ELECTION 2019: Brendan Kolding ‘all in,’ vying for City Council District 1

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Brendan Kolding‘s bid for the Seattle City Council District 1 seat isn’t his first run for elective office.

But it is his first “all-in” campaign, he says.

Continuing our series of candidate interviews, we sat down with Kolding recently to find out more about why he wants this job and what he’ll do if he gets it.

First, what he means by “all in” – he’s “playing to win,” including fundraising. His campaign, announced last month, now has a website. He’s broadened his campaign focus, which in his two runs for the State Legislature were focused on education.

He believes his biggest qualification – and, it’s clear, his major motivation – is his profession: Law enforcement.

Kolding is a Seattle Police Department lieutenant. (He has lived for a decade in West Seattle, where he and his wife are raising three children, but is currently assigned to a precinct elsewhere in the city.) Police “do not feel supported by the City Council,” he declares. “They need somebody who supports them.” He says “anxieties … caused by an unsupportive City Council” are a major reason why officers are leaving SPD at what he describes as “an alarming rate.” For Seattle to truly be a “safe city,” Kolding says, the City Council should have someone who police “trust to have their back.” He stresses that doesn’t mean an uncritical view – “if there’s a problem, we’ll deal with it” – but he believe officers need more vocal support than they get now. Even the recent council vote to pass the police contract was accompanied by “hesitant” comments that left officers feeling “anxious,” he notes.

His other signature issue, besides supporting police, is homelessness. “I’ve been to encampments, I know what they’re like. I know the RV situation. I know it’s not sustainable or dignified … We need a solution.”

Kolding says it’s more than street experience that qualifies him to help formulate a solution. He says his time at SPD included more than five years in policy development: “I’ve worked with the ‘Seattle Process’,” as well as with various stakeholder groups,

What solution does he envision? A “regional network of FEMA-style tents … that can house a lot of people.” Not just house them, but also with services such as mental-health care, substance-abuse treatment, and job placement, “whatever they need.” When unhoused people are contacted, “we can offer them the opportunity to be transported” to a tent/center – each might specialize in serving people with particular needs. But he says this wouldn’t be mandatory – “if they choose not to participate, they would have the right not to.” But they also wouldn’t be able to camp illegally – “either you move on or police can enforce the law.” So it’s a big tent or jail? We ask. The latter “depends on the crime,” says Kolding, noting that there are different branches of the justice system that people could be plugged into – drug court, veterans’ court, LEAD, for example. However it shakes out, he says, “these (one-off) tents and RVs are not sanitary and dignified for anybody.” He doesn’t believe “tiny houses,” now the predominant form of shelter at city-authorized encampments, are a long-term solution either.

How would the big tents be funded? Kolding believes the city has the money – “The homelessness crisis is costing the city regardless. I’ve looked at numbers. It’s about using the resources we have more effectively.”

Kolding is careful to stress that he is not demonizing, nor generalizing about, unhoused people. Before his police career, he worked in education, and recognized a former student in a news story, living in a “tiny house.” He says he’s well aware “there are always people who need help.” But: “if there are some not interested in participating in society, we can’t let that dictate how (they are handled) … we need to not be shy about prosecuting.”

Though the city attorney (currently Pete Holmes) is independently elected, Kolding believes the City Council “can set the tone” for prosecutorial policy. He notes that a lot of law-enforcement investigative work already has gone into cases before they ever get to the City Attorney’s Office or County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, so those departments aren’t necessarily going out on a limb when pursuing charges. Bottom line, Kolding says, “We need safer streets,” and potential offenders need to be aware “that if you make certain choices, you’ll be prosecuted.”

We asked about District 1-specific issues on which he planned to focus. He observed that the peninsula has unique issues with public transportation and infrastructure, not just regarding everyday concerns like traffic, but also preparedness issues such as needing “a plan for getting help and critical services” in case of disaster. He’s also concerned about how HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning – which the current council is expected to approve soon – will affect the peninsula’s transportation/transit crunch. Overall, he says he’s not in favor of MHA as currently planned – he says he’s “in favor of affordable housing” but sees the MHA proposal as having a “huge loophole” and overburdening infrastructure.

There’s another issue he mentions that hasn’t come up in other conversations: Potential Seattle annexation of White Center (and the rest of unincorporated North Highline). It’s still a possibility, and it would put an extra load on city services including police. It would likely mean adding personnel – and an additional sector – to the Southwest Precinct, Kolding notes. Even though it’s not front-burner right now, “it’s not going away, so the District 1 (councilmember) needs to be aware of that.”

We asked about an issue that other candidates have mentioned prominently: Small-business climate. “We need to be a more business-friendly city,” Kolding acknowledges, adding that “we need to appreciate the role that small business plays in the community. This needs to be a place where you can start one and thrive.” Rather than adding taxes and fees – he says he was opposed to the “head tax” in particular – the city should “focus on using the existing funding we have for programs we want.”

Overall, Kolding thinks the current council is “too involved in bickering” and he would like to be part of a “group of people who can work together, have productive conversations, engage with districts well, talk about true ideas and policies that make sense,” and who see their role as “improv(ing) the quality of life. … We talk about social justice a lot but I don’t see a lot of action toward true social justice. Letting people live in tents in the mud, that’s not true social justice.”

Though it’s only February and the primary is just under six months away, with the formal filing period almost halfway between here and there, Kolding says it’s already been “intense,” with meetings and forums and endorsement conversations. He’s of course hoping to make it to the November general election, so he declares, “It’s going to be an intense next nine months, and I’m looking forward to it. …I feel we’re in a crisis; I feel I can get us through … I feel a sense of duty to stand up for what’s right … it’s too important to sit on the sidelines.”

Our previous candidate interviews, in reverse chronological order:
Phil Tavel
Lisa Herbold
Jesse Greene
Also running: Isaiah Willoughby

51 Replies to "ELECTION 2019: Brendan Kolding 'all in,' vying for City Council District 1"

  • ain't no HALA back girl February 25, 2019 (10:53 pm)

    I am glad to see another reasonable candidate put there name forward.  Mr. Kolding I appreciate your you sentiments around small business,  agree we need affordable housing but MHA has too many loopholes and that what we are doing with homeless community members is neither compassionate or helping.  I would love to see some combination of Tavel, Greene and Kolding being the two choices in November. Good luck sir. Time for change!

  • Sarah F February 25, 2019 (11:53 pm)

    How does Mr Kolding propose reforming the current funding system for homeless services? The current system is extremely inefficient, whereby Federal, State, and local dollars are distributed to non-profit service providers. This is a suboptimal system by which most of the money goes to those nonprofits’ overheads, and leads to potential mismanagement of funds and even corruption. I know that the Human Services Department is the purview of the mayor’s office. How will Kolding specifically address oversight of these funds and possibly reform the system so that more, or most, of that money can be used to directly benefit the homeless clients?

  • WS Guy February 26, 2019 (1:29 am)

    Sign me up!  Make government boring again – please!

  • newnative February 26, 2019 (7:41 am)

    Fwiw, Safe Seattle is claiming him (stating their views align) and he has thanked them for the support. 

    • KM February 26, 2019 (8:24 am)


    • WSresident February 26, 2019 (9:02 am)

      Oh, no! The “boogeyman”!Listen, I don’t agree with Safe Seattle but there is room enough in this city for diversity of viewpoints. The only hate I see is from SJW’s who hold so much rancor in their hearts for anyone who doesn’t agree with them and will do anything they can to discredit and silence their opponents. That’s not freedom, it’s fascism. 

    • delridge72 February 26, 2019 (9:07 am)

      Works for me. Our current leadership in City Hall has only spend more and more of our tax monies with worse and worse results. (Do know that our city budget, which is now at $5.9B for 2019, it twice what it was in 2011.)Evidence and results matters. As do elections.

    • CAM February 26, 2019 (9:17 am)

      Good to know. Thanks.

    • KBear February 26, 2019 (9:18 am)

      For those who don’t know, Safe Seattle is basically a hate group masquerading as a non-profit. They disrupt meetings and file lawsuits aimed at driving people experiencing homelessness away, rather than supporting any action that might help them.

      • Apotheosis February 26, 2019 (11:13 am)

        For those who don’t know, Safe Seattle is basically a facebook group with a moderate/centrist political slant that frequently publishes reports and editorials on city politics with an emphasis on the dynamics between groups like SHARE, city leadership, the homelessness crisis, crime, policing, impacts on neighborhoods, etc. Since I follow and support this group, I can tell you specifically that “hate” is not my motivation for doing so. Like I assume many are, I am concerned with a proliferation of tent and RV encampments in the city and the elevated crime and and squalor that accompany them. Though I am not philosophically opposed to taxes, I am interested in the return on investment for the taxpaying citizens- we should expect transparency, accountability and results for monies spent on any policy effort, including addressing homelessness. Lastly, I share the concern expressed by Safe Seattle on the tone around policing – police officers have difficult jobs and the city and community should support rather than malign them and make their jobs more difficult.

        • KBear February 26, 2019 (1:23 pm)

          Apotheosis, how is this “moderate”?


          • Sixbuck February 26, 2019 (3:02 pm)

            Sounds an awful lot like Sawantism 

        • Sixbuck February 26, 2019 (2:09 pm)

          Whooooaaah there, dude!!There is no room for common sense in this city!!

        • WW Resident February 26, 2019 (2:37 pm)

          I didn’t know who Safe Seattle was so I checked their Facebook page and rules of engagement. They say some really terrible things like no disparaging homeless people, minorities, illegal immigrants and no racist insults and that doing so will cause you to be banned. Wow how terrible of them. And then I read a Stranger article where they went to a meeting and disrupted it. I guess they took up alt left tactics on that one

      • delridge72 February 26, 2019 (2:15 pm)

        What Apotheosis said. Also, Safe Seattle includes many liberals who are also tired of the same failed policies. Liberals like me, an LGBT person.

      • KM February 26, 2019 (3:30 pm)

        Not to mention posts from some members on that Facebook page, and their 2 (or more?) other pages, generally focused on doxxing or disparaging public employees, journalists, people with mental illness, and people experiencing homelessness. The candidates they support, including two of the founders who ran in 2017, have done poorly in elections. 

    • steve d February 27, 2019 (1:17 pm)

      So what?  AT least someone is thinking rationally about the issue, and not using it as a political football.

  • enid February 26, 2019 (7:49 am)

    I’m “all in” for Mr. Kolding!

  • anonyme February 26, 2019 (8:24 am)

    Mr. Kolding, I just mailed all 4 of my democracy vouchers to you.  Good luck!

    • Peter February 26, 2019 (9:56 am)

      Don’t do that yet! Wait until the candidate qualifies to receive them. You don’t get them back if you send them and then the candidate doesn’t meed the requirements to use them. Personally I hate the robbing taxpayers to enrich politicians “vouchers,” but as long as we have to pay taxes for them, don’t waste them. That said, any candidate who will repeal them will have a strong advantage in getting my vote.

      • West Seattle since 1979 February 26, 2019 (1:03 pm)

        I’m waiting until I see the entire field of candidates and they’ve all qualified before sending out any vouchers.  

        • WSB February 26, 2019 (2:31 pm)

          And just so everyone’s clear on that: The formal filing period isn’t until May. What’s happened so far is that people intending to run have registered their campaigns and intent to fundraise. You can “follow the money,” so to speak, via the state Public Disclosure Commission’s website:

  • Kim February 26, 2019 (8:36 am)

    Sounds like he has common sense.  Hallelujah! 

  • neighbor February 26, 2019 (8:43 am)

    I’m going to reply to this because I’m so tired of all the political infighting and purity tests. Comments like these imply that if a group I may not agree with likes someone, I should therefore *not* like that candidate. That’s a fallacy. In fact what we need are leaders who can bridge the divide between different perspectives and find solutions. 

    • CAM February 26, 2019 (9:51 am)

      I assume you are referring to the comment about Safe Seattle and I’d have to disagree with you about what it implies. In fact, it implies that a group that has odious views about homeless people thinks that the candidates views align with theirs. The candidate then thanked them for the endorsement. This is not a large group of people. Saying that he disagrees with their views but hopes to earn their vote anyway likely would have lost him those votes but he seems to either be happy with the comparison or is so concerned with getting votes that he’ll endorse anything. Neither of those are good things. This isn’t about purity and there is absolutely a way he could have responded which would have made clear how his views differed. The only logical conclusion is his views don’t differ. 

      • WSresident February 26, 2019 (3:10 pm)

        “This isn’t about purity and there is absolutely a way he could have responded which would have made clear how his views differed. The only logical conclusion is his views don’t differ. “Oh, please, let’s cut the sanctimonious act. So what if his “views” don’t differ. For some people that’s a feature, not a bug. Not everyone in D1 is as laissez-faire about the ineffectiveness of current city policies. Most people are sick and tired of the free-for-all chaos! Does West Seattle really need more Ryan Coxes and Kiara Wards posing a danger to society?!?!

  • Huck February 26, 2019 (8:48 am)

    I’ll take anyone over Herbold. ANYONE!

  • Doug February 26, 2019 (8:53 am)

    Finally a voice of reason W. Seattle can get behind.

  • delridge72 February 26, 2019 (9:08 am)

    Glad to see that we have both Kolding and Tavel running to replace Herbold. May common sense and results-driven decision-making prevail!

  • MrB February 26, 2019 (9:26 am)

    Anybody besides Lisa Herbold has my vote.  

  • Peter February 26, 2019 (9:49 am)

    Like all politicians, he’s not looking at all the causes and solutions to homelessness. Homelessness is not only a problem in itself, with many causes, but is a symptom of a much larger problem, which is our critical shortage of middle class housing. HALA is a first baby step in the right direction, and anyone who opposes even that tiny step toward addressing our acute housing shortage will never make a dent in homelessness. We need our elected leaders to realize that “affordable housing” is not the only worthwhile housing. If we don’t massively increase the amount of middle class housing, then lower end housing will just keep going up and up in cost as middle class people search for any kind of housing and effectively “bid up” what would otherwise be affordable market housing. It doesn’t look like Kolding will be any improvement over Herbold. Next.

  • alkiobserver February 26, 2019 (9:59 am)

    Love the perspective and direction both Kolding and Tavel are taking with their campaigns. So good to see rational counterbalance to the far left nonsense that has been the SCC failed modus operandi for far too long. Would love to see the likes of Herbold, O’Brien and Sawant replaced by adults like Kolding and Tavel.

  • Nolan February 26, 2019 (10:18 am)

    Briefly setting aside the fact that he thinks the council isn’t “supportive” enough of a police force so corrupt that the Justice Department had to step in and correct it, how do those positions differ from literally any other NIMBY? Homeless as lesser-than-human, check. Government “wasting” money, check. Corporate-friendly authoritarianism, check.This guy is a who’s who of the political positions you stake out when you just want to be mad at things.

    • Butterbeer February 26, 2019 (11:30 am)

      Interesting to me how the acronym NIMBY has become a slur to use against anybody who doesn’t agree with the ultra-left Seattle progressive position. If prioritizing the safety of my family and property and that of my immediate neighbors above the opinion of a group of activists and/or policymakers make me evil in your book, so be it. Reality is more nuanced than those caught in the cognitive-bias fringes of both sides are able to admit. Though he hasn’t yet convinced me to support him, I welcome Kolding’s legitimate positions to the arena.

      • Lagartija Nick February 26, 2019 (12:41 pm)

        It’s interesting to me that the acronym SJW has become a slur to use against anybody who doesn’t agree with the ultra right conservative position.Criminalizing the poor and unhoused just so you can feel safe is an abhorrent position.

        • Butterbeer February 26, 2019 (1:56 pm)

          I agree- SJW isn’t a useful label either – I didn’t use it.Not having funds to support yourself is tough spot to be in but ample opportunities do exist to help those that will accept them. If they refuse help and continue to break the law, there should be consequences. To be yet more “abhorrent,” I’ll say we should prioritize the safety of all citizens in the community by applying the law equally to all.You seem to speak of people experiencing homelessness as a monolithic group of victims with no agency of their own to better their circumstances. That view is condescending essential-ism- some people are solely experiencing  an economic issue due to job loss or rent increase. Some have problems with mental illness. Others are drug addicts. In each of these cases, a combination of causes or a precipitating crisis led to the situation they are in – our goal should be to help each individual get to a place where they can help themselves, not encourage a “lifestyle” of law-breaking (illegal camping, etc) that infringes on others’ rights and erodes the social order.

        • WW Resident February 26, 2019 (2:33 pm)

          Funny, I didn’t realize that classical liberal and professor, Brent Weinstein was an ultra right conservative cause he’s used the term SJW and in the context you probably don’t like. In fact, despite your hyperbole, there are many moderates who use that term describing the alt left

      • Nolan February 26, 2019 (5:51 pm)

        If you don’t like the shoe, don’t put your foot in it. Safe injection sites and unconditional housing are empirically proven to work in a way that Kolding’s “kick them out, but compassionately” approach does not. Opposing them is necessarily making us ALL worse off because you value your (provably wrong) feelings more than actual facts or statistics. Not all opinions are equal, and in this particular case, it’s a denial of fact.

    • Nolan2 February 26, 2019 (2:02 pm)

      There we go,  the token police hater has revealed them self. Congrats, I look forward to some more rants from you. At least we know you are qualified on the mental health issue.

  • MJ February 26, 2019 (11:57 am)

    Brendan sounds promising.  Holding criminals accountable is appropriate, catch and release is not an effective approach. Also, I like his response to homeless either accept help or move along and stop illegally camping and littering.  

    • KBear February 26, 2019 (12:17 pm)

      MJ, where is this “help” you speak of? There isn’t enough “help” to go around, because people like you want to criminalize homelessness rather than spend what it takes to provide the kind of help that would make a difference.

  • rico February 26, 2019 (12:39 pm)

     According to the city, help is offered every time the navigation team deals with an encampment, what more help do you suggest we pay for now.

    • newnative February 26, 2019 (2:13 pm)

      The leading cause of homelessness is eviction, likely caused by rising rents. What type of “help” can the navigation teams offer when a person is working or already set up with disability benefits but simply cannot afford rent? People keep commenting on helping the homeless as if they are all hanging out, on drugs, out of work and/or just need a meal. Shelters work yes, but we need to concentrate on preventing homelessness in the first place. His stance against tiny home villages is unfortunate as well.

      • delridge72 February 26, 2019 (2:27 pm)

        No. The leading cause of homelessness is drug addiction and untreated mental health issues.

        • newnative February 26, 2019 (5:36 pm)

          https://nlchp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Homeless_Stats_Fact_Sheet.pdfI haven’t seen anything supporting that claim. The disparity in incomes is huge in Seattle and the ability to evict is too easy. 

          • WW Resident February 26, 2019 (7:20 pm)

            Your link states itself that even defining homeless is tricky because different definitions exist and family members living with other family members can be considered homeless. Do you really think that all of these filthy encampments in Seattle are simply the result of rent hikes? I have spoken to many officers who have first hand experience dealing with these encampments and they say that people in these encampments are either mentally ill and /or drug addicts, sometimes well known (to police) criminals and even sex offenders trying to not register as a sex offender. King 5 just ran a story stating that Pioneer Square is seeing a 30% increase in crime largely due to homeless individuals. Is that due to rent hikes?There were issues in Magnolia with a bunch of homeless RVs and theft in the neighborhood. When one resident found some of his stolen property in front of one of the RVs and told the homeless person this, he says threatened with violence. Was that homeless person a victim of rent hikes? The Navigation Team says that about 33% of the people contacted accept services ( whether they stick with those services is another story) which would mean that about 67% don’t. Who in their right mind would deny help to get back on their feet if the reason they became homeless was due to rent hikes? I would put money down that if me and you went on an encampment tour in Seattle that the reason most are homeless is because of either mental illness and /or drug /alcohol addiction, not rent hikes. 

      • JJ February 26, 2019 (6:46 pm)

        Wow, NEWNATIVE. Reading your comment I get the strangest feeling of familiarity….Eerily canny…Anyway, there is no single cause of homelessness. Most homeless people are not the so-called visible homeless. In fact, the long-term, visible homeless are statistically more likely to be the mentally ill or those who face difficulties integrating into society for whatever reason. If you are who I think you are, you would know this. 

        • newnative February 26, 2019 (7:13 pm)

          Of course there’s no single cause. I am countering the oft repeated claim that most/all homeless just need access to mental health services. I am not sure what you’re referencing about me knowing anything. 

  • delridge72 February 26, 2019 (2:17 pm)

    Yet another audit of our city’s continued failed polices and response to homelessness, reported today:https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/seattle-city-auditor-criticizes-homelessness-response-in-navigation-team-report/925508619?fbclid=IwAR1J5ILFTdVDcHVzOjxeaOpwufdAUdB6ST-HcN2yRnC6DLZCgW1zJzkGXWwSolution? New leadership is needed across the board.

  • rico February 26, 2019 (2:54 pm)

    I don’t buy the rising rents as the reason for living on the streets.  Move somewhere less expensive, find roommates ect.  This is not rocket science.  I am sure there are some cases where these are not viable solutions, but I speculate that these cases are not the norm.

  • anonyme February 27, 2019 (7:36 am)

    The labeling of Safe Seattle as a hate group is a hateful, misleading, libelous statement, spread by groups and/or individuals profiting from the homelessness crisis.  It’s a shame that any view that is not lockstep left, leaning instead toward a more fair and logical approach, is branded as hate, alt-right, or Trump-loving.  This is a form of virtue-signaling, but unfortunately, the ‘virtue’ espoused is often more hateful (and less thoughtful) than that which it condemns.

Sorry, comment time is over.