Mutual aid organizer Tye Reed announced her bid for City Council District 5, which includes Greenwood, Northgate, and Lake City. Reed said her lefty platform isn’t as out of the box or extreme as the right-wing talking heads would have you believe. It’s not even her own, but rather the demands of the Solidarity Budget, which reflects the wants of more than 200 community groups. After three years lobbying the council, Reed is tired of the excuses, the task forces, and the cowardice that stalls bold, progressive change.
“I don't want to talk about things anymore. I don't want to collect data. I don't want to do more research. We know the answers,” Reed said. “Either the rest of the council is coming along with us or we're going to drag them there.”
Stop the Sweeps
Seattle lefties will recognize Reed from her housing and homelessness advocacy. She’s worked as a housing case manager for families facing eviction in King County, a field organizer for the Transit Riders Union, the campaign manager for abolitionist City Attorney candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, and now, a co-chair of House Our Neighbors, the organization that fought against the anti-homeless initiative Compassion Seattle and passed the social housing initiative earlier this year.
Reed also attends some of the City’s many, many, many sweeps, which are a cruel and ineffective practice she is committed to ending. She proposed tightening up the definition of a sidewalk “obstruction,” since the City often cites obstructions as a justification for displacing unhoused people, and she also wants to tack on sweeps to the existing winter eviction moratorium. On the budgetary side, Reed said she could lower the number of sweeps by defunding the programs that tear down tents and drive out RVs. That money could be better spent on clean public bathrooms, outdoor sinks, and other basic needs, she said.
As far as shelter goes, Reed would rather spend more on permanent supportive housing or buying hotels than tiny shelter villages. Reed is a critic of the Low Income Housing Institute, a high-profile non-profit that runs basically every village in Seattle, but she supports funding more villages that are managed by the people who live in them.
When it comes to bolstering housing stock, Reed is a huge proponent of social housing (duh). On council, Reed would fight for $10 to $20 million for the new public development authority every year so that it can build and buy housing with rent capped at 30% of a tenant’s pay. She said paying non-profits for affordable housing is not sustainable long-term or at the scale needed to fill the city’s deficit in affordable units.
Show Me the Money
Okay, Reed. Sounds great. How the fuck are you going to pay for all this shit?
Reed, whose Twitter display name is literally “tye eats the rich,” wants more progressive revenue, and she doesn’t need the Progressive Revenue Stabilization Task Force to tell her which ones she supports. She rattled off taxes such as a citywide capital gains tax, a luxury tax, and increases to the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) and JumpStart payroll tax.
Some of that is possible. The Washington State Supreme Court recently gave capital gains the thumbs up. Seattle could increase JumpStart, Reed would just have to fight the big businesses with record profits who want a three-year holiday. Seattle could also impose a tax on luxury goods, but the trick is picking the right luxury goods—a rich Seattleite looking for a new boat could just go to Bellevue and save a couple grand. As for an increase to REET, that’s up to the state, but Reed could ask them to give Seattle that authority.
A Seat for Defunders
Reed told The Stranger she’s not all that interested in giving cops more training programs or gadgets under the unfounded assumption that it will make them less likely to harass or brutalize people of color and poor people. She thinks the best way to improve policing is to just have less of it.
Though the Solidarity Budget, a guiding proposal for her campaign, demands a 50% cut to the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) budget, Reed said that’s not going to happen in her first year in office. She will fight for as big of a budget cut as she can, starting by removing parking enforcement from SPD once again, but this time actually give them new uniforms and less cop vibes.
She would push to also divest from the Seattle Municipal Court, giving them less capacity to process cases and put people behind bars.
The Solidarity Budget proposes using these savings for alternative safety responses. The City has been dragging its feet on alternative responses, partly because they are afraid the police union will freak out if the council changes the scope of their job without coming to the bargaining table.
Reed said her background in community organizing has prepared her to take on difficult fights. Organizers at the Solidarity Budget have pressured the council to cut ghost cop positions and spend more money on street safety in the south end. Plus she’s not afraid to be unpopular in City Hall, especially with the Mayor.
Previous council members have leaned on the movement politics approach rather than politicking with their colleagues internally. For example, socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant spent a decade filling City Hall with her Socialist Alternative army and whatever lefties she could scoop up issue by issue. She took every opportunity to call out her Democrat colleagues for watering down progressive policies or voting against working people.
Despite her tactics ushering in a whole slew of renters’ protections, some argue Sawant’s approach was ineffective. But as just one vote of nine, her role was to push the conversation left and show what is possible when politicians are not concerned with being palatable to deep-pocketed donors or anyone who has ever compared US Senator Elizabeth Warren with Hermione Granger or whatever the fuck.
Similarly, Reed said she wants to be the council member to propose “fantastical sounding things and actually have an imagination and maybe call out the people who have gotten us in this position.”
But that position on council comes with a lot of negative attention from the right, something Reed's already getting a taste of.
Niche Internet Mirco Celebrity
While Thomas-Kennedy fell under scrutiny for her old anti-cop tweets during her 2021 campaign, the Post Millennial also combed through Reed’s social media accounts. In some 2020 tweets, Reed implied that she would have rather then-Chief of Police Carmen Best see a guillotine than a voluntary resignation, she said the Mayor was a “bitch” that was “gonna get her ass beat one day,” and she tweeted that she hoped a victim of a shooting was a “kkkop.”
Some people hate her tweets and think she's a big, violent meanie. Some people called her posts "god-tier." Some grass-touchers do not care about this whatsoever.
Vote for Tye Reed, a police-hating communist and god-tier poster. https://t.co/73skmibSOi— DivestSPD (@DivestSPD) May 16, 2023
Regardless, Reed said she regretted spending so much time defending her candidate's tweets in the City Attorney race. She told The Stranger she is not interested in relitigating the self-admittedly low-engagement posts.
“As a Black person in this country, I was so hurt by everything that happened in 2020. But I think focusing on how people reacted to violence versus the violence that caused that reaction is exactly the work of white supremacy. They’ll say ‘she said something violent’ and ignore that actual violence was enacted on people.”
Despite her less-than-squeaky-clean online presence and the fact that she's after one of the most conservative council member's old seat, Reed believes she can find support in North Seattle.
“I’m just talking about meeting people’s needs,” Reed said. “I think it's going to be a much less radical conversation than people think it will be.”