ELECTION 2019: Final forum for West Seattle/South Park City Council candidates, pre-primary

One last time before the vote counting begins next Tuesday, the three candidates for the Seattle City Council District 1 seat (West Seattle/South Park) sat side by side Monday night, answering questions. This final pre-primary forum was at West Seattle Library in The Admiral District, presented by the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County, with about two dozen people there to watch. KNKX radio reporter Simone Alicea moderated, asking questions including some written on cards and submitted by attendees.

The forum began with an up-to-three-minute opening statement from each candidate – Phil Tavel, then Brendan Kolding, then Lisa Herbold. As we’ve done with most of this year’s forums, we recap with key points rather than full transcriptions:

TAVEL: “I believe we can do better.” A training experience some years ago “really opened my eyes to what you can do when you step up for public service.” He decided to use experience from his careers – including teaching and law. He thinks the city doesn’t need to have so many either/ors – “you can be pro-business without being anti-labor,” for example. “I think I bring a lot to the table.”

KOLDING: “I’m running for this office because I believe this city is in crisis … I feel I have particular skills and expertise I can apply.” He believes his background in SPD will be valuable in dealing with key issues such as public safety and homelessness. He’s inspired by people coming out to hear from the candidates.

HERBOLD: In 2015 she ran on a platform of “better rights” for renters and workers, and feels she has delivered. She also promised to deliver “better constituent services” and feels she has delivered on that. The city inarguably has “large challenges,” but “I believe that when we work together on these nuts and bolts things, we can truly address the challenges this city faces.”

First question: What are the three most important issues facing the district and what do you propose to address them?

KOLDING: Homelessness: Services, shelter, enforce the law.
Public safety: Council needs a supportive voice for police.
Transportation: Supports light-rail tunnel.

HERBOLD: Homelessness: Accountability, housing affordability, double down on enhanced shelter and permanent supportive housing.
Transportation: Need to renew Prop 1 next year to keep funding more transit.
Public safety

TAVEL: Homelessness: Transitional housing program for people who would otherwise be homeless as they leave jail. Need more community-based solutions for substance abuse.
Public safety: “Need more police on the street.”
Transportation: Protect Junction free parking; light rail “purple line”.

Second question: Biggest challenge facing City Council, and how would you solve it?

HERBOLD: Public safety. Council approved expanding police force, expanding SPD budget, hiring bonuses, back pay, but federal consent decree is hampering hiring. Need to work with SPD and police union to get out from under it.

TAVEL: Council needs to work together “for all of the people of Seattle.” Currently seems to be “government by a select few for a select few.” He believes he can bring people together to problem-solve.

KOLDING: “People just aren’t happy.” Council needs to make people feel comfortable, valued, like they’re “getting their money’s worth.” He feels starting with a “clean slate” will help.

Third question: What to do about homeless campers who are resistant to services?

TAVEL: Court says it’s not illegal to live on the street so we have to have places for people to go so we can say “here are your options.” When something is illegal, we should enforce the law.

KOLDING: Get enough services available to offer people treatment, shelter, services. Enforce the law.

HERBOLD: Challenges “the notion that the city is not enforcing the laws,” saying at least half a dozen encampments are being removed every week. RVs are “being asked to mve.” Need to “ramp up our investment in the interventions that we know work.”

Fourth question: Assess city’s response to homelessness, what’s being done well, what could be better?

HERBOLD: Repeats that more investment is needed in permanent supportive housing. Focus on interventinns that work best. Move toward regional approach on homelessness to align approaches and decisions.

KOLDING: “Hard to be able to identify something the city has done well.” Every person exiting homelessness is a good thing. Need to take a different approach, to use money more efficiently – if most successful providers are getting 35% housed, what’s happening to other 65%? Need to use “FEMA-style tents” as transitional shelter.

TAVEL: Declaring state of emergency was good. Acting without urgency has been bad. The city has said there’s a problem “but it just keeps getting worse.” He feels the city has let that happen. Need new leaders.

Fifth question: Do you support ‘safe injection sites’ and if you do, where should they be?


TAVEL: “Not a good idea at all” but “the idea for longtime (users) to have a place to inject and not die on the street” has value.

HERBOLD: Stresses that there is no current plan. What’s been proposed previously “is King County’s plan and is on hold because of federal lawsuits.” But she supports the idea of having one, to save lives.

Sixth question: What transportation changes would you fight for?

HERBOLD: Renewing Prop 1 to keep investing in extra bus services. Also supports Safe Routes for Schools pedestrian projects. Accountability and oversight for other upcoming projects like RapidRide H Line conversion/Delridge improvements.

TAVEL: Bus lane from West Seattle Bridge to Highway 99. Hire more bus drivers, add more maintenance facilities, connector buses, expand Water Taxi.

KOLDING: Safety. More-frequent bus service, examine bus-stop locations. “Parking is a huge issue” – go back to requiring parking to be included in all projects.

Seventh question: How to improve accessibility for transit?

KOLDING: Would research what’s working/not working.

HERBOLD: Using proviso reviews to address for example the bus-stop spacing concerns on RapidRide H conversion.

TAVEL: Would audit SDOT. Match stats and work plans to “greatest need.”

Eighth question: Do you support zoning restrictions to preserve a neighborhood’s character?

TAVEL: “As long as you can find a way to still grow and add density where it’s needed.”

HERBOLD: Landmarking process was used to address this in The Junction. Ensured that neighborhood planning will happen in The Junction with light rail coming.

KOLDING: Yes, but it’s not an “either/or” with density/upzoning.

Ninth question: How would you suggest the city finance policies regarding homelessness?

HERBOLD: Going to bond against existing sales tax so we can spend $50 million more on permanent supportive housing, which will leverage three to four times that from other government sources. We also need to “continue a conversation about progressive revenue” because of regressive taxation.

KOLDING: “We have the funds to address homelessness” in budget already. Need to spend it differently.

TAVEL: Also thinks we have enough money already, so wants to audit city spending to figure out how to better allocate/spend it.

Tenth question: We live in a historic time of income inequality. How do we change that?

KOLDING: “Stop the bleeding” re: taxing people too much.

TAVEL: “This is not something that a local City Council can necessarily attack,” but programs can help like union job training to help people increase their income.

HERBOLD: Agrees that helping people find better job opportunities is big. Also must “turn upside-down tax system right-side up,” reducing city’s reliance on sales and property tax. Mentions the recent ruling invigorating the fight for income tax to replace some of that.

Eleventh question: How would you reach out to people with opposing views?

TAVEL: Find common ground. “The divisiveness needs to stop.”

HERBOLD: She has a reputation as “somebody who will meet with anybody.” She has pulled together “stakeholder groups of opposing sides” on issues she’s worked on.

KOLDING: Listen to everybody. Work on intra-council negotiations.

Twelfth question: How to ensure you’re representing constituents of all income levels?

HERBOLD: Be accessible. Also set up structures to ensure low-income people’s voices are heard.

KOLDING: Be accessible.

TAVEL: Be accessible.

Thirteenth question:One thing you want other councilmembers to know about District 1?

TAVEL: Different needs, and a bit of a different vibe – even tried to secede.

KOLDING: West Seattle and South Park are truly special places.

HERBOLD: D-1 understands that growth and change are happening but want a place at the table.

Closing statements:

KOLDING: Thanks his opponents for the campaign, “we’ve really had a hell of a time.” To voters – if you’re not happy, we need change.

HERBOLD: Also expresses appreciation for opponents. Wanted “more light, less heat” in the campaign and appreciates that it’s gone that way. Feels she’s kept the commitments she made in first run.

TAVEL: Also expresses gratitude. Moved here because he fell in love with Seattle. Wants to see the city reach its potential. Excited by the opportunity to help.

VOTING: Get your ballot into the mail by August 6th (remember, postage is now prepaid) or a dropbox (here are the locations) by 8 pm that night.

32 Replies to "ELECTION 2019: Final forum for West Seattle/South Park City Council candidates, pre-primary"

  • WSMOM July 31, 2019 (7:49 am)

    Thanks for posting and covering this WSB.Kolding all the way for some real change. 

  • Pete July 31, 2019 (7:51 am)

    No matter who you are thinking of voting for……make sure to get your ballots in before the deadline. Think your vote doesn’t matter? Remember that in 2015 the District 1 race was decided by 39 votes. So every vote counts. Make sure that yours is in there to be counted. Our democracy only works when the citizens participate. 

  • Melissa July 31, 2019 (8:18 am)

    Thanks very much for the recap. I love Herbold’s comment that this campaigning period has provided “more light, less heat.” That’s a balm in these times. I am sorry that none of the candidates talked about the general lack of low- and middle-income housing in this city and the relationship between that and homelessness.  

  • BrainTrust July 31, 2019 (10:14 am)

    Moderator:  *Asks how to improve response to homelessness*Tavel: We need more accountability and a regional approach.Herbold: I agree with Tavel, but we need more money.*A little while later*Herbold: Stopping funding until communities are sufficiently engaged is how we get accountability!Which is it Herbold???Also, I love how Herbold shot super far left to begin with but now that she realizes she’s underestimated her opponents she’s doubling back and adopting all of Tavel’s talking points. Tavel for Seattle!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • WSB July 31, 2019 (1:38 pm)

      Apologies if my summarizing fell short. The second part of your comment is not a “talking point,” it’s something Herbold’s been doing for quite some time – our archives go back to a mention almost two years ago of her sponsorship of this to keep a closer watch on the Delridge Multimodal Corridor Project aka RapidRide H Line conversion – the use of budget provisos to require council updates at certain points in the project before more spending is authorized:
      This has since resulted in project reviews we’ve also covered.

      • Still Waiting July 31, 2019 (2:14 pm)

        I’m not sure how this disputes the point @BrainTrust is making. It sounds like they’re unsure why Herbold is FOR withholding funds for accountability in SDOT but not okay with doing the same thing in other areas. Regarding homelessness she does the opposite – pushes for more funding without demanding accountability. That’s not from your summary, that’s from her own words in the video.

  • raybro July 31, 2019 (10:46 am)

    QUESTION:  Do you support ‘safe injection sites’ and if you do, where should they be? TAVEL: “Not a good idea at all” but “the idea for longtime (users) to have a place to inject and not die on the street” has value.So, this is the great answer that the business community is vigorously supporting!?!?  What an abject joke.

    .  Seriously?  What a joke.

  • Peter July 31, 2019 (11:55 am)

    I am extremely proud to have not voted for any of them. None of them are adequately addressing the most sever problem facing Seattle: We need A LOT more housing. Our sever housing shortage contributes to numerous problems: high and growing housing costs as prices for even modest apartments and houses are bid up by people who will pay a lot just to have anywhere to live in the city, homelessness which fundamentally will never improve without the housing for them to move into and will be worsened as housing prices rise, increasing income inequality in the city as we only build housing for the rich and the poor while the middle class is forced out of the city, increasing CO2 emissions due to people having longer commutes after being forced out of the city, and those are only a few of the problems. Nibbling around the edges with ADUs and limited, watered down zoning changes with increased fees will do nothing for housing availability or cost in the short or long term. We need major revisions to our zoning laws, more efficient permitting, eliminate ineffective and inefficient “design review,” eliminate parking requirements, and remove excessive fees that make housing more expensive. None of them are willing to do what needs to be done. These three give half-hearted lip service to housing at best, but they are not addressing city policies and processes that continue to force housing costs up, thereby increasing homelessness and forcing what’s left of the middle class out of the city. 

    • KM July 31, 2019 (12:46 pm)

      Peter, I understand your frustration. I respect anyone who gives as much consideration to voting, even if they don’t vote. I see how votes truly matter in local elections where we aren’t bogged down by the electoral college. I find Brandon and Phil downright toxic to the future of our city, so although Herbold has been a bit of a disappointment, I’ll vote for her just to make sure the other two don’t end up in governing positions. Lisa is definitely the least parking-centric, most housing- and climate-friendly of the three, and I reminded myself as I voted, wishing we had the candidate riches of other districts.

      • Jort July 31, 2019 (2:16 pm)

        Good comment, KM. I, also, am not a moron and know that the lesser of three evils is still better than the other two. When I received a flyer from Lisa bragging about all the car parking spaces she saved, standing and grinning next to the owner of Luna Park Cafe (who spit in Lisa’s face by  donating $500 to the campaign of fringe arch-conservative council candidate Ari Hoffman) over their shared passion for automobile storage, I slapped my forehead and was reminded again of how frustrating it is to have these choices. But, again, I don’t always get what I want and sometimes we all have to do the best with what we’re given. Disappointingly, for me, that’s a reluctant vote fpr Lisa “Seattle Process” Herbold. 

      • Peter July 31, 2019 (3:53 pm)

        You make a good point, and I agree that either Tavel or Kolding would be a far sight worse for the city than Herbold, which will factor into my vote in the general election, but I just can’t reward her poor performance with a primary vote. Of course, I also don’t think there’s any chance of Herbold not making it to the general election. Despite the Tavel signs in the windows of so many businesses, I don’t personally know many actual individual voters who support him, but he seems popular enough to make it to the general. Kolding seems to only appeal to an angry fringe, he’s got no chance.

        • Peter August 1, 2019 (6:51 pm)

          I retract my previous comment. I will never under any circumstances vote for any of these cars first last and always idiots. There is no substantial difference between any of these imbeciles. They are all anti housing and all for cars first transportation policies. I hate them all, each of them will be a disaster for Seattle, West Seattle, the Earth, and the survival of the human race. 

  • oakley34 July 31, 2019 (1:01 pm)

    There is one serious candidate.  Vote Herbold.

  • Jort July 31, 2019 (1:02 pm)

    BINGO! He did it! I got a Bingo on my “Brendan Kolding Meaningless Platitude” Bingo Card for “FEMA-style tents.” It’s been a while but I just knew he would come through for me!

  • Concerned citizen July 31, 2019 (1:55 pm)

    Herbold is so ridiculous. Asking RVs to move? What an effective strategy your council has implemented. Vote this failure out.

  • Junction resident July 31, 2019 (3:48 pm)

    Tavel is the only moderate in this conversation. It’s time for pragmatic leadership. Too much is at stake to keep experimenting with homelessness, growth management, and transportation projects. Lisa Herbold basically authored the head tax with zero plan for the money… “just give us more money and trust us to use it.” She has lead the charge for affordable housing and yet only made it harder for renters. And she ultimately, and antagonistically, works from a baseline of “us versus them” political ideology. Admittedly, she does not represent us all and because of that represents even fewer of us actually than she realizes. Kolding, speaks truth, and I respect that. But a former cop who left the department under legitimate concerns, is not someone can represent our district credibly. His lack of true empathy is problematic and his real world experience seems limited. I want us as a city to create laws that make sense and then enforce them. I want more police. I want officers to know we both respect and appreciate them. But it’s not our fault SPD is in the situation their in. Cultural departmental changes were and still are necessary. And that can only happen with time and real leadership. I hope we don’t repeat the mistakes made nationally and elect a leader that drives us apart by exploiting divisions. Now is the time for moderate, pragmatic, and even populist representation to lead Seattle into its next chapter. I believe that can happen with Phil Tavel. Let’s leave the politics of extreme positions and adopt the politician who is the least divisive. We need real solutions and to bring people together again. Respectfully submitted. 

  • Thomas Wood July 31, 2019 (4:11 pm)

    Lisa won’t be happy until she gets a income tax.Anyone who believes that the city state and county would reduce any taxes .If the state implemented a income tax is fooling themselves.Just read what Lisa said create more revenue streams.The city leadership would love to push your house down and stick you in one of those concrete boxes.

    • Canton July 31, 2019 (9:27 pm)

      Agree, not sure why Lisa touts all of her successes when taxes are going nuts, nothing is changing and she’s looking for new streams. A question for Lisa. If you are looking for more revenue, aka head tax on business, why is the city focused on gross revenue vs net? Businesses with thin margins, like grocery and restaurants, can’t take that hit. The city is flush with money. Look at all the non profits coming out of the woodwork.

  • ScubaFrog July 31, 2019 (4:51 pm)

    Kobold has proven himself to be a real creep.  Likely a stalker, who knows — what he did to his co-worker was awful.  Very sick.  The trumpanzees love him (typical low-brow imbeciles).  A vote for kobold’s a vote for single-celled organisms.Sadly no one wins with these candidates.  Homelessness will keep skyrocketing with the current imbecilic septuagenarian mayor, and impotent city council.  With 0% Corporate Sales Tax (often negative corporate sales tax rate), we all lose all the time (while filth like non-philanthropist jeff bezos make $165,500,000 and a negative tax rate).  Time to bump the corporate tax rate up to 3%, and it is time to tax the top 10% harshly. I have no problem paying my fair share. 

    • WSB July 31, 2019 (5:05 pm)

      The mayor is nine years away from being a septuagenarian.

    • kj July 31, 2019 (10:57 pm)

      Who is “Kobold?” How can anyone take this seriously when you don’t even know the candidate?

  • Mj July 31, 2019 (5:52 pm)

    Lisa needs to go, she is very unfriendly to small busineses.

  • East Coast Cynic July 31, 2019 (9:33 pm)

    Tavel on changes to public transportation — “Bus Lane from West Seattle Bridge to 99”, you mean like the one we have now?   For the redundancy that we need, vote Tavel?At the Q & A at the West Seattle Summer Fest, it was good to read that Lisa Herbold supports going through with West Seattle Link even in the absence of funding for a tunnel unlike Kolding’s insular rejection of link and Tavel’s wishy washy “go back to the people” (How? a focus group?) Granted there will be displacement with elevated link, but those who are will be fairly compensated.  The peninsula is much more than the Junction and link will be desperately needed and used by those who live far away from the Junction when the time comes for it to open.  Think of the growth we will have in West Seattle by 2030 and the likely inability of our main surface option–the West Seattle Bridge–to handle the increased commuter numbers by that time.Vote for Herbold.

  • Victor_Hugo August 1, 2019 (12:24 am)

    Before casting your vote, you should all Google Kolding. He was facing termination for harassing a subordinate and then lying when they confronted him about it.  Do we really want that kind of a person leading the charge for West Seattle?

    • Canton August 1, 2019 (7:17 am)

      He gave the subordinate a job posting for a different job, hardly harassment.

      • Jort August 1, 2019 (8:48 am)

        And then, when asked about it, he LIED. Probably a dumb idea for a cop to do, but, hey, he hates the homeless and wants to round them up, so let’s ignore that he was facing termination for being an outright LIAR.

        • Groucho Marx August 1, 2019 (6:44 pm)

          Yes, I am sure you were TOTALLY going to vote for Kolding but are so troubled by the bizarre and largely unexplained events that you must now vote for Herbold and repeatedly pound the moral high ground and put LIAR in caps.Can’t deny the Kolding thing was weird but what is weirder and more troubling are that people are living on the side of the road and changing their clothes and shaking their junk at people driving by.  I’ll vote for whoever is going to address that issue.

  • PangolinPie August 1, 2019 (8:36 am)

    Apparently there was more to it than that:
    “Seattle police internal investigators found that former Lt. Brendan Kolding violated “multiple (Seattle Police Department) policies” and a city personnel rule against workplace harassment by sending an insulting letter to another officer’s workplace last year, newly released records show….Internal investigators ultimately sustained five misconduct violations — including dishonesty — against Kolding, who is now running for City Council. Kolding resigned from the department before the internal investigation was finished, saying he was leaving to campaign for the council full-time.”


    Honestly, I was not planning on voting for Herbold, but this was enough to point me away from Kolding too. Looks like it’s Tavel for me.

  • Victor_Hugo August 1, 2019 (8:55 am)

    You think that’s all there is to that story? Why did he lie about it then? Why did internal affairs recommend he be terminated?

  • janet August 1, 2019 (8:59 am)

    Herbold has proven her consistent failure, except for a win or two for a select few here and there. We need mediation back on the council. Herbold can’t get anything past, or gain her colleagues support. So how do you think she can get anything done for residents here in D1? I am voting for Tavel. At least he promises to hear us and has a strong record of listening and bringing people together. I trust him to get the job done that Seattle needs, not just the job that ideologues are beholden to.

  • MJ August 1, 2019 (1:05 pm)

    Jort there are many voters that are frustrated with the homeless issue.  After being assaulted by a homeless man at my front door last summer and seeing the enforcement double standard first hand, he did not get arrested, was not forced to pay restitution for damages or held accountable I have little sympathy.  The carrat has not worked its time to try a stick.  The money being spent on this issue could have funded libraries thus negating the library levy that was to have been a one time request.

  • Trickycoolj August 1, 2019 (5:30 pm)

    One of the candidate’s canvassers ignored my No Soliciting sign and just dumped a flier on the door mat after standing around waiting abnormally long looking confused why someone wasn’t answering during 8-5pm work hours. Perhaps we’re at work? Poor form. 

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