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Originally published May 24, 2013 at 9:40 PM | Page modified June 6, 2013 at 10:41 AM

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‘We don’t need another lawyer,’ says businesswoman running for mayor

Seattle mayoral candidate Kate Martin answers questions about her background and plans for the city.

Kate Martin

Age: 55

Occupation: Small-business owner

Education: Bachelor of landscape architecture, 1979, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse

Home neighborhood: Greenwood

Family: Married to José Chavez, two children

Hobbies: music, design, gardening

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Nine candidates are vying to be Seattle mayor. Times City Hall reporter Lynn Thompson sat down recently with neighborhood activist Kate Martin to let her introduce herself and tell voters what’s important to her. The answers have been edited for length.

Q: You run a planning and design business, but you haven’t held elective office. What experience would you bring to the job of mayor?

A: I’ve been an activist for about 15 years and have followed dozens of issues: land use, planning, transportation, education, youth. I got involved in a lot of things over the years raising my two kids. I started to think about how I wanted to be a policymaker, instead of just knocking on the door from the outside.

I ran for School Board in 2011 and I almost won. I feel like I’ve got the institutional knowledge down. I feel like my planning and design skills are very needed. I feel like we don’t need another lawyer. I feel like we really need logical planning but also some visionary design. As an environmentalist, I’m disappointed in our lack of comprehensive sustainability.

I’ve been a small-business owner for 25 years, so I’m toward frugality. There’s none of that going on at the city. People are ready for that. I also think people are ready for inspiration in terms of a shared vision.

Q: How would you balance growth with quality of life and protecting single-family neighborhoods?

A: I have a nuanced view of single-family neighborhoods. That’s why I built the house we live in as a flex house, so it can accommodate different family groupings and we can rent out some space.

If we have these huge expanses of single family neighborhoods and many houses with just one person in them, that’s not sustainable.

But the land-use aspect of single-family neighborhoods really agrees with me — the idea of having more green space, the building taking up a smaller footprint, having a garden and space for trees and a sidewalk where you can walk down and see your neighbors — all of those things need to stay. I just think we need to gently absorb more density.

Q: What would you do to ensure the Seattle Police Department has strong leadership and undertakes the work of reform?

A: With (Police Chief John) Diaz it felt like he wasn’t the real chief, like the command staff under him was calling the shots. If you’re going to have a military organization like a police force you need the person in charge to actually be in charge.

The chief needs to set the tone. I’m just reading “Breaking Rank” by (former Seattle Police Chief) Norm Stamper. It’s upsetting to see how prevalent racism and excessive use of force is across the country. We have a lot of work to do. If we can get a chief with a track record of success, not just promises, that would be great.

Q: Seattle has a $1.8 billion backlog in deferred maintenance for transportation infrastructure such as roads and bridges. That’s despite passing a $365 million levy in 2006 that was meant to catch us up. How would you address it?

A: My platform is maintenance not neglect. We passed Bridging the Gap (transportation levy in 2006), but we’re getting further behind. I think we need to take a percentage of the value of our assets and invest that annually. My other idea is to leverage private dollars much more effectively. My plan for sidewalks would leverage dollars from people on a block willing to contribute to the cost. This would also hold for arterials and commercial frontages.

I think (Mayor) Mike (McGinn) has put the bus system on ignore. He just talks about rail, rail, rail. I’d like to work with the state and the county to get the bus system figured out.

Q: Did you roll your eyes at a recent candidate forum when McGinn said that he’d gotten his start in politics as a Greenwood community activist?

A: I worked with Mike for 10 years on the Greenwood Community Council. When I compare our skill sets, I’ve got really solid business skills. Mike does not. I always do my homework and I’m always prepared. I like to plan ahead. Mike’s always winging it. He likes to flare up for drama, whereas I move steadily through things. I make a point of remembering people’s names. He could never remember anyone’s name. He was always late. He took credit for everything. You’ll notice that a lot of his accomplishments were within about 100 feet of his house.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @lthompsontimes

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