Applying for: Seattle Mayor
Below are the answers Cary Moon provided to our ten-question job application. All answers are copied verbatim from what we received from the candidate.
1. What would you say is your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness?
My greatest strength is my deep commitment to our city, to social justice, and drive to lead Seattle in achieving our potential as a city truly committed to the wellbeing of everyone.
My greatest weakness is seeing the good in everyone and pervasive optimism. As a leader I need to check in with skeptics.
2. What are the best & worst jobs you’ve ever had? Why?
Best Job: I loved leading the People’s Waterfront Coalition. Working with community to prioritize our needs instead of the interests of big developers we built a constructive future vision, rallying a broad and inclusive coalition, organizing public will across thousands of citizens, navigating the politics to win the City’s full ownership of the project was wonderfully fulfilling. Together we established a commitment to a 22 acre waterfront park in the heart of our city, representing our city’s values of healthy civic life, restored intertidal and upland ecology, neighborhood connections, and public life that is inclusive and welcoming to all.
Worst Job: I worked part time cooking at a serious restaurant in Philadelphia. On the slower nights, I worked the line, which was exciting -- and rewarding to be part of that team doing gorgeous food. But on weekend nights, I simply didn’t have the required speed to keep up, so I generally did prep work in the basement in a small room with no windows. Prepping 100 onions or 40 pounds of swordfish at a time in a small basement room: grueling work.
3. Why is this position a good fit for you?
For the last decade, I have worked behind the scenes with other community experts, stakeholders and activists to develop policy solutions to some of Seattle’s biggest challenges. In addition to working as an urban planner and engineer, I have served as a citizen advocate in Seattle since 2004 pursuing sustainable, local transit-based transportation solutions. As a civic leader, I have worked on many issues ranging from housing affordability to democracy reform, and building a progressive vision and platform for an economy that works for all of us. Our city is at a crossroads - more and more people cannot afford to live in our city and I have bold policy solutions to fulfill the original promise of $15: everyone who works in Seattle should be able to live here. Thanks to Working Washington, our community, and workers leadership, our city passed a bold minimum wage to meet this goal. However, our city has fallen short at meeting our affordability crisis - as an urban planner I have the tools and the commitment to address our city's core problems.
My experience working in coalition, my deep roots in civic advocacy, and my 20 years of experience building solutions to the very challenges Seattle faces are the leadership skills our city needs. This moment calls for an effective change maker, someone with the independence and courage to lead the transformation we so badly need right now.
4. What makes you the best choice for workers in this race?
As Mayor of Seattle my attention would be focused on solutions that build well-being for everyone, especially by tackling housing affordability and structuring our local economy so we all have access to economic security, opportunity, and entrepreneurship.
The main things that separate me from my opponent are:
Vision: For a city like Seattle that’s going through such a rapid transformation with so many forces changing our city, we need a strong commitment to a positive, inclusive future vision.
Leadership: We need bold, collaborative leadership that stands up for workers and builds a strong commitment to a more equitable Seattle. The transformative solutions we need to put in place are going to be really tough. Tackling the root causes of our housing affordability crisis, and putting in the right disincentives to stop the profiteering that is contributing to price escalation, is going to take analytical skills and political courage. Guiding our economic growth so we build prosperity for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful, is going to take courage and the ability to stand up to corporate special interests. My leadership style is to listen, define a common vision, invite everyone’s best ideas, find solutions together, and work with tenacity and determination.
A progressive economic vision: More fundamentally, we need to establish a new vision of a progressive economy that builds prosperity for everyone, establish a platform of concrete solutions, and build a shared commitment to get there. For too long our country, our state, and our city have been swept up in a trickle down mindset, with massive profits and low taxes for corporations and the wealthy few and austerity for the rest of us. We see exactly how this status quo has failed to build broad prosperity in Seattle, and what we need to do to change it. We in Seattle have the chance to make the transition toward an inclusive and progressive economy.
5. What do you think is the single biggest issue affecting workers in your area? What would you do to address it?
We need to solve the housing crisis. It will take bold solutions and I am the only candidate with concrete proposals. I believe we need to start by reframing how we think about housing affordability: how do we ensure our neighborhoods are welcoming to folks at all income levels and stages in life? I support more flexible land use codes in all zones, making a broader range of low rise multifamily housing forms more viable and increasing the range of housing types being built. I will find solutions to curtail the speculation that is escalating property values. And I will find funding and effective solutions to quadruple the production of non-profit or public affordable housing. As mayor, I will invite people to be part of the solution, helping tackle the affordability crisis together, working toward a future city that is inclusive and diverse.
6. Describe a specific situation where you took action to support workers fighting for their rights. What was the experience like, and what did you learn? Bonus question: tell us about a time you engaged with workers with Working Washington.
Workers have so many rights to fight for: not only on the job but also for recognition in society. I have participated as an activist many times, joining to support progressive causes: From shouting down George Bush when he came to Ann Arbor in 1983 to marching against the Iraq wars to participating in WTO demonstrations, in Occupy activism, in BLM marches, and in the recent teachers’ march. I also know that marches are low-hanging fruit - workers need an advocate who will work with workers and their representatives to pass strong labor laws and make sure they are implemented well. As mayor I will always stand with workers fighting for their rights.
Bonus question: I met your Executive Director at a conference focused on building a better economic model for our country and I read "Boss Briefing" regularly. It is my #1 political e-mail of all - and I read every word.
7. What would be your top single priority if elected to this office? How would you define success or failure on this issue?
Housing affordability is the most critical issue facing our city. Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities in the country. Over half of renters pay more than they can reasonably afford. Our housing costs are spiraling out of reach, destabilizing our communities with people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks and other marginalized communities hit first and hardest. Too many of us are living on the edge, just one unexpected bill away from not making rent and facing eviction. People who work in Seattle should be able to afford to live in Seattle. We have the tools to start fixing this problem; we just need the collective courage to stop favoring the interests of speculators and put people and families first.
My solutions are to:
Increase tenants’ rights to provide more protections to renters, and examine best practices for rent stabilization strategies that could work here.
Pro-actively prevent evictions of families with children and safeguard transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.
Implement targeted taxes to deter corporate and non-resident real estate speculation, commercial Airbnb operators, and vacant properties. Targeted taxes can dampen predatory price escalation while providing revenue for the affordable housing we need.
Exponentially expand affordable housing from only 6% of Seattle’s housing market toward a goal of four times this share. To do this, let’s aggressively free up surplus public land for affordable housing, work with Olympia to increase the housing trust fund, organize philanthropy to increase funding to non-profit housing developers, and allocate new progressive taxes (see above) toward public/ non-profit housing.
Pursue viable multifamily low-rise housing options for working people in the “missing middle” like duplexes, rowhouses, backyard cottages, congregate housing, community land trusts, co-ops and co-housing. We need to adjust both the Single Family zoning and the permitting/ SEPA/design review processes so infill developers can pursue a broader range of solutions while working to maintain the cultural character of Seattle’s neighborhoods.
8. What can you do in this office to resist attacks by the Trump Administration on the rights of low-wage workers, who are disproportionately women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ?
Our city must step up its commitment to everyone in our community - including those most marginalized - against the hateful rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration that do harm.
To live the vision of the sanctuary city we claim to be, we need to stand strong in protecting immigrants and refugees, and pursue concrete solutions such as a legal defense fund for our neighbors and families being persecuted by ICE. We need to implement the practical and bold solutions described in my platform or we will continue on the path toward a city of haves and have nots, a place where more and more of us are not sure we belong and feel our roots are tenuous at best.
With our wealth, our creativity, our spirit of innovation, and our shared progressive values, we have tremendous responsibility to rally energy and shared commitment to be the living beacon of hope, standing in stark contrast to Trump’s nightmare vision for America.
9. Tell us how you plan to address affordable housing, especially for minimum-wage and part-time workers, as well as for those left homeless because of high housing costs.
We need to address housing costs and transit access together. Transportation is the second highest household expense after housing. People are being pushed out of Seattle to chase affordable housing in places that are not served by transit, which leaves them isolated from their communities and services and forces workers to drive. Transit Oriented Development with a strong commitment to equity and affordability means that more families and individuals in Seattle can live and work in their community, live without a car, and reduce their transportation costs and environmental impacts. For communities facing displacement due to gentrification, we need to ensure new development is equitable by involving communities up front in planning the growth and identify specific targeted solutions to ensure they can thrive in place, not be displaced.
10. How would you support advancing the rights of workers in non-traditional jobs, including domestic workers and workers in the gig economy?
I would support efforts to ensure private companies act in a responsible manner, especially to prevent subcontractors from using so-called “independent contractors” instead of employees.
To do this, first, the public sector must lead on establishing new clarity on job classifications that fit with current jobs in the 21st century. Work has changed, workplaces have changed, and it’s necessary to establish more accurately defined jobs to ensure employers, employees, and contract workers all have the same understanding. This will also go a long way toward preventing the unfair and exploitative practices that happen when classifications are muddled, mismatched, or vaguely defined.
Second, the city should establish a floor of basic rights and minimum standards for contract work, and allow private companies that want to do more to add more benefits. We need robust rules and guidelines to ensure ALL workers are treated fairly and provided with adequate compensation.
Third, as mayor I would establish new requirements for transparency in pay equity. Our societal biases are hidden and go unquestioned because of lack of comparative analysis of pay equity in the private sector across gender and race. This model can be extended to include analysis and daylighting of pay and working conditions for contract workers.