“Gunther is a consummate member of the 'creative class' that some economists hope will save American cities... from post-industrial rot.”
I spent my youth in the Northeast, mostly in the New York City -Montréal corridor, putting in significant time in both cities. I lived in very large, diverse, dynamic, electric places and small NY and New England towns, learning much in each. I drank in their history and many wonderful experiences. Then, I headed West, just after Seinfeld ended but before the turn of the millennium. I came seeking the relatively enlightened, culturally exciting and open-minded lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest. I didn't come for a job. I came to become, as much as possible, a part of and one with the great urban side of Cascadia, its culture, lifestyle and absurdly amazing beauty.
I left the corporate music industry, main street revitalization work and high profile public transport advocacy behind in New York and pivoted to live theatre marketing as well as focusing on my own music creations on the Left Coast. After some music-making, activism and politicking years in PDX, I made the move to Seattle, a city I'd spent much time in and a place more in tune with my big city sensibilities and MO. Upon my arrival, I was marketing & developing business for all manner of Portland, Seattle and national musicians/artists, restaurants and natural food producers, etc. -always, with eco-consciousness, mutual respect, best practices and compassion.
It was the mid-aughts and SEAtown was booming. We (finally) got construction of the first line of a subway system, some great new parks and libraries and all manner of yummy new cafés, bakeries and restos. One Reel was still producing a stellar Bumbershoot each year and many of Queen Anne's and Capitol Hill's book and CD shoppes classic eateries and clubs -grit and all- were still making a go of it. Collectively we were recycling more and on the eve of ushering in one of the world's first major curbside composting programs.
Apart from some growing pains that, even then, seemed extreme and unacceptable to many Seattle natives, life was good for most.
However, as the years ticked on, I watched, along with many others as the growth accelerated all sorts of unintended consequences and shone an unignorable light on ugliness we couldn't turn away from any more (and, really, never should have). Our collective expectations for what our city should be rose with the soaring rents/mortgages, the cost of operating a small business and the overpriced particle-board sixplexes (now, sevenplexes) that dot every neighborhood.
Life got harsher and harder for more and more people who'd been here for a long time- especially people of color, non-tech-worker millennials/ Gen Yers, artists/musicians and most lower income folks. The ultimate surrender, aPODments were born.
As the changes became too lopsided to ignore, a growing number of us living here realized we obviously need(ed) to address issues new and old that this once wildly affordable city faced. We could no longer turn a blind eye to longstanding affronts that had been ignored or dealt with inadequately. Many more Seattleites joined those who'd been demanding that, especially as our city grows by leaps and bounds and particularly in the midst of Seattle's greatest economic boom in its history, our collective community must step up and do better.
Our many booming businesses and our governing organizations must stand up to this moment in history and make big changes and corrections. And that must happen right now, for it is long overdue.
Still, the unrealized promises keep coming at every campaign cycle, with too little to show for them.
So, we have arrived at crossroads.
Where John T. Williams and George Floyd were murdered by police, markers on a long timeline of abuses that must end.
Where life now intersects great wealth and gentrification with displaced BIPOC Seattleites who deserve to be able to return home, and to stay in homes they've known for generations.
Where the artists, musicians, filmmakers and food creators who put this town on the map as much as the engineers and inventors have, deserve to be hosted so they may continue the invaluable work of entertaining us and giving Seattle its cultural glow.
Where no person should EVER be homeless in this rich city that aided three of the very wealthiest men in the history of the planet in building their empires.
Where we cannot, should not, will not any longer turn away as public safety officers brutalize and demean those they are sworn to protect.
Where we must put the effort into championing our arts, filmmaking industry, culture and diversity just as we dedicate resources to ensure we maintain our technological edge.
It's beyond time we say 'ENOUGH'.
It's going to take courage to face the usual waves of excuses and 'we can't"s. And a ton or three of hard work. And, it's also going to take something our Seattle private sector is world-renowned for: INNOVATION.
We must tear down the nasty and rebuild better, but we must also partner, collaborate and create new models, better systems that deliver more equitably.
I run to represent you, dear fellow Seattleites, because I love this city and will face the wave and work with all of my heart and mind to institute the very changes we need to make.
Other than your vote (ok, and maybe, your donations and/or Democracy Vouchers!), all I ask of you is that you pay attention, not to the endorsements and campaign bank accounts but, rather, to the specifics or lack thereof, that each candidate puts forth as the vision they each hope to realize when in office. Specifics. And those specific solutions must be as bold as our problems are. My platform is long on specifics. And boldness. It's also do-able. Please check it out and reach out with your feedback, questions, comments, funding, etc. I'd truly love to hear from you and will feel blessed to have your support.
As amazing a place as Seattle is, it's leaving so many behind. We can do much better and I will fight for nothing less