West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle politics http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 28 Apr 2015 07:39:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Meet City Councilmember John Okamoto, just appointed for remainder of Sally Clark’s term http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/meet-city-councilmember-john-okamoto-just-appointed-for-remainder-of-sally-clarks-term/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/meet-city-councilmember-john-okamoto-just-appointed-for-remainder-of-sally-clarks-term/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 23:49:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308454

(City of Seattle photo: Councilmember John Okamoto’s swearing-in today)
The newest member of the Seattle City Council is 61-year-old John Okamoto of Seward Park, chosen today by his new colleagues to fill the unexpired term left when Sally Clark resigned to take a job at the University of Washington. Okamoto is a former city employee, including a recent sting as interim Human Services Director. Here’s the official city announcement; here’s Okamoto’s application material. Okamoto has pledged not to run for election this fall, as the Council had requested of applicants, so he will serve until the election is certified in late November.

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Election 2015: Another departure from District 1 City Council race, David Ishii; eight candidates remain http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-another-departure-from-district-1-city-council-race-david-ishii-eight-candidates-remain/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-another-departure-from-district-1-city-council-race-david-ishii-eight-candidates-remain/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 07:04:55 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308219 Taking a late-night look at the official city webpage listing who’s campaigning and who’s not … we see another candidate has left the District 1 City Council race: David Ishii. No public statement that we’ve seen, so we don’t know why. Ishii, a West Seattle resident, filed last fall for an intended District 1 run, then moved to an at-large race, then moved over to District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) in March, but didn’t participate in either of the two candidate forums held since then.

Three weeks remain for anyone interested in filing to be on the August primary ballot – May 15th is the deadline. With the departures of Ishii on Friday and Tom Koch on Thursday, the current slate of candidates:

CURRENT D-1 CANDIDATES: Pavel Goberman (declared 3/5/2015), , Lisa Herbold (declared 2/11/15), Shannon Braddock (declared 2/11/15), Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election is August 4th. Along with voting on the D-1 position, West Seattle/South Park also will vote on the two “at-large” spots, Positions 8 and 9.

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Sent your ballot in yet? Emergency-radio levy election Tuesday http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/send-in-your-ballot-yet-emergency-radio-levy-election-tuesday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/send-in-your-ballot-yet-emergency-radio-levy-election-tuesday/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 02:40:10 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308192 In case you forgot about your ballot after it arrived a few weeks ago, now’s the time to vote on its lone measure: The levy to raise money to replace the area’s aged emergency-radio system. It’s a nine-year levy starting with 7 cents for every thousand dollars of property valuation. You can mail your ballot by Tuesday night as long as you use a stamp; if you want to turn it in for free, ballot drop-off vans will be at West Seattle Stadium and White Center’s Greenbridge Library, 10 am-5 pm tomorrow and Monday, 10 am-8 pm on Tuesday.

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Election 2015: Tom Koch leaves District 1 City Council race http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-tom-koch-withdraws-from-district-1-city-council-race/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-tom-koch-withdraws-from-district-1-city-council-race/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:49:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308074 And now, the District 1 City Council race is down to nine candidates, three weeks from the filing deadline – Tom Koch has just sent word he’s withdrawing:

My decision is based on a number of factors including some personal considerations.

However, I am pleased to be able to look back at the past two months and see some good things that have come from this undertaking. First, I was lucky enough to meet a number of terrific people both via community organizations as well as during my doorbelling. Second, the thrust of my campaign has been pretty clear and I’ve been gratified to see many of the other candidates echo the feeling that impact fees must be adopted in order to more fairly fund public infrastructure.

Impact fees were Koch’s big issue during the two months he’s been campaigning since his February 19th candidacy announcement. So here’s who remains:

CURRENT D-1 CANDIDATES: David Ishii (back as of 3/9/2015), Pavel Goberman (declared 3/5/2015), , Lisa Herbold (declared 2/11/15), Shannon Braddock (declared 2/11/15), Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election is August 4th. Along with voting on the D-1 position, West Seattle/South Park also will vote on the two “at-large” spots, Positions 8 and 9.

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Lunch with Mayor Murray @ Senior Center of West Seattle tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/lunch-with-mayor-murray-at-senior-center-of-west-seattle-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/lunch-with-mayor-murray-at-senior-center-of-west-seattle-tomorrow/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 22:34:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307168 Mayor Murray‘s visiting The Junction tomorrow for the second time in three weeks. This time, he’ll be at the Senior Center of West Seattle, circulating during lunchtime in the upstairs Junction Diner café, noon-12:30 pm. You’re invited, but if you want to have lunch, the Senior Center asks that you call ASAP for a reservation — 206-932-4044, extension 1 – so they know how much food to make – 60 or older, suggested donation of $3; if you’re under 60, $6. The menu: Jambalaya, mustard greens, corn bread, fresh fruit.

P.S. Looking ahead to the following Thursday (April 23rd) – City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and (departing) Sally Clark will be at the Senior Center for a forum on senior housing issues including affordability, 12:30 pm-2:30 pm – details on this flyer.

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West Seattleites among 44 applicants to fill rest of Sally Clark’s City Council term http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/west-seattleites-among-44-applicants-to-fill-rest-of-sally-clarks-city-council-term/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/west-seattleites-among-44-applicants-to-fill-rest-of-sally-clarks-city-council-term/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 03:34:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307075 The city has just gone public with the list of 44 people who have applied to fill the rest of Sally Clark’s City Council term. We’re seeing at least two familiar West Seattle names – Delridge District Council chair Mat McBride and 34th District Democrats board member Chris Porter. (We’re still reading the list – let us know if we’re missing other West Seattleites.)

Other applicants include Mark Solomon, known here as Crime Prevention Coordinator for the Southwest and South Precincts; also, three former city councilmembers – Jan Drago, Heidi Wills, and Peter Steinbrueck.

The council is to announce finalists next Monday (April 20th) and to make an appointment one week later. Stand by for details on how to tell them what you think of the applicants.

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Told the city what you think about the transportation levy yet? If not … http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/told-the-city-what-you-think-about-the-transportation-levy-yet-if-not/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/told-the-city-what-you-think-about-the-transportation-levy-yet-if-not/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 04:27:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306676 Another transportation note: SDOT is trying to make sure you can’t say you weren’t asked for your thoughts on the draft 9-year, $900 million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle before it’s shaped into a final November ballot measure by the mayor and council. It circulated a reminder tonight about ways you can have a say:

RIGHT NOW: Online survey – take it here

IN PERSON, IN WEST SEATTLE: SDOT director Scott Kubly will be at next Wednesday’s Delridge District Council meeting, 7 pm April 15th at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center; SDOT reps will be at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market on April 19 and 26, 10 am-2 pm at 44th/Alaska

ONLINE MEETING: Can’t get out to an in-person meeting? SDOT’s trying an online meeting at 6 pm April 20th (sign up right now, here)

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VIDEO: City Council District 1 candidates’ forum @ 34th District Democrats, and more http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/video-city-council-district-1-candidates-forum-34th-district-democrats-and-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/video-city-council-district-1-candidates-forum-34th-district-democrats-and-more/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:09:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306547

(Photos/video by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog co-publisher

“I think we’re very lucky … to have people like this running to represent us,” 34th District Democrats chair Marcee Stone-Vekich observed after her group’s City Council District 1 candidates’ forum last night.

As we reported right after the meeting, which had standing-room-only turnout at The Hall at Fauntleroy, the 34th DDs took an informal straw poll afterward (see the results here). Their formal endorsement meeting is set for May 20th – five days after filings close, but still two and a half months before the primary that will narrow the field to two.

This was the third major forum of the campaign season (after ours in February and the VIEWS forum in March). Six of the 10 current District 1 candidates were there – Brianna Thomas, Chas Redmond, Lisa Herbold, Phillip Tavel, Shannon Braddock, Tom Koch. The organization extended invitations to all 10. One of the four who did not participate, Amanda Kay Helmick, has said that she chose not to because the 34th DDs asked participants if they were Democrats, but she is running for the non-partisan position as an independent. The other three – David Ishii, George Capestany, Pavel Goberman – have not said why they weren’t there.

Here’s our video of the entire hourlong forum:

Ahead, our notes on most of the Q/A, plus other toplines from the meeting:

Editor’s note: The answers below are not full transcriptions/quotes but rather the notes we took during the event. Again, the video above has it all in its entirety, unedited.

Opening three-part question: Are you a Democrat; what neighborhood do you live in; how many doors have you knocked on?

SB yes, Admiral, don’t know
CR yes, Gatewood, 600 doors
LH yes, Highland Park, 200 doors
TK yes, Admiral, 1400 doors
PT yes, Morgan Junction, 100 doors
BT yes, The Junction, 500 doors personally/1500 campaign

Question #2: What would you like to accomplish in first year, if elected?

BT: Community policing – property crime – get police out of their cars and into our neighborhoods.

PT: Most important is to start engaging more of the people in the community we live in, be out in WS and SP meeting with people, finding out what the issues are, what needs to be changed, get more people paying attention to local government. Then – look at Municipal Court, put more money into mental-health and substance-abuse. Then – more police. Then – take care of transportation issues; West Seattle to downtown is not the only trip people make.

TK: (Opened with two historical quotes) My level of politics and policy is informed by those quotes – have the city finally do the right thing and have homebuilders pay impact fees for schools, parks, and roads. He will fight for positive changes on every (important) issue.

LH: Enact impact fees, especially for transportation, doesn’t think it’s acceptable that “we’re being told we can’t do it right now.” Also favors checking on other revenue sources.

CR: Work with SDOT – “I believe the mayor’s $900 million (transportation) levy needs to be tweaked for West Seattle” – supports SPD Chief O’Toole’s community-policing emphasis – moral imperative issue associated with housing, will work to find some solution; work to grow jobs and to increase the number here in West Seattle, which would help with issues including transportation and affordable living.

SB: Biggest challenge is massive amounts of growth, want to address transit/transportation and build relationships in our district with the municipalities/organizations around them. I want to get people at the table to set list of priorities. Housing affordability is a big challenge as well. Very excited about implementation of Universal Pre-K.

Question #3: With increasing property crime in our district, how would you strike balance between public safety and police accountability?

CR: Eyes on the street … an advantage of having elders in the neighborhood to do that … which brings in safety/affordability. Nuisance houses need to be a priority – there are 20 in Delridge, others in South Park, White Center. Southwest Precinct is awesome; would work with SPD on that.

LH: More responsive policing and responsible policing are not in conflict. Police union president showed amazing leadership recently by telling membership that they need to police in keeping with the values of this city. As Licata’s legislative assistant, added first new police positions since ’70s and strengthened accountability at same time. As far as a new thing to do – restoring community-service officer positions.

TK: Public safety is city’s primary responsibility. We are currently operating under 2012 consent decree with feds – I support Chief O’Toole, but let’s not lose sight of fact that issues are still with us, including what happened earlier this week in South Carolina, that departments around the nation haven’t all achieved equity/balance. We need to do right thing by city’s budget when adding staff, and aggressively seek funds.

PT: Achieving balance between police accountability and making sure we actually have public safety should be relatively easy. Two basic things: Get police going back to “protect and serve” – we have gone too far toward “punish and enforce.” Change public’s perception by putting more police on the street so they are part of the community.

BT: Tells an anecdote about driving through High Point one night and encountering a man who told her she couldn’t drive down “his street.” She was working with Church Council at that time; got out of the car, told a joke. She didn’t call the police; a relative told her she should; she did, and waited 7 hours for someone to take her statement. No one should be treated that way.

SB: We need to strengthen our community policing. Not just more police officers, but potentially more civilians in roles including education. Best we can do is know our neighbors and know our community. Our SW Precinct is a great example of police involved in their community – including the (new) bicycle policing. Need to address culture of racism that exists in all our communities and our police department – let’s exchange our stories, share our experiences.

First round of quick “paddle questions” (candidates replied by holding up one of three paddles – yes, no, “waffle” – too quick for us to write answers, so please see video – 17 minutes in – you can grab and drag the bar at the bottom of the video window to advance it)

*Do you support homeless encampments in residential communities?

*Will you vote for $900 million transportation levy?

*If you lived in North Highline, would you vote for annexation to Seattle?

*Do you support mayoral appointment of school-board members?

*Should Myers wetland be preserved?

*Do you support linkage fees for affordable housing and transit?

*Do you support having bicyclists pay registration fee for bicycles and have number visible at all times?

(back to regular questions)

Everyone agrees transportation into and out of D-1 is getting worse all the time. How do your background and expertise prepare you to make a difference?

LH: Worked on city’s first Pedestrian Master Plan. Worked to get dedicated revenue source (from cameras) to fund Safe Routes to School – since then millions have gone into that.

TK: Early in my career, had the responsibility of putting together consensus plan to increase sales tax for transportation improvements. It was a diverse county as is our city. I have expertise in building coalitions. We need to impose impact fees the city has refused to impose for 25 years. I would not continue to exacerbate problem with current parking practices … in West Seattle.

PT: As a lawyer, efficiency and fairness are two things I think important and are missing from our transportation system right now. Have to look at getting around entire city, not just getting to downtown. What I’ve done is … I’ve been in a situation where it’s about followthrough, management, oversight, that’s what’s missing right now in a lot of our large civic process. Not just go from photo-op moment but fix project for good.

BT: Most useful thing in my background so far is coalition work – Sea-Tac minimum wage, affordable-housing crisis in our city …. getting done in timely manner, and can accomplish more with experts. Put me in a room and I’m happy to stay there until we have a solution we can implement in a reasonable amount of time.

SB: In work with County Councilmember McDermott, budget and transportation committees – made a low-income fare, working on expansion of Sound Transit 3, implementation of (transit) Prop 1, looked at dollars for Metro, roads, safety issues, working with lots of other municipalities. Joe can’t just walk in and say “this is what I want to get done” … have to build relationships and coalitions, I have experience with Sound Transit, federal, state level, and can bring those relationships to my work on City Council.

CR: Lists plans he has worked with, Monorail Project, Flexcar, Sustainable West Seattle’s transportation person (long before WS Transportation Coalition existed), convened yearly meetings to talk about it, community source for walking maps and kiosks in West Seattle and then NE Seattle, have worked with Feet First, almost nothing about transportation I don’t know personally, have walked about 85 percent of the peninsula.

Small business owners might be priced out of our commercial districts – what can be done to preserve the character … ?

TK: I’m a small business owner. Situation in The Junction right now is not working out very well. Housing policies of our city have chosen to allow development to occur without parking, which is fundamental to a well-functioning business district. (Will lead to) triage battle. Merchants are frustrated. King County has reassessed value of the parking lots in The Junction from $6 square foot to $85 square foot, not healthy.

PT: Make sure the City Council has a voice from West Seattle, knows business owners, spends time with them. We are having problems right now. Feels like we’re having development shoved down our throat by people who are not from West Seattle. Certain local businesses even though successful are not being given opportunity to move into new spaces in Junction, is a huge problem. Work with Chamber of Commerce, businesses, talk to patrons, make sure we understand what we want as a community and what we need, and that representative will stand up to make sure we keep our neighborhood the way we want it.

BT: When we have new folks who move into West Seattle – they are coming, whether with or without cars, with bikes, on the bus, etc. – new folks are coming and best thing we can do is welcome them into community and have them appreciate the character of West Seattle. There’s a reason they’re moving here and not moving to Capitol Hill, not moving to Magnolia. When you see them, stick your hand out and say hello. Assume they ARE going to be supportive of small business – make them feel welcome. Sound a little friendlier.

SB: Growth is our biggest challenge and biggest opportunities. One place where district elections can be a real plus – can look at existing city departments and see how perhaps they can coalesce some of their skills … so we can get together and have all of our businesses, all sizes, get together and talk about most effective ways our city can help make them successful. Having District reps will help that. Not all neighborhoods want the same thing.

CR: Biggest question is the cost of the space … one thing we can do on Council is via DPD make sure that developments include smaller spaces. And work with Office of Economic Development. West Seattle Chamber has worked with DPD over many years, no reason to believe that council, Chamber, businesses could not find a solution.

LH: Multimodal system encouraging bus, continued support of walkable neighborhoods, also the ability to drive to make some of your trips … I really support citywide review of parking policies, I don’t think DPD should be in the business of making parking policy for the city, should be up to the City Council. Looking at Pedestrian Zones is helpful – they require retail space on the ground level …

How do you plan to improve the health and quality of life in our district?

PT: I definitely support bringing some form of 24/7 medical care to West Seattle … One of the real health issues we’re not addressing is poverty … we have a food desert in the Delridge area that exemplifies that problem, a real disparity between the haves and have-nots in our community (so) we should bring jobs to the area, and make it possible for people who are new to the area to find services at community centers … Look at the neighborhood in a holistic way to help everybody.

BT: Re: ‘food desert,’ no solution was offered by city when they said eastern West Seattle wouldn’t be viable for a big-box food store but maybe city could help Delridge Grocery get off the ground. Also, the industrial pollution in South Park – they can’t breathe down there.

SB: Would like to see city be more actively involved in encouraging Delridge Grocery – increase activity – if we don’t have a store in eastern West Seattle, make sure people can get to one. Also, clean up the Duwamish (River) – multiple agencies are working on it – vital and very important. Anything that encourages open spaces and walkability (is good) – would like to see city educating on more ways to be active.

CR: Agree, the Duwamish is very important. Community policing will help with the small things. City could support Delridge Grocery Co-op, no reason it shouldn’t … Transit: If you live in Highland Park you know it disappears on the weekend, so getting transit throughout the neighborhood is important. Also, drainage. If you look through West Seattle – (some areas) are awash in water on the weekend (mentions the big puddles near Farmers Market among other areas).

LH: Expedited cleanup of the Duwamish. Couple years ago, City Council passed paid sick-leave ordinance – need to enforce it better – three days off sick is a week of groceries for a family, going to work sick (is a risk) … Rental housing should be safe housing.

TK: Quotes former candidate Dave Montoure bringing up the need for a hospital. The city has failed from a planning standpoint to deal with transportation and affordable housing, and (the latter) is vital to health and safety. (Talks about building housing safely.) Member of Delridge Co-op.

MORE PADDLE QUESTIONS (again, please see video for the answers – starts at 43:38 in)

Would you support city building a hospital in West Seattle?

Would you support the city requiring developers to pay a user fee?

Would you support creating public utility for Internet, similar to City Light?

Will you work to implement mandatory inclusionary zoning?

Do you oppose elephants at Woodland Park Zoo being sent to another zoo?

Do you support a third sports facility being built in SODO?

Are you a member of your community council?

Do you support building apartments or condos in the district that do not have offstreet parking?

Will the next generation be able to fish and swim in the Duwamish?

A regular question: As a councilmember, how can you fulfill this community’s needs without one neighborhood feeling overlooked?

BT: The city is still interconnected and I don’t think anyone here plans to be “West Seattle against the rest of the city.”

SB: In my current role as King County Council staff, we work with diverse group of individuals from diverse communities, building relationships, working together, figuring out where to push and where to pull.

CR: Cooperation and collaboration are the keys here, I have a 12-year history of working on difficult issues in West Seattle and finding compromise, also working with the rest of the city. Big concern, though, that with (transportation challenges) we’ve been separating neighborhoods – takes an hour to get to Green Lake.

LH: Essence of politics is working with diverse communities – if you’re doing it right, you’re bringing everyone to the table. With a community-organizing background, committed to inclusive leadership.

TK: In 30 years of working in land use, have worked with jurisdictions that are generally by district, in diverse communities. Have worked to build coalitions. … The beauty of having a district election, it allows the real power of the people to resonate. We can do well if we respect each other and each other’s point of view.

PT: Understanding all the different district neighborhoods are important – meet with people who live, go to school, work there, know Alki as much as Admiral as much as Delridge as well as South Park … You have to know what community wants. Then you have to work with other councilmembers, mayor’s office, etc. on citywide issues – you have to visit the other districts. To be in public service means listening to the public and serving.

Closing statement – one minute

SB: My 15-year-old son is here (at the meeting); I’m excited to run in this community because I’m raising my three kids here, have been involved in organizations, I really really love my work with King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, has shown me importance of coalition-building, that experience will be very effective for all of you here and throughout our district.

CR: I’ve been in West Seattle for 12 years, have helped create Sustainable West Seattle, Tool Library, Camp Long Advisory Council, community festivals, partnered for challenge course, worked with Parks, Lowman Beach, Solstice Park … The sustainable world, we started a new GreenLife Festival now integrated with Summer Fest, been on the MoCA council, chaired Southwest District Council, imagine what I could do for you on City COuncil if I’ve done all that as a volunteer.

LH: I’m committed to this community, have lived here 15 years, have two grandchildren, my commitment will continue, love the work I do for the city, not just WS and SP, have a long history doing work for city and the community because we had the opportunity to chair different committees overseeing different departments – Libraries For All levy, which led to expansion of four libraries in D-1, Pro Parks Levy, worked on adding police for the first time since the ’70s and other citywide issues.

TK: This is the most beautiful city in the United States. We’re smart, we’re passionate, we’re innovative, we’re tolerant. I love the fact that this community was first in the country to support same-sex marriage, the fact that we welcome people from different perspectives, I love the fact you’ve been so welcoming to me … The compact between a citizen and his community is to give back at a time in your life when you can take that time. I have reached that point. I have had a unique career that I believe prepares me for this position. I know we can do better than we are doing. Governance has not been reflective of the community, I’d like to help change that.

PT: Moved here 17 years ago from NY because I fell in love with this place. Married here, 3-year-old son here, it’s for him and the people of West Seattle that I want this position, we have a unique opportunity to put in place a voice, a voice for our community, and do the right thing. There is so much potential in this city, so much wonder created that I don’t see on a day to day basis when I look around – our schools, our police, could be better. I’ve been an entrepreneur, an attorney, a teacher, and now I want to stand for all the people where I live.

BT: I was raised (as a descendant) of immigrants … of slaves … (working in) a soup kitchen, being of service. We voted for districts because we understand we need to respect the character of communities we’ve already built, and need someone to take us into the future of the communities we want to build. Half of the city is under 35 and if you want to make them feel (included), you’re going to have to send a translator at some point. This is the first time I’m running and I appreciate your support.

Other toplines from the meeting:

EMERGENCY RADIO ELECTION: King County Councilmember Joe McDermott pitched Prop. 1, which, as we noted here last night, will be on a special-election ballot that went out today, due by April 28th. He said the system to be replaced dates back to the early ’90s and that its manufacturer is phasing out support of the equipment. The 34th voted to endorse the measure.

COUNTY ASSESSOR’S FORUM: Incumbent Lloyd Hara (right) and challenger John Arthur Wilson both appeared.

Both identified themselves as Democrats; Wilson says he lives in Roosevelt, Hara lives on Queen Anne. We recorded this on video and will add it later Thursday afternoon. (Here it is:)

GARDEN PARTY: August 21st is the date for the summertime fundraiser this year. The theme will be announced in the May newsletter.

LESLIE HARRIS: The just-announced school board candidate (WSB coverage here) spoke, saying she had asked publicly whether she should run, then received “overwhelming support” and filed on Monday. “It’s a gas, my phone has exploded … the reception downtown at the John Stanford Center has changed …” .

The 34th District Democrats, our area’s largest political organization, usually meet on 2nd Wednesdays – but not next month, since that’s the May 20th endorsement meeting – 7 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy. Updates between meetings are on line at 34dems.org.

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Election 2015: 34th Democrats’ City Council District 1 forum followed by straw vote won by Shannon Braddock http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-34th-democrats-city-council-district-1-forum-followed-by-straw-vote-won-by-shannon-braddock/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-34th-democrats-city-council-district-1-forum-followed-by-straw-vote-won-by-shannon-braddock/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 04:10:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306565

The 34th District Democrats‘ meeting is wrapping up, with more than half the time devoted to a candidates’ forum in the City Council District 1 race. Six of the 10 current candidates participated. We recorded it all on video and will add it along with notes later. But first: It was followed by a secret-ballot straw poll, won by Shannon Braddock with 31 cards, followed by Lisa Herbold with 17, Chas Redmond with 10, Tom Koch with 9, Brianna Thomas with 8, Phillip Tavel with 3. That is just an unofficial temperature-taking, though – the 34th DDs’ official endorsement meeting is May 20th, after filing closes.

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Election 2015: Leslie Harris is first to announce a challenge to West Seattle/South Park School Board director Marty McLaren http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-leslie-harris-is-first-to-announce-a-challenge-to-west-seattlesouth-park-school-board-director-marty-mclaren/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/election-2015-leslie-harris-is-first-to-announce-a-challenge-to-west-seattlesouth-park-school-board-director-marty-mclaren/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 01:02:04 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306435 Though the local political discussion has been dominated by the City Council District 1 race for months, you’ll be voting in many other races this summer/fall – among them, Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors Position 6, representing West Seattle and South Park. Marty McLaren, the Puget Ridge resident first elected four years ago, confirms to WSB that she plans to run for re-election. And her first challenger has come forward today: Leslie Harris, a native West Seattleite and longtime local political activist, who announced via her personal Facebook page, from which we quote with her permission:

My reasons are that we can do so much better for our kids and families and communities.

We need to put more dollars in the classrooms. We need to address the cycles of high stakes testing. We need to address the current and looming capacity crisis. We need to address the decades of maintenance backlogs. We need more transparency and more follow-up to unanswered questions. We need to replicate what is working and move away from failures. We need accountability and leadership. I have attended board and committee meetings at the central office for over 10 years, worked on other Directors’ campaigns and do understand the commitment for what is essentially a volunteer position.

With 30 years active in the Democratic Party, as a District Chair and several years service on the State Democratic Central Committee, State President of my professional association and two terms on its national board, and 13 years of PTSA, several years on a school building leadership team, recent lengthy service on a local contemporary dance company board, over 20 years on community college advisory boards — I understand board policy making functions and fiduciary duty. I know how to read budgets and ask questions and drill down to the critical facts.

Harris, who is a veteran litigation paralegal, says her website will be live by week’s end at harrisforschoolboard.com.

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Something missing in ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,’ say West Seattle advocates: Stairways http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/something-missing-in-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-say-west-seattle-advocates-stairways/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/something-missing-in-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-say-west-seattle-advocates-stairways/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 18:59:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306245 After we reported Friday night on SDOT‘s plan to use goats to clear weeds/brush from the SW Holden stairway between 20th and Delridge, our area’s best-known stairway users/advocates pointed out two things: For one, this isn’t the only stairway that needs TLC, note Jake and Cathy Jaramillo, the West Seattleites who wrote “Seattle Stairway Walks.” For two, a stairway plan is missing in the draft Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. With a city survey about the levy open right now, they say it’s an opportunity to fix that:

An Open Letter To Our Stairway Friends:

The mayor’s proposed Transportation Levy has a lot of things going for it, but it completely misses one of Seattle’s most important everyday modes of transportation: our stairway network.

West Seattle is particularly blessed with numerous stairways that play an important role in the everyday life of our community. Some of them are sadly deteriorating, and all of them need ongoing TLC!

Seattle possesses a historic built legacy of more than 650 publicly accessible stairways. Many of them are more than one hundred years old, yet even today they still connect our citizens to transit, parks and everyday neighborhood businesses.

Stairways provide scenic byways in the city for exploration and outdoor exercise. They’re a “third place” for neighbors to meet casually. In short, our stairway network remains incredibly relevant to our city’s function and quality of life.

Back in 2011 the city’s budget for stairway maintenance was only about $1.1 million. This inadequate level of funding shows, despite the hard work done by SDOT rehab and replacement crews (see picture below).

Roughly forty percent of this amount will be lost when the current Bridging the Gap levy expires, leaving a yawning gap in the funds needed to keep up our stairway network.

We’re appealing for concerned residents to do two simple things, right away:

1) Please take a moment to give your feedback to Mayor Murray and the city, using the brief SDOT online survey, at moveseattlesurvey.com.

There’s a key juncture where the survey asks: “Are there other transportation investments you feel should be a top priority for funding through this levy?” Adding a quick note here, such as “To make walking easier and safer, the levy must add specific funding for our deteriorating public stairways” can go a long way to putting stairways on the city’s radar – provided enough of us speak up.

2) Please forward this message to your own networks, to get others to amplify your voice!

See you on the stairs,

Jake and Cathy Jaramillo
Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods

While stairways were mentioned when Mayor Murray announced his overall transportation vision in early March, they did not get a specific shoutout when the draft levy to fund part of that plan was made public a few weeks later.

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Sally Clark leaving City Council early after getting UW job http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/sally-clark-leaving-city-council-early-after-getting-uw-job/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/sally-clark-leaving-city-council-early-after-getting-uw-job/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 19:01:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305956

(CM Clark in West Seattle last month, speaking to Southwest District Council)
12:01 PM: City Councilmember Sally Clark already had announced she wouldn’t run for re-election – and now, she’s leaving early. She’s resigning in two weeks to take a new job with the University of Washington, described here by the UW. Council President Tim Burgess is expected to talk later today about the process of appointing someone to fill the remaining months of Clark’s term.

2:16 PM UPDATE: The timeline and details of that process have now been announced – from an open application period starting tomorrow, to an appointment on April 27th. Read about it here.

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AS-IT-HAPPENED: Find out about proposed ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle’ @ WSHS http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/happening-now-find-out-about-proposed-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-wshs/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/happening-now-find-out-about-proposed-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-wshs/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 01:18:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305730

6:18 PM: We’re in the commons at >West Seattle High School tonight, for the first official West Seattle meeting on the “Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,” proposed as a successor to the expiring Bridging The Gap levy. The presentation is scheduled to start around 6:30, so you have time to get here if you’re interested; until then, people are circulating around info-boards, writing sticky notes with ideas and comments, etc. You can even set up your idea of an ideal road:

More to come.

6:39 PM: After a 4-minute introductory video, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stepped to the microphone.

He says the council will have “our own meetings and public hearings” after the mayor sends them his final proposed levy. Estimating about 40 people here. Rasmussen hands the microphone to SDOT director Scott Kubly, who says they want to hear what’s “missing” in the levy, “anything you’d like to see less of, anything you’d like to see more of.” He says city staffers are here to circulate to ask people if they have questions or comments, and he talks about the boards around the room.

Kubly mentions that the mayor announced the “Move Seattle” overview before the draft levy. He then describes this as a “renewal” though it’s $900 million over 9 years compared to BTG’s $365 million in the same period. The slide deck behind him notes that “safe, affordable, interconnected, vibrant” are the values around which this is organized. Toward the first value, he mentions the new “Vision Zero” plan, which among other things will cut speed limits on many streets, including some of West Seattle’s arterials (shoutout from Kubly to 35th and Roxbury – the plan for the latter will be unveiled at next Tuesday’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting). Toward the second value, he mentions road maintenance – it’s cheaper to fix it than to rebuild it, so this plans to “maintain and modernize 250 lane miles” of arterials. For “interconnected,” he mentions better connections to light rail (none of which is in West Seattle yet), and “we’re going to make it a lot easier to walk and bike in the city.” And under “vibrant,” there’s a promise of improving “mobility for freight and delivery vehicles,” and investment in Neighborhood Street Fund projects.

Here he brings up the Lander Street Overpass, mentioning coal and oil trains on the rise, and the need to get buses up over those tracks in SODO, plus South Park drainage improvements in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities.

Now before sending people off to look at the boards and write down comments and notes, he says they’ll also be having coffees around the city. Here’s the timeline:

*End of May – Mayor submits proposal to Council
*’Possible City Council action’ from mid-July to mid-August
*Send measure to King County in August, for November ballot

6:55 PM: This has broken back up into an open house after word that a mural artist is standing by on the side of the room. If people have questions, Kubly says, they can talk to him one on one, or anybody else around the room. There was no call for general Q/A while attendees remained seated as an audience, but this is supposed to continue until 8 pm if you’re interested in stopping by with something to say and/or ask. We’re going to circulate and see what people are asking/saying.

9:22 PM: Photos added above and below. We spotted three City Council District 1 candidates at the meeting:

From left, Tom Koch, Amanda Kay Helmick, Chas Redmond. Taking a look at the sticky-notes and other written comments left on boards and the future mural, we noted the prevalence of requests for light rail, and even a wistful wish for a monorail:

Missed tonight? Bring comments and questions to tomorrow night’s Southwest District Council meeting (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle, Wednesday, April 1st). And remember the online survey.

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City Council passes final plan for up to 3 more encampments http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/city-council-passes-final-plan-for-up-to-3-more-encampments/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/city-council-passes-final-plan-for-up-to-3-more-encampments/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 05:44:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305638 Exactly two months after our first report on a city proposal meant to facilitate three more encampments in Seattle, the final version of the plan won unanimous City Council approval today. Here’s the news release that followed:

City Council unanimously adopted legislation today allowing for new interim use permits for as many as three transitional homeless encampments on property owned by the City of Seattle, private parties, or educational major institutions in most of Seattle’s non-residential zones. The encampments will serve some of the 2,813 people homeless in Seattle, providing a safe and managed site for people to sleep and reside.

The encampment proposal originated from the Mayor’s Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness, which was based on a bill proposed by Councilmember Nick Licata in 2013.

Encampments will be required to develop operation plans, which must include provisions for management and maintenance, provision of human and social services, and public health and safety standards. The encampments must be located on lots at least 5,000 square feet and within one-half mile of a transit stop, and cannot be located on City park land. Permits will be granted for one year, after which an encampment must apply for an extension of up to one year or move to a new site.

“More and more people in Seattle are homeless with no place to go. This is not a permanent solution to homelessness, but it is a humane approach that offers people currently sleeping on the streets a safe place to be along with access to services to help them get back on their feet,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, the legislation’s sponsor on Council.

“I’m grateful that the Council gave it another shot,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “The need for people sleeping outside to have a safe place is even greater than when the Council defeated my bill in 2013.”

Currently, encampments are only authorized by a temporary use permit of up to six months or if a site is owned or controlled by a religious organization. An amendment to study whether encampments should be permitted in all zones and under any kind of ownership was adopted.

Council today also authorized the spending of $175,000 toward a newly-created regional matching fund, in which Seattle is collaborating with United Way to provide a total of $325,000 this year to immediately develop new shelter or to expand existing shelter outside of Seattle. Fully 91% of shelter beds for single adults in King County were located in Seattle in 2013, according to findings from the Single Adult Advisory Group of the King County Committee to End Homelessness. The Advisory Group recommended increasing shelter capacity outside Seattle. In 2013, an HSD report revealed that 70% of single adults report a last permanent address from inside Seattle limits.

In addition, Council authorized $200,000 to go toward reducing unsheltered individual and family homelessness. The funds will be used to provide 65 additional shelter beds in Seattle for adults and for youth and for case management to help homeless persons in encampments to secure housing, and to meet other needs. The budget additions were sponsored by Councilmember Sally J. Clark. About half of the family shelter capacity for King County was in Seattle with 51% percent of those families reporting a last permanent address from Seattle.

“Ending homelessness in Seattle-King County requires a regional approach that funds flexible options to support those facing homelessness. These budget adds move us in that direction,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark.

The encampment legislation and spending authorizations will take effect 30 days after the Mayor signs them. The encampment legislation will sunset on March 31, 2020. In the meantime, the City, County and regional jurisdictions will continue to work on more permanent solutions to housing.

All the documents related to today’s vote are here. Per previous discussions, city staff is expected to come up within three months with a list of city sites that would qualify as possible encampment locations.

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Mayor Murray’s West Seattle visit, report #2: 1-on-1 questions http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/mayor-murrays-west-seattle-visit-report-2-1-on-1-questions/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/mayor-murrays-west-seattle-visit-report-2-1-on-1-questions/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:29:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305513

(WSB photo from Saturday’s mayoral visit)
As reported here in-depth on Saturday, Mayor Ed Murray spent about 2 1/2 hours in West Seattle that day, including a walking tour of The Junction and Triangle, and a “coffee chat” with about 20 in attendance. After all that, we had the opportunity to ask the mayor a few questions one-on-one. Ahead, our questions – inspired by recent reader comments and community-meeting discussions – and his replies:

*What can be done about the affordable-housing crisis right now – to help people who are getting notices of big rent increases, who are looking for someplace they can afford to live and can’t find it?

“We’re trying to understand that,” the mayor replied. “The question is whether we can change the length of the warning (period), or the amount of increase – I’m not talking about rent control – or whether it will take permission from the state.” He says he suspects the latter will be necessary.

*Speaking of the state, what are you doing to push for Sound Transit to be authorized to raise enough money for light rail to West Seattle (and elsewhere – the battle currently is over whether ST will have $11 billion taxing authority or $15 billion)?

Murray, who is on the Sound Transit board, said he was in Olympia all day Thursday working on this (the day a hearing was held on the transportation bill that made it out of the State Senate). They’re running into a bit of a roadblock over which taxes they can use, though.

*Speaking of taxes, we keep hearing about levy fatigue. People say they just want to be able to see the big picture, rather than voting for one levy, then hearing about another, then another … What else is on the horizon?

He didn’t mention anything new – the $900 million transportation levy is in the spotlight now, and has a West Seattle informational meeting Tuesday (March 31st) at 6 pm at West Seattle High School – but first noted that “we’re not doing a good job reminding people” when levies are replacements or renewals. (Transportation, for example, will follow the expiring Bridging the Gap levy, though it’s been amply noted that its 9-year price tag is more than twice BTG, which was for less than $400.) Second, Murray said people have to remember “how we got here,” namely, he said, via the Tim Eyman initiatives. “So now we have to go to the voters again and again … but they do get to decide.” He expressed regret that so much of the taxation is “regressive.”

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