VIDEO: With 1,000 ballots cast already, here’s another look at City Council District 1 contenders

(Photos by Jason Grotelueschen for WSB)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One more time, the two candidates for Seattle City Council District 1 are side by side tonight answering questions, with two more weeks of voting ahead.

This district has the highest number of ballots received so far – more than a thousand – according to brand-new numbers from King County Elections.

But 67,000+ ballots are still out there. So right now, Phil Tavel and Lisa Herbold are at Arrowhead Gardens, the fourth forum/debate event in West Seattle in eight days.

We’re there, for coverage we’ll bring you tomorrow. First – this story is about the third event, presented by the West Seattle Junction Association on Saturday morning, moderated by your WSB co-publishers. Here’s the video:

Ahead – quick summaries of the hour-long Q&A:

As you’ll hear explained at the video’s start, the first five questions were received by WSJA when they invited their merchants to submit suggested Q’s. The rest are ours, largely followups on what we’ve heard while covering other recent debates/forums. What’s below are summaries/paraphrasings, not direct quotes unless denoted by quotation marks:

Q from a local businessperson: What incentives, tax breaks can/will you give to new business owners?

Herbold: Direct $ prohibited by state law, but – working with Office of Economic Development “1% for project impacts.”

Tavel: Streamline permit process. Incentivize hiring.

Q from a local businessperson: Can high commercial rents be capped, or can there be help for businesses in dealing with them?

Tavel: Maybe talk with landlords to see the benefits of charging less rent.

Herbold: Commercial Affordability Task Force considered that but did not recommend. I’d be willing to revisit. Could create incentives for offering low rents, as we do with residential.

Q from a local businessperson: How will you support immigrants, minorities, women, women of color? Be specific.

Herbold: Continuing to do work that I’ve done … including ready-to-work and citizenship readiness.

Tavel: Outreach into the community – have met with two groups, two more meetings set. Also: We’ll put together an entrepreneurial summit.

Q from a local businessperson: Dealing with effects of homelessness – people sleeping behind business, trash, human waste, what will you do to help with this?

Tavel: Properly fund and staff our police department.

Herbold: If no criminal activity alleged, get more outreach services to those people. Working on connecting REACH with people who need it.

(Our followup – but some of this IS illegal activity.)

Herbold: I agree that more police visibility would help.

Q from local businessperson: Is LEAD, REACH, Navigation Team funding limited for our area?

Herbold: LEAD just now taking referrals for this area.

Tavel: Navigation Team is a great resource. Herbold wants accountability metrics, we should do that with service providers. LEAD expansion has taken too long.

From here, our questions:

Q for Herbold: Clarify where you stand on Navigation Team funding.

Herbold: I support the mayor’s 2020 funding proposal.

Q for Herbold: Tavel has mentioned human services providers mostly don’t meet all the standards. If so, why are we still paying them?

Herbold: Results-based accountability is to work on improving outcomes. It would be absurd to just cut off everyone who’s not meeting all the metrics.

Tavel: It’s not about cutting funding, but they need to meet expectations.

Q: A person is found camping in a park. What should happen?

Tavel: Find out what they need.

Herbold: City has a process – it’s not legal to camp in parks, and that’s considered an obstruction so they can be removed immediately.

Q: The city doesn’t actually determine the real cost of sweeps, someone on Twitter suggested we ask – why?

Herbold: That’s what the budget process is for = $10 million proposed next year for Navigation Team and related cleanup costs.

Tavel: The city doesn’t keep track of what it’s spending. Also doesn’t track what’s saved if neighborhood groups do cleanups themselves, as some have done.

Followup Q: What neighborhood?

Tavel: Pigeon Point.

(In an ensuing exchange, Herbold said she was present for that cleanup, but later clarified to WSB that she had confused it with another neighborhood cleanup in which she participated.)

Q: An RV is cited for violating the 72-hour parking limit. What should happen to it and the person in it?

Tavel: Towed. This is why we need “safe lots.”

Herbold: Police don’t have resources to respond to every 72-hour tow. That’s why I worked on the RV Remediation Program.

Q: Did the 99 bus lane tweak work?

Herbold: I’m getting messages of thanks.

Tavel: It seemed like the response was a little slow.

Q for Tavel: You were opposed to the 99 tunnel when you ran for council the first time. What’s your thought about how it worked out?

Tavel: It’s done pretty well so far. We’ll see what happens when tolling starts. View now is amazing.

Q: Mailer from PAC supporting Tavel asks people if they’re tired of sitting in traffic. What can you do to change that?

Tavel: Increase bus service. Encourage more water-taxi use.

Herbold: Voters taxed themselves to buy more bus service. Need to defeat I-976 so that continues.

Q: Herbold said at recent debate that she hoped to be remembered for getting third-party funding to pay for light-rail tunnel funding into The Junction but nobody’s working on that – so what are you doing to change that?

Herbold: Spend the money from proposed Uber/Lyft tax on that.

Tavel: Talk to port, Nucor, “I’ve been listening, I’ve been waiting.”

Followup: What are you hearing?

Tavel: Have heard that port wants to see tunnel option too and is willing to put money into it.

Q: Tavel talks about parking challenges. What do you back in terms of returning to required parking?

Tavel: Says he mostly meant free/low cost Junction-lot parking. But we do need to revisit parking requirements in new developments.

Herbold: It’s actually Junction merchants who want to charge for parking.

Followup Q: But do you support any changes?

Herbold: I was the only councilmember to vote against expanding frequent-transit areas where no parking is required.

Q: Speaking of that, Tavel has criticized Herbold for being on the losing end of 8-1 votes. Response?

Herbold: Sometimes it’s important to go against the group think. I’m proud of that.

Tavel: Yes, sometimes you have to take a principled stand. But I want a Council rep who can convince others to go the right way.

Q: Rescind the sugary beverage tax?

Tavel: Yes.

Herbold: No, but might support changing it.

Q: Tavel has often mentioned having an office in the district and being there daily – how would that work?

Tavel: I didn’t say I’d be there every day. Staff would be. We have an office near the Junction Association now. Rent’s low enough that it would fit into council budget. Would also like to have Delridge, South Park offices. What if we teamed with legislators and King Co. Council?

Q: Herbold – are monthly district office hours enough?

Herbold: Open to revisiting it. Turnout ebbs and flows. But not in single location – important to move around the district.

Q: Tavel says he hears while doorbelling that people are unhappy with the city. Herbold – tell us about a recent criticism you’ve received while canvassing.

Herbold: Less about me than about general issues such as homelessness.

Q: Do you support campaign-spending limits, and specifically CM Lorena González’s new proposal?

Tavel: Absolutely would support limiting contributions like the Amazon $1 million to CASE. Re: González proposal, maybe with some tweaks – want to be sure it would also limit union money.

Herbold: Nominal labor PAC spending for me, compared to PAC spending for him. Supports González proposal.

Q: Would higher-earner income tax really allow “dialing down” sales, property, B&O taxes?

Herbold: It was projected when we passed it to bring in $140 million/year. Haven’t yet analyzed how much “dialing down” that would cover.

Tavel: Have to look at doing “something like that” (higher-earners income tax). But still doesn’t address spending.

Q: South Park – what can be done to stop gentrification from changing it like the Central District?

Tavel: HALA MHA could have been changed to not make it so attractive to developers. Shouldn’t be an urban village.

Herbold: Working with Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition. SP received minimal upzone, to Residential Small Lot. Development happening, but not because of HALA MHA.

Followup Q: Should urban village designation be removed?

Herbold: I’ve proposed evaluating that.

Q: HALA MHA – if it turns out developers are opting too often to pay inlieu fees rather than providing affordable housing in a project, how much higher should the fee become?

Herbold: Too soon to say.

Tavel: Need to speed up the evaluation.

Q: Tavel has said it’s taken too long to move on impact fees. Herbold has said legal action is holding things up. Is that really all?

Herbold: We’ve taken legislative action before getting sued.

Tavel: Big campaign issue in 2015. Not moving fast enough.

Q: Pro-Tavel PAC mailer has said high cost of housing is another reason to be unhappy with the city. What can you do to bring it down?

Tavel: High property taxes need to be addressed.

Herbold: While not saying she supports rent control, she supports removing state prohibition on local rent-related regulation.

Q: What action in Seattle Green New Deal should be passed first?

Herbold: Electrified vehicles.

Tavel: Same. Also, tough green-building standards, recycling practices.

Last Q for Tavel: You often speak of your business experience making you ready for this.Name a specific business you ran and how that specific business prepared you.

Tavel: Game business in Australia – budgeting, employees, facility problems … “Those things I went through.”

Last Q for Herbold: You’ve said that part of your value is that you’ll be a voice of experience at a time when at least 4 new members [replacing incumbents who aren’t running] are joining the council. Talk more about that, including how you would mentor new councilmembers.

Herbold: Has good working relationships with council’s new members but too humble to say she’s “mentored anybody.”

Each got a minute for a closing statement, and you can see those in the final two minutes of the video.

VOTING: You should have your ballot by now. All the info about sending it in is here; November 5th is the deadline.

35 Replies to "VIDEO: With 1,000 ballots cast already, here's another look at City Council District 1 contenders"

  • Zmmr October 21, 2019 (6:51 pm)

    So what has Lisa accomplished?I am confused reading her gibberish responses.

    • flimflam October 21, 2019 (7:24 pm)

      lots of good tilted face raised eyebrow responses so far

  • Admiral Tom October 21, 2019 (8:23 pm)

    It would be most helpful to have appropriate audio for these video presentations- the mike on camera does not work,  a line from the house audio directly to the video recorder, would allow acceptable audio.We need to hear for a clear communication.  Third time for these candidate videos, hard to hear.appreciate the efforts

    • WSB October 21, 2019 (8:44 pm)

      Hi, sorry it’s not working for you but it sounds great on this end even with my dinky little laptop’s built-in speakers – that’s how I watched it all again for the summaries tonight since I couldn’t take comprehensive notes while moderating. We have bare-bones equipment, hoping maybe someday to be able to afford something fancier but something else (roof, medical bills) always seems to get in the way. – TR

    • Klani October 22, 2019 (11:46 am)

      Agree with Admiral Tom. Simple Line into the camera for audio. Listening with headphones now and audio is not good. At least there’s the YT CC option. 

  • KM October 21, 2019 (10:37 pm)

    There are some bummer answers here from both, but Tavel suggesting an “entrepreneurial summit” to support POC/minorities/women/immigrants is one of the most wild answers I’ve ever read. 

  • Vote4Pedro October 21, 2019 (10:44 pm)

    West Seattle is such a vibrant and diverse community full of capable, intelligent people. How on earth did we end up with these two as our choices for representation? I look around and see our community further eroded by the unrelenting cluster building around the Junction and the Ave and I wonder why Herbold hasn’t done more to protect residents because neighborhoods like Queen Anne and Madison Park sure as heck aren’t being subjected to the same intense barrage of building. Higher density is great and a sure way to improve the housing shortage but why is West Seattle bearing the brunt here? Just like the unchanging issues of repeat offenders and homelessness it all comes down to lack of leadership. As uninspiring as I find Tavel I don’t know that he could be as bad as Herbold. Voting for the lesser of two evils feels awful. We deserve so much better. 

    • HappyCamper October 22, 2019 (6:21 am)

      I’m all over Seattle proper for work (nothing to do with real estate at all) and believe me the building is happening throughout the city.

      • Vote4Pedro October 22, 2019 (11:07 am)

        Really Happy Camper? Seven…yes 7,  multi-resident buildings, four large-scale apartments all within a block of each other within five years? All require little if no parking for residents and staff of the commercial operations. This doesn’t even include the other large-scale apartments/condos on adjacent blocks and more already approved and on the way. Urban planning is about quality of life and Lisa Herbold and other City Council members have no interest in taking an intelligent, long-term approach that centers people and works to build a healthy community. The priority is developers and the rest of us do not matter. 

  • Nancy R. October 22, 2019 (6:24 am)

    I interviewed both Herbold and Tavel,  along with other Seattle City Council candidates as part of an endorsement process.   Lisa Herbold was mentioned most often by candidates and incumbents alike as a person they admired for her ability to work well with others  and as someone they would look to as a mentor.

  • Barton October 22, 2019 (7:27 am)

    That’s good info.  One concern I have is her lack of being able to get others to vote with her.  It’s nice to be liked but a councilmember representing our district must be able to convince a majority of the council to vote for good ideas.

    • WSB October 22, 2019 (7:34 am)

      We asked about that in this forum, if you haven’t read through/listened.

      • Barton October 22, 2019 (8:12 am)

        Yes, I did read it (thanks for the great coverage).  8-1 votes are not a good example of a councilmember being able to convince others to vote with her.  It’s good to vote for the right things – but it’s meaningless if your fellow council members do not.

        • CAM October 22, 2019 (2:08 pm)

          I’m genuinely confused. I thought the primary complaint about Lisa was that she was too lockstep with the rest of the council and didn’t stand up to them enough. Now it appears that it’s a problem if she does vote against them on principle sometimes. Does anyone have the percentages for how many votes Lisa has been in the minority like that (8-1 or 7-2)? It just seems that no matter what people will find a reason not to like what she’s done. 

          • WSB October 22, 2019 (4:36 pm)

            It’s all on record but somebody would probably need to write a program to extract that info from the city db.

  • Peter October 22, 2019 (8:24 am)

    Held my nose, swallowed my vomit, and voted for Herbold. I don’t like Herbold, but Tavel has never gotten beyond generic polyspeak, and on the rare occasions when he’s had specifics I’ve strongly disagreed with him. Tavel’s comment in a previous debate that light rail will bring crime were the determining factor in my voting against him rather than just skipping them on my ballot. 

    • KM October 22, 2019 (10:28 am)

      That light rail comment was even more crazy than the entrepreneurial summit answer.

  • Scubafrog October 22, 2019 (9:24 am)

    I can’t abide by corporate influence.  I’d likely have voted for Tavel, but the thought of *this* putrid corporation influencing our election made me green at the gills.  Think of this as a “no” vote for amazon.  

  • MJ October 22, 2019 (10:08 am)

    It’s really hard to operate a small business!  Adding more taxes and regulations do not help, Lisa has done both making it even tougher.  Having a Council member that has operated a small business and worked in the private sector would be a good addition!

    • Lagartija Nick October 23, 2019 (10:31 am)

      MJ, what small business has he run in Seattle? In the above article when he was asked about it, he mentions a business he ran in Australia. Australia? When was that? 15, 20 years ago? And how is that relevant? What business experience does he have here, considering it looks like all of his attempts have been “disolved”? As far as I can tell, he’s only been a public defender here in Seattle. While that is a laudable occupation, what relevant business experience does that entail?

  • Alex October 22, 2019 (11:01 am)

    Yeah, it’s a tough one.   What Tavel is really like is unknown but in Herbold’s case, she wants safe injection sites, just voted in a tax on heating oil which impacts middleclass seniors, championed the infamous Head Tax, championed numerous ordinances which increase landlords risk (and translate to higher rents) some of which are so egregious the City is paying litigation costs and just recently voted not to allow neighborhood appeals of certain developments which will probably be litigated as well.    The Homeless crisis has only gotten worse.   Herbold has been responsive to small neighborhood issues but her views are costly to the taxpayers and it’s hard to get over the safe injection sites.    Tavel is worth a try.  

    • Nolan October 22, 2019 (4:44 pm)

      Safe injection sites have been thoroughly studied for years. Each of those studies has shown that SISs reduce overall harm, both to individuals and to the communities they reside in. Supporting them isn’t a matter of opinion: it’s a matter of whether you value human lives and cost reductions over moralism. See also

    • Jon Wright October 22, 2019 (10:36 pm)

      I support safe injection sites for two reasons. First, given the prevalence of needles found in public places, many drug users obviously have no compunction about where they shoot up. Hopefully safe injection sites will reduce people using drugs in parks or wherever. And second, every time a drug user comes to a safe injection site is an opportunity to connect them with services to help them get off drugs. Maybe they say no the first umpteen times. But maybe they say yes eventually. I think both of those reasons make safe injection sites a net positive for our community.

  • Shawn October 22, 2019 (11:14 am)

    Well, neither of these folks gets me excited, but Herbold seems to have the correct answer more often. Reading this I have a better opinion of Tavel than when I started, but Herbold will likely get my vote.  Not excited about it though.  We need aggressive upzoning and better transit priority, and I don’t really feel like she’s the one to deliver it. Oh well.

    • Nolan October 22, 2019 (12:05 pm)

      Same here. Between maintaining a (relatively progressive) status quo and actively choosing to go backwards, Herbold is a clear winner. I wish she stood up to NIMBYist interests more often, but I’ll happily take that over someone whose campaign platform embodies them.

  • craig peterson October 22, 2019 (1:51 pm)

    I’m voting no to Amazon

  • Paul Loeb October 22, 2019 (4:31 pm)

    From my perspective, Lisa’s worked incredibly hard from the beginning.  She probably should have spoken more about her work to untangle some of the transportation mess at a point when City Hall was really dragging their feet. She’s pragmatic enough to get endorsements even from some relatively conservative council members like Bagshaw. She does stand up against interests like Amazon always getting their way, which to me is a plus. But she’s not an ideologue like Sawant, who the attack mailers try to tie her to.  Whereas Tabel is only too glad to get the support of mailers funded by Amazon, Vulcan, and the hotel industry.

  • Canton October 22, 2019 (10:31 pm)

    Just went through each candidates campaign contributions, donor by donor. Sad to see Lisa is still in cahoots with Scott Morrow, one of the original founders of Seattle’s homeless industrial crisis. With a small donation from the former homeless czar, GS. We are not getting our money’s worth here. It’s being spent out of control, on band aids, and being eaten in administration. I look at Phil’s donors, and it’s long time family businesses, and other prominent figures, and families. Big corporations aren’t donating to Phil. Individuals, working at big companies, are donating. Yes some Amazon, some Microsoft, some Boeing. But most are great businesses right here, in the WS.

    • AMD October 24, 2019 (5:55 am)

      They are through PACs.  Check the top contributors to the PACs that are funding his campaign.  

  • James October 23, 2019 (9:30 am)

    Scubafrog.  Could you tell me what is wrong with Amazon using its money and speech (alongside many other company and private donors) to support a clearly more business-minded candidate?  Were you in Seattle when the tax on Jobs was rushed through the City Council and construction and pay checks nearly dried up culminating with union workers shouting down one Councilwoman?

  • Charles WS October 23, 2019 (11:53 am)

      I was very disappointed after receiving my King County voters’ Pamphlet to see that the only political race that did not include the educational degrees of candidates was for the Seattle City Council race. This is a minor case of voter suppression.  Perhaps Ms. Herbold did not want her high school degree to stand in contrast to her challenger. 

  • Love rock October 24, 2019 (12:51 am)

    Large and small retailers should have a voice. I worked for 4 failed companies when I was young . I was paid so little I found it hard to establish a bank account with cash. I got one because a pal at a bank who worked two jobs  said okay to me. The large businesses in this area did not start out that way they scrambled I scrambled with one. I would do whatever it took for them to keep myself employed. I left a small town with little work and little services. The meeting to me was a venue in which more people should have attended it was small . My concerns went more towards Lisa’s chair for utilities.  I asked about the super fund sites she says federal deal . I say she is the liason for this community.  I asked about litigation involving drug pricing outside of the opiod litigation other states are pursuing she came back with laws are set in place by the federal government the FDA setting prices with drug companies which I knew but that was not really my question . I ended up making more of a statement in that question. Tavel looked down and acknowledged . I am someone that never ever had to struggle like those from the great depression.  I know those that survived those times were more ruthless or banded with others . Please let people speak up at those meetings and don’t cut people off its the foundation of democracy. I dont know if there was anyone from C2C no voice was heard from the audience. Maybe I took up to much time , maybe no one wanted the blow back from the room. I know no candidate knows everything nor are they to blame for our failings everyone wants a better community. We could list millions of things wrong with our fortune 500 companies ,our Frankensteins . We built them speak to them too . 

  • Imants October 24, 2019 (11:09 am)

    I am voting for Phil Tavel. Lisa championed the Showbox issue, which I emailed her about in 2018, a few weeks prior to her pushing it to a council vote .  In the email, I noted that the Showbox should not be saved at that late hour in the permitting process despite my lifelong love of the Showbox as a venue. I laid out five simple and objective points for Lisa’s consideration.  The first of which being there is published case law directly on point from just a few months prior, on the exact same facts, that found a municipality liable for $20 million in damages and attorney fees.  I said if she went forward with her bill, it would cost us the taxpayers millions.  Lisa responded with: “Thank you for writing to me  to support of my effort to preserve the Showbox.”   I kid you not.  She did not read my email.  Indeed, a worse email response to a constituent cannot be imagined.  I am not making this up, and I still have both of these emails. The story gets better. Fast forward a year, and voila! we the taxpayers are now paying court ordered attorney fees ($900,000) and damages (likely tens of millions) for Lisa’s Shobox spot taking.    Words cannot express my frustration.   A vote for Lisa Herbold, is a vote for waste of your own tax dollars and a vote for someone who does not listen to their constituents.  Lisa is very nice, but she has failed us and it is time for change.If you love West Seattle and Seattle as much as I do, please vote for Phil Tavel and pass the word along. 

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