Leaders in Seattle and Washington state want to ameliorate the relationship between Amazon and its hometown. That’s the crux of a letter from the majority of Seattle City Councilmembers, state legislators, and other leaders to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and global real estate lead John Schoettler, first reported by The Seattle Times.
“You have heard mixed messages from our community, whether it stems from comments in our local newspapers or comments from elected officials who have differing views and positions that are less than collaborative,” the letter says. “This does not leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth.”
Amazon surprised everyone in early September by announcing plans to open a second headquarters outside Seattle. Local politicians called the news a “jolt” and a “wake-up call.” In the month that followed, civic leaders have had time to reflect on the message they want to send to one of the region’s biggest employers.
Some continued to hold Amazon responsible for Seattle’s congestion and affordability issues while others worked to show the company it is welcome here. Seattle announced it will back a regional response to Amazon’s request for proposals, suggesting potential sites for HQ2 in surrounding communities in King and Snohomish Counties. Today’s letter — signed by five Seattle City Council members and representatives from Washington’s legislature, King County Council, Port of Seattle, and others — seeks to renew the city’s relationship with Amazon.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s name is conspicuously absent from the letter; she has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Amazon’s effect on Seattle. When Amazon announced its HQ2 plans, she accused the company of “using its monopoly power to gobble of swathes of prime real estate and extract plum deals from the city’s Democratic establishment.”
Councilmembers Kirsten Harris-Talley, Debora Juarez, and Mike O’Brien also did not sign the letter.
Singing a different tune, the signatories of today’s letter seek to establish a joint task force with Amazon and other businesses, government officials, community leaders, and educators. The group would work collaboratively to address transportation, freight mobility, safety, public health, and education — issues that impact Amazon in its hometown.
“These ideas are just the beginning,” the letter says. “We want to be your partners and reset the creative and economic environment in South Lake Union as well as for neighborhoods across our city and region. Our ears are wide open and we look forward to hearing from you.”
Continue reading for the full letter to Amazon.