How Seattle’s mayoral candidates rate the Green New Deal priorities

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Photo by Atomic Taco; Creative Commons License

By Maryam Noor

In 2019, the city of Seattle joined a growing list of US cities by passing a local Green New Deal resolution that would mobilize all city departments to reduce the city’s dependence on fossil fuels and become part of communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution. The resolution calls for new public investments to improve access to healthy food, convert homes from natural gas to electricity, and strengthen standards for green building.

In September 2019, just months after the Green New Deal resolution was passed, the city council passed an ordinance requiring the city’s Sustainability and Environment Bureau to set up a 19-member Green New Deal board of directors, comprising eight community members who are directly affected by racist violence, economic and environmental injustices.

But in the years since the two laws were passed, the city has still not implemented many of the guidelines it recommended, most notably the appointment of a Green New Deal board of directors that has been postponed until 2022.

As a new intern at PubliCola, my first job was to ask Seattle’s mayoral candidates what they think of the Green New Deal guidelines and which ones they would prioritize in the event of an election. We also asked them to rank four guidelines in order of importance: funding and recruiting a governing body for the Green New Deal; Ensure free public transportation for all Seattle residents; Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle homes and researching alternative housing models that aim to increase equity and affordability, such as living quarters. B. Community Land Trusts and Coops with limited equity.

“We have taken steps to ban the use of fossil fuels in new commercial buildings. I think we need to focus on making sure we don’t keep building an infrastructure that delivers one of the most harmful emitters and products out here. ”- Mayoral candidate Lorena González

Of the six candidates who responded to our questions – Coleen Echohawk, Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Bruce Harrell, Andrew Grant Houston, and Lance Randall – Echohawk and Harrell said funding and recruitment of the board was their top priority.

“I think oversight and measurement are critical to everything we do, so I think I’ll start with the oversight board,” said Harrell.

Houston, Farrell, and Randall all said alternative housing would be their first concern. Farrell said she thought free public transport was equally important, and Randall questioned the validity of free public transport in general.

“For meaning, I’d say the alternative housing models were my number one priority,” said Houston. “It takes at least three to five years to build new apartments, and we should start immediately.”

Farrell said affordable housing and transportation need to work together; one cannot have one without the other. “You have to do housing and transportation together.”

Randall doesn’t want free public transport, at least not for everyone, because he believes it is neither practical nor affordable.

“I’m more of a believer in subsidies for low-income people who need help, but there are a lot of people who can afford to pay for transit and they should pay for it because we have to pay the drivers,” Randall said . “We have to wait for the bus. We have to buy new buses. “

One of the most ambitious goals of Seattle’s Green New Deal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. In order for Seattle to achieve this, the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere must match the amount emitted in the city. In order to achieve this goal, incentives to reduce CO2 emissions such as CO2 taxes and the electrification of industry and transport as well as long-term investments in clean energy sources such as renewable diesel or biogas would have to be created.

Only one candidate, Lorena González, has put reducing CO2 emissions in Seattle’s homes high on her list of priorities. In part, this is already happening. In February, the city banned the use of natural gas for space heating in new commercial and apartment buildings with more than three floors, as well as for new heating systems in old buildings that meet these qualifications. The ordinance also prohibits the use of natural gas for water heating in larger hotels and apartment complexes.

González doesn’t think it’s enough. “Fossil fuels are the biggest cause of CO2 emissions. We have taken steps to ban fossil fuel reliance on new commercial buildings, ”said González. “And I think we need to focus on that to make sure we don’t keep building an infrastructure that delivers one of the most harmful emitters and products out here.”

Find out below how the six candidates rated the four topics we surveyed.

Coleen Echohawk

  1. Oversight body for the Green New Deal
  2. Alternative housing models
  3. Free public transport
  4. Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle’s households

Jessyn Farrell

  1. Alternative housing models / free public transport
  2. Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle homes
  3. Oversight body for the Green New Deal

Lorena González

  1. Oversight body for the Green New Deal
  2. Alternative housing models
  3. Free public transport
  4. Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle’s households

Bruce Harrell

  1. Oversight body for the Green New Deal
  2. Free public transport
  3. Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle’s households
  4. Alternative housing models

Andrew Grant Houston

  1. Alternative housing models
  2. Free public transport
  3. Oversight body for the Green New Deal
  4. Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle’s households

Lance Randall

  1. Oversight body for the Green New Deal
  2. Reducing fossil fuel use in Seattle homes
  3. Alternative housing models
  4. Free public transport *

* Does not support this policy


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