Election 2019 - Questionnaire for county and city council candidates

We asked local candidates the following questions. Feel free to use these at town halls and forums to help you gauge how effective a candidate will be at addressing local issues that affect people with developmental disabilities.

The Arc of King County protects and promotes the rights of people with developmental disabilities and advocates for equity and inclusion. Our community represents the lifespan, from toddlers with developmental delay receiving early supports, to young adults transitioning into work and independent living, to aging seniors.


Developmental disabilities (DD) are severe, chronic disabilities that manifest in childhood and result in substantial functional limitations in three or more major life activities. Diagnoses can include, but are not limited to, autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome. Intellectual disability is a type of developmental disability.

According to prevalence rates, there are about 11,000 people with developmental disabilities in Seattle and about 34,000 in King County. Only about a quarter of people with DD in Washington receive supports through the state Developmental Disability Administration (DDA).

We are asking candidates for city and county council seats to answer the following questions. Responses will help our constituency evaluate candidates for their ability to ensure local communities are ADA accessible and inclusive.

Thank you for your willingness to serve!


  • Your name
  • Position you are running for (please include city or county name)
  • Your zip code
  • Do you have any direct experience with disability?
  • If yes, please explain

1. HOUSING: How would you make affordable housing available to people with developmental disabilities?

CONTEXT: Most people counted as homeless in King County’s annual point in time count have a disability (64 percent), and chronic homelessness – a term defined as a person with a disability who also experiences prolonged or repeated homelessness – continues to increase. Data suggests people with developmental disabilities are over-represented. Intellectual disability, a subset of developmental disabilities, was tracked for the first time this year in King County, with 13 percent of people counted indicating this type of disability. For context - the prevalence rate for developmental disabilities is just 1.58 percent. Many people with developmental disabilities, along with other people with chronic and severe disabling conditions that impact their ability to work, live on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) of just $771 a month – making them too poor to afford even extremely low-income housing. That category of housing is designed for people who make 30 percent or more of area median income (AMI), not 13 percent. Meanwhile, the waiting list for federal housing vouchers is years long.

2. SHELTER: How would you ensure people with developmental disabilities have a safe place to sleep and stay?

CONTEXT: Homelessness services are often not accessible to people with disabilities. They can be too loud and chaotic for autistic people; they may lack outlets for power chairs, or refrigeration for medication. Caregivers can be refused, especially if they are of a different gender, and trans and queer youth report discrimination. At the same time, people who live on the street could lose their belongings in sweeps and must contend with  "hostile architecture" - that is, benches and alcoves designed to discourage sitting or sleeping.

3. SUPPORTIVE HOUSING:  How would you ensure people with developmental disabilities are receiving case management and the support needed to escape homelessness?

CONTEXT:  The vulnerability index that Seattle and King County uses to prioritize who gets help, the VI-SPDAT, does not weight limitations in adaptive or intellectual functioning or independent living skills when determining degree of vulnerability. This means even people with severe intellectual or developmental disabilities are not prioritized for services such as supportive housing, which show the best results in reducing chronic homelessness.

4. SAFETY:  How would you ensure the safety of people with developmental disabilities in police interactions?  
CONTEXT: Up to half of the people killed by police have a disability, according to a 2016 report by the Ruderman Foundation. In Seattle, two high-profile cases included the deaths of John T. Williams and Charleena Lyles.

5. SAFETY & JUSTICE: Would you support cross-training among professionals in the courtroom, police departments, victim assistance agencies and schools to prepare the justice community for situations involving people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities so they can receive equal justice?

CONTEXT: People with developmental disabilities are over-represented in juvenile facilities, jails and prisons. Nationally, youth of various disabilities make up 65 percent to 70 percent of people involved in the juvenile justice system.  At the same time, people intellectual disabilities have a 4 to 10 times higher risk of becoming victims.

6. ACCESS & ACCOMMODATIONS:  How would you ensure access to straws in public areas? 

CONTEXT: Some people rely on straws to hydrate - their lives depend on this - and flexible, plastic straws are a classic example of universal design, allowing people with disabilities to hydrate in public spaces. Metal, glass, paper, and bamboo are not safe for people without muscle control; silicone is difficult to sanitize; and compostable straws present hazards to people allergic to corn, wheat and other ingredients. Plastic straws also make up just 0.025 percent of plastic waste in oceans and trails in percentage of plastic usage. In contrast, fishing nets and fishing gear make up nearly half - 46 percent - of the plastic waste in oceans, and packaging accounts for over 40 percent of total plastic usage.

7. JOBS:  What would you do to increase job prospects for people with developmental disabilities?

CONTEXT: Developmental disability isn’t tracked in employment rates, but most people with developmental disabilities would qualify as having a cognitive, ambulatory, or independent living disability. Washington’s employment rate for people with a cognitive disability is 31 percent; for an ambulatory disability it is 30 percent, and for an independent living disability it is just 21 percent. The employment rate for non-disabled people in Washington is 80 percent.

8. SAFETY: How will you ensure your city's streets, sidewalks and intersections are safe and accessible to everyone?

CONTEXT: People with developmental disabilities usually do not drive, may use a wheelchair or ambulatory device, and often rely on bus or paratransit service. Sidewalk construction and maintenance, and funding for curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals is limited. Bike shares take up sidewalk space; and autos often block intersections.

9. TRANSIT:  Do you think Lyft, Uber and other ride-share companies should be required to include wheelchair accessible vehicles in their fleets?

10. TRANSIT:  What will you do to expand transit service and improve reliability?