Seattle Mayor

Jessyn Farrell

Question

Black wealth remains near zero due to centuries of systemic anti-Black racism and is on a trajectory to only worsen. In Seattle, white wealth is nearly 20x more than Black wealth. What specific actions will you take to close the Black-white wealth gap?

  1. How much of the Black-white wealth gap will you close while in office? 

  2. Who are you working with in the Black community to close it? 

  3. How will you support investing federal funding directly and specifically into the Black community in the next two years?

Answer

The pandemic and the investments to stimulate our economic recovery should represent an opportunity to reverse decades of disinvestment from communities of color, not reinforce those trends. As mayor, I will fight for the transformative policies on housing affordability, childcare, environmental justice, education, and public safety that community leaders have already identified we need to dismantle systemic racism and close the wealth gap.

Policies like massive investments in housing affordability can and should be tools for creating a more equitable Seattle, as we would not have the white middle class of today without the public investments in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that made homeownership possible for white families and created the intergenerational wealth that still drives today’s racial wealth gap. Just as we created the 30-year fixed mortgage to provide housing stability in the past, we can create public supports like social housing, infrastructure subsidies, new financing tools to improve affordability, and pathways to equitable ownership to enable those left out of decades of investment to build intergenerational wealth.

The other major driving force behind the racial wealth gap the City can address is the disparity in valuation for BIPOC-owned small businesses. In my work on the Governor’s COVID economic recovery taskforce last summer, I heard from countless BIPOC small business owners that federal PPP funds were simply inaccessible to people without prior banking relationships, which they were disproportionately likely to not have. In response to their need, I worked with the Governor’s team to create a $50 million Washington Recovery Fund to give larger initial loans with longer repayment terms as a stopgap measure -- but we needed to go bigger then, and I’m committed to scaling up those efforts as mayor.

It’s time to turn words into action, and I would work with community members to ensure my administration is held accountable for making meaningful, measurable progress on closing the racial wealth gap. That starts with involving organizations like the Africatown Community Land Trust, KCEN, and others to identify specific goals and metrics to measure our progress to meeting those goals. The communities City Hall has ignored for too long need more than promises; the next Mayor has to commit to real accountability on this issue to earn the trust of those who have been sidelined by the Seattle Process for years while progress continues to stall.

Next Candidate

Clinton Bliss, MD

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