starbucks Support Center.
Affordability was a big topic of the night for both candidates. Durkan called it the most important issue facing Seattle, and said success in affordable housing meant people could afford to live in the city for the rest of their lives if they choose.
“We have to put more money in the pockets of people who have been economically disadvantaged,” Durkan said.
Moon said she wanted to see 100 percent of people in Seattle able to have housing they could afford.
“We have got to be building affordable housing everywhere we can, or we risk being a playground for the rich,” said Moon.
When asked how they would pay for their proposed programs, Durkan did not have an exact number, but she speculated it would cost about $100 million.
"I will not call for new taxes until I have a chance to make sure we’re being efficient, and we’re using the money," Durkan said, "But there’s one place—we may need more money for addiction services and mental health treatment, and that’s the tax I may come back for. I hope it’s regional, I hope it’s state, I hope it’s the feds, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m changing my mind.”
Durkan also criticized Moon for making proposals that would assume new tax revenue from measures that would require state legislators to make changes in law, such as a progressive income tax.
Moon says she would cut taxes on low income while raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, because she says they need to pay for their fair share.
"There’s one budget that I promise I’m going to cut, and that’s the mayor’s office, because it’s increased 50 percent under Mayor Murray," Moon said. "We don’t need that many people in the mayor’s office. One of the things I’ve done a lot in my career as an engineer is really understand how to set up an efficient operation and how to empower workers to be part of the solution and figure out better processes, better strategies to achieve better outcomes."
Moon did not have a figure, but said she would sit down with the Budget Office after being elected to work out the full cost of her proposed programs.
Both pitched building more tiny houses to address the homeless crisis, although Durkan said it was not the perfect solution, because “it’s no substitute for homes.”
“The ability for people to sleep in doorways is an indicator to all of us: We haven’t done our jobs as humanity,” Durkan said.
Moon promised to stop the homeless sweeps, because she said it pushes people around without getting them into shelters or housing. Instead Moon said she wants focus on low-barrier shelters that meet the needs of more homeless individuals in addition to micro-housing.
“This crisis is hurting all of us,” Moon said. “We all know that in a city as wealthy as ours, in a city as progressive and generous as ours, we should have solved this problem by now.”
Amazon and growing pains
On their advice for the 238 cities who bid for Amazon HQ2, both candidates lamented the rapid growth Amazon brought to Seattle.
“Go Seahawks!” Durkan joked was her advice before saying it “breaks my heart” to think about the proposals, because of Seattle’s growing pains.
While Moon believes Amazon has been a net gain for Seattle, she said the city has not kept up with the growth, because it didn’t plan in advance.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Moon warned.
High-speed municipal internet
The candidates differed on broadband high-speed municipal internet. Durkan estimated it would cost between $600 million to $700 million to fund, and she would rather spend that money on housing.
Moon was for it, saying it was an equity issue, because everybody deserves access to high-speed internet as a utility.
Who's on the cabinet
When asked who they would hire as mayor, both Durkan and Moon highlighted former mayoral candidates Jessyn Farrell and Nikkita Oliver in their picks.
However, Durkan had another surprising choice: Moon.
"I would hire Cary Moon if I get there," Durkan said. "Because I think she's got some great ideas. I think I'm going to make the better mayor, but I think she's got some great ideas."
Would Moon take the job?
"I don't think so," Moon said. "There's too much difference in the future city we're aiming for, and how we intend to get there and how we govern, and I don't think I would be a good fit."
The debate was moderated by KING 5 political reporter Natalie Brand and KUOW's Ross Reynolds.
Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon participated in the debate based on their first and second place finish in King County’s August 1 primary election.
KING 5, Seattle CityClub, KUOW and GeekWire’s first Seattle mayoral debate between the top six primary candidates was held on July 17.