Candidate: Sergio Garcia, Candidate for District 6
- Website: http://sergioforseattle.org/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sergioforseattle/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergioforseattle/
Seattle Arts Voter Guide: Describe a meaningful arts experience that has stayed with you over time.
Garcia: I was born and raised in Miami, FL where arts and music has always had a huge scene. A scene which includes artist and their creations from all over country and world. Growing up, I was always constantly exposed to this diversity and realized that it plays an important role in the overall health of a prosperous community.
One particular instant that art showed me how it reflected the community was with the City of Miami setting the stage for a neighborhood called “Wynwood”. In the mid 90’s, Miami was experiencing an increase in graffiti throughout the city. People were becoming frustrated and the police was unable to put a stop to it. Tagging was the norm and would obstruct important traffic identifiers as well as impacting small businesses and homeowners financially. After a few years, the city became creative and looked at what was being done by other cities around the world who had experienced the same problem. The city began working with property owners in an area which was experiencing high criminal activity in an almost forgotten neighborhood in town. The idea was to create a few block radius where property owners and the city would allow for people to go and express themselves in the form of graffiti. The thought process was that if people had somewhere to go, they would stay out of places they weren’t allowed to be. Within a matter of a few years, the neighborhood of Wynwood was completely transformed into one of the most sought out neighborhoods in the entire city. Today, Wynwood is known for the “Wynwood Mural Walls” and people come from all over the world to see amazing art in absolutely every corner of the neighborhood. The area is an extremely safe neighborhood and is a place where artist make a name for themselves. And yes, Miami took care of most of its graffiti problems.
SAVG: How do you envision the arts as part of the Seattle, especially as part of education, equity, housing, transportation, culture, the economy, and/or community?
Garcia: My plan for District 6 would be something similar. Ballard has an area in around 14 Avenue NW where it is composed mostly of warehouses and breweries with little foot traffic and a few safety concerns. If done correctly, an idea like Wynwood and what other cities around the world have, would potentially create an art scene/neighborhood which has practically gone missing in Seattle in leu of so many other issues were currently battling. In the process of creating an art neighborhood in the district, I’d like to put parameters to require affordable work spaces for artist as well as making it an inclusive area for all. A central arts district which essentially can influence the flourishing of arts and culture in the entire city. Promoting arts into transportation, housing, and the community similar to what other cities like NYC and Berlin do. From making bus stops and subway entrances into art pieces to promoting and empowering arts in early childhood education.
SAVG: How would you partner with arts leaders in the community to address the homelessness crisis?
Garcia: How would I partner with arts leaders in the community to address the homelessness crisis? Exactly that, partner with them and consult with the experts. Ideas such as having artist teach individuals experiencing homelessness arts and music and including them in the development of neighborhoods is a way to be inclusive with a community that at times is just seeking a place in the world. Arts and music can serve as a universal language for different community members to start working towards a community for all. At times, people on the streets turn to heavy drug usage to fill a void in lives that can potentially be filled by arts and music.
SAVG: You remarked on Facebook “The city not caring about small businesses and throwing too many things at them which essentially causes them to close their doors forever.” What is the city throwing at small business owners? How would you support small business owners, art entrepreneurs and musicians living in District 6?
Garcia: After speaking to hundreds of small business owners in my district, the complaints are pretty uniformed. Small business owners in Seattle care about their community and their employees but are having a hard time staying in business because of things like crime, affordable spaces, high taxes and fees, lack of support, and not being able to understand complex policies and procedures implemented by the city. Keep in mind that they’re also having a hard time hiring anyone because some of those same obstacles are affecting the working class. Running a business itself is an extremely complex process and some of these small businesses are a one woman or man show making it impossible for them to keep up with multiple tasks without any assistance.
City penalizes them at every level and the city should be more supportive in providing assistance for them to keep their doors open, provide employment for locals, and maintain the character that small businesses bring to the neighborhoods. We as residents should also be more supportive of small businesses since they are already competing with big businesses like Amazon. My goal here is to create a more supportive small business atmosphere in both my district and Seattle to include more diversity in the small business community. If non-minority English speaking small business owners are having a hard time, imagine what minorities who might not even be fluent in the language have to deal with if attempting to start or manage a small business in Seattle.