Policies for progress

Seattle mayoral candidates share their vision for Seattle’s future

Carlos Snellenberg-Fraser, Staff Writer

Bruce Harrell is a local politician and attorney who served as a member of the Seattle City Council. (Courtesy of Bruce Harrell)

As Seattle Pacific University students prepare to vote in Seattle’s upcoming mayoral election, candidates Bruce Harrell and Lorena Gonzalez share their vision for improving higher education and transportation needs for students.

Lorena Gonzalez, mayoral candidate and the current Seattle City Council President, intends to work within the master plans of the city to address the transit needs of students and faculty in Seattle.

“Many of the educational institutions throughout the city are subject to master plans that include requirements for reducing single-occupancy vehicle reliance and congestion,” said Gonzalez. “I think there is an important role that the next mayor plays to negotiate those master plans to make sure we are addressing the transit needs of students and faculty.”

Gonzalez plans to work to ensure that city planning includes increases in services and bus routes, while also improving the interconnectivity among neighborhoods and not just focusing on the transit system downtown. She also understands that the expenses for students can be overwhelming.

“I think what I hear from students and faculty the most is the expense related with transportation is incredibly high and burdensome, and really does cut into people’s wages and ability to make a livelihood,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has high hopes for higher education in her plan. She aims to continue the funding and support for the Seattle Promise program, a college tuition and success program that provides free tuition at any of the Seattle colleges for up to two years or 90 credits towards the first degree.

“When I sponsored the Families Education Preschool and Promise Levy renewal, that was our opportunity to create permanent funding for the Seattle Promise program, which is a program that is available to all Seattle public school students,” said Gonzalez.

Bruce Harrell, mayoral candidate and former Seattle City Council President, has a comprehensive plan to improve employment opportunities for residents and students in Seattle. Both Harrell and his opponent Gonzalez have emphasized support for continuing the Seattle Promise program.

“I believe that education is absolutely the key weapon to truly help one self-optimize. That does not mean you need a formal education to self-optimize, but it is a key strategy,” said Harrell.

Harrell plans to create a new city department called the Seattle Jobs Center. Within this new department, he wants to connect students by centralizing the ability to find job opportunities, paid and unpaid internships, mentoring opportunities and funding options.

“I was the original sponsor of what is now known as the Seattle Promise program. I was the first council member to put money in Seattle’s budget to fund high school students into college,” said Harrell.

Harrell plans to increase the frequency of transportation services, broadening route options and work with Metro to connect numerous methods of transportation. In these plans, he hopes to ensure equitable transportation for all students in Seattle.

“I will meet with both management leaders and student leaders to make sure we are measuring it [equitable access], so that they know what equitable access looks like and that they believe they are receiving it,” said Harrell.

He said that along with students receiving education and guidance on what equitable transportation looks like, employees of small businesses in Seattle will also receive this help and guidance from the city.

“We will make sure that if it is a funding issue, that it will be properly funded,” said Harrell. “But most importantly we will measure its success by getting direct feedback from students and administration.”

Ballots for the 2021 Seattle mayoral race are due by November 2, 2021. There are two debates set to take place on October 14 and October 28. The average of the latest polls has Bruce Harrell leading 42.83% and Lorena Gonzalez at 35.5%.

Readers can find Lorena Gonzalez’s vision for Seattle here.
Readers can find Bruce Harrell’s vision for Seattle here.