Actor Ry Armstrong wants to represent District 3 voters as the first openly nonbinary person on the Seattle City Council.
Formerly bi-costal, Armstrong feels as though they “clicked [their] red slippers together and came back home,” to Seattle last fall after a brief stint making use of their theater degree in New York City. They were literally an extra in Uncut Gems.
Now, they’re bringing back some wacky ideas from the big apple to improve the three Ss: Sustainability, shelter, and safety. And they have a boatload of confidence (this joke will be funnier later on, I swear).
Climate Pledge My Ass!
Armstrong told The Stranger that they’re sick of rampant greenwashing in Seattle–who the fuck names a concrete arena “Climate Pledge?”
Instead of letting billionaires give arenas feel-good rebrands, Armstrong plans to introduce a mandate on Seattle companies to use bioplastics and a tax on corporations for their carbon emissions.
Earlier this year, Washington state auctioned off carbon allowances to the state’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters in an effort to drive down pollution. Armstrong said the allowances don’t go far enough, and they would like the City to impose an additional tax to light a fire under Amazon’s ass and reap additional tax revenue until corporations earn a renewable certification.
Noah’s Ark But It's a US Military Battleship
Armstrong learned a thing or two about homelessness in New York City. One idea they would borrow from that town is a right-to-shelter policy, born out of a landmark class action lawsuit brought to the City of New York on behalf of all homeless men in town.
Armstrong wouldn’t file a class action lawsuit; they would propose a policy that mandates that the City provide shelter to anyone who calls a hotline. If the City can’t swing it, then it would be on the hook for a fine, which would fund housing and homelessness services. Armstrong would propose a vacancy tax to pay for the additional shelter to fulfill this obligation. They also had a quirky little idea where landlords could opt out of the vacancy tax if they let the City assign an unhoused person to the unit.
Speaking of additional shelter, Armstrong presents: Boats. Armstrong said they want to ask the federal government very nicely to donate a retired battleship for the City to plop into the Port of Seattle, gut, and retrofit into 2,000 units of shelter and housing. They said they got the inspo from the Intrepid Museum in, you guess it, New York.
They don’t know exactly how they would get multiple levels of government to coordinate around their house boat idea or how much it might cost, but they believe it's a good way to expand housing past the limits of land while keeping unhoused people in the “heart of the City.”
The Safest Three-Way Known to Man
Armstrong borrowed yet another idea from New York City – more phone numbers to call when you need help. They want to keep regular 911 to call in armed police, 611 for homelessness and mental health services, and 311 for renters rights and non-emergency issues.
The state of Washington has a similar hotline under the number 211 (we are running out of “-11”s) that connects callers to food, housing, and a bunch of other services, plus the 988 mental health crisis line. But Armstrong envisions a more integrated system, governed by a board that consists of three representatives from each hotline and four elected members. The board would also act as a community court where Seattleites can sue the cops that harass or assault them.
Some argue that our small brains cannot remember additional emergency phone numbers, so Armstrong would unleash a huge marketing campaign to spread the word. To make it even easier, they would make the City install emergency posts like you might find on a college campus.
How will they pay for it? They’re not sure yet! They said they want to use police funding to pay for half of the cost of 611 and ask the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to fork over the rest. They suggested paying for other aspects of their three-pronged public safety system by increasing the City’s “JumpStart” payroll tax.
Armstrong has some big ideas and some clue how to pay for them, which is more than other council candidates can say. But in D3, with eight other candidates all gunning for the open seat left by the City’s most infamous elected lawmaker, Council Member Kshama Sawant, you have to set yourself apart.
Armstrong said they’ll be a different representative than Sawant, at least in approach. They said they are “more sugar and she’s more salt,” which would have been a pretty clever pun if they knew that people refer to Sawant’s party, Socialist Alternative, as SAlt.
They also said they differ from Sawant because they’re queer. This election, D3 has a few queer candidates to choose from: Armstrong, Joy Hollingsworth, Andrew Ashiofu, and maybe others I didn’t get deep enough with over coffee.
For the sake of representation, Armstrong hopes that the gayborhood will vote two queer candidates through the primary. And they hope to be one of those two.