My name is Sergio Garcia. I am a Seattle resident, a police officer, and a neighbor.
I am a first-generation American. My parents immigrated from Honduras in pursuit of the American Dream. My wife immigrated from Brazil for the same reason.
The Seattle Police Department hired me, in part for my zeal to be part of this wonderful and thriving community. I love the city’s charm, it’s natural integration with the surrounding Puget Sound’s beauty, and its progressive approach towards a better quality of life.
I love Seattle and chose this city because of its charm, cultural diversity, progressive values and proximity to nature. I was also attracted by the willingness of the voters here to adopt innovative new approaches to governance and civil society in order to create a better quality of life for everyone including immigrant, refugee and LGBTQ communities. The friendships I have made with residents, small business owners and workers have allowed me to witness and understand the daily struggles faced by everyone in this city. This has inspired me to become more involved.
Working as a police officer, I have seen firsthand the challenges we face in D6; their root causes, what is working, and what isn’t working. I am running for a single simple reason, to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community by taking a balanced approach to representative governance that ensures no one is shut out, shouted down or ignored. I moved here to start a family and set down roots. The community I see today is fractured, angry and off track.
In the coming months, I will expand on my views regarding the critical issues we face and propose solutions that will work. For now, I want to share my general outlook on three issues that will be the focal points of my candidacy.
Homelessness: I’m a compassionate person who believes in helping those in need, providing healthy, legal, and responsible alternatives to lift them out of despair. When appropriate, I believe in offering people second chances. I’ll call this approach “diversion.” Simply throwing individuals in jail or prison as a solution, without effective assistance, is setting us all up for failure. Although diversion and assistance are my priority, we need to begin holding everyone in our community accountable for their actions.
I will seek to uphold law and order in a humane manner. To address the homelessness crises, we first need to acknowledge the actions we have taken thus far do not constitute an effective response. We need to focus on data-driven approaches, and we must collaborate with our regional partners. Seattle can no longer go it alone. We must be prepared to adapt and respond to the ever-changing economic and social landscape. We must address the underlining factors which cause homelessness and recognize that each individual case is different. A tailored approach to an individual’s situation is the first step on the journey back to empowerment and helping them get back on their feet. In addition, with a 6-billion-dollar city budget, we need to do a better job with the revenue we have and strive for transparency. The tax payers of this city should feel more comfortable with their investments in this crisis. Just as important, we need to do a better job of listening to what the homeless population is telling us about why they are under utilizing the current services provided, and what they feel are the flaws in the present approach.
Affordable Housing: This issue is deeply nuanced and far from being as simple as black and white. What is good for one district may not necessarily work for another. I believe we can create sustainable development which produces enough affordable housing while also preserving the charm of our neighborhoods. We must ensure the new emphasis on density does not undermine the quality of life for old and new residents alike. This means we must do a better job in providing a public transportation system that is much more reliable and efficient. We must ensure equal access to services our most vulnerable communities require, and we must make sure we have a plan for those who are currently being pushed out of their homes and communities.
We cannot nurture a holistic and healthy community if we do not take steps -now- to ensure the people who will live there can all be healthy and happy. This means, placing a higher priority on creating and fostering green spaces and public gardens in urban villages. This means, respecting all common spaces and making sure everyone is playing by the same rules. Most of all, this means listening to all of the voters and stakeholders in the district; whether they are home owners, renters, unhoused, or workers and small business owners. We must realize high rise apartment complexes are not the only way for us to create density, and while it is extremely important to protect the rights of renters, we need to ensure we are not just playing into the hands of big corporate developers and landlords.
We must allow and incentivize back yard cottages and ADU construction and do more for mom and pop landlords who have for decades provided Seattle’s most affordable housing options. The fact of the matter is that Seattle is not creating enough affordable housing units. The hard truth is most low-income residents cannot afford the new units being constructed on a mass scale. This is effecting the socio-economic balance of our community, and threatens to rip away the underlying fabric of what has made Seattle such a special city. Maybe it’s time for us to get out of the way and let property owners help in this battle to increase housing supply.
Public Safety: Based on my many years of varied experiences as a police officer, and countless conversations with the people of D6, it is obvious that restoring a sense of community-driven public safety has never been more important. This means increased funding for mental health and addiction services to help those in distress. This means differentiating between members of the homeless community who are truly in need of housing and wrap-around services, and those who have come to this city to sell drugs, vandalize, loot, and take advantage of our generosity. We must do more to identify those in our homeless community and share that information to achieve the very best outcomes for the individual. We must do this to protect the greater population from fugitives and criminals – and sexual predators. We need to work harder to ensure that there is safety, not only within housed communities, but even more so within our sanctioned and unsanctioned homeless camps. The victimization and predation that exists in the homeless community is appalling and we cannot allow this to continue on our watch. Too many people are dying on the streets and that is our responsibility. We must demand accountability, not only among our elected officials and police officers, but also among those they serve. We must do more to make sure that parks, sidewalks, green spaces and the environment, are not being degraded because we are afraid to have tough conversations. I do not intend to criminalize homelessness, however, the discarding of needles and the presence of human waste in our shared spaces is not okay. It must stop.
In terms of policing, we must hold bad cops accountable for their actions, while also remembering to praise and elevate the good officers.
There is still so much work to do to improve the relationship between the community and the police department. The concept of community policing attracted me to the force. I want to focus more resources on community policing in order to sustain a bridge that connects our residents with those who’ve sworn to protect and serve them. This means getting officers out of patrol cars and getting them into walking shoes to create true, sincere, connections between officers, residents, and businesses, in our community. The more we know about each other, the more we can help each other. I also want to improve the retention of good police officers and firefighters by focusing on hiring locally, and creating incentives for them to live in the communities they serve.
Like so many of you, I want to see this city succeed so that together we can all enjoy a healthy, safe, and equitable environment.