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Alex Hudson, Candidate for Seattle City Council District 3

Hacks & Wonks

Release Date: 09/27/2023

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More Episodes

On this Wednesday topical show, Crystal chats with Alex Hudson about her campaign for Seattle City Council District 3. Listen and learn more about Alex and her thoughts on:

  • [01:08] - Why she is running

  • [01:58] - Lightning round!

  • [08:43] - City budget shortfall: Raise revenue or cut services?

  • [10:53] - What is an accomplishment of hers that impacts District 3

  • [13:21] - Climate change

  • [15:03] - Transit reliability

  • [17:32] - Bike and pedestrian safety

  • [19:44] - Housing and homelessness: Frontline worker wages

  • [22:16] - Childcare: Affordability and accessibility

  • [24:41] - Public Safety: Alternative response

  • [30:55] - Small business support

  • [34:52] - Difference between her and opponent

As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.

Follow us on Twitter at @HacksWonks. Find the host, Crystal Fincher, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find Alex Hudson at @AlexforSeattle.

 

Alex Hudson

Alex Hudson's journey began in Redmond and flourished on a family farm nestled in Unincorporated East King County. With familial roots spanning over 70 years, Alex's commitment to her community runs deep. Today, Alex resides in First Hill alongside her partner and serves as the legal guardian of a freshman at Grafiel High School. Embracing a car-free lifestyle thanks to the neighborhood's walkability and robust public transit options, Alex and her family thrive in their bustling urban environment.

Graduating from Redmond High School in 2002, Alex's determination fueled her journey to becoming a first-generation college graduate. Earning a BA in Political Science from Western Washington University, complemented by minors in Sociology and Economics, Alex's academic endeavors were marked by her active involvement within both the college and Bellingham communities.

As an empowered advocate, Alex founded the ACLU-WA student club, directed the Associated Students Drug Information Center, and penned a weekly column for the student newspaper. These accomplishments earned her recognition as the '2008 Associated Student Employee of the Year' and the '2008 ACLU-WA Youth Activist of the Year'.

Life threw a curveball with Alex's diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, but access to vital government programs, coupled with gratitude for social institutions, enabled her recovery.

In 2009, Alex's relocation to First Hill aligned with her role as House Manager at Town Hall Seattle. Infatuated with the neighborhood's historical charm, architectural splendor, and vibrant diversity, she made First Hill her home.

After contributing to economic and community development consulting, Alex embarked on a pivotal journey as the inaugural employee of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA) in 2014. Over her 4.5-year tenure, Alex spearheaded transformative initiatives, including embedding community priorities within numerous development projects,, reimagining First Hill Park, citing two shelters for homeless people in the neighborhood, and leading negotiations for the 'Community Package Coalition', yielding an extraordinary $63 million investment in affordable housing, parks, and public spaces. Alex's impact reverberated further with the revitalization of the Public Realm Action Plan, the creation of Seattle's first 'pavement-to-parks' project, and the facilitation of over 20 artworks on street signal boxes.

Named one of 'Seattle's Most Influential People of 2015' by Seattle Magazine for co-creating Seattlish.com, Alex's prowess extended to Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC) as its Executive Director in 2018. Under her leadership, TCC orchestrated monumental victories, securing over $5billion in funding for better transportation, making transit free for every young person in Washington, reforming fare enforcement policies at Sound Transit, championing wage reform for ride-share drivers, and advocating for mobility justice in a post-COVID world.

Balancing her responsibilities, Alex contributes as a board member for Bellwether Housing Group and the Freeway Park Association.

With a legacy of empowerment and transformative change, Alex Hudson remains a dedicated advocate, shaping the landscape of Seattle's communities and transportation systems.

 

Resources

Campaign Website - Alex Hudson

 

Transcript

[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review show and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.

Well, I am very excited to be welcoming Seattle City Council District 3 candidate, Alex Hudson, to the show today. Welcome.

[00:01:03] Alex Hudson: It's great to be here - thanks for having me.

[00:01:06] Crystal Fincher: Great to have you here. So I guess starting off, just wondering why you decided to run?

[00:01:15] Alex Hudson: Yeah, I love the city of Seattle, and I want this to be a great place for the people who live here and people like my kiddo to be able to make a future. I have spent my career working on the issues that affect people in our city the most and pushing towards a city that loves people back. And so I'm excited about the opportunity to take my progressive values, my over a decade of experience taking good ideas and turning those into positive results for people to City Hall, where we can make a really huge impact on the things that matter most to people.

[00:01:58] Crystal Fincher: Well, you know, as we were putting together these interviews, we thought, especially for people like you who have just a ton of policy and advocacy experience - how we could have wide-ranging conversations, especially just getting into all the details, we could wonk out forever - but we decided we would try for the first time in interviews, lightning rounds, just to try and help level set a little bit. The eyes got a little wide there, but hopefully this isn't too painful and pretty normal. So we'll do this for a bit and then we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming of questions, but just to help give a little context beyond the questions that we get to.

Wondering - starting out - This year, did you vote yes on the King County Crisis Care Centers levy?

[00:02:45] Alex Hudson: Of course.

[00:02:46] Crystal Fincher: Did you vote yes on the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services levy?

[00:02:49] Alex Hudson: Of course.

[00:02:50] Crystal Fincher: Did you vote in favor of Seattle's Social Housing Initiative 135?

[00:02:54] Alex Hudson: Absolutely.

[00:02:56] Crystal Fincher: Did you vote for Bruce Harrell or Lorena González for Mayor?

[00:03:00] Alex Hudson: I voted for Lorena González.

[00:03:02] Crystal Fincher: And did you vote for Nicole Thomas Kennedy or Ann Davison for Seattle City Attorney?

[00:03:06] Alex Hudson: I voted for Nicole Thomas Kennedy.

[00:03:09] Crystal Fincher: And did you vote for Leesa Manion or Jim Ferrell for King County Prosecutor?

[00:03:14] Alex Hudson: I voted for Leesa Manion.

[00:03:17] Crystal Fincher: Do you rent your residence?

[00:03:19] Alex Hudson: I do. Yeah, I'm a lifelong renter.

[00:03:21] Crystal Fincher: Okay. Would you vote to require landlords to report metrics, including how much rent they're charging, to help better plan housing and development needs in the district?

[00:03:31] Alex Hudson: Yes, absolutely.

[00:03:32] Crystal Fincher: Are there any instances where you would support sweeps of homeless encampments?

[00:03:39] Alex Hudson: The word sweeps is like always one where I'm like - what does that mean to folks, right? But in general, I think that people deserve to be able to live in a place, to exist peacefully before they are just moved along without any connection to resources or support. So I'm not sure if that's a yes or no, but I definitely support people's basic human right to exist and the City's obligation to take care of people.

[00:04:08] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to provide additional funding for Seattle's Social Housing Public Development Authority?

[00:04:13] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:04:14] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree with King County Executive Constantine's statement that the King County Jail should be closed?

[00:04:22] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:04:23] Crystal Fincher: Should parking enforcement be housed within SPD?

[00:04:27] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:04:29] Crystal Fincher: Would you vote to allow police in schools?

[00:04:35] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:04:37] Crystal Fincher: Do you support allocation in the City budget for a civilian-led mental health crisis response?

[00:04:44] Alex Hudson: Absolutely, yes.

[00:04:45] Crystal Fincher: Do you support allocation in the City budget to increase the pay of human service workers?

[00:04:51] Alex Hudson: Definitely, yes.

[00:04:53] Crystal Fincher: Do you support removing funds in the City budget for forced encampment removals and instead allocating funds towards a Housing First approach?

[00:05:01] Alex Hudson: Definitely, yes.

[00:05:03] Crystal Fincher: Do you support abrogating or removing the funds from unfilled SPD positions and putting them towards meaningful public safety measures?

[00:05:12] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:05:12] Crystal Fincher: Do you support allocating money in the budget for supervised consumption sites?

[00:05:18] Alex Hudson: 100%, yes.

[00:05:19] Crystal Fincher: Do you support increasing funding in the City budget for violence intervention programs?

[00:05:24] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:05:25] Crystal Fincher: Do you oppose a SPOG contract that doesn't give the Office of Police Accountability, OPA, or the Office of Inspector General, OIG, subpoena power?

[00:05:38] Alex Hudson: Let me make sure I understand the question 'cause there's a double negative in there. It's - oppose it--

[00:05:44] Crystal Fincher: Would you vote to approve a contract that does not have subpoena power? Would you vote to approve or deny a contract?

[00:05:52] Alex Hudson: No. They should have subpoena power.

[00:05:56] Crystal Fincher: Gotcha. Do you oppose a SPOG contract that doesn't remove limitations as to how many of OPA's investigators must be sworn versus civilian?

[00:06:09] Alex Hudson: There should be no limit - like again, I just wanna make sure I'm understanding the question right - sorry...

[00:06:15] Crystal Fincher: Makes - totally fair, totally fair.

[00:06:19] Alex Hudson: There should be - the oversight of our police department should not be set by the Police Officers Guild.

[00:06:26] Crystal Fincher: Do you oppose a SPOG contract that impedes the ability of the City to move police funding to public safety alternatives?

[00:06:34] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:06:35] Crystal Fincher: Do you support eliminating in-uniform off-duty work by SPD officers?

[00:06:40] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:06:42] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to ensure that trans and non-binary students are allowed to play on the sports teams that fit with their gender identities?

[00:06:49] Alex Hudson: Of course.

[00:06:50] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to ensure that trans people can use bathrooms or public facilities that match their gender?

[00:06:55] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:06:57] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree with the Seattle City Council's decision to implement the JumpStart Tax?

[00:07:02] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:07:03] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to reduce or divert the JumpStart Tax in any way?

[00:07:08] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:07:09] Crystal Fincher: Are you happy with Seattle's newly built waterfront?

[00:07:12] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:07:13] Crystal Fincher: Do you believe return to work mandates like the one issued by Amazon are necessary to boost Seattle's economy?

[00:07:25] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:07:26] Crystal Fincher: Have you taken transit in the past week?

[00:07:28] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:07:29] Crystal Fincher: Have you ridden a bike in the past week?

[00:07:32] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:07:33] Crystal Fincher: Go ahead, Alex Hudson. Should Pike Place Market allow non-commercial car traffic?

[00:07:41] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:07:42] Crystal Fincher: Should significant investments be made to speed up the opening of scheduled Sound Transit light rail lines?

[00:07:49] Alex Hudson: Oh my God, yes.

[00:07:51] Crystal Fincher: Should we accelerate the elimination of the ability to turn right on red lights to improve pedestrian safety?

[00:07:57] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:07:59] Crystal Fincher: Have you ever been a member of a union?

[00:08:01] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:08:02] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to increase funding and staffing for investigations into labor violations like wage theft and illegal union busting?

[00:08:10] Alex Hudson: Yes.

[00:08:11] Crystal Fincher: Have you ever walked on a picket line?

[00:08:16] Alex Hudson: Like participated in support of? Or crossed?

[00:08:19] Crystal Fincher: Participated in support of a picket.

[00:08:21] Alex Hudson: Oh, yes.

[00:08:22] Crystal Fincher: Have you ever crossed a picket line?

[00:08:24] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:08:25] Crystal Fincher: Is your campaign unionized?

[00:08:28] Alex Hudson: No.

[00:08:29] Crystal Fincher: If your campaign staff wants to unionize, will you voluntarily recognize their efforts?

[00:08:34] Alex Hudson: Of course.

[00:08:36] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you for that. That was, I think, a pretty painless lightning round, but pretty illuminating, so appreciate that.

Now, the City is projected to have a revenue shortfall of $224 million beginning in 2025. Because the City's mandated by the state to pass a balanced budget, the options to address this upcoming deficit are either raise revenue or cuts. How will you approach the issue of how the City collects and spends money on behalf of its constituents?

[00:09:08] Alex Hudson: Yeah, this is super important, right? This is like - the basic function of our city council is to pass legislation, pass a budget, and speak on behalf of the priorities, values, and vision of the people of the City of Seattle. I think, you know, I was an executive director of nonprofit organizations for over a decade, and so I've spent a lot of time making and overseeing budgets - not nearly as large or complicated as the City of Seattle, but the basic tenets are the same, right? And so we gotta do a couple of things. We gotta make sure that the money that we're spending still meets our priorities, and that we may need to shift some stuff around so that we can meet the biggest priorities that are in front of us right now. I think we need to be able to take a look and make sure that our spending is matching the ability to do that. I said, you know, when I ran a nonprofit organization, we opted into having audits every year, and I'm very proud that we had five years of clean audits with no managerial notes - and I think that that should be a pretty common practice because the relationship of taking public dollars and spending them - it's really important to get that right. But the reality is is that we know that we do not have the resources that we need in order to address the urgent issues in front of us, and we are going to need to bring more resources into the City budget to be able to do that. And so that's why I've been a very big proponent of things like the municipal capital gains tax, which is a way to start to begin to move our deeply upside-down tax system and the ability to take from the people who have the most and put it into services for the people who have the least.

[00:10:53] Crystal Fincher: Now, a lot of people, as they're trying to make the decision between you and your opponent - especially after trying to get their hands around everyone in the primary - now we're looking in the general and are really honing in on issues. Now, you've been involved in a lot of work - as you have said, you've been the executive director of nonprofit organizations, have a long history of advocacy and policy experience. What would you say that you've accomplished that's tangible in the lives of District 3 residents that helps them understand who you are as a person and a candidate?

[00:11:27] Alex Hudson: Yeah, quite a number of things. I've helped to bring hundreds of millions of dollars of resources into the things that matter most to folks. I was the lead negotiator and spokesperson for a 10-organization coalition that fought for a fair public deal from the redevelopment of the Convention Center. And through that work - almost two years of organizing - we brought $63 million of revenue into affordable housing, parks and public open space, and multimodal transportation. So if you are riding, for example, on the bike lanes that connect 8th Avenue to Broadway on Pike and Pine, that's because of community coalition work. If you are experiencing betterment in Freeway Park, that's because of that work. If you are a renter or a formerly homeless person living in The Rise and Blake House, which is the largest affordable housing building ever built in the City of Seattle in the last 60 years, that's because of work that I've done. If your child is riding on public transit for free, that's because of work that I've done. If you are enjoying the beautiful First Hill Park, which was redeveloped at no cost to the public, that's because of work that I did to help create that community-led vision and to bring private dollars into that. There are safer streets, better bike lanes, more and better public transit service, more and better affordable housing that I have helped to bring to bear through my work in running the neighborhood organization or running Transportation Choices Coalition.

[00:13:11] Crystal Fincher: Thank you very much for that - really comprehensive and impressive body of work that is visible to people in the district and the city to see what can be built and accomplished there. Now, I wanna talk about climate change because on almost every measure, we're behind on our 2030 climate goals, which is a critical milestone in order to make sure that we do reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate and prevent even worsening climate change - although we already are absolutely feeling the impacts, whether it's extreme heat or cold, wildfires, floods. What are your highest priority plans to get us on track to meet 2030 goals?

[00:13:52] Alex Hudson: Yeah, thanks for this question. This is the existential crisis of our time - there is nothing that is possible on a dead planet. And we know that cities are the forefront of this issue because the solution to our accelerating climate crisis is - or one of them is, certainly - is dense, walkable neighborhoods. I talk about, like, you shouldn't need to have a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk. And the New York Times produced a map recently that talked about average carbon emissions by person and what it shows is that beautiful District 3 - because so much of it is 15-minute walkable neighborhoods - has some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions anywhere in the country. And so we need to keep making it possible to live a low-carbon life. That means that we need to have more multifamily housing. We need to have a comprehensive plan that puts the things that you need in walking, biking, or transit distance of where you wanna go. We need to have a transit system, frankly, that isn't collapsing around us. And we need to be able to lean very deeply into that clean energy transition.

[00:15:03] Crystal Fincher: So, I mean, you mentioned our collapsing transit system. And unfortunately it is, whether it's staff shortages, other challenges that are really just cratering the reliability of the system. Obviously, Metro - King County Metro - is handled by King County, but what role can the City of Seattle play to stabilize transit service in the city?

[00:15:24] Alex Hudson: Yeah, folks may know that I have a long history working in transit advocacy. My family lives car-free by choice. And so we rely on public transit to get everywhere we need to go. ATU drivers take my kid to school every day - they make it possible for my whole family to live our lives, and I'm deeply grateful for the people who make that system possible. The City can do a lot to make our transit system possible. One is we need to continue our investment in the Transit Benefit District. I was happy and honored to run that campaign in 2020, November of 2020, and I always like to remind folks that that campaign passed by 82% at a time when - November of 2020, many people were still staying at home. And so that is not only some of the highest that anything has ever been approved in the City of Seattle, that sets an all-time historic national record for the highest approved a transit ballot measure has ever been in this entire country. So when we say that Seattle is a transit town, what we really should be saying that Seattle is the transit town. We need to make buses more reliable - that means we need to get serious about using our very limited public space, our roadway to prioritize the most number of people, which means bus lanes, bus queue jumps. We need to make it so that riding transit is a dignified and wonderful experience. We need to be investing in better bus stops. We need to be investing in the things that make it so that public transit system doesn't have to be a catch-all for social services. And we need to be making it so that fare isn't a barrier to people. So I think that there is a lot to do in terms of like allocating our roadway - that's the piece where the service and the reliability come to bear. We need to continue those investments through STBD [Seattle Transportation Benefit District] and others. And we need to make the experience of riding public transit be irresistibly good.

[00:17:32] Crystal Fincher: How would you improve pedestrian and bicycle safety amid the safety crisis that we're experiencing now?

[00:17:40] Alex Hudson: Yeah, this is not that complicated. And there are advocates who have been asking for some very basic things for years. We need to have - you talked about this at the top - we need to eliminate right turn on red everywhere in the city of Seattle. We need to signalize a whole lot more places to have left-hand turn lanes so that we're controlling the most dangerous driver movements that we have, which is those turning movements. We need to increase the number of bike lanes all over the place, right? Arterials should have bike lanes on them. I think a lot about 12th Avenue and obviously Eastlake has been much for discussion. We've done a really good job - I'm gonna get wonky, Crystal - we've done a really good job of tying housing density and transit service together in this beautiful virtuous cycle. But what we're missing is that third piece, which is the multimodal transportation. So I would like to see how we can make it - automatic thresholds get crossed in terms of density or transit that then induce and compel the City of Seattle to do these improvements. We have a Complete Streets mandate right now, but mandate's not really the right word - it's checklist. And so how can we make that go from discretionary or I-thought-about-it into like, this-is-what-is-required so that no one has to lose their life in the city of Seattle. We need more curb ramps. We need to make sure, you know, one thing that peeves me is how much of our lighting is for the road and how little of it is for the sidewalk. And so I would like to see more human scale lighting, especially since it's, you know, the big dark is coming and it can be pretty grim here for several months of the year. These are some of the really kind of basic things - we need to be doing a whole lot more narrowing, right - the real way that we have safer streets is through better design.

[00:19:44] Crystal Fincher: Now I wanna talk about housing and homelessness. And one thing repeatedly called out by experts as a barrier to the homelessness response is that frontline worker wages don't cover the cost of living and it sets up just a lot of instability - in the work and the workers who are doing the work. Do you believe our local nonprofits have a responsibility to pay living wages for our area? And how can we work with them to make that more likely with how we bid and contract for services?

[00:20:17] Alex Hudson: Yeah, I'm on the board of the largest affordable housing provider in King County. And so I have a direct role in helping to make sure that we're living that value with our own workers. So I totally agree that the people who are on the frontlines of this issue should be able to have a comfortable life. I think the City can do a couple of things, right - like we can, in our contracting, like prioritize, we can be investing more deeply in these wages for folks. But I also wanna acknowledge the government's own responsibility in creating the housing affordability crisis in the first place. And so one of the most important ways that we can address this in the mid- and long-term is by bringing down the cost of housing. The City of Minneapolis released some great data a couple of weeks ago that I think should be front page news everywhere, which is by getting rid of exclusionary zoning and investing in affordability - they have created their, they have bucked macroeconomic trends and brought inflation down hugely compared to literally every other city in the country. So long-term, right now we need to pay people so that they can afford their rent today and next month and next year. But what we really need to do is recognize the government's own responsibility in creating this housing and affordability crisis in the first place, and then do everything we can to bring those costs down. It's also true of childcare, right? Like the biggest expenses that people have is their housing, their childcare, and their transportation. There is a lot that we can be doing to be bringing the costs down and making it so that more people can afford to live in the city of Seattle - and that we really think about the role of the government in terms of reducing and eliminating poverty.

[00:22:16] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely, and thank you so much for bringing up childcare, because that is - for many people, like you said, the second largest expense behind housing. For some people, it's coming ahead of housing, depending on how many children they have. Recently reported that the cost of childcare is greater than the cost of college here in Washington and in many states. It's just absolutely expensive and a crisis in its own making for people trying to participate in the labor market, so much appreciated with that. What can we do to help address our childcare crisis in the city?

[00:22:52] Alex Hudson: We can make it a whole lot easier to place childcare centers. There's a lot of pretty onerous restrictions about where those facilities can go. In 2015, we're gonna renew our Families and Education and Early Learning Promise levy, and we can be thinking about how to be - like that's the investment tool of how we do early learning and childcare. We can be thinking about things like universal pre-K and expanding all of these things beyond, and even investing in the earliest kinds of daycare. We can be thinking about how we can be incentivizing some of the vacant commercial space that exists all over the place, and how we can be subsidizing the childcare there. We can definitely be thinking more about how we do TOD-based, or transit-oriented development-based childcare. I was just talking to somebody recently about how we don't have childcare on top of the Capitol Hill light rail station - and one of the reasons is, is that the childcare providers there really feel like what they need is a vehicle pickup and drop-off zone. I, for one, recognize that vehicles actually put children in danger, but we can figure out creatively how to be partnering with those providers so that they can feel that transit-oriented development is a great place for their childcare to go. I'm really - you know, I think there's a lot of promise in the state capital gains tax, which is meant to be investing very deeply in early learning and creating free opportunities across the state. And so it's really those two things always, right - you got a problem - it's bringing down the cost of whatever that problem is, and investing more deeply in the subsidy for it.

[00:24:41] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. I wanna talk about public safety too, and starting off on the issue of alternative response. And while a lot of other jurisdictions around the country, and especially in our own region - in King County - have rolled out alternative response programs to better support people having behavioral health crises, Seattle is stalled in implementing what is such a widely-supported idea. Poll after poll, one of the things most widely agreed upon - you know, north of 70, 80, in some instances, 90% - has been that of alternative response, having specialized responders for things that don't quite fit the armed police response, or where that has shown to not be as effective. Where do you stand on non-police solutions to public safety issues? And what are your thoughts on civilian-led versus co-response models?

[00:25:37] Alex Hudson: Yeah, I agree with the vast and overwhelming majority of Seattleites that we need more and better systems for making a safer Seattle for all of us - and that that includes civilian response, specialized teams, and others. I, like people in Seattle, are frustrated at why we're getting lapped by places like Kirkland, and I think that we can be doing a whole lot better here. I'm encouraged by the reality that we have some good solutions already in the city of Seattle that, frankly, other people have been copying for a very long time - like Health One. Health One is basically exactly what we're talking about, but Health One has barely seen its budget be increased since that program was implemented, you know, five or six years ago. Like, we don't need to sit around - this is such a Seattle thing, right, to like think that what we need to do is like create some brand new idea when it's like we already created the brand new idea. So we need to be investing in things like Health One. We need to be investing in LEAD and CoLEAD - these systems that really work - like We Deliver Care, part of the Third Avenue Project, is a really promising program that is working, that's connecting directly with people who are miserable and in need, and getting them those first and second steps towards the better life that they deserve, and a community that better reflects our desire to care for people. So I think it's pretty clear and obvious that what we need is this alternative response model. We need for that to include the ability for the people who are doing that first response to have a police officer back them up or be part of that if they want to, but not required to do that. And that's that difference between alternative responses and mandated co-responses. But this is really, really, really urgent. You and I were talking at the top of this - I have a 14-year-old and my 14-year-old and her friends wanna be able to go and enjoy the city. I want to be able to send her to the grocery store when I need eggs. I want her and her friends to be able to go hang out in the local parks and do things without a second thought. And the reality is that that's just not really possible right now and that there are far too many people who are not getting the care and support that they need.

[00:28:12] Crystal Fincher: What is on the top of your list? And this alternative response may be it - I think it is for several people, certainly is on the minds of Seattleites, especially those responding to polls seeming to implore the City to implement more alternative and co-response, alternative response models. What do you think will make the biggest difference in terms of public safety in the city and in your district?

[00:28:40] Alex Hudson: I really think that we can meet a lot of really important goals if we provide people with more resources to address mental and behavior - mental health crises - and to get people connected to drug treatment and services. Right now, I think when people are thinking about public safety, a lot of what that means for people - I hear this on the thousands and thousands and thousands of doors that I've knocked - people are really concerned about the prevalence of untreated drug addiction and suffering in our streets. So I deeply think that the first thing that we need are harm reduction centers or behavioral health centers - right now - that connect people who are struggling with drug addiction in our streets, connected to those services that they need in order to start living that better life. And that means, you know, things like medically assisted treatment - we need to be able to make that a whole lot easier to access. There's programs like the mobile clinics, which are good and promising - we need to scale that up. We need to also like get real about the housing that folks need in order to be stabilized. We have so few long-term residential care facility beds for folks who, you know, are gonna be the most successful with more support than even permanent supportive housing can provide people. And we've basically decimated that important resource in our city through a lack of investment. Seattle struggles to fund things at scale - like we talk about, we have these great ideas and they work, and then we give it like a tenth of the resources that it actually needs. And then we're like - Well, gee whiz, why didn't this work? And it's like - Well, 'cause we didn't actually give it the investment. So I think that it's really, really, really important that we stop people from dying in our streets. We get people connected to the medical care that they need, that they deserve. And then if we can address those issues with a real sense of urgency and in the framework of our progressive values, it's gonna feel like our city is more the place that we want it to be.

[00:30:55] Crystal Fincher: Now, our economy gets talked about a lot - the people who make up the economy - and especially in terms of Seattle's economy, which is very diverse, having the largest corporations in the world - Amazon headquartered here, Microsoft headquartered nearby, but also a lot of vibrant small businesses who really help to give the city character and certainly play a massive role in our local economy and just how healthy we are as a community. What do you think are the biggest issues facing, particularly small businesses, in your district and what would help them the most?

[00:31:34] Alex Hudson: Yeah, I love this question. District 3 is such a special place - there's a reason why people wanna live here, why it's so desirable to live here, and why people feel so sad when they have to leave. One of the things I learned is that District 3 in Capitol Hill is home to the densest concentration of small businesses anywhere in the state of Washington. It's this really beautiful ecosystem of uniqueness and flavor. But right now it's really hard to kind of sustain your business. Some of that is the cost of commercial rent. There's a great article in the New York Times just this morning about this, right - that there are tax loopholes that make it so that commercial rents that are vacant can be written off as losses by commercial landholders. And that incentivizes vacancy, which is super destructive to a sense of community and contributes to a lack of feeling of public safety. So we need to address the escalation in commercial rent. In the future, we need to make sure that we're building small business retail on the ground floor that's the right size, right? Like there's - downtown there's a whole lot of 5,000 and 10,000 square foot spaces that no small business can afford the lease on. And so that means that we've basically built a city that can only be successful with mega, mega global or national businesses. And that's not really kind of, I think the Seattle that we want. We need to recognize that it's gotten really expensive and in some places impossible to get insurance for small businesses, so the City can be helping to figure out ways that we can be either an underwriter or a supporter of the insurance that small businesses need. We need to make it faster, easier, and more seamless to open a business - we have some pretty onerous permitting and regulations that make it very difficult to start and operate a new business. And we need to figure out how we can be really intentional around getting around the restrictions around gift of public funds - this comes into play a lot with vandalism, either graffiti or broken windows, right - that becomes the financial responsibility of the individual business owner and those can be thousands of dollars that these businesses just don't have, and the city can be helpful there. So in addition to that, I think we need a whole lot more resources in our Office of Economic Development to be providing material and technical support to folks. It's a lot of paperwork and government bureaucracy stuff. And like people who start bakeries or boutiques are not - should not be expected to be experts in paperwork as well. So I think we can have a lot more kind of culturally relevant and in-language support at OED to be helping that. So there's a lot that we can be doing and this is super, super important.

[00:34:52] Crystal Fincher: So as voters are trying to make the decision between you and your opponent, what do you tell them about why they should make the choice to vote for you?

[00:35:02] Alex Hudson: I have over a decade of experience in translating good ideas into meaningful and impactful policy and investments that do and have made people's lives better. We are going to see - for the second time in a row - a majority brand-new city council, and there is a possibility that our most senior city councilperson will have been there for two years. And so it's really important that we have folks with a lot of experience because the crises that are surrounding our city don't stop - and we don't necessarily, nor does the ongoing work of the City of Seattle. I would also say I'm the very progressive candidate in this race and I think that I reflect the values of our district very strongly. People in this district want to see more housing. They want to see better transit and transportation options. They want to see a public sector that makes it so that our libraries and our community centers are open late and filled with programming. This is the strength of the public sector that I really believe in and know that we can have. So I think I am a strong representative of the progressive values of our district, and I have a very long proven track record of delivering on that and I'm ready to go Day One.

[00:36:39] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much, Alex Hudson, candidate for Seattle City Council District 3, for taking the time to chat with us today. Appreciate it and wish you the best.

[00:36:49] Alex Hudson: Thank you very much. It was an honor to be here.

[00:36:52] Crystal Fincher: Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks, which is produced by Shannon Cheng. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks. You can catch Hacks & Wonks on every podcast service and app - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.

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