Moon hopes mix of public, private sector experience, activism sets her apart

Cary Moon will be the first name on the ballot for mayor in the August primary, winning the draw for the top slot in the field of 21 candidates.

It’s a bit of good fortune for the urban planner and activist, as she makes her first run for public office. And though she doesn’t sport a lengthy legislative background, the 53-year old mother of two said the breadth of her professional experience — from her time as an engineer, to her role leading the People’s Waterfront Coalition opposing the Highway 99 tunnel — would serve her well in Seattle’s top job.

“I’m asking people to consider public sector experience, private sector experience, running a small business experience, and activism experience as all kind of a broad range of skills that will really be useful in leading our city to a place we all want to be,” she said.

Moon said the “shocking” election on Donald Trump in November, and the energy of the Women’s March in January pushed her to start seriously considering a bid. Her analysis focused on two questions, “can I do this, and is it worth the fight,” and the answer to both was a resounding yes.

“I don’t think any other city is as consistently progressive as Seattle is,” she said. “So we all have the same desire, we all have pretty much the same vision of where we want to be, so what we need is someone who can help everybody pull together in the same direction, and that’s what I’m good at, so that’s what I want to do.”

Moon believes the city missed getting ahead of its rapid growth, and now needs to conduct a deep analysis and develop bold solutions to address housing affordability. She also sees a need to support small and local business, specifically in the manufacturing and maritime sectors, in addition to the growth already occurring in the tech industry.

“We’re growing in a way that there’s not a middle,” she said. “There’s not ladder to climb for people at lower income levels, and that’s exacerbating the problem.”

To address real estate speculation, Moon has suggested the idea of a tax on corporate and non-resident ownership, something that’s already been done in Vancouver, B.C. She’s also in favor of building more types of housing in single-family neighborhoods, like duplexes and backyard cottages, but noted that the plans would vary by area.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all blanket solution,” she said. “It’s really working closely with communities about how to build the kind of housing that they’re missing, to keep their communities healthy.”

She’s also high on community land trusts, where either the public or nonprofit sector purchases the land, and people just purchasing a home without dealing with the escalation in land values.

“There’s a lot of really great ideas that we could be using to help people who are both renters who can’t afford the median rent — which keeps rising — and first-time homebuyers who would really like to buy a home, but there’s just not enough inventory at their price,” she said. “I think it’s a matter of having a bunch of ideas that all work together to get at the bigger problem.”

Moon has a “yes and,” approach to a city income tax on high-earners, with the assumption a test case would likely take years to make it through the courts. But much of what she wants to see is at the state-level, like a capital gains tax, and the closing of vary tax loopholes. An additional real estate excise tax (REIT) on high-end properties is another consideration.

“We really need to tax wealth, and unearned income, not just wages, if we’re ever going to get our tax code to be more progressive and get the revenue we need for the investments we need,” she said.

The key areas that need investment, Moon said, are affordable housing and transit, along with parks and community centers.

“The more density we build, the more important shared spaces are,” she said. “Because that’s where democracy happens, that’s where neighbors meet each other, that’s where kids grow up.”

Helping to establish equity in education, by funding efforts like after-school programs and enrichment activities, is another issue. She had high praise for John Hay Elementary, where her two kids previously attended, and wants children in every Seattle school to have the same opportunities.

“For the communities that can’t afford to raise that money themselves, the city has to step up, because every kid deserves to have equal footing,” she said.

On homelessness, Moon is a proponent of the “housing first,” approach, because “people need a roof over their head if they’re going to tackle any of their other challenges.” She also believes there’s a need for more emergency shelters, and is interested in the potential for more church-or-neighborhood-sponsored tiny house villages.

With so many different service providers, in addition to city and county agencies trying to address the issue, Moon wants to look at the operations of the whole system to determine where improvements can be made, in addition to sharing data and resources to achieving better results.

Though she sports a strong desire to see an NBA team return to town, she’s concerned that an arena in SODO would spur an entertainment zone in an industrial area. She said an arena at Seattle Center makes sense, “but it’s all in the details of how we design it,” along with addressing traffic concerns and integrating it with the rest of the campus.

In a crowded field, Moon said her focus on a “constructive shared vision,” is what sets her apart.

“If you ask any Seattleite where are we headed, they don’t know,” she said. “They don’t know what we’re aiming for, they don’t know what the goal is, and that makes everybody more nervous and more insecure.”

During a Trump presidency, she said cities are more important than ever, and have the potential to solve big problems while showing what the alternative to his vision can be.

“I see all we could be that we’re not,” she said. “Seattle’s so blessed with potential. We have wealth, we have the spirit of innovation, we have a lot of really intelligent people, we have immense creativity, but we’re becoming a city of haves and have nots, and I understand why. I understand the solutions, and I want to be in a position where I can help define a north star vision of what Seattle could be, and an action plan to get there through listening to people and working out solutions together, and then lead the effort to get to that north star, and it feels like it’s time for that.”

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