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Candidates O'Brien and Shen Debate Affordable Housing

Flickr Photo/Bond Huberman

In a city of like-minded politicians it can be tough to tell the policy differences between candidates running for office. But incumbent city councilman Mike O’Brien and challenger Albert Shen have strong disagreements, including how to build more affordable housing.

Both agree that Seattle doesn’t have enough housing for lower to middle income residents. In his inaugural term as councilman, O’Brien rallied for developers to include affordable housing units within the neighborhoods of their luxury projects. 

“We nearly doubled the amount of workforce housing that will be set aside by private developers in that neighborhood,” O’Brien told The Record’s Ross Reynolds, stressing that affordable housing would contribute to a diverse economic demographic.

But Shen said we need action now, saying that the opportunities aren’t in neighborhoods that have yet to be developed.

“From the outside that’s very noble,” Shen said. “But it’s speculative – we’re speculating that these developers are going to come in. There are opportunities to take money and actually invest in other communities.”

O’Brien and Shen also discussed public campaign financing and dividing the city council into districts.