Skip to content City Council candidates pledge support for the library – The Seattle Public Library Foundation

As part of our advocacy work, the Foundation and Friends of The Seattle Public Library sent a survey to all 14 candidates running in the 2023 general election in Seattle’s seven City Council districts. Eleven candidates responded, demonstrating strong support for the library.

Overall, candidates affirmed that the City should fund upgrades to library facilities in the next five years, with all 11 responding that it was “very important.” All also agreed that the City must increase funding for library capital and safety improvements, and for climate resilience updates at branches. Most candidates said they would support funding increases for the library’s collections, programming, and staffing.

Asked which programs and services the library should prioritize, the top choices among the candidates were:

  • Books and collections (i.e. Peak Picks, physical materials, e-books and audiobooks)
  • Immigrant/refugee resources (i.e. citizenship classes, English Conversation Circle, skills training)
  • Youth programs (i.e. Global Reading Challenge, Homework Help/virtual tutoring, Story Time)

Candidates were also asked to share their thoughts about the library and the issues it faces. You can read the responses by district below (and find your district here). Ballots for the general election are due by Tuesday, November 7.

In a critical election that will see at least four new City Councilmembers, the survey results indicate that funding for library buildings, collections, programs, and services should be a high priority for the next Council.

Jump to:
District 1   |  District 2   |  District 3   | District 4   | District 5   | District 6   | District 7

District 1

Candidate: Maren Costa
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: West Seattle

What issues related to libraries concern you?

Libraries provide an important resource for our communities: books, of course, but so much more: information, small business support, internet access, community-specific programming, and youth activities, to name a few. We need to ensure we have adequate staffing, ensure safety for staff and customers, and retain and provide access to “banned” books. Additionally, we should ensure that libraries can act as climate resiliency hubs with backup power, air filtration, and heat pump air conditioning, so that everyone has a safe place to go in extreme weather events.

Candidate: Rob Saka
Did not respond to survey

District 2

Candidate: Councilmember Tammy Morales
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Columbia

What issues related to libraries concern you?

The city union’s fight for deserved living wages and protections. They’re one of the last places people can go for free. Climate resiliency amid climate change. Accessibility/disability rights. Language justice. Equity. Integrating social workers to help the homeless folks who access libraries to rest, grab water, go to the bathroom, and exist without charge.

Candidate: Tanya Woo
Did not respond to survey

District 3

Candidate: Joy Hollingsworth
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Montlake, Madrona, Capitol Hill, and Douglass-Truth

What issues related to libraries concern you?

I love the libraries.  They should be fully funded with resources, funding and whatever needs to be done. I grew up at the Douglass-Truth library and have fond memories about using the resources, meeting and events. I’ll do whatever it takes to ensure your voices are amplified and resourced.

Candidate: Alex Hudson
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Technically I live equidistant between the Central and Capitol Hill branches. I have Capitol Hill set as my default holds pick-up location, because it’s a flatter ride on my bike! 🙂

What issues related to libraries concern you?

Libraries are frontline public infrastructure, and bear the weight of our housing, mental health, poverty, and addiction crises. They provide vital access to information, resources, and opportunities for folks left behind the digital divide. It is worrying to see libraries under attack and under-resourced despite the clearly growing needs. Upstream solutions take time, and supporting libraries now is key. I also worry about how prepared our libraries are to meet the growing needs of our climate crisis – as cooling and clean air centers, and know we have work to do, and investments to make, to make them adapted and resilient.

District 4

Candidate: Ron Davis
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: University

What issues related to libraries concern you?

Our libraries are a critical resource that is too often overlooked in our political discourse and financial planning. While the Library Levy is a great source of capital, the fact that we now rely on it so heavily just to keep libraries operating is unwise. By pushing more and more of the revenue onto a regressive tax source, we not only add unnecessary cost burdens on those who least need them, but we also risk eroding the strong political consensus we need to pass ambitious levies. So, while I do, in fact, support ambitious levies (for projects I’ll articulate in a moment), the library’s basic annual operating budget should receive much more of its funding from the general fund (and the general fund should be sourced more progressively). And that operating budget should be larger–as libraries touch most of our population, and therefore present an opportunity to serve the evolving and often acute needs of our communities. We should be embedding strong connections to social services, job training, educational resources for children and job seekers, pathways into jobs through partnerships with trade unions, nonprofits, and corporations, and social opportunities for community members, especially seniors–in our libraries. We’ve also just got to keep up with cost escalation, particularly with the shift to audiobooks and the consolidation of publishers and the increased pricing power that has given them. And now that people are, more than ever, retreating into their neighborhoods, we need more micro-lending and return spots around the city. All of this costs money. I’ve identified (see “Seattle Needs Money,” The Stranger) how we could constitutionally cover our projected funding gap in the coming years and make significant investments while only sourcing the additional revenue for doing so via progressive means. On the capital spending side, more appropriately funded by the Levy–it’s long past time to ensure that every major public building is up to a high standard for safety, air quality, and climate and earthquake preparedness. This will be expensive, but given that libraries have their own Levy, that political support for these tends to be strong, that people don’t pay attention to subtle pricing differences, that my plan offloads operational costs onto the general fund (which will be more progressive) and that people are responsive to levies that accomplish a lot–we should make ambitious investments in our buildings. Every building should be reliably cool in the summer and warm in the winter, with extremely high standards set for internal air quality and fully reliant on renewable resources. This will allow them to be reliably available as the de-facto places of refuge they already are, especially in the cases of an emergency–and will ensure that they do not contribute unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. It will also make them more pleasant places to be, attracting more patrons and thereby delivering more value for the community.

Candidate: Maritza Rivera
Did not respond to survey

District 5

Candidate: Cathy Moore
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Lake City

What issues related to libraries concern you?

Cost of e-books, staff shortages, public safety, need for social service librarians, nationwide book bans

Candidate: ChrisTiana ObeySumner
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Greenwood

What issues related to libraries concern you?

The general trend we’ve seen across the nation of far-right groups accosting patrons of public libraries and banning books. I want to keep our libraries as a progressive, friendly place for education and acceptance.

District 6

Candidate: Councilmember Dan Strauss
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Ballard

What issues related to libraries concern you?

My D6 District Office is at the Service Center attached to the Ballard Branch library. It is amazing to see how many people use the library as their third space – from 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds and everyone in between. Librarians and support staff do incredible work.

Candidate: Pete Hanning
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Fremont

What issues related to libraries concern you?

I’d love to see our libraries help with a broader discussion about civics and what it means to participate in community.

District 7

Candidate: Bob Kettle
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Queen Anne

What issues related to libraries concern you?

Our libraries have become even more community gathering places. We need to re-look at our libraries to see what else we can do particularly in the area of education programs.

Candidate: Councilmember Andrew Lewis
Nearest Seattle Public Library Branch: Queen Anne

What issues related to libraries concern you?

I love The Seattle Public Library and have worked with them through my committee to advance their priorities. I will continue to do so!