(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.