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Candidates for Seattle mayor square off in debate at KOMO studios

Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon during a debate at KOMO Studios on Oct. 10, 2017. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE – KOMO News teamed up with the American Association of Retired Persons on Tuesday to host a live-studio debate between Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon, Seattle's two candidates for mayor.

A flashpoint emerged when moderator Mary Nam questioned them about their support for a high-earner income tax. Both Durkan and Moon support a plan to tax the rich, but Durkan dismissed her opponent’s proposal to reverse Seattle’s regressive tax structure.

“We're looking to the budget as it is and the resources that we've had so that we can make sure that moving forward we can really tackle these problems without having to say, ‘Mother may I?' to Olympia," Durkan said.

Moon had suggested working with state lawmakers to explore changes to the way capital gains, inheritance and estate taxes are assessed, but made a point later in the debate to respond to Durkan’s snub.

“I'm not asking for permission from Olympia,” Moon said. “I'm building the public will and leading from the city of Seattle because this is a problem we need to solve and we need to take ownership of it."

The debate covered a variety of topics from affordable housing to help for seniors. There was also time at its conclusion to ask a few questions submitted by people who watched the live stream on Tuesday night.

It boiled down to people wanting to know what each candidate believes sets them apart from the other.

Moon criticized Durkan over affordable housing and her reliance on tax cuts and incentives for developers.

“Most of her solutions are market-based," Moon said.

Moon said trickle-down economics don't work, and real solutions involve investing in public and nonprofit housing.

“We know we have to do more to shape the housing market in a way that builds solutions that is affordable to folks from lower income and middle income communities and market based solutions and rental vouchers are simply delaying the problem, they are not solving it," Moon said.

Instead of issues, Durkan spoke to experience.

“The number one difference I think is who can get it done," Durkan said.

The former U.S. Attorney pointed to decades of work building coalitions and getting results.

“If you do, as she said she'd done, to take the first year to collaborate and listen and talk, that's a year too late,” Durkan said. “You have to start from the very beginning figuring out how to pull people together."

The entire debate will air on KOMO News at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 14.

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