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SGN exclusive interview: City Council candidate David Bloom on LGBT issues
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SGN exclusive interview: City Council candidate David Bloom on LGBT issues

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle City Council candidate David Bloom is philosophical about hearing his principal opponent described in the media as 'frontrunner Sally Bagshaw.'

'Sally is definitely the frontrunner when it comes to raising money!' he says with a smile. 'I talk to people - working people - who are worried about keeping their jobs, or they may have lost their jobs, they may have lost their homes. They can't give me $700. Our challenge is to raise the money we need to stay competitive.'

"Sally is defining herself as the Downtown business candidate," Bloom continues. "The core of her support is there: The Alki Foundation. The General Contractors Association. The Realtors Association."

Bloom shakes his head. "I've been at this for 30 years as an organizer, and I know who those people are."

Bloom is running against Bagshaw, neighborhood activist Dorsol Plants, Amazon.com executive Brian Carver, and Thomas Tobin for City Council Position 4, the seat being vacated by Jan Drago.

Bloom is optimistic about his chances. "I've gotten five of the six Democratic Party organizations," he says. "Those endorsements mean that the PCOs will be taking my campaign to the voters. In five of the six districts, my name will be on the sample ballot. Hers will not."

Bagshaw has been endorsed only by her own 34th District Democratic Party organization.

In an exclusive interview, Bloom talked to SGN about LGBT issues and his 30 years of experience as a Seattle activist.

"When I worked for the Church Council - gosh, this was back in the 1980s - that was a pivotal time for the City and the County in terms of guaranteeing civil rights for the LGBT community," Bloom recalls.

"I'll tell you a story about that," he chuckles. "I'd gone to speak at a Dorian Group press conference for the Fair Employment and Open Housing Ordinance. When I got back to the office I had a phone message - you know, on one of those old pink 'while you were out' pads - and you know what it said? 'Homosexuality is a sin, and you are a nerd.' I still have that note in my scrap book."

Bloom is a Baptist minister, and for many years he ran the urban programs for the Church Council of Greater Seattle. He is a co-founder of the Seattle Displacement Coalition, the Downtown Emergency Service Center, and Common Ground. He was also a leader in passing Seattle's first housing levy in 1986.

"As an organizer, I've mostly focused on low-income people, working people, homeless people," he tells SGN. "A disproportionate number of homeless youth are homeless at least in part because of sexual identity issues."

BLOOM STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION
Bloom believes that talking to constituents about social justice issues will be an important part of his job if he is elected to the City Council.

"Public education is an important role for elected officials," he says. "Why are LGBT youth on the streets? Why are there mentally ill people on the streets? Why are there homeless?"

"It's the same thing on the development side," Bloom continues. "How do we grow? Who are we accommodating? Who are we displacing? These are questions I don't see the City talking about."

Bloom has called for the construction of 5,000 new units of affordable housing "above and beyond the housing levy," and for "one-to-one replacement [of low-cost housing units] when development occurs."

"And I want to see replacement on-site, or at least in the area," he adds. "Not somewhere else. That's the problem with what we do now. We hand people a voucher and tell them to go somewhere else. That's what breaks up communities."

"Part of the strength of Seattle is strong community identity," Bloom says. "If one of the results of growth is the dispersal of communities - whether it's the LGBT community, or African Americans, or whoever it is - we need to step back and take a second look at what's happening."

Bloom has also called for Seattle to enact a living wage ordinance, "like Denver, or San Francisco, or 140 other cities have."

"You know, half of the homelessness problem is that people aren't making enough to pay for housing," he says. "We need to talk about exactly what it takes for people to live in Seattle. Minimum wage is probably only half what you need to live here."

"A start would be for the City to look at its own wage scale," Bloom says. "Then we could look at contracting as well, like we do with domestic partnership benefits."

Both the City of Seattle and King County require businesses that contract with them to provide equal benefits for their employees' same-sex domestic partners as they do for married spouses.

"And permitting," Bloom continues. "Developers come asking the City for benefits. They want to build at a certain height in a certain place. What are we asking in return? I think the City has been too reticent to ask. We could use this leverage to require community benefits."

"All it takes is the willingness of leaders to stand up and talk forthrightly about these issues," Bloom says. "And I'm willing to do that."

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