My personal and professional worlds collide

February 18th, 2016

My urban planning background means I end up having a lot of discussions and strategy sessions with friends and colleagues around built environment, transportation, and density. But it also inspires me to get involved with related considerations such as the recent issue around Seattle Public School capacity. The recent discussion by Seattle Public Schools to annex seven on-site preschool or child care locations to make room for new K-3 homerooms was a great case of my personal and professional worlds colliding. As a dad of future SPS students, a city councilmember, and the chair of the planning committee, I felt we should be engaging with the school district to ensure that we protected as many on-site child care providers as possible, and if we couldn’t find space inside the school, that we should be looking at nearby city and non-profit locations as possible homes for child care providers.

I believe that we need our city’s education system to keep pace with the growing number of people who call Seattle home. We need ensure that each student has a seat in a classroom, and that their families have the option of before or aftercare programs that not only serves the needs of working families, but programs that provide well-rounded opportunities for their children. Seattle’s growth is not projected to slow down any time soon, so ultimately we need long term solutions and better data to help the accuracy of the enrollment projections so that we don’t continue to face capacity issues with farther reaching ramifications.

I know that there are many people who have been working on solving the capacity dilemma but I strongly believe that the right answers can only come from a coordinated, creative, and forward thinking approach. Since our first week in office, my staff and I have been engaged in many conversations to help come up with solutions – we’ve been talking with child care providers about the type of holistic care they want to offer kids in their programs, with the school district about how they build their models to project student enrollment, with members of the School Board about how they want to ensure that families voices are heard throughout the process, and with Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning about their commitment to convene the right players to come up with solutions.

And while it is clear to me that this issue is a complex one, it’s the three girls who greet me when I get home from work every day inspire me to be a voice at this table – not to find a band aide of a short term solution, but to help build models that can help achieve smart, coordinated growth for the long term so that the students of Seattle and their families can be confident that their city and their school system will grow proportionally with the neighborhoods around them.

I feel direct ownership of these solutions both because I’m a parent and because many of the technical elements required fix our capacity problems fall under the umbrella of my Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee . We’ve been working on this issue for several weeks now; there’s more to come on that front soon, and we’re very much looking forward to being part of Mayor Murray’s education summit this spring to elevate the capacity discussion and put it in a broader context. Part of this summit will involve community conversations during the month of March and we will share more details once we have them in hopes that you’ll join us in participating. Ultimately, creating a family friendly city has always been at the top of my list and that all starts with having great schools.


Vision & Responsibility

January 5th, 2016

23558801023_4fb792e594_m(Remarks presented as prepared, see Seattle Channel for the full video and remarks as delivered.)

Councilmembers, distinguished guests, friends, and family — I am honored to stand before you as District 4’s first representative and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in my passion for the city of Seattle.

I want to send a heartfelt message of gratitude to everyone who helped me get here and provided guidance along the way, most importantly my wife Katie and our girls, whose collective patience and support knows no bounds.

I ran for office not only to make the process of civic engagement more efficient and enjoyable for my constituents, but to be a voice at the table, helping to steer this city at a crucial juncture in our collective history.

As the fastest growing major city in the country, the problems to solve and the hurdles to overcome are many as we work to keep pace with those who currently call Seattle their home and those who want to call Seattle their home. The time for making two year decisions has passed, and we must commit ourselves, as leaders of this city, to planning for 2065, not 2018.

Recent initiatives such as our HALA recommendations and the Move Seattle levy lay an exceptional foundation for this type of long term planning, and I recognize the responsibility we as leaders of this city share is to balance that strategic visioning with hard and fast implementation.

When I think of the Seattle I want my daughters to enjoy 50 years from now, it inspires my guiding vision and subsequently, the types of decisions I will make over the course of my term.

I envision a transportation system that is efficient, affordable, safe and interconnected. I envision a decreased dependence on vehicles and the celebration of carbon neutrality in the not too distant future.

I envision our neighborhoods and urban villages alike as communities where all have the opportunity to live, work, and play – regardless of socio-economic status. Where better planning, design and architectural innovation ensure new development improves quality of life and enhances the character of all our neighborhoods.

And I envision an education system of the highest caliber, resulting from meaningful dialogue between the city and our school district to coordinate our growth strategies. I envision a system that provides not only a seat for every child in the classroom, but also access to a holistic education, one including the arts, that prepares our students for any path they choose to pursue.

This vision comes with a responsibility to express opinions, propose solutions, to be bold – and a little bit wonky. My wonkiness ultimately stems from my passion for the role that cities play in our national, cultural landscape. In my opinion, the best cities thrive when focused on the quality of life of each and every one if its’ residents, and the efficiency of its infrastructure. Cities work optimally when both the private and the public sectors come together in the spirit of collaboration. Cities don’t necessarily succeed by having the most money in their coffer, but by finding creative solutions that make an impact. And cities have the opportunity to provide leading innovations in the absence of action at the state and federal level.

Seattle is an incredible city built to inspire and engage – and recent examples including December’s vote allowing ride-share drivers to unionize, and our response to homelessness make me very proud to play a part in this city’s future.

Today marks a milestone in Seattle’s history as we commence a council term characterized by district representation. So to conclude, and to recognize this occasion, I’d like to give each of my fellow council members this mug from the University of Washington. Let it represent how honored I am to represent District 4 and to work alongside you all to make Seattle a more livable, equitable, and enjoyable city. Thank you.


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