VIDEO: City Council Candidate Chat, with Preston Anderson

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Preston Anderson believes he can “bring positive change” to Seattle by being elected to the District 1 City Council seat

He is the latest candidate to sit down with us for our initial series of Candidate Chats, video-recorded conversations meant to give you an early chance to see and hear the candidates who have officially announced they’re campaigning for the seat Lisa Herbold is leaving after two terms. Anderson is a West Seattle resident and clinical social worker who works at the Veterans Administration medical center. We talked with him at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse last Monday; here’s our unedited half-hour conversation:

If you can’t or don’t want to take the time to watch/listen, here’s our summary:

Anderson says he chose his profession to help people, and that it has intersected with the homelessness crisis over the years. He’s seen how this has affected the city as well as the people living “in the streets, untreated.” He was motivated to run for office to try to take action and help people that way. He’s been taking with people in the community for months and knows it’s a top-of-mind concrern for many. He believes his perspective and direct experience in homelessness-related programs would bring a much-needed perspective to the council. He recognizes it as a “multi-faceted” crisis, with behavioral-health needs playing a major role.

Knowledge of the type of housing that people need is something he says he can bring to the council too. His work specifically involves “monitoring community contracts” for housing for homeless veterans. That includes finding permanent housing. He says health-care needs have to be addressed too: “I think it’s important to address those most vulnerable, the medically needy, those with a severe addiction issue …” Part of the crisis involves a shortage of workers to help people, we observe. Anderson agrees that staffing is an issue too – particularly “designated crisis responders” as well as other “front-line workers.” Making those professions “more attractive” will help address staffing shortages. And he is certain the city can make a difference, though he is concerned about “so much overlap” between levels of government.

Since he mentioned being out talking to potential constituents already, we asked what he’s been hearing. Concerns about crime and illegal encampments were high on the list, Anderson said, along with a general sense of frustration that the city council is not doing enough. The council will soon consider the renewal/expansion of the Housing Levy, and he sees that as having the potential to make a difference, getting more people out of encampments that “interface” with crime, but not “just pushing the problem to other parts of the city.”

Another public-safety matter we discussed was the mayor’s plan for a CARE Department – Civilian Assisted Response and Engagement. Anderson agrees that certain calls “don’t necessarily require an armed response – we need to marshal more of an outreach,” with various programs able to factor into that.

So what does he think about police staffing levels? “We need to ensure the police department is adequately staffed,” he says, and mentions his military experience as grounding him in the knowledge for why that matters – not just for enforcement, but also so they are “better able to engage in the community.”

From there he talked more about his military experience, He joined to be a medic in the Army, and ended up deploying to Kuwait and Iraq. He was studying sociology when he was called back up to deploy again, and he finished his studies upon his return. He also has worked with DESC.

We spent so much time talking about homelessness and public safety, we asked about other issues that are high on his radar. Transportation, he said, particularly ongoing frustration with Sound Transit project delays. West Seattle definitely needs light rail, in his view, but he also wants to see more focus on paying attention to what happens beyond West Seattle – “to White Center and Burien and Renton” – as well as the efforts to add affordable housing near the stations.

He also talked about issues affecting small businesses – from graffiti vandalism to retail theft. “We need to be dynamic and intelligent in our approaches, and deliberate in our actions.”

Overall, Anderson says he would like people to know: “My heart is in this … (I’m) deliberately running … I know I can bring a lot of positive change” with unique experience, helping people through crises that are affecting the community, and lessons he learned growing up “very poor.” He insists, “I want to be part of the decision-making process.” He also wants to be part of bringing people together: “I don’t buy that Seattle is dying.” He wants to ensure “we’re not stuck in those adversarial arguments … (Like) in the military, you workk toward your mission. That can be replicated with the city council.” Neighborhood forums, too, are part of his vision – “safe spaces” where he could facilitate dialogue – all toward working on solutions, not just griping about programs.

WHO’S NEXT? We’re talking this week with Stephen Brown, who just declared his candidacy last week, and you’ll see that interview here next Sunday (March 19th). Here are our previous Candidate Chats:
*Phil Tavel (published March 5)
*Maren Costa (published February 26)
*Rob Saka (published February 19)

The field of candidates who’ll be on the August 1 primary ballot won’t be final until after the King County Elections “filing week” in mid-May. We’re also planning to present a candidate forum after that, inviting everyone who’ll be on the ballot; in the meantime, we’ll talk again with these candidates, and anyone else who officially announces they’re running.

22 Replies to "VIDEO: City Council Candidate Chat, with Preston Anderson"

  • WS Res March 13, 2023 (7:56 am)

    Good guy. Solid background. I like his ideas.

  • Seattlite March 13, 2023 (8:13 am)

    NO THANKS!  Seattle’s city council needs  motivated go-getters, business saavy, budget saavy, problem-solving candidates who are ready and willing to SOLVE Seattle’s numerous problems NOT a social worker.

    • J March 13, 2023 (9:04 am)

      Are the issues of the city social in nature or do we have a business problem? What is the relationship between running a city that serves other people vs running a business that serves the business itself (or shareholders out for a profit)?

      • Seattlite March 13, 2023 (4:20 pm)

        The city council writes and passes policies that have a direct impact on Seattle’s businesses:  homeless, police shortage, etc.  Seattle’s downtown needs to be revitalized which needs direct team work from the city council, city manager, mayor, etc.  Is there something wrong with a small to medium sized business making a profit, feeling safe, and having pleasant surroundings?

    • Mr J March 13, 2023 (9:10 am)

      Wait what?!? A social worker actually solves problems, were you born last night? A veteran and an experienced social worker that grew up in West Seattle! I thought that would be a green flag but apparently he has the WRONG qualifications for you. Maybe a Trivia host or Bagel shop owner would be white for you. 

      • Barton March 13, 2023 (3:21 pm)

        Did you actually just say “would be white for you” in this situation?  Way to ensure that the calling out of actual instances of bias are diluted.

        • Mr J March 13, 2023 (6:57 pm)

          Oh the bias was implicate in the comment, and their previous comments. But hey thanks for your feedback. 

          • Barton March 13, 2023 (10:34 pm)

            Not seeing it at all.  If someone believes a different background, i.e. business and finance versus social work, brings more applicable skills to the job, I fail to see in how that is a white/non-white issue.  There are plenty of white individuals specializing in social work and plenty of persons of color specializing in business and finance.  Please explain.

          • wscommuter March 14, 2023 (5:46 pm)

            @ MRJ … you have amazing psychic powers.   Can you also give me the winning lottery number with this incredible power of yours?  Or are your superpowers limited to your special knowledge of who’s a racist and who isn’t?  

    • Ivan Weiss March 13, 2023 (9:32 am)

      Where’s your evidence that Anderson lacks the qualities you seek, just because he is a social worker? I’d bet you can’t produce any.

    • WS Res March 13, 2023 (9:49 am)

      Wow, way to diss social workers.

    • LivesInWS March 13, 2023 (4:10 pm)

      Ahem. Social workers are trained to solve problems, know the processes, resources and costs to do so, and do it quickly.  It’s also interdisciplinary by its nature. No I’m not a social worker but have collaborated with them.  BTW the VA has decreased veteran homelessness by 55% since 2010 and by 11% in just the last two years (2020-2022).

      • WS Res March 14, 2023 (7:14 pm)

        Facts!  Love some informed voters with facts.

  • Scarlett March 13, 2023 (9:13 am)

    I feel like Diogenes with a lantern looking for a single honest person, but in this case looking for one courageous person.  It’s easier to find someone who will go into battle than find someone – anyone, politician or not  – who will stand by their political convictions, regardless of the personal cost.  

  • Jeff March 13, 2023 (9:16 am)

    Sounds good to me! So far I lean Preston Anderson or Rob Saka. Anyone but Tavel.  Social work experience is just what we need. Someone who has actually dealt with persons in crises.

    • Jac March 15, 2023 (11:26 am)

      Why the animosity toward Tavel? Did he kick your puppy or something?

  • Jeepney March 13, 2023 (10:37 am)

    I will not be voting for this candidate, he does not provide specifics for how he will solve the issues that currently affect our city and district.  Need a candidate with the courage to specify what ideas they can bring to the table, not just sound bites.

  • my two cents March 13, 2023 (11:12 am)

    Herbold Part Deux – no thanks, sat through that one which was long enough.

  • Bevidear March 13, 2023 (2:32 pm)

    Yay. A candidate I am actually excited about!

  • Scarlett March 14, 2023 (8:23 am)

    Those with considerable assets – real estate and equities – have seen them soar after over a decade of artificially maintained interest rates, and they are still moan about taxes.  They claim to be free market capitalists, but are the first to demand government intervention when it benefits them.  They come here with their odious, small-minded moaning about taxes and budgets.  Open your wallets and buy your own private security. 

  • AM March 14, 2023 (3:19 pm)

    OMG!  No not another Lisa Herbold part 2.  She was one of the worst.  We need something different.  Tavel has my vote.

  • neighbor March 14, 2023 (4:57 pm)

    I have the utmost respect for social workers and the critical work that they do. And I believe the world- Seattle especially- could use more of them. If I were to be asked to vote for a levy to bring on X more social workers, I’m all for it. But the job of city council isn’t just social work. The city council is tasked with running a city, managing the budget, allocating it effectively, keeping residents and businesses safe, roads and bridges in good repair, and many, many more very mundane things. I really want a candidate who knows what the job is- and wants to do THAT. 

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