Queen Anne resident Don Harper wants to come out of retirement to serve Seattle’s District 7 on the city council, citing a lack of leadership willing to listen.

A retired electrician and owner of Harper Electric, Harper has been a member of the Queen Anne Community Council for 21 years, and has chaired its parks committee for 18.

He served on two levy oversight committees — the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and then 2008’s Parks and Green Spaces levy — but was part of the opposition campaign to create the Seattle Park District.

“I feel like there were some false promises that were made,” he said, noting the Queen Anne Community Center remains in poor shape.

At a park district press conference held by former Mayor Ed Murray in July 2014, Dave Meinert accused Harper of shoving him; Harper said Meinert was blocking the door. Murray resigned in 2017 amid allegations of child sex abuse when he was in his 30s, and Meinert sold his stake in his Capitol Hill bars and restaurants after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and rape.

Harper said he took offense to being called a Tea Party supporter by Murray, the parks district being funded through property taxes.

“In order to get things done, we do need taxes,” he said.

Harper said he didn’t support the short-lived head tax the city council passed and quickly repealed last year that would have raised additional revenue for affordable housing and homeless services by taxing big businesses reporting more than $20 million in gross receipts. The city should have anticipated the impacts Amazon would have on Seattle’s infrastructure and imposed impact fees when the online retail giant started building up, he said.

The District 7 candidate worries about the negative effects of blaming big businesses for the city’s problems, noting Boeing moved part of its operations to South Carolina.

“The only business that can’t move is the Port of Seattle — that’s it,” he said, adding the port should also be supported.

He’s happy to see light industrial buildings are slated for construction at Terminal 91 near the aging Magnolia Bridge, which he supports replacing.

“I would feel weird without the bridge there,” Harper said. “Dravus [Street] is already a mess.”

Harper has advocated for funding many parks improvements, including the creation of Smith Cove Park. He is now working to change a playfield at Little Howe Park into an off-leash dog park, in the hopes it will keep dog owners from letting their pets loose at the playfields at Big Howe Park. This would be the fourth off-leash park he’s helped establish in District 7.

While fellow District 7 candidate Elizabeth Campbell and her Discovery Park Community Alliance continue to fight plans to create affordable housing at the former Fort Lawton site on Magnolia Bluff in favor of more parks space, Harper said he supports the city’s plans. Like project opponents though, he is concerned about access to public transportation and a lack of affordable grocery stores in the area for the low-income residents that will eventually live there.

Harper acknowledges the homeless crisis has gotten worse over the years and needs to be addressed more effectively.

“It’s hard to ignore now because you step over them as you walk down the street,” he said.

Harper used to oppose tent cities for Seattle’s homeless population, but said he now supports them due to the overwhelming crisis.

“But you have to move people on,” Harper said, “so the tiny houses I’m a little concerned about.”

Tiny houses are a low-transition solution that Harper said doesn’t provide people experiencing homelessness with enough incentive to seek more permanent housing.

Harper said the best way to address the city’s homelessness issue is by preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place, which means supporting more tenants’ rights legislation.

“It’s probably the only thing [Councilmember Kshama] Sawant has gotten right,” he said.

While he worries about people taking advantage of the city offering renters’ assistance, Harper said it will help more people that really need it.

The unsanctioned homeless encampments across the city and King County are something Harper does not support allowing to remain, because of the dirty conditions and prevalence of drug needles, he said.

“The needles, I can show you pictures,” Harper said. “No exaggeration, hundreds of needles. That means we have an addiction problem. …We’ve lost control of our parks and streets, and if you lose control, how do you get it back?”

Seattle’s interim head of the Department of Human Services Jason Johnson has called for a pause on plans to open a fixed-mobile safe drug consumption site due to costs, as well as pending litigation in Philadelphia where a nonprofit is also attempting to open such a facility.

Harper said he doesn’t support a safe drug consumption site, or what local governments call Community Health Engagement Locations (CHELs), because he believes they condone bad behavior and don’t provide people in addiction with incentives to stop.

“You go into a clean room and you shoot up, and there’s a nurse there, and if you overdose, there’s Narcan there,” he said. “You put a shooting gallery next to me, I’m going to be upset. You know why? Because there’s going to be a bunch of heroin addicts around me.”

In a recent survey commissioned by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy political action committee, just 29 percent of respondents felt more taxes were needed to address the city’s homelessness crisis.

Harper said he’s not sure about the spending, but he’s certain the city isn’t getting the results it wants from service providers, and it should be demanding they do better.

“It’s very likely that we do need to spend more money,” he said.

That same survey found 52 percent of respondents favored a change in the makeup of the city council and disapproved of the jobs it’s doing.

“Not only are they not listening,” Harper said of the current council, “they can’t hear us.”

With seven council seats open this year, and four incumbents are choosing not to run for re-election — District 7 Councilmember Sally Bagshaw included — a shakeup is all but certain when a new council convenes in 2020.

Harper won’t miss District 6 Councilmember Mike O’Brien, whose proposal to ease restrictions to create more accessory-dwelling units in single-family neighborhoods is stuck in another appeal by the Queen Anne Community Council.

The District 7 candidate said he supports the appeal of the final environmental impact statement by QACC, which will make its case before the Seattle Hearing Examiner starting on March 25. The EIS was required by the hearing examiner after the community council successfully appealed for one in 2016.

A preferred alternative would allow one attached accessory dwelling unit (AADU) and one detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU) on a minimum lot of 3,200 square feet in single-family zones, or two AADUs. Under the preferred alternative no off-street parking would be required, and the property owner would not have to live on site. They would have to retain ownership of the property for one year before building a second ADU.

Harper said O’Brien’s proposal only became worse after QACC pushed for the EIS.

“You have to get buy-in, but the city council hasn’t done that,” he said. “I mean Trump doesn’t get buy-in.”

He agrees with QACC’s Land Use Review Committee chair Marty Kaplan that the EIS does not consider impacts to individual neighborhoods.

“It is, it’s a one-size-fits-all plan,” Harper said.

If elected, Harper said he will likely take the bus to city hall most days, unless he has to be multiple places in a short period of time. He credits having a car for part of his success in life, and said he doesn’t see how a low-income parent could manage two jobs and also picking up their kids using a bus. He managed a fleet of trucks while running Harper Electric, he said, and knows the cost per miles driven.

“Always the big lie is people don’t need cars anymore,” he said.

Parking availability in parts of District 7 is “brutal,” Harper said, and the city not requiring parking in new developments near transit isn’t helping.

“How can you do honest planning if you’re lying?” he said.

Harper didn’t support the Move Seattle transportation levy, which he calls “one of the worst levies ever written.” SDOT has struggled to deliver projects through the levy since its passage in 2015, resulting in the transportation department having to revise plans to address more subprograms. Harper said part of the problem was the transportation department not doing a better job estimating project costs beforehand.

The District 7 candidate said if elected he will be open to looking at the cause and effect of proposals to address any issue facing the city and be willing to listen to constituents.