Applying for: Seattle City Council, Position 9
Below are the answers Pat Murakami 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 ability to relate to and connect with disparate groups of people, which I believe will lead to better legislation which best serves the greatest number of Seattle residents. My greatest weakness is being very open about my opinions on issues without always taking the time to fully explain what background research I’ve done and/or my experiences in the matter which brings me to that conclusion.
2. What are the best & worst jobs you’ve ever had? Why?
The worst job I had was in college, stuffing envelopes (before today’s many methods of automation). It was mind-numbingly boring – no music or conversation to help pass the time. The best job I’ve ever had is the one I have now, owning an IT company. I’ve been doing it for over 30 years. I love helping my clients to be more productive by using the best software and equipment to meet their needs (the best is RARELY the most expensive!). I strive to save them money and more productive as a company. I like connecting with my clients and getting to know a wide variety of industries. As an added bonus, I get to set my own hours (though I frequently work late into the night), and occasionally give myself a break by playing hooky from work when I’ve fulfilled all my client obligations
3. Why is this position a good fit for you?
I have been very engaged in Seattle issues for decades. I will engage with the community and seek input before I vote. I think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that work for the greater good.
4. What makes you the best choice for workers in this race?
I will work very hard to ensure Seattle provides living-wage jobs for workers. The current City Council is not paying any attention to economic development – new construction and Amazon retail don’t make for a sustained healthy economy. I will ensure we diversity our economic development efforts across multiple industries. I also want to work with our local colleges to provide degree certification for individuals that immigrate here from other countries with degrees that aren’t recognized in the United States. Someone with an engineering or medical degree should be able to work their field of expertise. Seattle can and should do so much more for those who are un- or under-employed. That will be a priority for me if elected.
5. What do you think is the single biggest issue affecting workers in your area? What would you do to address it?
Economic disparity is the biggest issue facing workers in Seattle. To address the problem, we must ensure Seattle offers upwardly-mobile, living-wage jobs. We can do that by inviting emerging industries to locate in Seattle, such as green technology. We must aggressively provide training, apprenticeships and earn-while-you-learn opportunities. I would support the right for workers to unionize and their right to collective bargaining. We must also address our horribly regressive tax system by reducing sales and property taxes, and instituting a State income tax (graduated by income level, with no income tax on low-wage employees). Large employers must not be allowed to keep all employees as part-time workers to dodge paying benefits. I would enact City legislation to that effect, and more importantly work to ensure the same policies are enacted on a state-wide level.
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.
I have never and would never cross a picket line. I have boycotted products where the producer has engaged in unfair employment practices. It always feels good to be on the side of the 99%.
7. What would be your top single priority if elected to this office? How would you define success or failure on this issue?
My top priority would be to address the homelessness crisis. As a city, we cannot allow the creation of a permanent underclass, which is where we are headed now. Success would be getting everyone out of tents and RVs into proper shelter with all necessary wrap-around services, including job counselling.
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?
Unions are one of the best ways to ensure worker rights. We need to ensure we have strong civil rights departments at the city, county and state levels so any workers who have faced discrimination have a way to ensure work place justice. Resistance groups, such as Indivisibles, can help protest and pressure employers to do the right thing. The sad reality is even prior to the Trump Administration, workers in our region have faced discriminatory practices, so we must be willing to stand-up for workers’ rights publicly.
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 must demand developers build inclusionary (on-site) affordable units which are priced to address the housing needs of all income levels. We must no longer tolerate allowing developers to have only 2% affordable units, or to pay inadequate ‘in-lieu’ fees to place the units elsewhere. Developers should include 15 to 30% affordable units in every new development. The City should contract directly with builders to build housing on City surplus property, keeping construction and overhead costs as low as possible.
10. How would you support advancing the rights of workers in non-traditional jobs, including domestic workers and workers in the gig economy?
Again, unions are extremely important to protect workers’ rights. The City should actively encourage the creation of unions in industries where unions don’t exist, and for large employers based in Seattle that don’t yet have unionized employees. An active Office of Civil Rights is essential to protect the rights of all employees, with a clearly communicated path of resolution if the Office of Civil Rights fails to protect workers’ rights.
Note: Murakami also submitted an optional resume (linked).