Heidi Stuber has officially thrown her hat in the ring for a position on Seattle’s City Council. Stuber is the strategic director at Sea to Sky Rentals in Seattle, Washington, where she oversees strategic planning, finance, and acquisitions. She has over 15 years’ experience in business leadership with a focus on organizational change, as well as an MBA from Seattle University.
Amy Hinote (AH): Why did you decide to run for City Council?
Heidi Stuber (HS): I’m running for City Council because I believe in the future of Seattle. Over the last several years, I’ve watched City Council lose its way and become disconnected from the needs of everyday Seattleites. We need a strong voice at City Hall to speak for regular Seattleites: families, students, small businesses, and someone who has the ability to stand up to the ideological agendas that don’t represent the majority of Seattle. What colleagues in our industry may not know is I started my career as an educator and I’ve been very involved with advocacy for education and Autism awareness, outside of my work in our industry to advocate for small business rights. So I bring a diverse background in education, advocacy, and business leadership to this campaign. As the only mom of school-aged children in the race, the only businesswoman in the race, and the only candidate with both a deep, personal understanding of social justice and advocacy combined with the working experience to know how to get things done, I am uniquely qualified to bring a balanced, action-oriented approach to City Hall.
AH: In Seattle, what is the state of the regulatory environment for short-term rentals?
HS: In 2017, Seattle passed common-sense short-term rental regulations that go into effect this year. I was very involved with the Seattle Short-Term Rental Alliance to influence this legislation to be fair and balanced for all parties. Because of our advocacy, City Council rewrote the legislation to ensure small businesses weren’t shut down, and we are proud that our work created an additional revenue stream for affordable housing which enables the short-term rental industry to be a part of the solution to affordability in Seattle. Actually, my work as a member of the Seattle Short-Term Rental Alliance was a big part of what motivated me to run for office. I saw that city government works when the needs of individuals and small businesses are taken into account and considered along with the long-term strategic plan for the city. We got to a reasonable regulation because the city listened to individuals and small businesses, was willing to rewrite the legislation based on feedback, and multiple stakeholders came together to identify shared values. It is a model for the sort of collaborative, balanced, and strategic approach I would take in office.
AH: We hear so much about owner-occupied properties versus second home/investment homes. Why are so many cities favoring owner-occupied homes over professionally managed second home rentals?
HS: I think there’s a misunderstanding both about how short-term rentals are managed and about secondary home owners. First, many cities think only owners living on property can ensure short-term rentals will be well managed. This leaves out the role of professional, local property managers who work very hard to maintain high-quality homes on behalf of owners, communicate clear expectations to guests, and do everything possible to be great neighbors in the community. Regulations need to focus on removing the occasional bad apple, rather than assume only owner-occupied homes can be well managed. Further, secondary home owners are often members of the community where they own a second house. There are many reasons to maintain a second home in a city you care about such as having children and grandchildren in the area, moving away for a job and keeping the home you plan to move back to, or purchasing a home for your future retirement. Most homeowners are neighbors too and rather than leave houses empty when they are not there, it is safer and more sustainable to fully utilize these homes in the downtime when the owner is not onsite.
AH: Outside of vacation rentals, what are the other big issues you are hoping to address if you are elected?
HS: In Seattle, our number one need right now is an action-oriented approach to reduce the homelessness crisis. That is the most pressing issue to my constituents and creating one, coordinated city organization that emphasizes transitioning people into housing will be my top priority in office. Cost of living is on the rise in Seattle, so we have to address affordability both in terms of thoughtful housing density and expanding resources like low-cost Orca cards for middle class families and individuals.
As a Mom, I care deeply about the health and education of the next generation and will focus on ways city government can support students and teachers by providing wrap-around services in schools, improving our mental health care system, and insisting our state legislature fully fund education. Finally, traffic and carbon emissions are intrinsically linked in Seattle, and I will be looking at transportation and clean energy solutions that help protect our environment and create a more livable city.
AH: For others in the industry considering running for a municipal office, what advice can you offer?
HS: If you want to run for office, get involved with your local civic organizations early, well before you plan to run. Join your local party, attend City Council meetings, volunteer on someone else’s campaign, and network with other people that care deeply about your city or town the way you do. There is no substitute for knowing the history and key players in your local political arena. Before a formal run for office, make sure you have volunteers, donors, and campaign staff ready to jump in so you can hit the ground running. It’s harder to learn on the job and takes precious time away from raising money and knocking on doors. And don’t forget to make sure you have a plan to balance your job and personal life with your campaign. When it’s all over, you may be elected or not, but your friends, your family, and your dog will all still be a part of your life—don’t neglect them along the way.
AH: How can your vacation rental family support you in this election?
HS: It’s a great act of bravery to run for office, especially in our industry, which is not always understood, and also for a working, single mom with a special needs child like me. All the hard work, dedication, and strong advocate’s voice I’ve put into this industry is exactly the tenacious, brass-tacks approach I will bring to office as an elected leader. Having a businesswoman with a common-sense approach in office in Seattle has a ripple effect on other municipalities that look to the big cities for ideas on how to lead, so my election benefits those outside Seattle as well. Running a successful campaign takes money and it takes volunteer time and our vacation rental family can support me in both ways. Online donations help me access the resources I need to run a great campaign and be successful in being the first vacation rental pioneer in office in Washington State. I would also love to hear from members of our community in Seattle: you can send me your Democracy Vouchers and introduce me to others in your community who share our values.
To be support Heidi Stuber’s campaign, sign up and donate now at electheidistuber.com.