VIDEO: ‘First Look’ forum with District 1 Seattle City Council hopefuls

9:31 PM: Just wrapped up at Highland Park Improvement Club, the first forum of a campaign season which will result in West Seattle/South Park electing its first District 1 City Councilmember. Participating were the four candidates who have officially declared so far – from left to right in our photo below, Phillip Tavel, George Capestany, Amanda Kay Helmick, and Chas Redmond.

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
If you couldn’t be there, you’ll be able to watch it all on video, thanks to Edgar Riebe from West Seattle-based Captive Eye Media, and we’ll publish that in another report when it’s ready.

Thanks to HPIC for allowing us to have the event there, and thanks to the 80 or so people who came from all over the city (including some of the at-large candidates that West Seattleites also will vote on – we noted Councilmember Sally Clark, Bill Bradburd, Alex Tsimerman – sorry if we missed someone). The candidates answered about 20 questions, two-thirds asked by us (many suggested by readers) and one-third in the audience-asked final half-hour, wide variety of topics. Next forum we know of is planned for Saturday morning, March 14, presented by VIEWS – we’ll publish more about it when their official announcement is out.

ADDED 10:56 PM: Thanks to Michael Oxman for a snippet of video – this was a question asked by Hildegard Nichols from the local Green group, asking the candidates about their grass-roots cred.

11:46 AM FRIDAY: First version of the video is up. (Added: Also published to YouTube:)

We still intend to post a separate story later (report #2) with embedded video as well as more text highlights as well and a few additional photos. It should be noted that the filing deadline is still a ways off – May 15th – while the primary election is August 4th.

19 Replies to "VIDEO: 'First Look' forum with District 1 Seattle City Council hopefuls"

  • acemotel February 5, 2015 (10:26 pm)

    Ah, that was painful. I hope District 1 will find a candidate with political honesty, and courage. It was Mr. Tavel, towards the very end of the event, who finally broached the biggest issue in American society today (and the source of many of the issues addressed tonight): the rapidly-disappearing middle class. This was in response to the excellent question from the gentleman from Rainier Beach, I believe. About streets, Mr. Tavel mentioned lighting, as did the others (OK what’s new about that???) but nothing about dark-sky lights…… Regarding homelessness, no one mentioned WAGES that will not support a minimally-decent life. NO one. No one mentioned alcoholism, nor mental illness, in addressing homelessness.
    Mr. Redmond knows naught of what he speaks. There are huge, passionate, active and effective open space and green advocates in this city, including within the parks department itself. And the notion of dividing the parks department into recreation and parks is foolish. All parks funds need to go to deferred maintenance, first, NOT to additional administration. If it’s not broken…. Ms. Helmick spent most of her time touting her community involvement and Mr. Capestany was often at a loss for words. I want to know who you are, what you really care about, and how you can do it, not same-old same-old pablum. I want to know WHY you want to be on the city council. I didn’t get this from any one of these people.

  • David Toledo February 5, 2015 (11:08 pm)

    Acemotel is right on a few things, but I think the take on Redmond is wrong. I felt that Chas Redmond had consistently great answers throughout the forum. I also think the has done a fine job of letting West Seattle know why he is interested in running; which is a conversation that he actually started nearly a year ago. Chas has proven he cares about the community through his years of service and I think he’ll be a great City Councilman. Additionally, he just looked plain great up there tonight. He was very relaxed and came across as very likeable. He really looked like the incumbent on stage with 3 challengers.

  • B-Check February 5, 2015 (11:15 pm)

    Sorry I missed this – but having served on the Sustainable West Seattle board with Chas for several years, I know he has been greatly involved with efforts to focus on sustainable and local community practices. That includes rethinking how our economic system currently work, and I think most of us involved in the sustainability realm concur that the extreme stratification of wealth is disturbing and a huge challenge – but also making some strides in offering alternatives (supporting local businesses or those who promote more sustainable practices, etc.) Anyway, Chas has been pretty clear on his priorities and equity and services for the under-served have been on the list for some time, so unfortunate that didn’t come through. Hope to catch a future forum!

  • McBride February 6, 2015 (7:19 am)

    I wouldn’t say the event was painful. I’d say it was, as WSB promoted, a first look. You aren’t going to see, at this juncture, the polished delivery of a career politician. Which is one of the primary reasons I had for wanting district elections to go forward.

    Regarding “touting community involvement” – you say that like it’s a bad thing. Those chops are one of the most important qualifications to have when considering your representative.

    Thanks WSB. Great event.

  • RDPence February 6, 2015 (7:37 am)

    I think the forum would’ve gotten off to a better start if the candidates had been allowed to introduce themselves, something more than name, job title, and length of time in the community. I expect few people in that room knew all 4 candidates, and it would’ve been very helpful to hear something about their history, their story, and why they are running.

    And for the next Q&A session, I’d like to see something a little less rigid and more conversational. Many city issues are complex and don’t lend themselves to 90-second responses.

    But a worthy effort overall, and I hope citizens in all 7 districts hold public forums to get acquainted with their candidates.

    • WSB February 6, 2015 (8:30 am)

      Thanks, all, for the comments so far, and again, to everyone who attended … the video will be up sometime today, and we’ll link it here as well as launching a separate story for it. What RDPence writes is the one critique I heard in person and I do apologize for that – we did not *intend* to ask the opening question in the “give your name/rank/serial number” format, but in the opening-moments jitters, we did, and so it went. I wanted to avoid the forum mode I’d seen over the years where a moderator stood there and recited bios, followed by long opening statements before issue-based questions FINALLY began well into the event, but we overcompensated! – TR

  • Dorsol Plants February 6, 2015 (9:48 am)

    I thought the way it started worked. Its normal to give a candidate that intro time and so it becomes a rehearsed stump speech. Let them introduce themselves like they did last night, on their toes, answering the needs of the community.

    The WSB was great, and put on a wonderful event. And every candidate was commendable last night, because they cared enough about our community to speak up about how they want to improve it.

  • WSB February 6, 2015 (11:46 am)

    First upload of the video!

  • westseattledood February 6, 2015 (12:01 pm)

    uh oh. maybe it’s my browser(s), but there is no sound on TR’s question right after intros. i have not listened to entire clip – which I am very much looking forward to – but hoping that moderator sound comes back for the remaining questions!

  • Melissa February 6, 2015 (12:38 pm)

    I agree with Dorsol, I liked the time limit which made them to get to the point. There was definitely drastic differences in the amount of detail and knowledge that the candidates presented.

    The questions were also very interesting especially around inequity in services between the East and West parts of West Seattle.

  • SillyGoose February 6, 2015 (1:00 pm)

    Chas Redmond has my vote, this intellegent, kind and devoted West Seattle resident, has done so much for our lovely community and I feel truly has his mind and heart in the right place to represent all the things we have voiced our concern about. GO CHAS

  • acemotel February 6, 2015 (3:34 pm)

    Community involvement chops are a wonderful thing, and good to know about. Thanks for mentioning them. Community activists are the BEST people… But let’s be honest, street cred it not going to get the executive-level job done. When the council convenes to discuss a thorny policy question, no-one is going to care who was involved with the food coop or the district council. I hate to mention that MOST people in Seattle haven’t the slightest idea what a district council is, much less the CNC and its various committees. There’s a huge, diverse population out here that’s not of that world.

  • my current thinking,,, February 6, 2015 (5:39 pm)

    agreed acemotel.

    The thing these good folks have in common is they are well-intentioned community oriented activists. These are good people. But I do not see executive skill sets. That’s what I hope shows up and shows up soon.

    You out there? You an experienced executive with medium sized organization background? Any MPA’s or political science majors looking for something to do? :)

  • Chris February 6, 2015 (5:57 pm)

    I have to say that I am surprised at the dismissive tone toward community activists. Perhaps such skills would be a welcome addition to the city council. If only those with master’s degrees in public administration or experience as corporate executives are eligible for election to the council, what does that say about the Seattle’s priorities? How can those backgrounds, and only those backgrounds, create a city council representative of and responsive to the less advantaged population?

  • Chris February 6, 2015 (6:34 pm)

    I have to say that I’m a bit surprised by the dismissive tone toward community activists. Perhaps the city council could benefit from such experience. If council elections are only open to those with masters degrees in public administration and former corporate executives, what does that say about Seattle’s priorities? Perhaps other voices could help produce a council more representative of, and more responsive to, the less advantaged populations?

  • Eric1 February 6, 2015 (7:07 pm)

    LOL. Hmmm correct me if I’m wrong but the “executive” branch would be the Mayor. The Council is the “legislative” branch of the city. Saying the candidates don’t have an executive skill set is an interesting comment.
    But I do get the drift. I don’t doubt the experience level isn’t that high with these candidates but at least they haven’t been bought yet. There will be a learning curve but everybody starts somewhere and City Council is pretty much the entry level elected office.

  • McBride February 6, 2015 (8:04 pm)

    Fair enough.
    But as long as we’re being honest I’m pretty sure the heavy lifting on policy is done by staff. It’s an awesome skill-set, but generally not my first choice in a leader.
    I agree that community leaders are outstanding humans, the finest among us, noble, attractive, smart, and nice to have at parties. They’re also the ones who wring concessions from the city on behalf of our community. The fact that most folks aren’t aware of it doesn’t seem to stop them.
    I respect that you want to hire someone technical. Plenty of good reasons for that. I want someone with a track record of fighting for West Seattle. That’s where my priorities are.

  • Hp February 7, 2015 (12:24 am)

    I wasn’t there, but was introduced to Chas this morning at the Original Bakery. Enjoyed meeting him and he made a great first impression.

  • Dave February 7, 2015 (12:56 pm)

    I went to the forum and was impressed by Mr. Tavel and Mr. Redmond for different reasons. Mr. Tavel is not a community activist, he has been a defense attorney for many years as well as an entrepreneur in the tech space. Mr. Redmond is I believe retired and works with a variety of West Seattle/Seattle organizations. I think the main difference between the two would be style. Mr. Redmond sounded more consensus minded as per the rest of Seattle while Mr. Tavel plans to advocate strongly for West Seattle above the rest of the city. If these two gentleman made it through the primary and were in the election come November I think it would be good for our community.

Sorry, comment time is over.