ELECTION 2019: One week left to vote!

checkbox.jpgThe voting ends and vote-counting begins one week from today. So far, as of tonight’s count, 8,530 of the 68,521 ballots sent out in City Council District 1 have been turned in; that’s a little over 12 percent. It’s the third-highest total by district, while D-1 has the fourth-highest number of voters. If you’re still not sure how to turn your ballot in and/or track it, that info’s here.

FINAL FORUM: The D-1 race is not all you’re deciding (as we noted here). But it’s certainly the highest-profile race.If you haven’t decided who to vote for yet, here’s one more chance to hear the candidates side by side. We recorded this forum last week at Arrowhead Gardens, the senior-living complex in southeast West Seattle. This was an open-mic Q&A event – described by organizers as “town hall” format. The questions were asked either directly by attendees or by moderator Diane Radischat from cards some had filled out.

No opening statements – after the introduction, it was on to Q&A, one and a quarter hours of it, all summarized below:

Q: What’s your take on the (proposed) restrictions on natural gas, and do you see any risks on relying on one (energy) source?

Lisa Herbold: The council has not passed anything; I asked that the legislation be held to get those kind of answers. The restrictions are only proposed for new buildings, and some businesses would be exempt. I reserve my opinion until we get those answers.

Phil Tavel: Opposed to it.

Q: With a lot of homelessness involving drug addiction and mental illness issues, what are your ideas for dealing with those?

Tavel: It gets worse and worse the more you’re living on the street. I’m looking at a community-based solution.

Herbold: There are many models like community-based housing, also permanent supportive housing.

Q: Followup – what solutions besides housing?

Tavel: We need to expand the Navigation Team. We could start a transitional mental-health program for peple coming out of jail. Hire more social workers, pay them better, look at faith-based help.

Herbold: We have geogaphically-baed outreach workers; when people contact us, I’m sharing that information so people can be linked with services even if the Navigation Team can’t help.

Q: What are you going to do about the rents that people can’t afford?

Herbold: I’m working with the Legislature on removing statewide rent-regulation prohibition. Also working on eviction reform, to give tenants a little more time.

Tavel: My landlord showed me his property taxes which went from $3000 a year to $4500 a year. Properties are being taxed as if “highest and best use.” Also support incentives for landlords to keep rent down.

Q: What is the city doing with our money?

Tavel: The council does not do a good job of understanding what we get for the money we spend. Big projects mismanaged over the years, services duplicated by services providers …

Herbold: 55% of the general fund goes to public safety. A lot goes to transportation and parks. The human-services money is a fairly small piece of it. I’ve led the council toward an accountability-based approach on big capital projects.

Q: I saw a flyer that said big money is trying to take over Seattle and the City Council.

Herbold: PACs have contributed more money to these elections than ever before. 99 percent of what PACs are spending is coming from outside the district.

Tavel: I have no control over those PACs. They’re advertising for what they want to see. They want to see change on the City Council. I don’t get any of that money.

Q: How would you remove that money if you could?

Tavel: I would say, limit corporations’ giving just like everybody else. There’s no reason they should be allowed to spend that much money.

Herbold: CM González is proposing to focus on corporate ownership to limit spending.

Q: Seems that a lot of downtown businesses are closing because of crime. How will you protect West Seattle small businesses from this petty theft? They run on a really small margin.

Herbold: City is rolling out a community-service officer program, which she first championed two years ago. These officers will be able to proactively police – visibility is important.

Tavel: We’ve had the money in the budget for those officers for two years. That’s too long. We also need to properly staff and fund the police department. SPD doesn’t feel that the council and mayor has their back.

Q: We used to have community-service officers. We lost them because of the City Council.

Herbold: That happened in 2008, during the recession. I worked for a councilmember who fought tooth and nail to prevent that … or to keep 8 of them. As for now: The police contract was just approved in February. Not in the council’s control – important to understand their role.

Tavel: That’s proof we are not getting the leadership in the city we need, all the candidates were talking in 2015 about the police contract, and it took three more years.

Q: Concerned about power line and sewer maintenance issues. Are you going out to see for yourself, and can you let people know what needs to be done?

Herbold: Sewers are county responsibility but I do have oversight of Seattle Public Utilities, which is under federal scrutiny, and we have a big wastewater project and are making sure it’s on time and on budget.

Q: Seattle used to be a city for families, but Amazon is taking over the city. This couldn’t be happening without the City Council approving the zoning for all the apartments they’re building for the “rich techie workers” without parking …Where’s the balance?

Tavel: We are growing incredibly rapidly, 8,000 new people in this district alone in the last four years and the City Council has not done a good job of managing that growth, setting up a smorgasbord for developers with upzones; HALA was just “build as much as we can” …

Herbold: The City Council approves zoning but can’t control who builds …but I’m working to make sure more of it is affordable housing … much of what’s built in the last 10 years has been luxury housing. We also need to do a better job of training our local workers so they don’t get pushed out.

Followup question: But you can stop people from building.

Herbold: We could keep zoning unchanged. But then we wouldn’t have this new program that’s creating affordable housing in exchange for a small increase in density. This is the nation’s most extensive program, involving both residential and commercial development.

Tavel: We already have lots of urban villages – I don’t think they should all have the same upzones. We should be creating more of a 24-hour downtown. I feel the City Council is trying to upzone as much as they can.

Followup question: But parking is a problem. Builders think we’re going to just all take buses. But what happens when somebody needs to drive? There’s not enough parking now. The City Council does not address that and it has been a problem for many years.

Herbold: Zoning and parking are different. I was the only councilmember who voted against the 2017 Frequent Transit Area (where parking is not required) expansion.

Tavel: The City Council works in a vacuum and doesn’t listen to the needs of the people. That’s one of the things I want to change, make sure the things we do as a city will benefit everybody.

Q: Are you in favor of Mayor Durkan’s plan for 2 years of free college for all Seattle high-school graduates, and how will it be paid for?

Tavel: I love the idea. My mom worked for a 2-year college for 35 years and said there are ways to pay for it, it’s the side costs like bills that are a problem … I think we have more pressing needs. Private employers have training programs …I don’t think we need to take this on right now.

Herbold: I think it’s a good idea and so do the majority of voters in Seattle … The question of how to pay for it is an answered question. The Families (and Education and Preschool) and Promise levy pays for it with a small increase in property tax.

Comment: Amazon has taken over six floors of Macy’s. Then there’s that building at Seneca they don’t want… The city needs to bring downtown to what it used to be, so we can shop.

(That wasn’t addressed to anyone, so there was no response and it was on to the next person with a question.)

Q: There’s an ongoing debate in the City Council about homeless-camp cleanups. What is your view on this?

Tavel: That has to do with the Navigation Team and we have to commit to expanding it.

Herbold: One councilmember is proposing cutting Navigation Team funding. To my knowledge, no one is supporting it. I believe it’s being raised to scare people.

Followup: What’s your view on it?

Herbold: I do not support cutting the Navigation Team.

Followup: What about expanding it?

Herbold: Right now the Navigation Team costs are about $9 million – that’s about a tenth of our spending on homelessness. What I want is to find out more about their outcomes.

Tavel: The council is talking about accountability for the Navigation Team but not for social-service agencies.

Herbold: My proposal is not connected to wanting to cut funding, it’s about whether to add funding.

Q: What about the opioid crisis, and going after the pharmaceutical company price markups?

Herbold: The city is part of a class-action lawsuit to address the issue. Other than that, this is an area regulated by the federal government.

Tavel: This is an issue much larger than Seattle, so the city needs to do whatever it can to fight for keeping the prices down.

Q: (to Herbold) Is that camper still in front of your house, and if not, why?

Herbold: It was a hitched camper.We had an arrangement that I was going to let them move it into my driveway – a friend was going to have to tow it. The day before that was going to happen, SPD towed it – not for the 72-hour rule, but because it was a trailer and was not supposed to be parked on the street at all. The good news is that they got housing through Wellspring Family Services.

Followup (clarified by moderator): Why did it get towed so fast? Campers, trucks, have been parked by Arrowhead Gardens, an ongoing problem for years.

Herbold: Those are moving vehicles. This was not.

(Some back-and-forth ensued, with the questioner maintaining the relative speed was “not fair”; Herbold insisted that she didn’t want it towed, she wanted them to move it into her driveway.)

Q: I’m very suspicious of the Amazon donation to CASE.

Tavel: Union PACs have donated a lot of money to other candidates. I have no control over the Amazon money – “it’s them doing their own thing.”

Herbold: He’s right, the money is not going directly to him but it’s supporting his candidacy. I disagree that corporate PACs are same as union PACs – unions are membership organizations representing tens of thousands of people.

Another attendee takes issue with that.

Herbold: The scale (of union PACs) is smaller. Reiterates that she doesn’t believe a union PAC is comparable to a big business PAC.

Tavel: Reiterates that the money isn’t supporting him, and he believes it’s disingenuous to suggest PACs are trying to buy the election – it’s being spent by groups that want to see a change. “I just want people to know …it’s not my money, it’s not going into my pocket, I didn’t ask for it, and if I had any control over it, I’d change it.”

Q: People parking on streets to camp – what are you going to do to get rid of this problem?

Tavel: 2 things – I’m going to empower police to enforce the laws that are on the books.(That drew applause.) We need “safe laws.” We also need to address derelict RVs.

Herbold: The police department is empowered to enforce laws. It’s a matter of resources and priorities.So I’ve worked to launch the RV Remediation Program to identify which RVs are to be removed, 10 locations each month.

Q: Myers Way unauthorized encampment has had a detrimental effect on our community – why can’t we just leave No Parking signs up? There’s no reason anybody should park along the street, it’s just woods. Says he’s contacted SDOT and waiting to hear back. Says a Parking Enforcement Officer agrees parking could be prohibited in the area.

Tavel: “I think that’s a great idea.”

Herbold: If you had an exchange with an SDOT transportation planner, forward it to me, I’ll look into it immediately.

Q: What’s the city’s plan for gun control?

Herbold: Has been working on it – ammunition tax for public-health response, working with State Legislature to see what changes we can make that will survive a constitutional challenge.

Tavel: Concerned about the link between mental illness and access to guns, domestic-violence perpetrators and guns …

Q: Seeing Tavel signs disappearing and being replaced by Herbold signs in the same spot.

Herbold: I got an email from someone saying they were holding 300 signs for ransom. My volunteers are putting signs up, I have asked them to not take anyone else’s signs down. But my signs have been removed in places too.

Q: (to Herbold) Where is your primary residence, West Seattle or North Bend, and where do you spend most of your nights?

Herbold: “Highland Park is my only residence. My husband has a house in North Bend, I happen to have not gone there for the last three months, but I do on occasion visit him; mostly he comes to visit me. I see my husband 3 to 4 days a week. He maintains a house because he has shared custody of his daughter and his daughter was born in that house and he’s going to keep it until she graduates and goes to college. My only residence is in West Seattle in Highland Park.”

Q: Density has been increasing for the past 20 years, but what’s the plan, has anybody given any thought to, when will there be too many people?

Tavel: Says he asked who is in charge of the big-picture plan and was told “nobody.” The biggest thing we can do is make sure Sound Transit light rail comes here.

Herbold: Our planning derives from the state Growth Management Act, Puget Sound Regional Council, based on the amount of growth the state tells us we need to plan for.

Q: About rapid transit – we need it faster.

Herbold: We already have some rapid transit – buses – you’re right, it’s not enough. RapidRide C Line and 120 – which is being converted to RapidRide – are among the most-used routes. The city is buying more bus service with Transportation Benefit District dollars.

Tavel: More bus service should have happened faster. Bad planning.

Each candidate got three minutes for a closing statement (starting at 1:08:30 in the video).

MONEY WATCH: Campaign spending came up several times in that forum, particularly the PAC (political-action committee) spending for and against – but not controlled by – candidates. Here’s where that spending (“independent expenditures”) stands in the District 1 campaign, according to the Public Disclosure Commission website. Note that to be counted as money spent “against” a candidate, it has to show/name that candidate:

Tavel – $326,000+ Independent Expenditure money spent for him, $72,000+ spent against him
Herbold – $51,000+ Independent Expenditure money spent for her, $27,000+ spent against her

You can browse the PDC website to find out details such as who contributes to the candidates themselves, to the groups making IEs, what the money goes for, and more.

VOTING DEADLINE: 8 pm November 5th for drop boxes. If you’re using postal mail, be certain your ballot will be postmarked by November 5th.

NOT REGISTERED? Not too late but since it’s less than 8 days until Election Day, you have to do it in person.

9 Replies to "ELECTION 2019: One week left to vote!"

  • Lincolnparklove October 30, 2019 (5:36 am)

     There is such a thing as a write in candidate . If there was social justice in seattle Cecile Hansen might win an election she never ran for. It’s just a whim picking an old old seattle family based on a technicality.

  • M October 30, 2019 (5:47 am)

    Do we know how the returns so far compare to previous elections? Is this considered high or low? I voted for change. 

    • WSB October 30, 2019 (2:46 pm)

      Unfortunately that info does not seem to be archived; I’m checking, though. I’ve been noting the status more often on Twitter; on the first day, D-1 had the most ballots turned in, though D-3 overtook D-1 starting the next day.

  • Kristina October 30, 2019 (7:39 am)

    This was very helpful reporting; thank you. I’d much rather evaluate the candidates’ ideas as they state them than evaluate the many fliers that are sent to my home, or the number of yard signs that I see. Comparing side by side answers solidifies my opinion about who deserves my vote. Thanks, WSB!

  • Scubafrog October 30, 2019 (1:40 pm)

    WSB:  Do you have a tally between Herbold and Tavel thus far?  Thanks in advance either way :)

    • WSB October 30, 2019 (1:42 pm)

      They don’t release vote counts until Election Day, only (as linked) how many ballots have been received.

  • WW Resident October 31, 2019 (6:18 am)

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Vote for change

    • WS Ed November 4, 2019 (7:21 pm)

      What is going on with the yard signs? Has anyone reported yet that someone is stealing all the Tavel signs on Fauntleroy and replacing them with Herbold signs? This is low politics and Herbold should be ashamed. 

      • WSB November 4, 2019 (7:51 pm)

        There are periodic allegations of yard signs stolen from both candidates, as well as sign vandalism, but whether it’s supporters of one stealing from the other, or “sign vigilantes” taking it upon themselves to remove signs from the public right-of-way, impossible to tell. If signs on your own property have been taken, please be sure to file a police report so these things can be tracked.

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