My relationship with City Council overall is a work in progress. There are natural tensions that inevitably arise between the Executive and Council. We each have our respective role to play and this tension often leads to a better outcome in the end. There are also a number of important issues where I have a different position than the majority of the current Council. Who should pay for cost overruns on the State’s deep bore tunnel is one of those issues and the City’s position on designing the 520 bridge from the outset to include light rail is another. But despite these differences, there are many examples of Council/Executive cooperation. Wherever possible I am encouraging this. We have several interdepartmental work groups that include Council participation, including long term financial planning for City Light, department-wide capital strategic planning, developing a long term plan to adequately fund our libraries, and working on a plan to more efficiently and effectively organize our human resources through the government. We will continue to look for ways to collaborate where possible. Where we disagree, it will be on substantive issues.
The public has a very strong ownership interest in Seattle Center. I have heard it called "Seattle's living room." I personally use and love Seattle Center.
So I want to make absolutely clear that we will not make any decision about how to use Seattle Center space without first listening, and understanding what the public wants.
I have heard a lot of concern expressed about this project, primarily about the loss of potential open space. Like you, I am concerned about the lack of open space in Seattle, particularly in the downtown/central core. As co-chair of the 2008 Parks for All campaign to pass the parks levy, I worked to ensure all of our neighborhoods have quality parks and open spaces, and I am committed to increasing open space in Seattle Center. Right now we are converting a former parking lot in Theatre Commons into an open space and sustainable garden, which will open this summer... (Click here to read the rest.)
I care about our students As you probably know, the Mayor does not have direct control over the School District. But during the election campaign I made education a priority.
I have heard from parents and students their concerns about the quality of our educational system. For instance, achievement gaps for 3rd grade reading and 4th grade math are staggering. Only 29% of 4th grade African-American students are passing the WASL. Only 17% of high school graduates in the Seattle Public Schools have the entrance requirements for a 4 year state college or university. This is not good enough and I am committed to making the changes necessary to eliminate these disparities.
I have started our Youth and Family Initiative to work with the community to identify the greatest challenges faced by youth, and to mobilize the community around solutions. Former Mayor Norm Rice (who launched a similar education summit twenty years ago) Estella Ortega and Bob Watt are the co-chairs. WIth the feedback we get from the community we will develop proposals that affect how we spend city money and how we structure our Families and Education Levy to support youth. I will work with the school district, businesses and community groups to improve our educational system. For more information about our Youth and Families Initiative go to www.youthandfamilies.seattle.gov. We could use your help. It is going to take the public demanding change if we are going to get real change.
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