Many progressives are skipping over the avowed socialist and labor anointed candidate “because unlike those two, Alex Pedersen has chosen to work with anti-displacement, historic preservation, neighborhood, and small businesses groups fighting runaway growth and gentrification.”
In terms of fighting to ensure developers won’t continue to run roughshod over the historic, social, and physical character or our communities (and drive a deeper wedge between rich and poor, and people of color in our city) – only Alex Pedersen among those running in District 4 has stepped up. As he has said to us and in forums, his priority will be addressing the impacts of growth on our communities and being a leading voice in the battle against displacement.
And it’s not just talk. Pedersen has actively demonstrated a willingness over many years, attending and participating in neighborhood meetings, calling electeds and staff, testifying, even hosting his own neighborhood blog featuring the impacts of growth on District 4 neighborhoods, and in other ways backing community efforts to rein in and manage growth. He openly backs developer impact fees and creation of a historic district for University Way, aka “the Ave” and backs a strong tree preservation ordinance, and a requirement that developers replace 1 for 1 any low cost housing they remove. For Pedersen, these things must come first, not after, still more displacement inducing upzones.
By contrast, Shaun Scott, the “Socialist” in the District 4 race, has chosen to use his candidacy to launch a new wing of socialism: the pro-density supply-side and trickle-down wing. How someone can subscribe to any brand of socialism while backing policies that literally hand over our communities to developers and speculators escapes us; a weird mash-up of Karl Marx and Milton Friedman. Worse, anyone who doesn’t align with his laissez-faire notions on growth and the housing market, including folks simply looking for tools to preserve the affordability and character of their communities while growth occurs, Scott either avoids or ‘hint hint’ they must either be NIMBY’s or racists. Put literally, his stance is anti-existing low cost housing, anti-small business and anti-neighborhood.
Scott recently told a large crowd attending a candidate’s forum in the UDistrict that he supports another round of upzones for the neighborhood including areas along University Way (The Ave) and north of 52nd. That’s despite the fact that only two and a half years ago, over half of the UDistrict was upzoned for hi-rise development and now is drowning in runaway displacement inducing growth. These newest upzones threaten loss of a dozen or more historic buildings, displacement of many of the 100-150 small businesses (most immigrant and minority-owned) and 400-500 units of existing low cost housing.
The future of the University District – its character, affordability, and rich history – all will depend on who is elected this time to fill the 4th District Seat. When attempting to defend his indefensible stance, Scott blurted out to one of the Ave small businesses following the UDistrict candidate forum: “we’re going to upzone every inch of Seattle”.
The same can be said about Emily Myers, supposedly labor’s candidate, who got up and left the UDistrict candidate’s forum before she was required to state her position on the UDistrict upzones. But when cornered earlier by the President of the UDistrict Small Business Association, and asked whether she would back their efforts to preserve historic buildings and legacy businesses, Myers sidestepped the question. And this was just before she held an unannounced fundraiser at his bar. She too has riffed off the tawdry meme that anyone standing in the way of upzones (guilty only of caring about what happens to their community) is racist.
Pedersen draws support from some of the city’s most progressive leaders like Nick Licata, Gerry Pollett, and Peter Steinbrueck, and was endorsed by the 46th District Dem’s (one of the city’s most progressive Democratic Party organizations), and he’s bringing down a few endorsements from labor unions as well.
And yes, Pedersen has also been endorsed by the Downtown Chamber crowd – making this the first (and likely our last) time backing someone drawing their support. So what’s going on? Put simply, the downtown business crowd is so freaked out at the thought of electing another avowed “Socialist” or “the labor candidate” they’ve failed to look beneath the surface – to see the degree to which both Scott and Myers – by signing on to a developer driven agenda – have warped what it truly means to be progressive.