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Seattle mayoral candidates Moon, Durkan try to highlight differences

SEATTLE — Rivals side-by-side, but closer than they think.

Cary Moon or Jenny Durkan will take the mayor’s office in November. The two sat in plush chairs inside the Washington State Convention Center Wednesday afternoon.

And homelessness will be a key crisis waiting at their door on the 7th floor of City Hall.

“Well, if we’re satisfied with tents under freeways, we need to get smarter,” said Durkan, a former U.S. attorney for Western Washington.

Durkan and urban planner Moon differ on the concept of homeless sweeps, the controversial removal of people living on the street.

Durkan says people have to move out of the unsanctioned areas. It's too big of a risk to themselves and others.

Her solution is to beef up the city's existing Navigation Center plan and find more housing options in the community.

Moon wants to end sweeps -- but let people stay until there is a new place to live.

“To invite people inside, invite them to come inside, and then deal with after they've left, after they're in a safe place, then go clean up the mess that's been left because they didn't have access to sanitation,” she said.

Both candidates want to look at unused city of Seattle land for transition housing or low-income homes.

But that is only a small piece of the elephant -- or the Amazon -- in the room.

The two were asked about Amazon wanting to create a second headquarters outside Seattle.

Moon says taxes aren't the problem. It's the city being at capacity.

“The tremendous growth that we have experienced in the past 5-10 years, we have not caught up with this growth yet. We have not invested in transit adequately. We have not solved the housing affordability crisis,” Moon said.

Durkan agreed, saying that Seattle's rise has gone side by side with Amazon. Both are pushed to the limit.

Amazon can expand elsewhere.

But its original home has work to do.

“We gotta fix the problems we have because they want this to be a place that their employees live and stay,” Durkan said.