Seattle Assistant City Attorney Andrew Lewis is entering the District 7 city council race with a focus on monitoring performance and increasing government efficiency. His ultimate goal is ensuring Seattle natives like him can stay in the Emerald City, he said.

Lewis describes himself as a lifetime Seattleite who grew up in a working-class household. His dad was a heavy equipment operator at Seattle City Light for more than 30 years, and his mom was a nurse at Harborview Medical Center.

“Seattle has historically had this social contract of families being able to make it,” Lewis said.

While Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country, he said, Seattle has the most regressive system in the state, and is too reliant on sales and property taxes.

Rather than look at other taxes, Lewis said he first wants to increase oversight to make sure city government is operating efficiently, and then adjust spending to address the greatest public issues.

King County regularly and aggressively conducts performance audits on its various departments, which Lewis said has saved the government $117 million in the last three years, which is roughly the amount of revenue Seattle could have gained with its employee-hours tax in that same amount of time.

“I think for Seattle we should take stock of the resources we have right now, and that goes well beyond the confines of the budget,” Lewis said.

The District 7 candidate sees opportunities for land swaps with developers, exchanging city properties in areas developers are interested in for parcels that would work best for developing needed affordable housing. He likes the idea of selling public land at value to nonprofits wanting to develop affordable housing.

Lewis said he also supports more regional partnerships, such as clearing zoning for King County to construct modular homes in Interbay.

The city could also explore buying historically significant properties for preservation, producing naturally occurring affordable housing, said Lewis, a renter living in a Lower Queen Anne building on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lewis wants to explore spot housing, where the city could lease apartment units in buildings with high vacancy rates, which could be used while people wait to transition into permanent housing.

Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil issued a decision on Nov. 21 that clears Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation for upzones across the city, with a requirement that the city do further analysis on potential impacts to historical sites.

On the topic of upzones in District 7, Lewis said, “I’d like to see a meeting of the minds on these issues,” as well as regarding the loosening of regulations for creating more accessory dwelling units.

Lewis grew up in a single-family neighborhood, he said, but he recognizes more space is needed for new and younger families. As people age in place, he understands the desire people might have to move into a backyard cottage and free up their house for their children. He added he wants to preserve legacy trees in Seattle neighborhoods.

The city now has new contract performance standards for homeless-services providers to meet when it comes to moving clients into permanent housing.

Lewis said he values those providers for the work they perform, which includes working with the city attorney’s office to divert offenders into treatment and out of the criminal justice system.

Seattle should be treating homelessness, addiction and mental illness as public health problems, he said.

“Part of that is going to require doing things we haven’t done in the past.”

Lewis supports the city’s efforts to establish a safe consumption space for those with addiction, which will likely be a mobile unit with a stationary location close to wraparound services.

There are already underground supervised consumption spaces in King County, he said, and one sanctioned site is preferable to 100 that are not.

People addicted to heroin are injecting in alleys, streets and restrooms in small businesses, Lewis said.

“No small-business owner deserves needing to be in a position where they also need to be a medical care provider to run their business,” he said.

A safe consumption space would reduce the number of used needles in public spaces, provide medical supervision for preventing overdose deaths, and provide wraparound support services for when people are ready for treatment.

“We need to meet addicts where we find them,” Lewis said, “and not where they need to be.”

The District 7 candidate is also in favor of further expanding the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.

LEAD was created through the Public Defender Association to connect qualifying offenders — sex workers and people with addiction — with services that include recovery programs, housing, behavioral health services, job training and legal assistance.

Lewis said one of the best ways to reduce crime in Seattle is to ensure people don’t reoffend, which is what LEAD has been successful in doing.

The assistant city attorney is in favor of growing Seattle’s police force, he said, as there are fewer officers per capita than other like-sized cities. While a number of positions have been vacated through retirements, Lewis said, he feels the department is in a good position to attract recruits following years of reforms.

More police means more emphasis patrols in the West Precinct, he said, which would help deter property crimes, such as car prowls.

Lewis interned for former Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark while in high school, and he managed former Councilmember Nick Licata’s re-election campaign in 2009. Licata is among Lewis’ early endorsers, as are Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbreuck and Washington 36th District Rep. Gael Tarleton.

“Andrew Lewis really understands the importance of the maritime industry to our economy, and how it produces lots of good family wage jobs. I am proud to endorse him,” said Tarleton in Lewis’ campaign announcement. “Additionally, we need to build a coalition to replace the Magnolia Bridge. Andrew is a coalition builder, I want to work with him to get a one-to-one replacement for that bridge.”

Replacing the aging Magnolia Bridge is a hot topic in Magnolia. Lewis said keeping a bridge to Magnolia is more personal to him than it is a matter of infrastructure.

“I took that bridge all the time to get to the Magnolia Bridge to hang out with my friends,” he said.

Find out more about the candidate and his priorities at lewisforseattle.com.