The District 4 race—the area Eastlake to Wedgwood, Fremont to Windermere—for Seattle City Council is getting more crowded by the day. There are currently seven candidates. Sasha Anderson, a senior program coordinator for Mentor U, a mentoring program for Puget Sound high schoolers, isn't worried.
Anderson has lived in Seattle since 1998 when she left her little nowhere town—no offense to it—Lebanon, Oregon for undergrad at Seattle University. She's a self-described social justice advocate, a lesbian, a renter, and a steward of the environment. She's also a hard worker.
"I’m accustomed to doing a lot and doing it really well," Anderson, who has spent her life juggling non-profit work and second jobs (to fund living off of non-profit work), said. "I think a huge part of being a council member is wanting to roll up your sleeves and do a lot for a lot of people."
Part of what Anderson, a Roosevelt resident, regular at Teddy's Bar (don't let the guys who hog the ping-pong tables talk you into playing only a half game, Anderson advised), and Magnuson Park staple, noticed about the current District 4 leadership is that communication with residents is subpar. She wants to find common ground across a district that is splintered by a gulf of affluence through shared values.
"Whether Seattleites have been here for a week or decades, we all see ourselves as stewards of the environment," Anderson said. "If we all care about the environment and we want to reduce our carbon footprint, natural things that come out of that conversation are more bike lanes and more public transportation—ways to get folks places not just in their car."
Anderson cares about last mile solutions. That includes advocating for bike lanes and ensuring that bus lanes don't disappear when light rail comes to the University District and Roosevelt. Anderson was a biker herself and was hit by a car biking in Portland—she recognizes that "these things are all totally preventable if people have their designated space."
Her main ideas for environmental sustainability revolve around the council’s current efforts to implement legislation that will require a permit before cutting down trees within the city limits. She's all for that. Her added touch would be to create plaques for trees, like Portland has, that state what the tree does for the community and the natural environment.
Other things: Anderson was pro-head tax—"When we look at inequality and equity, it’s all about distribution of wealth." She doesn't like that Bezos turned around post-head tax and started the $2 billion Day One Fund for the homeless because "it was disheartening 'cause i thought 'you could’ve done this before' and instead it became 'I will now dictate where this is going because I think I know better.'" Anderson supports Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) and increased density in the city, but wants to compromise to preserve the integrity of the neighborhoods.
"Homeowners really value the integrity of the neighborhood," she said. "I see the value in these beautiful Craftsman homes, however, I also know that we need to and we want to as a community to accommodate new folks. I think everyone in Seattle cares and wants what’s best for us all. It’s just been happening crazy fast and it doesn’t seem like there’s a strategic plan around that growth."
Her dream is to own a house one day, but she'd like to do so in an equitable way.
"I would love to live in a cute little Craftsman, but it doesn’t need to be big," Anderson said. "We could have two on the same lot. There’s room for compromise. Let’s have a development plan where houses look a certain way but it’s fine to have small lots. Let’s just keep this looking like the neighborhood we love."
Currently, she's a renter. Anderson, who shares the top part of a rented house with her fiancé, thinks she will bring a unique perspective to the Seattle City Council. Currently, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is the only renter on the council. When the light rail goes up in 2021, she may be priced out of her current living situation.
"If you have another renter at the table who understands, who has lived those challenges and who has experienced potential displacement, it helps to broaden the conversation," Anderson said.
Anderson's campaign is just getting started but she's close to qualifying for democracy vouchers.
“I love being part of a team—city council is a team," Anderson said. "There will be so many fresh faces. It’s so important to be talking about working together and building consensus.”