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Before I was elected in 2009, I worked in Seattle as a business litigation attorney for almost 25 years. I graduated from Yale College in 1978, then worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council before earning a J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984.
After earning my J.D. in 1984, from the University of Virginia School of Law, I went on to serve as a civil commercial litigator and a board-certified business bankruptcy specialist for over two decades. That work included my times as a Partner-in-Charge of the Insolvency & Reorganization Group and Hiring Partner at Miller Nash LLP’s Seattle office. I also chaired the Seattle Police Department’s first civilian oversight body, the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, for over six years immediately prior to seeking elected office. I have held the office of City Attorney since my election in 2009 and believe in that time I have demonstrated the understanding of the law, ability to lead a large staff of attorneys, and commitment to the values the City of Seattle represents to continue to do the job well.
As City Attorney, I supervise over 100 attorneys and 85 legal staff. I have transformed the City Attorney’s Office into a fully functional law office that can effectively and efficiently respond to the City’s needs.
Income inequality, the lack of affordable housing, and institutional racism are perhaps the most pervasive problems facing Seattle. These problems are manifested in homelessness, gentrification, lessening diversity, and the distrust of our police department—all these issues disproportionately affect women and communities of color.
My office has already successfully defended the $15 minimum wage and has advocated for an expansion of the development impact fees to address infrastructure pressures facing transportation and schools. We have ardently defended all measures designed to protect working people, including paid/sick leave; the right of “independent contractors” such as Uber and Lyft drivers to organize; as well as the doubled affordable housing levy and the “millionaire’s tax” to yield additional, non-regressive revenue sources for Seattle’s general fund. All of these initiatives help combat the challenges middle/working class families face in a Seattle on steroids.
Seattle’s housing and homelessness crisis is the most important issue the City is facing. Since I took office eight years ago, Seattle’s population has grown by more than 100,000 and is expected to continue to increase rapidly. By building affordable units near transit, open space, and retail, people of all backgrounds can find affordable homes in walkable, livable neighborhoods. We need to turn to public health experts for guidance in approaches to the homelessness crisis rooted in best practices: housing first, protect community safety and seek treatment alternatives to the revolving door of incarceration. And while the City Attorney does not have direct supervisory control over programs relating to homelessness, my office provides legal support for all City departments and is charged with finding resources for policy-makers’ initiatives.
The City works with residential and commercial developers for the production of affordable housing through incentive zoning practices and the Multifamily Tax Exception program (MFTE), which provides a tax exemption on new multifamily developments if they set aside 20-25% of the units as rent-restricted. Seattle’s housing levy provides affordable public housing, and the “Grand Bargain” of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) promises to leverage additional affordable housing units by tapping into the booming market-rate housing industry. Other HALA strategies include changing zoning to add capacity for housing and utilizing surplus public property for affordable housing or open space parks (adding to the livability of our communities). Detached accessory dwelling units, co-housing options, public subsidies are but some of the available tools. My office supports all of these initiatives through creative legal advice and defense in court.
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Experience (300 characters max)
I am an experienced attorney at the local and national level, a former Public Safety Advisor and Special Assistant for Police Reform for the City of Seattle, and dad to two amazing little girls.
As the Seattle Times said, “Scott Lindsay has better ideas...and the policy chops to put them in place.”
I am well-qualified to take on the challenges facing Seattle regarding public safety and resisting Donald Trump.
I served as Public Safety Advisor & Special Assistant for Police Reform to the Mayor of Seattle for three years. During this time, I brought progressive & creative solutions to our most pressing issues. I led the creation of the Navigation Team, pairing outreach workers with police officers to help bring people off the streets and into safer alternatives. I initiated and served on the Seattle-King County Heroin & Opiate Addiction Task Force which recommended improvements such as developing the country's first safe consumption site.
Additionally, I served as senior counsel to Rep. Elijah Cummings on the House Oversight Committee in D.C. where I fought daily battles against Republicans' unscrupulous attacks on the Obama administration and I led major investigations into illicit payments to warlords in Afghanistan and corrupt American oil companies in Central Asia.
As Public Safety Advisor to the Mayor of Seattle, I was responsible for coordinating work among a dozen departments on major public safety initiatives, including the 9.5 Block Strategy to reduce crime around the downtown drug markets. In response to the homelessness crisis, I served as policy director of the Emergency Operations Center response, which involved managing work involving approximately 40 individuals and hundreds of city employees. In addiction, I proposed, created, and then managed the Navigation Team in the first half of 2017, that included 8 Seattle Police officers, 8 outreach workers, communications professionals, and policy staff.
Previously, I served as senior counsel to Democrats on the House Oversight Committee where I managed other attorneys and staff on large, high-profile congressional investigations.
1. Reforming how our criminal justice system works.
2. Resisting Donald Trump to protect Seattle values, our immigrant and refugee neighbors, and marginalized communities that have been attacked by his administration including LGBT folks, people of color, and women.
3. Reducing the waste of taxpayer dollars on outside counsel and getting better public safety results.
As a candidate for City Attorney, my focus is on breaking the street-to-jail cycle that keeps many individuals who are struggling with addiction, mental illness, and/or homelessness trapped in Seattle’s criminal justice system. Currently, there are insufficient treatment options and social services directed toward ending this vicious cycle and a high percentage of Seattle’s repeat offenders are unable to navigate their way out of the criminal justice system. I have a detailed plan to break this cycle by implementing focused behavioral health interventions in the criminal justice system and expanding diversion programs like LEAD to prevent others from entering into the criminal justice system in the first place.
To break the streets-to-jail cycle, Seattle needs to:
(1) to expand pro-active outreach to meet people where they are and find appropriate, low-barrier shelter solutions;
(2) make the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program city-wide and increase the number of qualifying arrest categories in order to keep people out of the criminal justice system;
(3) partner with Seattle Municipal Court judges to establish a harm-reduction ‘Street Court’ that removes barriers to resolving cases and getting people out of the criminal justice system;
(4) expand re-entry programs so that no one who is homeless or struggling with behavioral health issues goes straight back to the streets; and
(5) all of these efforts need to be backstopped by additional Navigation Centers that are accommodating and accessible to the most vulnerable on our streets.