Opportunity Stories

    • Dena Levine – Dena has been a resident of Seattle for nearly 30 years. She is the CEO of DML insurance, an independent insurance brokerage, with four employees. Dena has been very active in the Seattle community. She sits on the board for the Greater Seattle Business Association, and is a member of Women Business Owners. She has previously been involved with City Year, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, and the King County Big Brother/Big Sister program. “I moved to Seattle in 1989, in part because I viewed this city as valuing the entrepreneurial spirit, and I wanted to be part of a thriving small business community,” said Dena. “I’m worried about the impact this tax will have on small businesses, including when business owners decide to sell. And, as a homeowner, I’m worried about how this will impact the sale of my house. I think these are issues the Seattle City Council didn’t consider.”


    • Christopher Rufo – Chris is a documentary filmmaker and executive director of the Documentary Foundation. A former California resident, Chris moved to Seattle with his family and business to take advantage of the dynamic economy, lower taxes, and a cheaper cost of living. Since moving to Seattle he has saved hundreds of dollars a month in taxes, started building savings for the future, and was able to purchase his first home. Chris is currently finishing a film for PBS about the struggles of families in three “forgotten American cities.”  As the only full-time employee of the Documentary Foundation, he hires many freelancers in the Seattle area. He is hopeful to have the opportunity to hire one or two more full-time staff members in the near future.


    • Nicholas Kerr – Nicholas works in the technology sector and moved to Seattle in 2005.  He’s lived all over the world, including New Zealand, Belgium, and Hong Kong, as well as California and New York. Nicholas sees the illegal city income tax as ultimately weakening Seattle’s economy and competitiveness. “Seattle and the Puget Sound Region currently attract the best businesses and the best workers,” says Nicholas. “This tax hurts Seattle’s competitiveness versus other cities. As someone in a position to hire, an income tax makes the process of hiring good people more challenging.”


    • Martin Tobias – Martin is a life-long Seattle resident. As an investor and entrepreneur, he has invested in over 75 companies in the Seattle area. Martin also started 3 high-growth companies of his own, which, over the last 10 years, have hired over 1500 people and raised over $500 million in the Seattle area. “I grew up in Seattle and I love this city,” says Martin. “I chose Seattle to start my businesses because we can attract amazing talent from around the world.  But we should understand that other cities are working every day to attract the kind of businesses and talent that Seattle currently has. This income tax will hurt our ability to remain competitive.”


    • Chris McKenzie – Chris moved to Seattle 6 years ago, after living in Washington, DC, and South Carolina. Chris is a software engineer, and was eager to be in a city that was focused on attracting innovative technology companies and world-class talent. “I oppose this tax for two reasons,” said Chris. “First, I think it hurts Seattle’s ability to compete for the best companies and the best workers. And second, I ultimately believe that the City of Seattle will apply this tax to middle income workers.”


    • Alisa Artis – Alisa grew up in Seward Park.  After her husband joined the Air Force, she moved briefly to the Midwest and the Southwest, but had the opportunity to move back to Seattle when her husband got a job as a pilot.  Alisa ran a small baking company in Seattle for several years, and is considering re-starting her business now that her kids are heading to college.  “I was thrilled to move back to Seattle,” says Alisa.  “This has been a great place to raise 3 children, and this is where I wanted to start a business.”  Alisa noted, however, that Seattle’s high cost of living, combined with an income tax, might ultimately make Seattle unaffordable.  “If Seattle is successful with an income tax, it’s inevitable that it will be applied to families at all income levels. We can start a business here or we can start a business in a neighboring city. I don’t think the city council appreciates the that they are creating barriers to new businesses.”


    • Lien Dang – Lien has owned a restaurant in Seattle’s International District since 1993. Her restaurant employs 7 people. Lien and her two grown children have been active in the Seattle community for many years. “I live in Newcastle, so I won’t be hit by Seattle’s income tax,” said Lien. “But the city council has said many times that their goal is to promote a tax beyond Seattle.  I also believe that they will expand this tax to lower income levels. It’s bad for the city. It’s bad for businesses. And it’s bad for jobs.”


    • Kerry Lebel – Originally from Illinois, Kerry moved to the Seattle area in 1999, and has worked for several local technology companies over the last two decades.  Kerry lives in University Place, and commutes over 2 hours per day to get to and from his job in Seattle.  “I would love to live closer to my job, and I’ve recently considered moving to Seattle so I can get part of my day back for other activities,” says Kerry. “But right now, moving to Seattle means the possibility of paying additional taxes. To those of us trying to move closer to our jobs, that’s a huge disincentive.”


    • Dorothy Sale – Dorothy bought her home in Ravenna in 1967 for $18,500, and has lived there and paid property taxes for the last 50 years. Now 98, Dorothy retired from her job at the University of Washington in 1983. Living on a state pension and limited social security, she currently qualifies for reduced property taxes as a low-income property owner. Dorothy may need to rely on the money she earns from the sale of her home if she requires assisted living or nursing care in the future. She opposes taxing the real estate gains of Seattle residents of modest means who have lived in their homes for decades.