Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
                                Kirkland Council Candidates participated in a forum hosted by Lutheran Peace Fellowship in collaboration with Faith Action Network and Indivisible Kirkland on Oct. 14. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo Kirkland Council Candidates participated in a forum hosted by Lutheran Peace Fellowship in collaboration with Faith Action Network and Indivisible Kirkland on Oct. 14. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

Kirkland council candidates talk racial equity, gun control, affordable housing and more

The event was held at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church on Oct. 14.

Kirkland City Council candidates participated in a forum hosted by Lutheran Peace Fellowship on Oct. 14. The forum was a collaboration with Faith Action Network and Indivisible Kirkland. The forum was held at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church and moderated by pastor Mary-Alyce Burleigh.

Included in the panel were candidates Kelli Curtis (Pos. 1 and unopposed), incumbent Toby Nixon and David Schwartz (Pos. 4), Neal Black and Martin Morgan (Pos. 5), and Amy Falcone and Jory Hamilton (Pos. 6).

The purpose of the event was to give the candidates a chance to introduce themselves, speak on key city subjects and respond to questions posed by the community. The focus of the forum was on social justices issues including racial equity in Kirkland, climate change, police reforms and homelessness/affordable housing.

Racial equity

The candidates were asked if they would support hiring a city staff member dedicated to fostering racial equity in Kirkland, like Bellevue has.

Hamilton said Kirkland can look to Bellevue as a model but he didn’t know if it would be worth tax payers’ money.

Falcone said she supports efforts for the city government to have a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. As a PTA president and as a mom with an individual with a disability, Falcone said diversity is important and it’s something she’s advocated for. She believes it’s important to have a variety of diversity, whether that be racial and ethnic, age, gender, and socio-economic status diversity. She noted that hiring a full-time city staff member would be a priority decision the city would have to make for funding. To encourage more engagement and diversity engagement at City Hall, Falcone said she would like to see more efforts like appointing commission and board members with more diverse backgrounds or having child care at City Hall for those residents who cannot afford it.

Curtis, who is running unopposed, said bringing on an equity diversity hire would depend on budgets but otherwise, she would support the effort. Curtis said a small fix she is currently pushing for is changing the board and commission application form. The form currently asks how long the applicant has lived in Kirkland, their education, and what their job is. Curtis said she thinks that can be a barrier for many people and she would rather have the form ask questions like what skills and passions they bring and why they are interested in the position. She also added that the city could could create smaller commitments like civic ambassadors who reach out to their communities to get people involved.

“We need to use an equity lens on everything that we’re doing in the city and move towards creating a diversity position staff,” she said.

Gun control

When asked about what Kirkland can do beyond Proposition 1 to reduce gun violence, various candidates said the issue lies at the state level.

Morgan, who grew up hunting, said weapon owners should beheld accountable. He said there is no need to have automatic weapons as they’re not needed anywhere. Morgan suggested if needed, bullets could be taxed and limit clips.

“The safety of our kids in our area is more important than somebody that needs to have a gun to do whatever they want with it…You’re never going to take guns away from everybody,” he said. “You [have to] regulate it somehow.”

Schwartz shared a list of what can happen for gun safety. He suggested there needs to be a database for handgun registry, raise the requirement for handgun possession to that of conceal carry, repeal the Second Amendment, let guns become a state rights issue, mandatory training and education for handgun purchases and handgun owner purchase insurance.

Affordable housing/homelessness

Candidates spoke on their engagement with affordable housing and homelessness.

Nixon, who spoke first, said homelessness is an issue that is “near and dear” to his heart. He currently serves on the board of Attain Housing and said he has supported the organization’s work for many years. Nixon said he’s been actively engaged in the work that’s been done in the city to make it possible to build more types of housing, including the women and family shelter that is currently being built.

“I don’t think that we’re doing enough yet,” he said. “We need to find more ways to build more housing that more people can afford…we need to look at the regulations that we currently have that drive up the cost of housing that make it difficult for the developers to build the type of housing our community needs.”

Black said the issue of homelessness is going to require many different solutions to solve. Being on the board of trustees at the King County Bar Association — which oversees the housing justice project that represents low-wage earners who are being evicted form their home — Black said he has testified before the Senate and the House in support of modernizing the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act to give people more time and to give judges more equitable discretion.

“This is really important work we’re doing at the King County Bar Association and Housing Justice Project,” he said. “We’re also putting checks in the hands of lawyers in the courthouse in King County through the home base program, so they can make spot grants to people who are having a temporary setback. We can pay the landlord right there on the spot.”

Visit the Kirkland Reporter’s Facebook page for a full video of the candidate forum.

Kirklanders attended a City Council Candidate forum at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church on Oct. 14. Stephanie Quiroz

Kirklanders attended a City Council Candidate forum at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church on Oct. 14. Stephanie Quiroz

Kirklanders attended a City Council Candidate forum at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church on Oct. 14. Stephanie Quiroz

More in News

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

Footage from the September incident was shown during a media conference in Seattle put on by the YMCA on Nov. 13. Staff photo/Ashley Hiruko
Kirkland manager on KTUB arrest: ‘The conclusion of the investigation is not the end of our work’

Following the incident, the city is looking to change protocol, enact new trainings and more.

Development has encroached on the East Lake Sammamish Trail (at right). Joe Livarchik/file photo
King County files lawsuit to finish East Lake Sammamish Trail

Homeowners have until September to remove buildings and other property from the right of way.

Bellevue residents Marko and Karla Ilicic play a hockey game in the Topgolf Swing Suite inside Forum Social House. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Forum Social House opens in Bellevue

Eastside gets new nightclub, mini golf, swing suites.

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo
Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of
King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

King County tax assessor sheds light on senior citizen, disabled taxpayer exemption program

John Wilson stopped by the Peter Kirk Community Center Friday, Jan. 10.

Most Read