Seattle council candidate Nikkita Oliver aims campaign beyond “one problem race”


Seattle’s 2021 election cycle is one that saw the races boil down to a small handful of issues around policing, homelessness and public safety. For city council candidate Nikkita Oliver, however, they urge voters to look at the big picture.

Another election, another late push for progressive Seattle candidates

“I would really encourage them not to let this become a one-issue race,” Oliver told MyNorthwest. “As a candidate, I’m talking about more than the police. We are talking about housing affordability and homelessness. We talk about the importance of fully funding things like our Department of Education and Early Learning. “

“There is so much more to this election that you can look at to determine which candidate actually more holistically reflects your values,” they added.

That’s not to say that Oliver doesn’t focus on the city’s dominant issues. On homelessness, they envision an approach that aims to make Seattle’s parks and public spaces safer for everyone and provide a stopgap while the city invests in more permanent housing options.

This would include ensuring better accessibility to public toilets and handwashing stations, investing more in behavioral health awareness that isn’t just about moving people out of spaces, “and really getting the job done. dedicated to building relationships with the communities most affected by the housing crisis.

Beyond that, they stress the need to provide these resources for camps located in areas where public safety concerns have been the greatest.

“I think we need to prioritize locations where there are encampments around schools, or other areas where we may have other vulnerable communities, like our children, and prioritize ensuring that residents of those areas who live outside receive early support and an opportunity to come inside, so that we can meet the needs of many people who live, move and attend school in these spaces, ”Oliver described.

All of this is fueling a wider debate around public safety, which Oliver says boils down to less reliance on sworn officers and a step up in alternative emergency response.

It comes as the Seattle Police Department has warned of understaffing and increasing 911 response times, although Oliver says the real problem is much more systemic.

“The reality is that response times are low because we don’t have enough of these alternative systems,” they said. “Not realizing that our current public safety system is falling short of its promises – and that we should probably be leveraging these resources in a much more efficient, data-driven, data-aligned way – is part of the process. problem. “

“I actually think expanding our system as quickly as possible with as many alternative responses as possible will reduce response times at all levels for our 911 emergency system,” they added.

Much of this work is already underway, driven by the recent civilization of the city’s 911 dispatch operations and the expansion of specialist response teams like Health One and Sorting one.

As for the hundreds of SPD officers who left the department because of what they saw as contradictory city council, Oliver cited the city’s history of budget cuts in other departments that did not. not lead to massive departures of employees.

Seattle council candidates have an opportunity to question themselves during Wednesday’s debate

“I think we have to recognize that to say that you’re not ready to do what’s left of your job because you don’t feel loved is really unfair to all the other social service providers in our city who have continued to do their job. , despite how our city has continued to embrace austerity budgets that often reduce resources that prevent people from having to interact with law enforcement or the criminal justice system, ”said Oliver.

Homelessness and public safety are just two sides of a much larger platform for Oliver, outlining a range of initiatives, from funding community centers to better business incubation opportunities for homeowners. small enterprises. It also includes “aggressively tackling the racial wealth gap,” doubling down on Green New Deal policies and ensuring that behavioral health services are adequately resourced.

The ultimate goal, they note, is to reduce the need for law enforcement and criminal justice interventions “because we have developed safe and prosperous communities in other ways.”

You can read more MyNorthwest and KIRO Radio interviews with candidates from Seattle below: