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With more than 80 percent of the primary-election sports_tag/view/id-ball'>ballots yet to be returned per King County’s daily updates it looks like many voters are going down to the wire. WSB candidate-closeup coverage is concluding with last looks at the Seattle mayoral challengers (we interviewed the incumbent earlier in the campaign). We sent them five questions 4 geared to West Seattle.
By Kathy Mulady
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Mayoral candidate Jan Drago knows what she is getting into. She has served on the Seattle City Council for 15 years and worked on complex issues such as downtown and South Lake Union revitalization transportation and economic development.
She’ll probably be remembered most for her push to build off-leash dog parks throughout the city.
Drago is firmly in favor of replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bored tunnel.
While other mayoral candidates debating the cost and merits of the project Drago’s team has focused on developing “blueprints” for economic development human services public safety and transportation.
Here’s how Drago answered WSB’s five questions –
1. West Seattle residents are concerned about shootings youth violence and gang activity in our community. Do you have a plan to tackle the issue and what will you do to keep our neighborhoods safe?
DRAGO: I share your concern and have for years. That’s why as a City Councilmember I fought the mayor in 2002 and 2003 when he disbanded the city’s effective Police Gang Unit. I’ve vowed to restore the Police Gang Unit as mayor and commit to full funding. I’ll also continue the Youth Violence Initiative which focuses on prevention aimed at middle school students launch a new “CeaseFire” program of community and law-enforcement intervention with existing gangs put more police officers on the street and provide mentoring training and job opportunities for young people.
2. A full-block grocery and housing project in West Seattle has been nicknamed “Hole Foods” after the vast pit that replaced two businesses nearly a year ago. There are concerns about the safety the stability of surrounding roads at Fauntleroy Way and SW Alaska Street. West Seattle is anticipating a deluge of development; what can be done to make sure we don’t end up with more pits?
DRAGO: Unfortunately the recession has left many projects throughout Seattle unfinished and the result is unsightly can be a draw for crime and in some cases may present other safety concerns. What a mayor should do in this economic time is ensure that developers stay in communication with the community (sites like WSB are an excellent way to do this) and with the Department of Planning and Development. I’ll also encourage developers to pick up stalled projects as soon as financially possible.
In the meantime we need to accept a shared responsibility for keeping such locations clean safe and closed-off. As a public benefit during the waiting process other projects have been asked to display art along the wall panels. We should be doing this here as well to keep the “Hole Foods” site from becoming any more of an eyesore.
3. West Seattle often feels like an island; residents risk messy commutes and downtown shopping expeditions under almost any plan for the Alaskan Way Viaduct. What ideas do you have for keeping West Seattle connected during and after construction?
DRAGO: I was an early and ardent supporter of the bored tunnel solution because it was the only solution that maintained capacity during construction. Beyond working with transportation officials and the construction industry to make sure the bored tunnel comes in on time and on budget the most important thing we can do is implement all three elements of the Viaduct replacement. Additional elements include fixing Spokane and Mercer Streets to better handle east-west traffic and add more transit in Seattle’s neighborhoods to improve mobility for all commuters.
Finally the City needs to make sure that neighbors know the construction schedule and where we are in it at every point. Again the West Seattle Blog is a tremendous resource for residents.
High-quality dynamic traffic signage and dynamic parking signs also will be very helpful to drivers so they know at any moment what routes to take into and out of West Seattle. We’re already working on putting this in the Duwamish area and should expand the program to the meeting points on major roads between West Seattle and the rest of the city.
4. What is the biggest issue facing Seattle and how will you deal with it?
DRAGO: There are many important challenges facing Seattle and I’ve laid out a comprehensive “Blueprint for Seattle’s Future” at my campaign website JanDragoForMayor.com to address them.
But the issue that ties together many of our challenges right now — from transportation to public safety to housing affordability and other human service needs — is economic development. That’s why I support the deep-bore tunnel through downtown to preserve existing businesses and freight mobility while replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and opening up our beautiful waterfront. It’s why I’ll re-establish the strong relationship that our city’s neighborhoods used to have with City Hall. And why I’ll work with businesses non-profits and others to convene a Green Jobs Summit and aim for a thriving green-collar economy here.
As a successful small-business owner and a collaborative public official I have the experience and leadership style we need to meet our challenges and keep our splendid city thriving.
5. What is your favorite place in West Seattle and why?
DRAGO: There is so much to love about West Seattle — the small-town charm of The Junction; the diverse communities in distinct proud neighborhoods; the majesty and history of Lincoln Park; the generations-long mid-summer joy of a double-scoop cone at Husky Deli.
But my favorite spot in West Seattle if I have to pick just one is Alki Beach. With its twin views of the Olympic Mountains and the downtown skyline it’s a reminder of the physical beauty and thriving commerce of the place we live. And I love how the beach is a gathering spot for our city: how people from all over come here to jog or kayak or play volleyball to explore the rocks at low tide or meet friends for a cookout at sunset.
During any season a stroll along the Alki promenade can’t be beat. It reminds me why I can’t imagine calling anywhere but Seattle home.
Drago’s website is at jandragoformayor.com. Your ballot must be postmarked by Tuesday or dropped off in one of the dropboxes around the county (no postage needed if you choose that option - the nearest ones are in North Delridge and White Center) by 8 pm Tuesday night. To see previous WSB candidate/politics reports check this newest-to-oldest archive.
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