Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting: “Political night”

March 11, 2009 3:23 am
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

By Charla Mustard-Foote
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Tuesday night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association (ANA) meeting at Admiral Congregational Church was billed as a “Political Night”, and the main topics were transit, spending priorities, neighborhoods (and their residents) and money (the subjects of most local political discussions these days.)

16 people braved the cold to hear David Bloom and Highland Park’s Dorsol Plants tout their Seattle City Council candidacies. King County Executive candidate Dow Constantine was a surprise addition to the agenda.

Each candidate spoke briefly and passionately about his relevant experience and his interest in specific issues. Both City Council candidates said they support strong neighborhoods as the foundation for a livable city. Constantine added an emphasis on regional government where it could reduce redundant spending by individual cities (and other authorities) and all three agreed that a regional approach to issues such as jails and transit were key to creating more efficient and economical solutions. They agreed that the need to get more done with fewer dollars in the current economic downturn made these efficiencies even more critical. For example, a regional jail along with alternatives to incarceration, could reduce the proposed $200M expenditure for a controversial local jail project and additional money for other local facilities.

Plants, an Iraq War veteran and caseworker at a Seattle homeless shelter, has been chair of the Highland Park Action Committee and a leader in the fight against locating a jail in West Seattle. He expressed support for updating (and strengthening) the decade-old Seattle Neighborhood Plans as a way to ensure that neighborhood issues are a priority for Seattle City government. His priorities for scarce city resources are police, firefighters, and human services. Plants pointed out that 34 homeless people died on the streets of Seattle during the past year and that should not be allowed to happen. He stressed that the faltering economy will result in a demand for even more human services, at a time of severe budget cuts. He advocated planning as a way to solve problems
before they become crises.

Bloom, a longtime advocate for housing and economic issues in Seattle, emphasized investment in projects aimed at helping working families, such as affordable housing and a living wage campaign. He said Seattle is in danger of losing the qualities that make it one of the country’s most attractive places to live. He was particularly concerned with the $200M going into South Lake Union, for what he called beautification projects, at the expense of other priorities; he advocated diverting South Lake Union dollars to neighborhood infrastructure.

Constantine, a veteran King County Council member and current chair of the Council, stressed a potential role, and missed opportunity, for the county in leading a regional approach to mutual issues such as jails and transit. He would also set up a system where the county employees who provide services are encouraged to make changes in the operations they know best (in part, by assuring them that improved operation won’t result in job loss.) As part of a comprehensive regional plan, Constantine wants to answer three questions for every government entity (the 39 cities, county, other “authorities”, such as port, and state): what services are provided, who provides them, and how will they be paid for.

The filing deadline is June 5. All candidates will then know their opponents in the “nonpartisan” primary elections.

Although the ANA does not endorse candidates, they do provide a platform for questions not always addressed in a city-wide or county-wide elections. In this case, the Council and Executive candidates and the audience agreed on critical issues, so there was a refreshing emphasis on shedding light rather than generating the usual political heat.

The ANA discussed upcoming events, which have been covered in previous WSB articles. The calendar is:

April 4 – 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The *Gathering of Neighbors*, at Chief Sealth High School will combine neighborhood group and business groups from all over West Seattle and ANA encourages all Admiral residents to attend to get information and meet neighbors from across the peninsula.

April 16 – 7 p.m. The next California Place Park public design meeting will be held at the Alki Community Center.

April 25 – 9 a.m. – Another Admiral “Adopt a Street” event for clean-up, which will include public benches and trash containers along California and Admiral.

Next ANA meeting: April 14, 7 pm, Admiral Church

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