VIDEO: City Council District 1 candidates’ first faceoff post-primary

(WSB photos/video)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The general-election campaign for Seattle City Council District 1 officially kicked into higher gear tonight, with the first of at least five post-primary forums/debates.

The District 1 Community Network organized this one, attended by more than 25 people at the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse. Phil Tavel and Lisa Herbold spent an hour and a half answering questions posed by Chris Porter, drawn up in advance by organizers.

It was a polite event, no major disagreements, no attacks. We didn’t transcribe the full responses – you can watch our video (update: added below):

If something is in quote marks, it’s a quote; otherwise it’s a summary/paraphrase and the words are those of your reporter. After 1-minute introductions that each candidate gave. here’s how it went:

1ST Q: South Delridge has become overwhelmed with nuisance houses. Councilmember Herbold has worked with the community but it’s still a problem. What more will you do?

LH: A new monitoring law has been passed but community help is needed to identify these buildings and report them to SDCI. (On followup, what more will she do?) Property owners can get monitoring fee waived if they allow the vacant building to be used as housing for a caretaker – work toward that being utilized.

PT: The city is moving in the right direction. (On followup, what more will he do?) Empowering community groups, having police talk with community members about reporting problems when they see them.

2ND Q: South Delridge is still a food desert. How do you address that?

LH: Passed a resolution recently re: a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to require city to work with community on Neighborhood Planning for South Delridge.

PT: Delridge (Grocery) Co-op is finally launching and everyone possible in WS should join it. Neighborhood planning is important too.

Moderator followup: Is the Delridge Grocery Coop the best we can do to solve that “food desert” problem?

LH: Talking about appropriate zoning in SD is an important step – a grocery store can’t happen without appropriate zoning, same for density required to support one.

PT: We should support it as much as possible, as a start.

3RD Q: White Center annexation?

PT: Annexing WC is something that Seattle should do if the people of WC want it. They may not, currently, with concern that Seattle is not being run well. But if they are annexed and want to stay with Highline Public Schools, they should be able to. (On followup) WC is a more welcoming home for new businesses right now without being part of the city.

LH: We’re not moving forward on it right now because negotiations are stalled regarding the (unincorporated South Park) sliver by the river. I’m concerned about bringing in another underserved neighborhood when we already have one (the in-city part of SP). (On followup re: welcoming new businesses) “We definitely have a big-city bureaucracy to deal with.”

4TH Q: What can be done to keep all transportation mode users safe?

LH: I recently voted to support implementation of update on Bicycle Master Plan,voted last year to implement updated Pedestrian Master Plan, and now we’re going into the budget cycle to figure out how to fund all that. (On followup, how is SDOT doing?) There’s a large backlog and we need to get projects out the door. Next week I’m introducing a new resolution directing SDOT to figure out how to deal with broken sidewalks.

PT: We’re not doing enough – need better education on driving safely. Also, SDOT is doing a bad job engineering.

5TH Q: Does Transportation Benefit District funding need to be extended or replaced?

LH: TBD funding for Metro is one of the best things we’ve done; we definitely need to renew it. The county also should consider doing something similar. I’m concerned about the Eyman initiative because we could lose a big chunk of funding for TBD.

PT: We don’t have enough bus drivers, maintenance sheds, need to work on that, maybe with different transit engineers.

6TH Q: How will you work to fulfill Move Seattle levy promises and projects? Can those promises be kept?

LH: Been working with city budget office on new capital oversight system for some high-risk projects to be on watch list that they don’t go over budget and off schedule – RapidRide H Line is one example. They can’t even get funding until they come to council and prove they’re fulfilling the plan.

PT: Bad track record so far since I moved here in ’90s. We need better oversight – that’s why I want to audit SDOT.

7TH Q: Gentrification – lots of it in South Park. How can it stay affordable in the face of all this?

LH: Working with Duwamish Valley Housing Coalition, which is working with city and banks for affordable community-owned housing projects. Working on one such project right now. I also have legislation pending right now to require developers to replace affordable housing that’s torn down.

PT: Gentrification isn’t about affordable housing, it’s about loss of a community. Just saw “On the Brink” (screened in West Seattle last weekend) about what happened in CD. South Park shouldn’t be an urban village, shouldn’t be in HALA MHA. (On followup) City could have done more to protect CD’s culture – it’s kind of late now – being there, talking with leaders, what do you need (etc.).

8TH Q: Opioid crisis – are we doing enough?

PT: Absolutely not. Failing on multiple levels. Being at the point where we’re OK with people doing drugs out in the street is wrong. My clients (as public defender) often want to get clean in jail. (On followup) It IS a city problem – we can’t pass the buck.

LH: Agree that we’re not doing enough but this is more a responsibility of other levels of government -we have to figure out what our role is. City can partner with funders in expanding LEAD program. Supposed to start referrals in SW Precinct this year but mayor hasn’t signed contract. (On followup) Not confident that there’s a coordinated plan.

9TH Q: If we’re going to have a safe-injection site, what key conversations do we need to have?

LH: Can’t do anything right now because this is all tied up in the courts. But they’re not about enabling drug use, they’re about saving lives. City still has $ earmarked but can’t move forward until we see what happens in Philadelphia lawsuit.

PT: Need to talk with people about what it means – unintended consequences such as what’s happened in Vancouver. Studies showing $ savings are flawed.

10TH Q: We have $15 minimum wage but what is the minimum wage required to live in Seattle?

LH: To pay for 2-bedroom apartment, $30/hour. (On followup) Need to recognize forces at play here – the companies that are doing well in our city are not paying their fair share – it’s an “inequitable system. …Our conversation about progressive taxation is not going away.”

PT: Doesn’t disagree. (On followup) But the more complex issue, city is going through an “urban adolescence” that people weren’t ready for. Just fixing the minimum wage wouldn’t fix the problems.

11TH Q: So if progressive taxation is part of the answer, what kind of a conversation are you going to have as a councilmember?

LH: I led council in passing “income tax on the affluent” which is working its way through the courts. Optimistic about its chances. If approved, then we need to “turn down” reliance on property tax and sales tax. (On followup) City has successful lobbying effort with state legislature. Also helps turn out community support at Legislature. Last legislative session, we were successful on issues including tenants’ rights.

PT: Need to talk to companies about being partners; council needs to work with private industry. (On followup) Need conversations about how Seattle could support statewide conversations rather than city and county being adversarial with rest of state.

12TH Q: Are you OK with Councilmember Mike O’Brien‘s proposal to loosen SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act) requirements for development?

LH: She has serious concerns about whether bill would accomplish goals of preventing people from using it to stall projects. I’m concerned that removing SEPA as a process would actually make process longer – opponents would end up going to court. Hearing Examiner is very concerned.

PT: It’s a terrible idea.

13TH Q: Homelessness – then-mayor declared an emergency four years ago. Do we have the right plan? What’s missing? What’s better?

LH: We have more people living unsheltered but we are also moving more people into shelter. That’s because homelessness is increasing as housing costs increase. No dispute that there are many causes but the answer is always going to be housing. Need more permanent supportive housing. (On followup) Regarding service-provider concerns – hard to hold people accountable for moving people into permanent housing that doesn’t exist.

PT: If we keep defining this as a housing crisis, we’re going to continue to fail. City doesn’t seem to be moving with urgency. We have to address the root cause, “a city that’s failing to help people.” Providers are hijacking the conversation. DESC has asset holdings of $60 million. (On followup) Homeless service providers can’t be allowed to self-report their income. Tremendous lack of accountability and lack of political will. Mary’s Place and UGM are achieving “amazing results” with less support from the city than other providers.

14TH Q: When encampment sweep notices are placed – is this a fix or just placating concerned community members?

LH: The city prioritizes removal at certain locations when identified as hazard or obstruction. It’s intended to be a “harm reduction process.” Her approach has been “oversight,” managing municipal property.(Followup) We need more “enhanced shelter” beds – that’s what brings people inside willingly.

PT: Putting up notices is not fixing anything. Campers move a little ways away, then come right back after sweep. It’s because we’re not offering people alternatives. Seattle is wealthy and people want to help all the time. We’re not offering a job, social services, etc. (Followup – what alternatives?) He’s meeting with people to talk about ideas. “I don’t know what it is specifically but we’re not using all the (options).”

15TH Q: Do we need a tougher ordinance about keeping people from cutting trees to preserve views?

LH: Moderator was referring to infamous West Seattle tree cutting on public property to preserve private views. We’re talking now about tougher property but homeowners are already required to get permits and to prove the tree’s a problem. Ordinance changes are really about new development.

PT: We need to find ways to protect the tree canopy. If it’s on someone’s own land, they should be able to do what they want, but there should be a way they can enhance the canopy somewhere else.

16TH Q: How are you communicating about your campaign, your promises?

PT: Showing up at different WS venues, letting people know what’s going on, be part of the community, “face the music” if people have concerns.

LH: My website is laid out entirely to explain what I’ve done about promises I made in 2015 “so you can see the things I promised to do in 2015 and the things I’ve done from 2016 to 2019.” She says she’s fulfilled all major promises except still one area needs more work, developer impact fees. In “district office hours,” I’ll meet with anyone who shows up.

17TH Q: Has district elections worked to increase accountability, diversity of candidates, etc.?

PT: It’s definitely helped. But still “serious problems.” Democracy Vouchers, for example – if you gave yours to a candidate who dropped out, you can’t reallocate them. (On followup) Maybe change when the vouchers are sent out so they arrive at a time when people are really tuned in to what’s going on.

LH: She has 5,000 donors. She wouldn’t have run if we hadn’t gone to districts – “I love connecting with people” – but the change has brought a huge increase in independent expenditures, and we have to watch that. (On followup) She’s interested in possible reforms regarding that.

18TH Q: Scooters – since other cities have had problems with injuries, are they right for Seattle?

LH: I don’t want to see scooters on sidewalks.

PT: Probably OK to hold off on that.

19TH Q: Most exciting moment in campaign so far?

LH: Starting off with good momentum in getting 34th District Democrats’ sole endorsement.

PT: Making it through the primary and seeing that it was about a 50-50 split between incumbent and two challengers.

They also gave closing statements – again, see the video for those.

WHAT’S NEXT: D1CN is presenting another forum, 4:30 pm September 28th at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Interpreters will be available for Somali and Vietnamese speakers. Three other organizations have announced forums/debates for October.

19 Replies to "VIDEO: City Council District 1 candidates' first faceoff post-primary"

  • Peter September 15, 2019 (3:40 pm)

    I’m still not voting for either of these duds. I would have voted for Herbold to keep Kolding out of office, but although Tavel is a worse option than Herbold, he’s not so much worse that I’ll reward Herbold’s abysmal job performance with my vote. 

  • Michael September 16, 2019 (8:35 am)

    Thank you for posting WSB, I do appreciate you following this. Audio is a bit rough. I don’t have the best of speakers either. Just beware that when the applause kicks in, volume goes way up. Cheers!

    • WSB September 16, 2019 (10:06 am)

      Sounds crystal clear here (through YT playback just the same as anyone else) … they had amplification (unlike some events we cover), and there was virtually no applause during the debate (only the beginning/end) so that shouldn’t have been much of a factor.

  • IvanTheHammer September 16, 2019 (1:34 pm)

    Sad to see a Herbold supporter attacking Phil without giving any actually reasons why he doesn’t like him. When bad candidates and their supporters have nothing positive to run on they try to destroy their opponents through online attacks.  Here’s a fact ~ Herbold has been an absolute failure in all areas. Since Herbold took office homelessness has exploded. You only need to drive down Delridge to see the pain and despair. Crime has also risen (although enforcement/prosecution has gone done). I personally was threatened by a person with a knife on Delridge. A police report was filed (but no arrest made), then after months of my contacting the prosecutors office to find out the status of the case I was told that they would be dropping charges because the assailant has a history of mental illness and the judge would only defer it at trail.  Then there is the higher taxes… Property taxes, sweetened drinks, even bottled water.Meanwhile, Phil Tavel has a stellar record of giving back to the community. Did you know that we almost lost the West Seattle Parade this year?  The city (Herbold) threw up a ton of legal barriers. It was only because Phil took the fight to the city that they relented and allowed the parade to move forward. The Rotary president herself said that Phil was solely responsible for getting the city to back down.Phil is a man of integrity, honesty, and empathy for his neighbors.  Let’s give him a chance to make our lives better!

    • Jon Wright September 16, 2019 (4:02 pm)

      I think it’s rich that you are complaining about an individual supporter of Councilmember Herbold’s campaign who was negative. Our household has received a slew of mailers from the Tavel and Kolding campaigns and most of them have been negative. 

    • CAM September 16, 2019 (5:23 pm)

      I’m not sure that pulling off a parade is what makes a person qualified for city council. I’ve assisted in the organization and production of similar type events and would not at all think those activities compare to the responsibilities of a city council member. You’re complaining that one person has not solved a billion dollar crisis alone but promoting another person because they were able to organize a one day community/non-profit event. It just doesn’t square. 

  • Kathy September 16, 2019 (3:34 pm)

    I did not see much difference in the positions of these two candidates based on the responses given at this forum. I, for one, do not see the point in ousting an experienced voice on the city council, someone who has open office hours, is responsive to email requests, knowledgeable about the issues with specific plans for tackling them. Much of the problems we have in Seattle are growth-related which means we also see more traffic and transportation problems, more homeless people to try to house, and shortages in critical services like the police force.  What is the specific change that the challenger expects to bring about in this environment? I am not sure what those changes would be, so I won’t be voting for change for change’s sake.

    • Barton September 17, 2019 (10:53 am)

      “someone who is . . knowledgeable about the issues with specific plans for tackling them.”Ms. Herbold may be knowledgeable about the issues and have plans, however, she has failed to gain majority council support for and/or implement any plans that would address the most serious issues facing our district and the City as a whole.  While she has had a number of successful initiatives, for the most part, they have focused on matters that are not the most pressing issues facing the bulk of her constituency.That seems like the precise reason for allowing someone else to take the reins rather than sitting through a second four-year term of a representative that has not demonstrated an ability to implement solutions. 

      • Richard September 24, 2019 (12:13 pm)

        What exact solutions has PT proposed other than platitudes let alone getting other counsel members to join in. Sorry Lisa hasn’t solved the homeless crises,drug addiction, transportation problems, pension crises, global warming, etc. But then again 4 years should be more than enough time. some of the problems with dealing the first 2 items are the legal systems and judge opinions handcuffing adequate responses to the problems which can’t be attributed to any counsel member. I would recommend paying attention to judges and prosecutors races when they come up.

  • kj September 16, 2019 (4:23 pm)

    Thanks for supporting Phil. Lisa has been a disaster. Anybody would be better.

  • Ivan Weiss September 16, 2019 (4:44 pm)

    Tavel’s advocacy of a “training wage” is straight out of the right-wing playbook, and it should disqualify him from consideration. I have been listening to reactionary Republican politicians arguing for subminimum wages for decades now, and it is pretty disgusting to hear it from a a candidate who identifies himself as a Democrat.

  • Kathy September 16, 2019 (6:25 pm)

    To Phil’s concern about the woman who gave her vouchers to someone who ended up not runnning. Could she not ask for those vouchers back, cross off their name and write in someone else instead? Just asking.

  • anonyme September 17, 2019 (7:50 am)

    Think I’ll just write in Chas Redmond, who was my first choice when the position was created.  I haven’t felt like my vote counted for anything for a long time, and I’m sick and tired of voting for the lesser of two evils – no matter what the issue, or if the election is local or national.   Color me disgusted.

    • John September 17, 2019 (10:33 am)

      ANONYME,Yes just write in Chas Redmond.  Let you vote be shown!

    • Jon Wright September 17, 2019 (1:02 pm)

      Way to stick it to The Man!

  • WestSeattleSally September 17, 2019 (11:06 am)

    Lisa Herbold is championed by special interested groups and the political machine, but has done nothing to better the lives of everyday working class people and their families. I’m voting for the guy who has a record of putting people and communities first. We love you Phil! We know that you will work for West Seattle and a brighter future is ahead.

    • Ivan Weiss September 17, 2019 (11:43 am)

      “Lisa is supported by special interested (sic) groups.” Is this a joke?  Tavel is supported by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Technology Industry Association, the Landlords Lobby,  several Amazon executives, Vulcan’s head lobbyist, and others. Support Tavel? Fine. Just quit pretending he’s anything other than Big Money’s candidate. Just own it. He is the conservative candidate in this election. Lisa beat Big Money last time, and she’ll beat Big Money again this time.

      • the truth September 17, 2019 (4:54 pm)

        Ivan you are always good for a laugh.  Lisa received more PAC money in her run against Shannon that Phil basin this election against her.  Now to be clear, candidates have zero control over what PAC’s spend money for them.  In fact, I could start a PAC and spend tons of money for Lisa and she couldn’t stop me.  I could tie the PAC to crazy policies and muddy her with them.  I could do the same to Tavel and no one could stop me.  the most a candidate can get from any person or business directly is $250, not enough to buy an election.  If you were Amazon and you could fund Lisa who wrote the Head Tax or a dirty sock, you would fund the dirty sock.  That has no reflection on Phil being the big business candidate.  It just reflects on how much business hates Lisa…. 

        • Ivan Weiss September 17, 2019 (5:28 pm)

          Some business people hated her four years ago also. Also four years ago, they had a stronger candidate — a FAR stronger candidate — to run against her than they have now. Nevertheless, she persisted. 

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