Fremont Forum Recap: Mike O’Brien and Albert Shen for Seattle City Council Position 8: City Council candidates Mike O’Brien (incumbent) and Albert Shen (challenger) participated in a Candidate Forum at the July Fremont Neighborhood Council meeting. After sharing information about their background, they spoke about their stand on some current issues:

  • Coal Trains: O’Brien is absolutely against them and said that coal should stay in the ground. Said Seattle needs to work with other cities along the proposed rail line for the trains. Shen said it is a complex issue and that there are places in China where people still rely on coal. Said we need to reduce our carbon footprint. Have to take care of Puget Sound. Said he would work with the City Attorney on greater SEPA environmental impact statements regarding the coal trains to minimize their impact.
  • Park Space and specific Fremont issues: Shen said he would go back to basics and would re-institute the Little City Halls throughout the city. Would work to empower neighborhoods as opposed to centralized power downtown. O’Brien said that as more people move into Seattle, more common space becomes a critical need. With the cost of land, need to look at opportunities for using smaller areas and utilizing existing buildings for community centers.
  • Affordable housing being mandated in large development projects, i.e. south end of Lake Union:
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    O’Brien supports the placement of the affordable housing close to developments that will provide employment so that people will live close to where they work. Shen supports affordable housing being placed in locations where there is existing infrastructure to support residents and gave examples in the International District.

When asked how they differ from one another: Shent said he is a small business owner. He has served on the board of trustees of the Seattle Community Colleges and would work to establish an Education Committee on the City Council. O’Brien said that he supports affordable housing being placed at the south end of Lake Union.