Four weeks from today, your ballot will be in the mail, and it’ll be almost time to vote in the primary. Highest-profile race in our area is of course City Council District 1, to decide which two of the three candidates will move on to the November general election. Last night, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council hosted two candidates for conversation-style appearances. Last month, Phil Tavel talked with the DNDC (WSB video coverage here), so this month, it was time to hear from and talk with Brendan Kolding and Lisa Herbold. About 25 people were there; each candidate spoke for 43 minutes, including Q&A. We again recorded it all.
If you don’t have time to watch – our toplines are below:
Kolding went first. He began by noting that he’s a Delridge resident, and mentioned two Delridge-specific issues, the area’s status as a “food desert” and the Delridge-Genesee bus stop, whih he described as a “tragedy waiting to happen.”
Kolding, who quit his police-lieutenant job to campaign full time, said he’s mostly running because Seattle is “in crisis” and cited his law-enforcement experiment as a prime qualification.
He asked “Do you feel Seattle’s on the right track?” and replies of “no” rippled around the room.
He blamed “poor leadership” for how we got here. He said his wife took their three young kids out that afternoon so he could prep for this appearance and, he said, his wife found a needle at Alki Beach: “That pisses me off to no end.”
He went into his “carrot and stick” policy for getting people with addiction and other problems off the street. “It’s going to involve having enough services and shelter online,” because of a court ruling.
Kolding went on to voice concern about the “public safety crisis.” He says he hears more and more sirens and sees less and less officers proactively patrolling “because they’re going from call to call to call.” While noting that incumbent Councilmember Herbold hadn’t arrived yet, he said that while she would say she supports police because she supports their funding, that’s not what they care about. “I know why they’re leaving and why they are not telling their friends to come.”
He also said he’s for fiscal responsibility and that Seattle needs to be a more business-friendly community. He hailed Amazon for its philanthropy
He also said he doesn’t favor upzoning without transportation infrastructure to support it.
Shortly thereafter, he opened the floor to questions. First one: Are you concerned about any of the RapidRide H proposed changes?
Kolding: General feedback from the community is that they don’t want to lose any parking. That’s part of what people see as a “war on cars.”
Second question: What about ST3 options? “I’m in favor of the tunnel,” says Kolding. He doesn’t yet know how to find the money for it, though.
Third question: How do you balance citywide and district-specific issues? Many of the former DO affect West Seattle/South Park too, Kolding observes.
Fourth question: Longtime local resident says he hasn’t seen a lot of true urban planning. Kolding agrees.
Fifth question: Which three committees would he want to serve on?
*Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education
*Budget committee (which actually is an all-council committee)
*”The development one” (Planning, Land Use & Zoning) – he added that “the MHA needs to be revisited,” voicing concern about developers/builders being able to pay fees instead of including affordable housing in their projects.
Sixth question was from someone making more of a statement, contending that the port should be in the city/state jurisdiction rather than run by its own commission. This attendee also brought up a variety of Terminal 5-related issues that have been publicly addressed many times.
Seventh question: If elected, how would you get up to speed? Kolding promised to “dive into job and be committed to it,” says he’s “learned a lot” while campaigning full time. Has he attended council meetings? He says he’s watched online, but had been at some pre-candidacy.
Not long after that, it was Herbold’s turn.
She said it’s an honor to serve as D-1’s first district-elected councilmember and that she has tried to “make City Hall work for people” … if I can show constituents that we can address things in their neighborhoods then we can address the big things too.” She spoke a bit about her family and then listed some of the people who she said have endorsed her.
Herbold said she is building her platform around issues she’s hearing the most about while doorbelling:
While she says we’re moving people out of homelessness more quickly than ever, people aren’t seeing that on the streets. While she agrees there’s “no debate” that homelessness has many causes, she believes the universal answer is “more affordable housing.” She also touts enhanced shelter – where you don’t get kicked out in the morning and you can bring pets and partners -“that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing more results.”
Re: public safety, Herbold said she initiated the community service officers’ comeback, funded 2 years ago, just implemented by mayor this year
“We need to be creative in how we’re going to meet staffing goal for SPD,” she adds, saying SPD fell behind starting a year ago, while also noting that 85% of large cities are not meeting staffing goals and that large businesses have a lot of job openings too.
Asked about the MHA fee, she contended that the in-lieu fee goes further because every dollar can be multiplied. She says the money is being “distributed throughout the city … not just the low-income parts.” Both types of MHA $ have roles to play
An attendee asked her how she would grade her performance and the council as a whole. She notes that she’s answered that before, and says, B- for both. So why do consttuent seem to be so upset with the council? the attendee presses. Herbold replied that she thinks people have a disconnect in understanding who’s accountable for what, such as in the oft-repeated allegation that the “city council has tied police’s hands” – she pointed out, “The city council is not in the police’s chain of command.” And: “Most of the things that people are complaining about are the implementation of policy, not the policy itself,” the latter being the council’s main accountability.
She also said she spends a lot of time explaining to people what really is being done – for example, people are claiming encampments aren’t being removed, but they are. In her view, the city is “not doing a very good job of telling the story about what it’s been doing.”
One attendee brings up an encampment alongside I-5 by the east end of the West Seattle Bridge. Herbold says it’s WSDOT property. “We are not allowed to manage the property of state government.”
The RapidRide H concerns question is asked, and, what is her office doing to address those concerns?.
Herbold mentioned that it’s subject to an oversight method for capital projects that she championed, with a budget proviso requiring council to get briefed and sign off at certain points of the project. Regarding specific concerns such as stop spacing, she said she feels there have been compromises addressing those concerns. She also said she’s met with greenway advocates and West Seattle Bike Connections as part of planning/vetting and “if I need to get more voices, I will.”
Asked about ADUs and density, she says that the Environmental Impact Statement that recently withstood a challenge suggests about 440 will be built each year citywide, and that’s not likely to have much impact.
Asked about the golf courses’ future, Herbold said that it’s counted against open space and she hears from people who wish it wasn’t all devoted to golf: “I want to learn more before I come down on one side or the other.”
Then she was asked about the Seattle Planning Commission’s Neighborhoods For All initiative seeking a move away from single-family zoning as it now exists. She says she’s “open to looking at some of those ideas.”
Next issue – she was asked if she really believes 75 percent of people polled support “safe injection sites.” She said two polls suggested as much, but “I call them overdose prevention sites … they’re focused on saving lives …”
After a few quick miscellaneous matters, single-family zoning came up again. An attendee said Minneapolis ended it. Not true, said Herbold; they changed their Comprehensive Plan but haven’t gotten to the zoning changes, yet.
About the West Seattle Junction Association’s parking-lot tussle, Herbold said she’s working with the WSJA on some Business Improvement Area rule changes that might help the WSJA’s operations.
WHAT’S NEXT: All three D-1 candidates are scheduled to have presences at Saturday’s Morgan Junction Community Festival.