City Council District 7 candidate Deborah Zech Artis  (left) answers a question from the audience during her debate about transportation, housing and arts with incumbent Sally Bagshaw. Photo by KJ Hiramoto
City Council District 7 candidate Deborah Zech Artis (left) answers a question from the audience during her debate about transportation, housing and arts with incumbent Sally Bagshaw. Photo by KJ Hiramoto

The two candidates looking to represent Seattle’s District 7 went head-to-head on Sept. 21 in a Seattle City Council debate co-hosted by Town Hall and Seattle Channel.

Six-year incumbent Sally Bagshaw, 64, and Deborah Zech Artis, 62, former president of the Queen Anne Recreation Advisory Council, shared their thoughts on some of the biggest issues surrounding the remapped District 7, including transportation, housing and maintaining a vibrant arts culture.

Bagshaw alluded to her 38-plus years of work experience with the City of Seattle to highlight her qualifications in representing downtown, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Uptown, Belltown, South Lake Union and Pioneer Square for another term.

Zech Artis, on the other hand, came into the debate pitching new ideas and promising to be more receptive to the public than the incumbent council member.

“When my opponent’s been unchecked in her votes, she needs to be held accountable to her constituents,” she said. “She has a pattern of passing legislations to favor developers.”

Transportation


Town Hall community programs curator and the lead moderator Ed Wolcher said transit was a major concern among those attending the debate.
Sound Transit’s ongoing study of its upcoming ST3 plan for light rail was among the major issues discussed. The current proposals for the Ballard-to-downtown light rail line include options that run through Interbay and Seattle Center and through Fremont and Westlake Avenue via South Lake Union. Candidates were asked which direction they prefer light rail to go through.

Bagshaw said she prefers the Seattle Center alternative because it would encourage transit riders to further utilize businesses and resources that are available in the Seattle Center.

It “is where we should have our arts and culture district,” she said. “We have the ballet, opera, the Armory and we’ve got KEXP. If people can get there and get to an arena by light rail, KeyArena could be a place for us to be reestablishing the place where people can go for sports, as well.”  

Zech Artis said she would like to see the citizens of Seattle choose the alternative down the line. She also added that Sound Transit should consider adopting a grid system of transit, similar to how Japan uses it in its transit agencies.

“Japan has a modified grid system, and I think Seattle should do the same,” Zech Artis said. “I don’t see any reason for having to go all the way downtown to get to Northgate if I live on Queen Anne. I’d rather take my car.”

Bagshaw and Zech Artis also gave opposing views on the role bicyclists have on the downtown Seattle traffic.

Bagshaw encourages residents to find alternatives to driving as means of alleviating traffic in Downtown Seattle.

“If people will do something different for one out of 10 days, for one out of 10 trips, the congestion we are seeing right now can be reduced significantly,” she said. “Not every street is appropriate for a bicycle lane, but having a safe and separated lane and a network for getting around downtown is going to help reduce the congestion we’re talking about.”

Zech Artis was critical on how bicyclists generally do a poor job of sharing the roads with pedestrians and automobile drivers.

“Roads can’t do everything,” she said. “You have to be able to get trucks, cars, pedestrians, bikers to [share the road and] manage better. The No. 1 complaint I hear is that bicycle riders are not obeying the laws, and that’s dangerous.”

Housing


Regarding rent control, Bagshaw said she supports the idea because she believes single-family neighborhoods are the heart of Seattle.

“I know that people want to live in those neighborhoods,” she said. “Many do not want to see change. As young people are moving in, people are saying, ‘Let’s figure out a way to afford to stay in our neighborhoods.’”

Bagshaw added that the recommendations made by the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee concerning accessory dwelling units (ADU) and detached accessory dwelling units (DADU) provide an opportunity for the city to make positive changes in neighborhoods while preserving the communities’ character.

She said she’ll continue to support this as long as the mass of the new changes is smaller than the original house and it doesn’t affect the neighbors.

Zech Artis said she agrees with Bagshaw that single-family neighborhoods need to be protected and that ADUs and DADUs bring positive changes to neighborhoods.

However, she said she does not plan on supporting rent control in the future because she has yet to see a city enact it and succeed from it.

“In all the research I’ve done over the years, I have never seen it work,” Zech Artis said. “When people get into an apartment, they stay there. And that means they’ll turn down jobs across towns, and you end up with job shortages.”

Music/nightlife/arts


The debate’s community moderator Tim Lennon, executive director of The Vera Project at Seattle Center, said that District 7 has more music, nightlife, arts and cultural venues than any other district in the city. Zech Artis agreed, adding that Uptown is seemingly becoming the arts capital of Seattle.

She went on to suggest that the city should bring the film industry back to Seattle: “There’s a lot of money involved, and we haven’t been supporting them. It can bring in a lot of jobs.”

Bagshaw said she is looking to make an overlay district in Uptown for an art and culture area. She said she currently reaching out to neighborhood businesses.

“KEXP is coming in on the corner, [and] there are a lot of small businesses there, restaurants and bars that want to develop,” Bagshaw said. “We can actually do this in a way that actually supports what our neighbors want and to make sure that our arts and culture district survive and thrives.”

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