Ron Davis, Candidate for Seattle City Council District 4

Ron Davis, Candidate for Seattle City Council District 4

On this Wednesday topical show, Crystal chats with Ron Davis about his campaign for Seattle City Council District 4. Listen and learn more about Ron and his thoughts on:

  • [01:04] - Why he is running
  • [02:42] - Lightning round!
  • [08:50] - What is an accomplishment of his that impacts District 4
  • [10:36] - Climate change
  • [12:51] - Public Safety: Alternative response
  • [14:31] - Victim support
  • [16:18] - Housing and homelessness: Frontline worker wages
  • [17:21] - Housing and homelessness: Highest priority plans
  • [20:34] - Bike and pedestrian safety
  • [22:20] - Transit reliability
  • [24:10] - Childcare: Affordability and accessibility
  • [26:10] - Small business support
  • [27:59] - City budget shortfall: Raise revenue or cut services?
  • [30:38] - Difference between him and opponent

About the Guest

Ron Davis

Ron Davis is a public school dad, law school grad, and tech entrepreneur that has worked for most of his professional life on improving the lives of seniors, workers and patients. He’s an active member of the 46th Dems and the Transit Riders Union, where he serves on the progressive revenue committee. He also serves on the boards of Futurewise, Seattle Subway, the University YMCA and the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, working on housing and climate legislation, transit policy, and on delivering social services to kids and their families, and to young adults.

Find Ron Davis on Twitter/X at @seattle4ron.


Campaign Website - Ron Davis


[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 and in our episode notes.

Well, I am very pleased to be welcoming Seattle City Council District 4 candidate, Ron Davis, to the program. Welcome, Ron.

[00:01:01] Ron Davis: Thank you so much for having me, Crystal.

[00:01:04] Crystal Fincher: Well, I just am first wondering - why are you running?

[00:01:08] Ron Davis: Yeah, that's a great question. So I've been working hard in my community to make it affordable and safe for a long time, and I've reached a point of frustration where I don't feel that the people representing me are doing a good enough job. So sort of backing up into sort of the deeper story - my parents were teenagers when they got pregnant with me - I grew up in the Portland area. And I got very lucky along the way, but some of that was because housing was more affordable then. So while my parents both worked at a diner, my dad was able then to get a job at a factory - minimum wage - but he worked 60, 70, 80 hours a week. It was brutal. And my parents were able to get a toehold in the middle class 'cause they could afford housing and they were actually able to afford to buy a house a few years in. And that became this platform that allowed my sister and I to rise - we both got bachelor's degrees, I got really lucky and ended up at Harvard Law School. And I've landed in this beautiful, comfortable place in Northeast Seattle - where I live in the comforts of the professional class - and I recognize like that was a lot, lot, lot of luck. And it would have been impossible without affordable housing, it would have been impossible without community support. And you just cannot have a journey like mine in Seattle. And that is frustrating to me - Seattle should be a place where people can start a career, raise a family, age in place - and not have to be filthy rich to do it. And so I am fighting to make Seattle a place where people can do those things. And where if people do happen to be unlucky, we come together and we put a floor on how far they fall because it could happen to any of us.

[00:02:41] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely could. Now we're gonna switch up the program from what we normally hear, or frequently heard in our previous past candidate interviews, and we're doing a bit of a lightning round-

[00:02:52] Ron Davis: Oh, dear.

[00:02:52] Crystal Fincher: -here. So just a brief - mostly yes or no, or short answer questions. But just to help the listeners get a better view of who you are on a wide range of topics before we dive into the detail. So starting off - This year, did you vote yes on the King County Crisis Care Centers levy?

[00:03:11] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:03:12] Crystal Fincher: Did you vote yes on the Veteran, Seniors, and Human Services levy?

[00:03:15] Ron Davis: I did, yes.

[00:03:16] Crystal Fincher: Did you vote in favor of Seattle's Social Housing Initiative 135?

[00:03:21] Ron Davis: I did.

[00:03:22] Crystal Fincher: In 2021, did you vote for Bruce Harrell or Lorena González for Mayor?

[00:03:27] Ron Davis: In the general, I voted for Lorena González.

[00:03:29] Crystal Fincher: In 2021, in the general, did you vote for Ann Davison or Nicole Thomas Kennedy for City Attorney?

[00:03:35] Ron Davis: Nicole Thomas Kennedy.

[00:03:36] Crystal Fincher: In 2022, did you vote for Leesa Manion or Jim Ferrell for King County Prosecutor?

[00:03:43] Ron Davis: Leesa Manion.

[00:03:43] Crystal Fincher: Did you vote for Patty Murray or Tiffany Smiley?

[00:03:47] Ron Davis: Patty Murray.

[00:03:48] Crystal Fincher: Do you rent or own your residence?

[00:03:51] Ron Davis: Currently own - for seven years - rent all before that.

[00:03:54] Crystal Fincher: Are you a landlord?

[00:03:56] Ron Davis: No.

[00:03:56] Crystal Fincher: 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?

[00:04:04] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:04:05] Crystal Fincher: Are there any instances where you would support sweeps of homeless encampments?

[00:04:11] Ron Davis: As I understand the definition of sweep, it is where you're clearing a homeless encampment and there's nowhere for people to go - like no actual housing. So no, unless there was some imminent public health risk, like during - there were moments in COVID - but as a general rule, no.

[00:04:24] Crystal Fincher: Would you vote to provide additional funding for Seattle's Social Housing Public Development Authority?

[00:04:30] Ron Davis: Absolutely, and I did some campaigning for I-135 as well.

[00:04:33] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree with King County Executive Constantine's statement that the King County Jail should be closed?

[00:04:38] Ron Davis: Yeah.

[00:04:39] Crystal Fincher: Should parking enforcement be housed within SPD?

[00:04:43] Ron Davis: No.

[00:04:44] Crystal Fincher: Would you vote to allow police in schools?

[00:04:48] Ron Davis: I think the schools should decide that, but my instinct is no. I think the students have been pretty clear that's what they don't want - they don't want that.

[00:04:55] Crystal Fincher: Would you vote to allow it?

[00:04:58] Ron Davis: Ah, I see. No, not currently - I don't have any reason to think I would.

[00:05:02] Crystal Fincher: Do you support allocation in the City budget for a civilian-led mental health crisis response?

[00:05:09] Ron Davis: Me and two-thirds of Seattle, yep.

[00:05:11] Crystal Fincher: Do you support allocation in the City budget to increase the pay of human service workers?

[00:05:15] Ron Davis: Yes, it's egregious how much they're underpaid.

[00:05:18] Crystal Fincher: Okay. Do you support removing funds in the City budget for forced encampment removals and instead allocating funds towards a Housing First approach?

[00:05:26] Ron Davis: Yep.

[00:05:27] Crystal Fincher: Do you support abrogating or removing the funds from unfilled SPD positions and putting them towards meaningful public safety measures?

[00:05:36] Ron Davis: Yes. I do want to clarify - so when we say unfilled, we think the ones that are unfilled or unfillable in this budget cycle - but then yes.

[00:05:43] Crystal Fincher: These are yes or no questions.

[00:05:45] Ron Davis: Well, it's yes if it's the ones that are fillable or not.

[00:05:49] Crystal Fincher: Perfect. So let's do yes or no - we have plenty of time to get into the nitty gritty and detail of all the other stuff.

[00:05:55] Ron Davis: Got it.

[00:05:55] Crystal Fincher: Do you support allocating money in the City budget for supervised consumption sites?

[00:06:01] Ron Davis: I do.

[00:06:02] Crystal Fincher: Do you support increasing funding in the City budget for violence intervention programs?

[00:06:06] Ron Davis: Yes, I do.

[00:06:07] Crystal Fincher: Do you oppose a SPOG contract that doesn't give the Office of Police Accountability and the Office of Inspector General subpoena power?

[00:06:16] Ron Davis: I would oppose such a contract, yes.

[00:06:18] Crystal Fincher: Do you oppose a SPOG contract that doesn't remove limitations as to how many of OPA's investigators must be sworn versus civilian?

[00:06:29] Ron Davis: Oppose that doesn't remove - sorry, I'm trying to make sure I got the question right.

[00:06:33] Crystal Fincher: If they don't remove limitations about how many of OPA's investigators must be sworn versus civilian-

[00:06:39] Ron Davis: Yeah, I would have a problem with that. They've gotta be civilian.

[00:06:42] Crystal Fincher: Do you oppose a SPOG contract that impedes the ability of the City to move police funding to public safety alternatives?

[00:06:51] Ron Davis: Yeah.

[00:06:52] Crystal Fincher: Do you support eliminating in-uniform off duty work by SPD officers?

[00:06:59] Ron Davis: I don't know. I don't know what you're talking about, specifically. I'm sorry.

[00:07:03] Crystal Fincher: Okay. 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?

[00:07:12] Ron Davis: Yeah.

[00:07:13] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to ensure that trans people can use bathrooms or public facilities that match their gender?

[00:07:19] Ron Davis: Yep.

[00:07:19] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree with the Seattle City Council's decision to implement the JumpStart Tax?

[00:07:24] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:07:25] Crystal Fincher: Would you vote to reduce or divert the JumpStart Tax in any way?

[00:07:30] Ron Davis: No.

[00:07:30] Crystal Fincher: Are you happy with Seattle's newly built waterfront?

[00:07:34] Ron Davis: No.

[00:07:34] Crystal Fincher: Do you believe return to work mandates like the one issued by Amazon are necessary to boost Seattle's economy?

[00:07:41] Ron Davis: No.

[00:07:42] Crystal Fincher: Have you taken transit in the past week?

[00:07:44] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:07:45] Crystal Fincher: Have you ridden a bike in the past week?

[00:07:48] Ron Davis: No.

[00:07:49] Crystal Fincher: Or the past month?

[00:07:50] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:07:51] Crystal Fincher: Should Pike Place Market allow non-commercial car traffic?

[00:07:55] Ron Davis: No.

[00:07:55] Crystal Fincher: Should significant investments be made to speed up the opening of scheduled Sound Transit light rail lines?

[00:08:03] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:08:03] Crystal Fincher: Should we accelerate the elimination of the ability to turn right on red lights to improve pedestrian safety?

[00:08:10] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:08:11] Crystal Fincher: Have you ever been a member of a union?

[00:08:14] Ron Davis: Not unless you count the Transit Riders Union - not an actual worker union - no.

[00:08:18] Crystal Fincher: Will you vote to increase funding and staffing for investigations into labor violations like wage theft and illegal union busting?

[00:08:26] Ron Davis: Yep.

[00:08:27] Crystal Fincher: Have you ever walked on a picket line?

[00:08:29] Ron Davis: Yes.

[00:08:29] Crystal Fincher: Have you ever crossed a picket line?

[00:08:32] Ron Davis: Never.

[00:08:32] Crystal Fincher: Is your campaign staff unionized?

[00:08:36] Ron Davis: We are not. We've encouraged it, but it hasn't happened.

[00:08:38] Crystal Fincher: So if your campaign staff wanted to unionize, would you voluntarily recognize their effort?

[00:08:44] Ron Davis: Absolutely.

[00:08:45] Crystal Fincher: So that's the end of the lightning round - thank you very much for that. Pretty painless, hopefully. Now, lots of people look to work you've done to get a feel for what you've prioritized and how qualified you are to lead. Can you describe something you've accomplished or changed in your district that's tangible or visible to the people who live there and what impact has it had on them?

[00:09:06] Ron Davis: That's a great question. In my district - um, depends on who and who it would be visible to, but I can think of a couple, a couple things that would be significant. One is I'm on the board of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association and one of the areas I'm working on there is transportation - and specifically, transportation and pedestrian safety. So for instance, we had a situation where a number of people were turning out of driveways the wrong direction on a one-way street and it was creating scary conflicts and some residents raised the issue. We raised the issue to SDOT. We've also raised the issue to - I championed us raising the issue to both SDOT and local businesses - we got better signage implemented. We're getting way, way, way less reports of that. Let's see, something that I specifically get credit for. So also we've done - I'm on the board of the YMCA, so I was our biggest fundraiser last year. And we raised thousands and thousands of dollars to get it - to fund scholarships so that young kids could get afterschool care and summer care that was the same care that fully-paying families were getting. And so that was visible, of course, only to those families - we don't identify which families those are because we don't want those kids to experience any sort of identity segregation around that - but that brought a lot of kids into amazing wraparound care. And we also did some work related to that to bringing food into their families. So there's a couple of things I've worked on recently in the district.

[00:10:35] Crystal Fincher: Perfect, thank you. Now on almost every measure, we're behind on our 2030 climate goals, while experiencing devastating impacts from extreme heat and cold, to wildfires, floods. What are your highest priority plans to get us on track to meet our 2030 goals?

[00:10:52] Ron Davis: Yeah, so number one is we have to address transportation. So 61% of our emissions come from personal and commercial transport in the city. And so to make progress there, we have to make it so that people don't pay a time and safety and reliability penalty for doing something other than riding a car. So that means everything from a better built-out and disability-accessible sidewalk network - and street crossing network that is safe. Bike lanes that are separate and actually protected, and that form a grid that go from where people are to where they want to be without breaks in them where they're risking their lives. And then of course, frequent, fast, reliable transit. All of those things cost money and they also will cost road space. We are going to actually have to - if we want to make it so that people have a real choice, 'cause right now we're putting a huge thumb on the scale - pushing people into cars. If we want people to have a real choice, we're going to have to make genuine trade-offs in right-of-way. So I think that's the biggest - absolute single best biggest - thing we can do. Obviously we need to electrify everything that remains.

To support that, we also need to address our biggest other area of emissions, which is housing and commercial buildings, right? And so denser housing is more climate friendly, has lower emissions. Mass timber construction is much lower climate - I'm sorry - carbon intensive at construction. And that denser housing of course supports the kind of transportation network that I just described, so there's a virtuous circle there. The other piece that goes with that is allowing commercial in all neighborhoods without forcing businesses to build extra parking, right - through mandates. And once you do that, then also a lot more trips can be confined to existing neighborhoods and don't even need to be - the person shouldn't even have to be able to ask, shouldn't even have to ask themselves the question of - Do I need to get on a bus or do I need to get on a car? - when maybe they can go a block away or three blocks away.

[00:12:50] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Now I wanna talk about public safety, particularly while other jurisdictions around the country and several in our region have rolled out alternative response programs to better support those having behavioral health crises - or with a challenge that isn't quite a legal challenge, but needs some intervention - Seattle is stalled in implementing what is a widely-supported idea. Where do you stand on non-police solutions to public safety issues? And what are your thoughts on civilian-led versus co-response models?

[00:13:22] Ron Davis: Okay, great questions. So one is we definitely need non-police response to non-police-appropriate calls. And a huge percentage of those calls could be appropriately handled without a sworn officer present. So I believe SPD did a study of itself and said 12% of calls could be immediately triageable. There was an external body that came in and said it was more like 49%. I have not been close enough to that data to know which one is right, but it's a lot. And it's embarrassing, to be honest, that a city as rich and capable as ours has fallen so far behind in delivering on this - especially when we have this massive behavioral health crisis, when we have a shortage of police officers so their ability to respond to every kind of crisis is diminished. We need to be handing off this workload to people who are better trained for it, because - well, A) because they're better trained for it, B) because a lot of those interactions are where some of our more racially inequitable interactions happen with police, and C) so that we can cut response times - which I think should answer the other part of your question. So I don't think co-response is necessary in most cases.

[00:14:30] Crystal Fincher: Gotcha. Now, I wanna talk about victims a little bit. There's a lot of people saying they're speaking on behalf of victims, but really speaking over them. And what we actually hear from victims is - is one, they wanna make sure that what happened to them never happens to them or anyone else again. And two, that they want more support and help to recover after what they've just been through. How can we do a better job supporting victims of crime?

[00:14:59] Ron Davis: That's a wonderful question. I have thought about certain parts of that - and I'll tell you which parts - and then I think that you've identified a gap in my own thinking, policy-wise. So the part I've thought about is restorative justice programming, where - and I campaigned for Pooja Vaddadi on this because I was very much interested in, now Judge Vaddadi's, championing restorative justice programming - which ultimately bring, when people come into the justice system, makes part of their restoration program not only focused on rehabilitating them and bringing them back to community. But also trying to make whole or right what they - whatever damage they've done - with care to protect victims from having to relive trauma. So I've thought a lot about it from that standpoint, and I've thought a lot about it in our social safety net. What I haven't thought a lot about is direct victim, direct sort of post-victimization programming. So I don't have a great answer, other than to say that you make a really interesting point - which is we love to talk about victims as sort of in the political chess, but too often we're not actually paying attention to them and their needs. And so I would definitely support spending money to make sure that we are taking care of people who've been victimized, 'cause trauma has lasting effects.

[00:16:17] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely does. I wanna talk about housing and homelessness. And one thing called out by experts as a barrier to reducing homelessness is that the frontline workers - their wages don't cover the cost of living, leading to shortages and challenges there. Do you believe our local nonprofits have a responsibility to pay living wages for our area, and how can we make that more likely with how we bid for contracts and services?

[00:16:45] Ron Davis: Yeah, I do. I do think they have that responsibility and often they're constrained by funding, but often the funder of last resort is us. And so because our contracts - through things like public development agreements, labor harmony agreements, things we do with other contractors - more often for-profit contractors, we can set the terms on which we engage. I think we need to be setting terms that require higher pay. Now, that being said, we can't get something for nothing. And so we can't just say you have to pay more and then not actually provide the funds in those contracts. So we're gonna have to put our money where our mouth is, or our treasure where our heart is - as the scripture says.

[00:17:21] Crystal Fincher: What are your highest priority plans to address homelessness?

[00:17:26] Ron Davis: Yeah, so I think the data is pretty clear that what causes homelessness to vary by city is housing related, right? So although there are individual causes that push people into homelessness - like mental health, behavioral health issues, or other tragedies in people's lives - the thing that makes homelessness happen in a city is the lack of affordable housing. And so for me, my big focuses there are a mix of supply, subsidies, and stabilization policies. So on the supply side, that means a broad zoning reform - at least tripling the zoning envelope around the city, making sure that no neighborhood is exempt - and creating sort of livable, walkable communities where there's plenty of space to build. And it also means permitting reform, right? So moving to a single-track permitting process - right now we have this dual-track process that's really Byzantine and takes two to three years and it should be more like six weeks to six months - and potentially actually putting a time limit on that and allowing for a builder's remedy. On the subsidy side - even if we get permitting right and zoning right, we start to bend the curve on housing costs and make it so middle-class families can afford to live here again - it's still gonna be tough because this is America and it's an unequal society. And people wanna live in Seattle, so land is expensive. And so we are not gonna be able to meet the needs of all of the market, which means we also need to pay money in - so this is the subsidy side. So aggressive investments in affordable housing, in social housing which is mixed-income, investing in permanent supportive housing for people with chronic behavioral issues, direct subsidies or vouchers for people that appear that they just need a hand up and can get back into the market - you can generally segment the homeless population this way pretty effectively. And then on the stabilization side, displacement often pushes people into homelessness or further down the economic ladder. And so thinking about everything from - I would like to implement now an anti-rent gouging excise tax. I think it would get tied up in court, but I think it actually would be constitutional. It would be a way of sort of backing into something like a milder form of rent control without maybe running afoul of State constitution. I'm fine with the trigger law as well. I would also be interested in something called right-to-return legislation, which basically says - Hey, this is a high displacement risk neighborhood and so if you build here, people need to be able to return at the same price to the equivalent and be compensated in the meantime - which means some of those projects aren't gonna pencil out and it means more housing will get built in richer, lower displacement risk neighborhoods. That's okay. Or it means if people do have temporary displacement that they're gonna land well. I also think just direct aid to folks who appear to be at risk of homelessness - we found in, during the pandemic, is pretty good at - it's one of those pay a dollar in, save seven dollars later and keep people out of actually being on the street.

[00:20:17] Crystal Fincher: Sure.

[00:20:18] Ron Davis: Oh, I should say tiny homes - that's my other, I forgot one other thing, sorry - tiny homes. I also think we need, I do think we need to get, it's a - think of it as like kind of a tourniquet, right? It's not a long-term solution, but it can protect people and kind of stop the bleeding for folks who are on the street right now and have nowhere to go.

[00:20:33] Crystal Fincher: Gotcha. Now it comes to transit and transportation, we have a long way to go to address our current pedestrian and bicycle safety crisis. We are seeing injuries and deaths at record rates and community demanding change. How would you improve pedestrian and bicycle safety?

[00:20:53] Ron Davis: Yeah, great question. So, this is one of those things where my money is where my mouth is - just like on the last one, I didn't say I worked on statewide legislation to pass the missing middle housing bill. Here, you know, I'm on the board of Seattle Subway, I previously was on the citizen oversight panel at Sound Transit, I'm involved with Neighborhood Greenways, and working on Lid I-5. I - to me, the only safe street is a street is - that is engineered to be safe. And to be - a street that is engineered to be safe has some of the following features. One is it doesn't have long open stretches or really clear visual lines - long, clear visual lines. Two, it doesn't have really wide lanes or series of lanes. Three, it doesn't have wide crossings. So, some of it is just starting to actually engineer our streets because - in a way that slow people down, because we know that when people do - when there are conflicts and there are collisions and people are going slow - first, there's less likely to be a collision. And second, it's much less likely to be nearly so harmful. I mean, it's killing 30 people a year and injuring countless more. Other things that have been proven to be effective - bike lanes have been proven to just reduce overall harm on a road while not significantly impairing total vehicle throughput, raised crosswalks, better signalization, no right turn on red, as you mentioned earlier. I think we need to put more imperative language in our Complete Streets ordinance so that every time we're touching a road, we are moving it toward genuine safe - making it genuinely safe and complete.

[00:22:20] Crystal Fincher: I'm also wondering - we are dealing with transit reliability challenges now with a lot of routes being missed and seeing ghost buses, whether from lack of staffing or because there's just not the funding to continue in some places. What can the City do - recognizing that Sound Transit is a regional entity, King County Metro is a county entity - but what can you do in your capacity as a city councilmember to stabilize transit reliability?

[00:22:51] Ron Davis: There's a few things we can do. So one is we could increase funding - direct supplementary funding - from the general fund, we could increase funding through the transit levy - both. And we do, through the transit levy, buy additional hours from Metro so we have those relationships - we can do that. But I would say - just sort of backing out - there's a few gaps that I think are fundamental. So one is - something I loved about the Crisis Care Center levy is that it also included money for building up a workforce with more living wages, with training, with wraparound services to get people actually into that workforce and retain them. I think we need to be doing that for our transit workers and actually making that a career that's viable for more people. Of course, I also think that has to be paired with more affordable housing around here as well. Second, I think, of course, direct funding to make sure that there's enough buses - again, that we have frequency is high, but you mentioned reliability. I think another big piece of reliability is traffic. Much, much, much of our transit - other than a good chunk of Link - mixes with traffic. And so the cheapest, easiest, fastest way to improve that is red paint. So while Bus Rapid Transit is awesome and I love it, it's expensive - the first thing we can do is take our busiest transit routes and convert them to transit-only lanes and make sure that buses get places fast and reliably. And then you've tackled a huge part of the frequent, fast, reliable trio problem.

[00:24:10] Crystal Fincher: Now, another challenge that Seattle residents are dealing with is the extremely high cost and sometimes low availability of childcare. And that has so many impacts on our larger economy - even for people that don't have kids, this affects our community. But for those who do, the average cost of childcare is now greater than the cost of college, which is just eye-popping.

[00:24:36] Ron Davis: Unbelievable.

[00:24:37] Crystal Fincher: How do you propose to help this problem and to help families with this challenge?

[00:24:43] Ron Davis: Yeah, I think there's small things we can do, and then there's kind of one larger thing that we can do. So I think on the small side, just building capacity - we did see some success during the pandemic with funds that were set aside to say, make small remodels in an in-home childcare setting that would get a bathroom on the first floor that would allow doubling of the number of children available - things like that, that went a long way. So I think there's some smart things we could do there. I think there's smart things we could do in retooling some spaces downtown, which I think would actually bring more office workers downtown. And certainly exempting childcare from floor area ratio - basically it's free square footage, right, for audience members who aren't that nerdy, although most of your audience, I'm guessing, is a little bit nerdy and probably does know what that is - and allowing it, legalizing it at every neighborhood. I think the longer term, though - at some point, we're gonna have to more seriously fund a direct stream here that ensures that the workers are paid wages that make it viable - make it a viable career. And that the capacity is there, and that the affordability is there. And so for me, I imagine - I think that if I'm not mistaken, I think that economists say an affordable childcare is like no more than 7% of your gross income, I can't remember the exact number - but whatever that is, I think we should be capping it and subsidizing it accordingly.

[00:26:08] Crystal Fincher: A lot of good ideas there. I wanna talk about the broader economy a little bit. Seattle has a very, very diverse business community, as does District 4. We have some of the largest companies in the world here, as well as a really diverse and vibrant small business community. And I wanna talk about small businesses who are facing a lot of challenges - I guess from your perspective, what are the biggest challenges that they are facing, and how can you help?

[00:26:35] Ron Davis: Yeah, I think the two biggest are the sort of public safety behavioral health crisis that's happening on their doors - 'cause at least when I think of small business, archetypically I'm thinking of our little retail businesses. Although as a former small business owner, I guess there's multiple types, and that was not what I did. But, and then the other is real estate costs, right? It's very, very expensive to run a shop. So if it's expensive, and you're dealing with behavioral health issues at your door, and there's no civilian response you can call, you're really in a world of hurt. And so obviously everything we talked about earlier with public safety is how I would address the public safety issues, as well as I think we should be investing a lot more just generally in drug treatment and supplementing, even supplementing the Crisis Care Center levy in Seattle. But on the real estate side, Andrew Lewis recently proposed some legislation that is sort of the equivalent of a kind of a soft rent control for small businesses. And I'm interested in that, I like that. I haven't studied it closely enough to know exactly like how much, what do I think, what are the right situations? But especially for some of our like historic districts where a lot of those small minority and immigrant owned businesses tend to get started - like the Ave in Seattle - like I think we absolutely need to not have all of those turn into just open air malls like they have everywhere else. And I also think people need to be able to get started here and be successful.

[00:27:58] Crystal Fincher: Thank you. Now, big issue looming over the City of Seattle is the projected revenue shortfall of $224 million - that's what it's currently projected to be starting in 2025. Because the City's mandated by the state to pass a balanced budget, the options to address the deficit are pretty binary - either raise revenue or cut services. How will you approach the issue of how the City collects and spends money on behalf of its constituents?

[00:28:28] Ron Davis: Great question. So one is, I wrote an article a while back that said - it was called "Seattle Needs Money" - and it was related to this exact topic. And it was, my argument was - Hey, this is a shortfall. We're losing a lot of revenue because of things like the real estate excise tax slowing down and we're gonna have to gut essential services or we're gonna have to raise money. And so the best choice of those is to raise money. And by the way, our taxes are really regressive - they fall a lot, much more on working class people, middle class people, poor people than they do on wealthy folks. And so our taxes need to be more progressive - as in they need to take more from people who have more - to rebalance our tax code a little bit. How would I do that? Some of my favorite options right now that I'm interested in and would probably just vote yes on now would be A) we could increase JumpStart - we could increase its scope and we could increase its magnitude a little bit. I think it should run from more like 1-4%, not 0.7-2.1% or whatever it is - I think you're still very much in the safe zone where you're not killing the golden goose or anything like that. Alex Pedersen has proposed a 3% top-off to the 7% tax on extreme capital gains - I think that's also a reasonable idea, I wouldn't do his funny switch with water bills, but it could be a significant - that'd be at least another $30 million. Between those two, you'd start to see a substantial difference. I think a vacancy tax is fine - it's not gonna raise a ton of money. I'm also interested in - I have spoken with some constitutional scholars to make sure this would be cool - but I am very interested in a 1% income tax with a $700 rebate, which would be free or actually a check if you make $70,000 or less, and above that would start to bite at 1% of your income. So it would be de facto progressive, but statutorily it would be written in flat. So between those, you could cover the entire gap and you would have money left over for things like fentanyl treatment, and affordable housing, and standing up a behavioral health crisis response, and offering people transportation choices - which in contrast, my opponent says she wants to do all those things, but wants to cut $200 million, right? You can't just do magic.

[00:30:33] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely, and I do enjoy hearing concrete ideas - much appreciated for that. Now, as we wrap up today, there are a lot of people trying to make the choice between you and your opponent who you just brought up - trying to determine why they should vote for you versus your opponent. What do you tell voters?

[00:30:54] Ron Davis: Yeah, I mean, usually, obviously I'm talking to them and understanding their values and what it is that's important to them, so it kind of depends on the issue. But I would say, like - at a high level, you know, I think we should raise money to deal with our deficit. My opponent Maritza Rivera thinks we should cut $200 million from the general fund, which will impact things like affordable housing, and drug treatment, and civilian responses, and pothole filling, and transit. I think that our city's tax code needs to be more progressive, she does not want to make it more progressive. I'm really focused on housing and homelessness as well as public safety, I think she's kind of only focused on public safety. My public safety plan doesn't ignore what SPD says is possible when it comes to hiring more officers, hers says that we can hire 12 times as much as they say is possible. So I think one of us is much more grounded in reality and aligned with our values, and I think the other is not. One last thing is our histories too are something that are worth looking at, right? I have a history of touching things, and having them go well, and having the people around me say - Hey, this was a really, really good experience. And 26 of 40 of her employees wrote a letter to the mayor not long before she announced that she was running - saying she shouldn't be trusted with City funds and had created a toxic work environment along with her supervisor. So I think the contrast is clear.

[00:32:16] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much for your time today and sharing your plans should you be elected to city council with all of the listeners today. Thank you so much.

[00:32:25] Ron Davis: Thank you so much, Crystal. It's an honor to be on your show - I'm a diehard listener.

[00:32:29] Crystal Fincher: Much appreciated. Thank you.

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 and in the podcast episode notes.

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