By Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The first of this week’s three City Council candidate forums in West Seattle – the only one with all six of the council candidates who will be on your ballot – included one moment of drama: When one candidate asked her opponent a money question.
We’ll get to that shortly. First things first. More than 50 people were at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center to watch the forum, presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and WS Transportation Coalition, moderated by Pete Spalding on behalf of the former and Michael Taylor-Judd for the latter. Each pair of candidates got their own section of the program, citywide Positions 8 and 9 followed by the longest section, for West Seattle/South Park District 1, which is where we begin. We recorded it all on video and are including each section below, just before our notes on the questions and answers. Please note that we’re paraphrasing/summarizing unless you see quotation marks. Also note that because of the sponsoring organizations, the questions were intended to focus on business and transportation issues. After each was given the chance to answer a question, there was also “rebuttal” time, which is why you see each question below followed by multiple responses.
Candidates Shannon Braddock, Lisa Herbold
Braddock: Stressed her experience volunteering with local organizations including the Lafayette Elementary PTA, West Seattle Food Bank, WestSide Baby, as well as her work as chief of staff for County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “I feel I have a very good overview of the issues affecting (this area).”
Herbold: Echoed moderator Spalding’s declaration that this is a historic election, with West Seattle/South Park electing their first District 1 councilmember. She stressed her experience working for City Councilmember Nick Licata and her career as a community organizer before that, a role in which she said you teach people how to be their own best advocates. She sees a parallel to that work and to what by-district elections are supposed to be about: “We will have more responsive government.”
First question – Do you support an employee head tax?
Braddock: It would depend on what the issue was before us and what we wanted (it to fund). It would be a matter of getting together with our business community, what the community benefit would be …we have to look at every option for revenue that we have. … I’m open to discussing all of those possibilities, but I want to be certain we’d be engaging our community in that discussion and understanding the impacts.
Herbold: We had one before, it was one of the funding sources used for the old Bridging the Gap levy … She would support bringing it back. But also notes that it is important to be sure it’s not a “burden.”
Braddock: We were in a recession when it was canceled so it’s a good time to look at it again.
Second question – You both say you support the “Move Seattle” levy. Is enough of it devoted to District 1?
Herbold: It has a lot of long-deferred projects – like Lander Street Overpass. Has some good projects. She would like to see more $ for pedestrian safety. Shouts out to former candidate Chas Redmond (running sound for the event) as having been involved in a past effort along those lines with which she was also involved. “If you care about equity, it’s one of the things that is paid the least attention to.”
Braddock: “I absolutely support the Move Seattle levy because we are so far behind” in infrastructure. But she says no, there’s not enough in it for District 1, not enough for the entire city, for that matter. She’s happy about the Fauntleroy Boulevard project being in it at City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s insistence. It will be “incumbent on the District 1 councilmember to hold the city accountable for following through on making sure the projects on the list” happen.
Herbold: She’s concerned too, but we need to move toward finding new, less-regressive funding sources. She mentions accountability, with a shoutout to last week’s over-time, over-budget 2003 Fire Levy news (which started with this WSB report on the long-overdue, again-delayed Station 32 rebuild).
Third question involved protecting industrial zoning:
Braddock: It’s incumbent on councilmembers to be sure we have preservation of industrial lands to be sure our zoning keeps up with that commitment.
Herbold: Zoning is completely in purview of council. We can maintain our industrial zoning by … not changing it. … If we want to preserve maritime industry in this city, we need to (be careful about) encroachment of other uses. …. Maritime industry’s been very good to this city.
Braddock: While maritime is the base of the area, we have many other industrial communities, I want to be sure that we are protecting opportunities for them to stay here and not have to move south.
QUESTION FOR YOUR OPPONENT
At this point, as happened during each section of the forum, each candidate was invited to ask a question of her opponent.
Braddock’s question for Herbold: I’m wondering why you don’t support (Seattle) annexation of White Center.
Herbold: My position is foundationally based on belief of fiscal responsibility. I’m a strong believer in equity but I believe in equity that’s real, not just a promise, backed up by ability to invest – if we simply annex White Center and promise to provide services without (having) funding (for them), it’s just going to become another neighborhood on the list of underserved neighborhoods.
Braddock: I support annexing White Center but it’s also about community task forces coming together and talk about ways to provide the services we know they’re not getting from being governed as unincorporated King County … I struggle with the fact they don’t have the same chance for living-wage jobs we have here in the city (referring to the minimum-wage law), Roxbury shouldn’t be the dividing line.
Herbold: The state’s Growth Management Act does require (this area to eventually be part of a city), but it doesn’t mean it has to be Seattle … my first responsibility as a councilmember would be to (this area) and pay for things in areas (that ARE in the city).
Next came Herbold’s question for Braddock, which was the night’s only moment of drama. Earlier in the day, the latest round of campaign-financing information started circulating, and it included news that an “independent expenditure” group had mustered $130,000 to support Braddock. “Would you ask (the group) to stop investing in your race?”
Braddock: “I’m proud of the broad coalition of supporters I have, and that I have the largest number of individual contributors” in the race, and three times the amount of money raised within the district. We’ve run a positive campaign and I want to stick to that. She pointed out that she supports I-735 and the city’s Honest Elections measure (also on the November ballot). “IE’s are not healthy for our political environment, but that’s the environment we’re in.”
Herbold: So you clearly believe outside dollars have an impact. We voted to pass district elections last year because we wanted to have a say in who elected us. “The IE is going to try to buy this race.”
Braddock: “Again, I’m really proud of the broad coalition of support I have and the large swath of in-district support. I can ask IE’s to step down, but, they’re independent expenditures. I’ve asked them to please stick to positive, issues-based campaigning.”
Back to moderator questions: What will you do to implement the West Seattle Bridge Duwamish Waterway Corridor Action Report?
Herbold: First she showed that she had a printed-out copy with her. This is a meaty document. Lot of recommendations. Best thing we can do to see they’re implemented is to elect a rep who cares deeply about (it), cares about equity, cares that people can get along … (in multiple modes). We really need to look at some sort of community oversight group.
Braddock: Yes, we need to coalesce with community (many people who made it happen are “in this room,” referring to WSTC members and leaders). But we need to decide as a community which are most important ot us, what does this community feel is the most important to invest in.
Herbold: I think accountability’s really important.
Next question: How to keep sustainable economic growth happening in this area.
Braddock: We have a really robust small biz community, need to keep meeting with folks, to (talk about it) .. Also need to figure out what’s available for young people … to find out what they want to get involved with as small biz. “I don’t have all of the answers but look forward to getting people together to talk about it.”
Herbold: Similar to what we need for a healthy residential community, need to move goods, services, people, that our workforce can live (where they want to) … be responsive, transparent, fair, accountable. Need to make sure our work force is able to work in our neighborhood business district, and that young people are preapred for variety of jobs that are available.
Last prepared-by-moderators question: Do you support Vision Zero and, with so many competing transportation demands/issues, how do you keep everyone safe?
Herbold: Idea of transportation investments for safety is a no-brainer. We have a lot of master plans. It’s important to overlay them. And to recognize that not every mode is not appropriate for every road.
Braddock: Yes, she supports Vision Zero, as a great over-arching way to look at all these issues. Must make sure our plans are working together, all our master plans. Move Seattle and Safe Routes to School both bring opportunities. She mentioned that last weekend, her 16-year-old got his learner’s permit, so she was out helping him learn to drive.
“It’s scary,” said Herbold. Many laughed, Braddock included, as she continued the anecdote.
Herbold: We could be using red light camera revenue for pedestrian safety too (as well as school-zone-speeding-ticket camera revenue). Dedicating the revenue for safety could help make people be less resentful of those programs.
Q: Why isn’t SDOT taking care of maintenance before projects like red markings on the WS Bridge bus lane?
Herbold: Part of the problem is that we haven’t used developer impact fees, so we have less money for maintenance, so the likelihood of infrastructure degrading over time.
Braddock: I don’t know the answer to that because I don’t work at SDOT but I’d want to find out. Impact fees don’t pay for maintenance but by paying for newer things (with fees), we’d have more money for maintenance.
Q: Would you support bike licensing as a method to ensure that bicyclists are obeying traffic laws?
Braddock: Interesting issue – can’t say yet that I’m ready to commit to it but open to exploring. Enforcement is a reall big deal – for drivers of cars and riders of bikes.
Herbold: People have been asking me that (while she campaigns door-to-door). A nominal fee would be a reasonable thing to take a look at.
Q: Which council committees do you want to serve on and which do you want to chair?
Herbold: Would want to chair Land Use committee. A lot of decisions that affect communities, how they function and how they work, a lot of affordable-housing policies. Would like to be on the Public Safety Committee – I’ve staffed it for two 2-year terms and it’s the most basic function of city government. Also, would like to be on Housing and Human Services Committee, Transportation Committee.
Braddock: I would also like to sit on HHS, Land Use and Development, very interested in the Gender Pay and Equity committee, the Energy Committee. and I would love to chair the Transportation Committee.
Q: What are your thoughts about the Chris Hansen sports arena plan in SODO?
Herbold: I wouldn’t have voted for it. I think it will bring more challenges, if it’s built, to the whole dynamic of whether we develop that area. That said, it was a deal made by council in 2012, not going to reopen (the issue), but will be strong voice to make sure not hockey-only or hockey-first facility just because that’s the only team that comes along.
Braddock: She’s been working with (Joe) McDermott and is proud of the committee that put together the Expert Review Panel, brought in union folks, purposely reached out to skeptics to bring to Expert Review Panel. Council did support Memorandum Of Understanding. I support that. But – everything we see now, doesn’t look like that’s going to come to fruition. I’d assume we’re at a restart point at least.
Then an added moderator’s question: How would you form business districts in underserved areas like Highland Park?
Braddock: I think the district councilmember will be able to focus love and attention on areas that haven’t been getting attention. I think the Chamber can play a big role. We also need to be talking to those in the Duwamish Corridor industrial area. Also, look at how to encourage and incentivize.
Herbold: This gets to the heart of how land use and zoning policies work. I would want to look at how increasing zoning capacity (for housing) in other areas affects the likelihood of growth in other areas. She mentions that for example, the Junction is way past growth goals. If we continue to upzone those areas, are we creating growth not happening in areas like Westwood and Highland Park and Delridge?
DISTRICT 1 CANDIDATES’ CLOSING STATEMENTS
Herbold: I care deeply, have lived here for 15 years, have roots here, although people are quick to point out here that 15 years is nothing for a West Seattleite. My daughter lives here, I have two grandkids in Seattle Public Schools. We’re at a crossroads – will it be an inclusive city or economically exclusive city? I am not a status-quo politician; being a true progressive means challenging the status quo. People understand growth is going to happen in WS but people don’t think we’re doing a good job managing it; it’s becoming increasingly unaffordable, harder to get around.
Braddock: After thanking those in attendance for coming, she said it means a lot to them as candidates to know that the community is so engaged. I think people supported districts because they felt they were not being paid attention to. My work in CM McDermott’s office involves .. a lot of constituent services. People can call me, I can try to help, to understand. I will bring my office to the district, have a person here four or five days a week, get a person out into the community; people shouldn’t have to go to City Hall, City Hall should go to them.
(Note that tonight and tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, you will have opportunities to see Braddock and Herbold again, tonight at the 34th District Democrats’ forum, 7 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy; Thursday, at the Friends of the Seattle Public Library forum, 6:30 pm at High Point Library.)
Candidates Jon Grant, Tim Burgess
Burgess: Begins with his slogan, “I’m running because I want to keep getting good things done.” Burgess said he had spent some time at West Seattle Elementary‘s health clinic earlier in the afternoon, and refers to the Families and Education levy that helps pay for that service.
Grant: He’s running because of issues that need urgently to be addressed with “bold, progressive leadership,” including police reform and the gender pay gap.
First question: Do you support Vision Zero, and how can we balance competing interests in keeping traffic and cargo flowing along with safety?
Grant: “I think the real question here is how do we protect the flow of traffic and also (bicycles’ rights).” He said he’d like to see grade-separated lanes, more signals for bicycles, and that he does support Vision Zero and fully funding the Bicycle Master Plan.
Burgess: “I also support Vision Zero and passage of the Move Seattle levy … and that we plan for all modes of transportation.” He mentioned Sound Transit 3, and that “we need to focus on all modes, not on any one particular mode.”
Grant: He’ll support Move Seattle but bashed Burgess for voting to repeal the head tax, which he would like to bring back.
Second question: What is your vision for sustainable diverse economic growth to continue happening in District 1?
Burgess: Brought up the Move Seattle levy immediately and said 2/3rds of it will be “paid by private property owners.” He said “great transportatio and affordable housing” are linked together for success. He said supporting small businesses is important.
Grant: Brought up affordable housing “because so much of our workforce is being pushed outside the city.”
Burgess: Said he had voted for a “commercial linkage fee,” contrary to an allegation from Grant. He said it’s “very rare” that developers and advocates work together.
QUESTION FOR YOUR OPPONENT
Burgess to Grant: You’re campaigning on an affordable housing platform, but most advocates of affordable housing have endorsed me. Why is that?
Grant: I’m the former director of the Tenants’ Union. We are fighting the hardest. Most of his endorsers are nonprofit housing advisers who are dependent on government funding. “My opponent is a very powerful person …” He went on to list some endorsements he says he does have in that area.
Burgess: Endorsers make choices not based on money and power, but on who’s going to be the most effective. “If you look at my record, I’ve delivered.”
Grant: “I was on the mayor’s Affordable Housing Committee, I was in those “(behind closed doors) negotiations,” I didn’t block (what emerged) because I thought something was better than nothing,” but he supports a stronger “linkage fee,” not what HALA proposed. “We left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table. … We need more revenue from the private sector to build affordable housing.”
Grant question for Burgess: Advocating for the homeless, he opposed Burgess’s anti-panhandling ordinance. Studies show that when you criminalize poverty, it perpetuates poverty, so why did you lead that effort?
Burgess: “We have a criminal statute against aggressive panhandling … what I proposed was to engage in an experiment, could we shift from a criminal penalty to a civil one instead?” The council approved it, then-Mayor McGinn vetoed it.
Grant: “When a homeless person is penalized, they can’t pay it …” and the results perpetuate the cycle of poverty. “I don’t care what statute you are promoting, you can’t penalize people for being poor. … We need to take aggressive measures to end homelessness.” He accuses Burgess of being out of touch.
Burgess: “I agree with you, we should not criminalize poverty. … But what I object to is, I do not equate homelessness with criminal behavior.” He said he doesn’t consider homelessness criminal behavior, but “the problem we have downtown is … individuals involved in criminal behavior, who, one example of that is aggressive panhandling.”
Question for both: “We’re going to assume you both support light rail to West Seattle … What will you do to help implement the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor Action Report while waiting for it?”
Grant: Some of the things we need to do for West Seattle: More RapidRide service, more dedicated bus lanes … fund the Bicycle Master Plan, support Vision Zero, safe bicycle routes to get around.
Burgess: I’ll continue doing what I have been doing – transit expansion (he mentions last year’s Prop 1), 6 months of work with Councilmember Rasmussen on a regional transit-planning group … He said he’ll campaign for ST3 next year.
Grant: “Folks in West Seattle are treated like an island and we need to do more to enable east-west travel in this neighborhood.”
Question: With increases in commercial real estate costs, how will you enable an environment to help this area’s businesses thrive?
Burgess: He patroled in West Seattle when he got out of the police academy. Then he listed: Ensuring that commercial development has appropriately sized commercial spaces – investing in Startup Seattle and Made in Seattle … budget action is ahead for that program.
Grant: We’re getting these gigantic developments in West Seattle with ground-floor commercial spaces, and they’re bigger (than usual), and people can’t afford the rent. I’d be interested in changing the zoning rules to allow smaller spaces (so the rents can be affordable). Also – he would like to see the city start a municipal bank, to help startups get money.
Burgess: Says state law doesn’t allow municipal banks. Recognizes that small businesses comprise the “economic engine” of the city, so whatever it can do to help and advance them is important. He mentions waiving admission tax on small venues.
Grant: Says he’s been out doorknocking and people are telling him that Seattle’s becoming unaffordable. He again mentions issues including police reform and gender-pay equity. He says that his opponent has received $360,000 from “wealthy interests” and he’s pledged not to take those donations.
Burgess: In the two years following the waiver of the admission tax, 12 new venues opened in the city. “I know how to get things done.” He touts his “reasoned, practical approach” to issues facing the city. He said it’s a clear choice, including experience vs. less experience.
Candidates Lorena González, Bill Bradburd
Bradburd: Lives in the Central Area with wife and kids (who are in the Rat City Rollergirls junior league). TOuts that he helped with the movement that created district elections. His issues includes “good government,” and he criticizes the arena proposal plus the HALA affordable-housing recommendations. “I think we can do far better.”
González: I live in West Seattle (Junction) and have lived here since 2006, after living in South Park and White Center. She talks about getting her first paycheck as a migrant farmworker at age 8 and says that more recently she has worked as a civil-rights attorney. “I am interested in being sure I bring those types of voices and perspectives to City Hall.” She mentions light rail “because like you, I’m tired of sitting on that bridge for an hour every morning.”
First question: What’s your vision for sustainable diverse economic growth continuing in D-1?
Bradburd: The city’s been “trying very hard to attract very large corporations here” and providing them “great benefits .. but when we put all our eggs in one basket, we’re vulnerable from an economic standpoint.” He contrasts that with Portland, and a philosophy working to emphasize small business, which he sees as more directly benefiting people and more sustainable.
González: “Incredible increase in economic development” in West Seattle in past few years, and she thinks of that as providing jobs. But, “when we’re talking about economic development, we need to be sure we’re” funding the city’s office of economic development, for example.
Bradburd: The office has been helpful, but at times it’s seemed to me to be focused on high-level, frilly things. When we tried to work with Feet First to take a walking map and identify small local businesses …” things didn’t go well.
Second question: Do you support Vision Zero, and how will you balance diverse interests while keeping people safe?
González: I do support Vision Zero … it’s a lofty goal, worth having. She says she has a bike and “I thought at moments I was going to die alone under hte Spokane Bridge.” She foresees prioritizing freight routes and school routes.
Bradburd: I think the ideas of Vision Zero are good but he got in trouble by saying it’s also important to work on car congestion. “A lot of our solutions need to be community-based solutions.” He said the “top-down” list of projects in Move Seattle is wrong, and communities should be consulted. I think we should use the people who live here to shape our priorities.
González: Absolutely we need to make sure that how we structure Safe Routes is responsive to our community needs … we have a great opportunitity through (transit) Prop 1.
Question from each candidate for their opponent: First, Bradburd for Gonzalez: Mayor Murray and the HALA recommendations say Seattle’s zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion … that report was targeting single-family zoning. Do you believe single-family zoning is racially biased and exclusionary?
González: The real qustion is what do we do of the real legacy that our city and many others have inherited, the restricted covenants passed in the past, that were intended to exclude people of color from SF zones and certain (other) zones. As policymakers it’s our responsibility to understand that history … to modify our laws and to recognize that this is a horrible legacy … I believe the HALA recommendations will effectively do that.
Bradburd: Zoning is not racial. Covenants were placed by developers, banks, occasionally neighborhood ssociations, those were eliminated by law decades ago. Are you suggesting that single-family zoning should be rezoned?
González: When we are looking at 120,000 people coming into Seattle, it is our responsiblity to be sure we are guiding our policies to implementing inclusionary zoning laws that will be consistent with our stated progressive values.
González question for Bradburd: In the 9 months we’ve been on this campaign trail you’ve mentioned multiple times that the exclusive source of revenue for housing, schools, transportation, will to be developer impact fees. How big exactly is that pot and is it realistic that we can continue to go to a developer impact fee pot to fund every single need?
Bradburd: I didn’t say every single need. We’ve (had the ability) to implement these since 1990 and can pay for schools, parks, fire, transportation infrastructure. Almost every municipality around here does, we do not. So we have kids who go to school in portables, SDOT backlog, the Park District levy we had to pass because we can’t pay for them … because developers are not paying, we are.
González: I think his response highlights my concern: I think we should be looking at developer impact fees, and he’s inferring I would not be supportive, that is absolutely not true, but I believe (there are other sources) I want to make sure we all understand there are multiple tools to meet the needs of the city.
Bradburd: I never said they’d be used for everything – state law (is clear on what they can be used for). He mentions the road construction happening where development is coming. Paul Allen should have paid for more.
Question: With increases in cost of commercial real estate, how will you create environment in D-1 that enables startups and small businesses to thrive?
Bradburd: We have some crazy zoning rules written in a way to benefit developers. he ticks off various zones. Would be better to see more small businesses than big boxes, and need to make zoning conducive for that.
González: One of the things missing from our affordability discussion is impact … affordable spaces get bulldozed over and replaced with space that’s more expensive and can’t be afforded by small businesses, so big ones wind up there instead. (She namechecks Starbucks and Chipotle, both of which recently opened in new Junction developments.) Small businesses are bedrock to our communities.
Bradburd: State law won’t enable us to subsidize businesses so we have to create conditions that enable smaller biz to survive. Smaller spaces is one way to do that.
What will you do to implement the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor Action Report recommendations while we are awaiting light rail?
González: She hasn’t read it in full detail. Mentions more bus lanes and need for awareness of the port and that we have to take freight mobility into account.
Bradburd: I’m a big fan of neighborhood planning. He brings up Portland and how it does things. He wants to see more citizen oversight, and mentions his skepticism about Move Seattle.
González: I have been running this through a strong lens of social justice. Also interested in gender wage gap. We should have pay tranasparency, paid parental leave.
Bradburd: We have a problem in this city = growth is out of control and government is not being responsive to the impacts it’s placed on our citizens. We’ve given developers free rein over City Hall. We don’t require environmental impacts. We don’t require parking if you’re (close) to a frequent transit stop. I want to look at what are we doing when we add housing, that we don’t just add expensive housing. HALA was a gift to developers. We need someone in city hall to stand up to developers, not take (their) money, and stand up for the people who live here.
Ballots went in the mail today, so yours should arrive within a few days. Voting deadline – aka Election Day – is November 3rd.
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