Cary Moon, one of two finalists in Seattle’s tumultuous mayoral race, will push for city-owned internet if she is elected in November.
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Municipal broadband has long been part of Moon’s platform but she went into detail about why it is such a high priority for her at the Seattle Interactive Conference Tuesday.
“We can do this and we have to do it,” she said. “It’s an equity issue, first of all. It’s a privacy issue and it’s an affordability issue. We have unbelievable disparity between what you can get in the south end and what you can get in the north end. You need high-speed internet to survive in this world, to do homework, to hunt for a job, to participate in the economy in a thousand ways, you have to have access to the internet.”
Moon talked about her step son’s trouble trying to run a startup in the International District and paying hundreds per month for unreliable internet. When he tried to cancel the service, the provider tried to charge exorbitant fees for breaking his contract.
“That’s highway robbery,” Moon said. “We need to create equal access to high-speed internet. We can do that as a public utility. We should do it as a public utility because if people all deserve to have clean water, everybody deserves to have access to healthcare, everybody deserves reliable electricity, well everybody deserves access to high-speed, high-quality, affordable internet. It’s just necessary to survive in this world.”
It’s an issue where Moon diverges from her opponent, Jenny Durkan, who also spoke at the conference Tuesday. Durkan says the cost of implementing municipal broadband is prohibitive and instead suggests building out free public WiFi in selected areas.
If elected, Moon will have an ally in Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson. He is introducing an amendment to the 2018 budget that would cover the cost of creating a “shovel-ready” municipal broadband ballot initiative to send to voters.
“Municipal broadband is one of those issues where we know the right thing to do and we keep not doing it because of power and money,” Moon said. “The way you combat that is with an irrefutable vision and a broad coalition that’s building that vision together. Because, until we all band together and hold the city leadership accountable, it will be very hard to pull it off from the mayor’s office.”