Logan Bowers, District 3 Candidate — Arts Platform

Candidate: Logan Bowers, Candidate for District 3


Seattle Arts Voter Guide: What is your arts platform?

Bowers: The policies of the first half of the 20th Century that intended to segregate white residents from black, asian and other residents of color are perpetuated today. Our city council has chosen to concentrate growth in a few urban centers in order to preserve white enclaves as single family utopias. This concentration of growth has forced the gentrification and displacement of people of color in areas that have historically been refuges. Our city today is more segregated than it was during the Civil Rights Era. My plan is to allow neighborhood-friendly density — duplexes and triplexes — across the city. We can meet demand for housing equitably and allow people to choose where to live regardless of race or class by making regulations more equitable.

You may wonder why I am beginning a statement on my arts platform with a discussion of housing policy. It is because I believe that the center of a city councilmember’s responsibility is clear, effective oversight of city agencies. Seattle began the One Percent for Art program in 1973 to set aside one percent of the budget of all capital projects for public art. In the early 2000s, the city recognized that the vast majority of public art projects were being given to white artists while they were ignoring the many artists of color. I commend Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture for creating the Public Art Boot Camp to train artists, especially artists of color in applying for and creating public art projects. However this does not go far enough. As a city we need to value art by people of color. Just how far we have to go was illustrated in 2017 and 2018 when artist Jasmine Iona Brown installed her series of images of “Black Teen Wearing a Hoodie” were repeatedly torn down and defaced in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and West Seattle. 

A city councilmember’s primary duty is to oversee and set the direction for city departments. I am committed to accountability and transparency. This means that I will be in communication with residents about the issues that come before council and seek their input. I am a strong supporter of the Admissions Tax, a tax on tickets for live events like music and sports. However, I also want to be sure that the tax is equitable. I want to hear from you about venues, such as those with a small capacity, and organizations, such as nonprofits, who should be exempted from it. And I want to be sure that the revenues are spent responsibly to support emerging artists and organizations in addition to well-established organizations. Dialogue with the arts community and all Seattle residents is important to accomplishing these goals.

SAVG: While you address rental control, a shortage of homes, and homelessness, I have yet to read anything about how you’re addressing redlining and racial equity. Is there a reason this is being left out of the equation? 

Bowers: The history of racist and segregationist housing policies in Seattle has led to the current housing crisis. We can still see the effects of those policies today in the privilege for single-family neighborhoods, the distribution of wealth and housing throughout the city, and our essentially segregated school system. Correcting for these wrongs of the past is a large part of my housing platform which I address with voters when I doorbell, in public forums, in explanations of my policy positions, and my official voters’ guide statement

The current Council has chosen to perpetuate racist zoning policy, ratcheting it tighter as recently as 2014 by shielding single family neighborhoods — which are majority white — from development. Focusing development in urban villages has disproportionately impacted neighborhoods of color like the Central District causing gentrification and displacement of the community. Our city is now more segregated than at any time since the start of the Civil Rights era. Dismantling racism and classism is never easy, but with high prices displacing thousands, we can no longer wait.

I do not support rent control but, as a renter myself, I do support the expansion of renters rights. Rents are too high but rent control hurts the most vulnerable. As long as a person lives in an apartment or house, the landlord is limited to how much they can raise the rent but when the person moves, the new landlord can list the rent at any level. It hurts people who must move, such as a spouse fleeing a domestic violence situation, a person who is displaced by development or sale of their rental, or a person who chooses to add children to their family. What we need is enough housing to provide homes for all the people who need them and regulations that protect renters and allow for a variety of living situations.

While I agree with Councilmember Sawant’s focus on ordinary people, she has been ineffectual in governing. As chair of the Human Services, Equitable Development and Renters Rights Committee, she has cancelled over half of the meetings in the last 12 months. She blocked the appointment of a Human Services Director for over a year. She has spent most of her time on council this year unilaterally pushing for a rent control ordinance that could be implemented only if our state legislators decide to change the state law. It would have been more productive to collaborate with them to actually give renters more rights. I will work with our state legislators, representatives from surrounding cities and other councilmembers to make meaningful reforms that will keep renters safe from capricious evictions, give them more power to fight unjust fines and fees, and ensure that they are not discriminated against in the rental process.

SAVG: What are some ways the arts and culture sector here in Seattle can learn more about renter’s rights/control? With your expertise and experience as a business owner, we could plant ideas and future business plans for arts leaders regarding ideal facility locations, affordable/sustainable spaces, zoning rights, and monitoring economic equity.

Bowers: SCC Insight wrote a very comprehensive and approachable analysis of rent control policy that was published on the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog (https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2019/05/scc-insight-seattle-a-worst-case-scenario-for-rent-control-to-be-introduced/). It is a good place to start learning about the positives and negatives of rent control policies within the Seattle context. There are a variety of ways to implement rent control but in general it leads to less rental housing, disadvantages vulnerable people and preferences people with stable living and working situations. 

Small businesses are integral to our city’s culture and economy. As a small business owner myself, I know many of the hurdles small businesses face including permitting and employee retention. These are issues that people will face whether their business focuses on the arts, engineering, or any other sector. I have first-hand experience creating a business in Seattle and I can make it easier for other entrepreneurs. I am endorsed by LiUNA 242 because they know the value I place on equitable working conditions. In our business, my spouse and I pay our employees above the industry average wage and offer health insurance. Investing in people, whether employees or residents, with the services they need to lead fulfilling lives makes our society better.