We promised we’d publish the video from tonight’s WSB/D1CN candidates’ forum as soon as it was uploaded, so here it is. We’ll be working on a separate story in the next few days with written highlights of the candidates’ replies to the 15+ questions we asked. As you’ll see in the video, after the introductions, the first question we asked was whether each candidate would be voted yes or no on the drug-law proposal that current councilmembers had voted down barely an hour earlier. The other questions were from submissions by the member organizations of the District 1 Community Network and WSB readers and were not previewed by the candidates. All 8 candidates participated – they were seated left to right in surname-alphabetical order:
The forum was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Walmesley Center; thank you to everyone who came to see them in person! You can also see the candidates in person during the next forum, 2 pm Saturday (June 10th) at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), presented by the 34th District Democrats, following a 1 pm forum with candidates for King County Council District 8.
ADDED: Since some prefer to read rather than watch, we promised summries of the replies. We’re adding them here rather than publishing a separate story. What follows is largely a summary; unless you see words/phrases/sentences inside quotation marks, they are not exact quotes.
PRESTON ANDERSON: Crime, safety, homelessness, addiction are issues that have surfaced as he does door-to-door to talk with voters. He’s a clinical social worker and has dealt with all those issues. The City Council could benefit from the perspective of a clinician.
LUCY BAREFOOT: She is an outreach specialist with a background in economics and public affairs who wants to speak up for underserved communities.
STEPHEN BROWN: He calls himself “a mix of creativity and privatism” and thinks that’s “what Seattle needs right now.” He believes he can take ‘a workable plan to an operating entity.”
MAREN COSTA: She was a senior leader in tech for 25 years, managing big teams and big budgets “to get stuff done.” She challenged Amazon to act on climate change and “created a plan, delivered results.”
JEAN IANNELLI CRACIUN: She’s “been involved in politics my entire life.” She would be the first LGBTQ District 1 councilmember since by-district elections began in 2015.
MIA JACOBSON: She has “three small children” so she is thinking into the future. “We have outgrown the system of representation itself” and need to explore new ways.
ROB SAKA: He is a veteran and “public-safety advocate” who says “the public-safety situation is out of hand” and supports hiring more police and building more affordable housing. He wants to “get stuff done that works for all of us.”
PHIL TAVEL: He says “we need a city councilperson who is going to prioritize public service over politics.” He has ben a judge, teacher, business owner. He believes “we can change, we can bring back the things we know and love about this city.”
Questions followed. With the exception of the first one – a late addition because it referred to a much-watched City Council vote that had happened less than an hour before the forum – they were adapted from questions sent by both WSB readers and members of D1CN organizations. They were not provided to the candidates in advance. We allotted 30 seconds for answers in order to get to as many questions/issues as possible, knowing this might be the only opportunity for these candidates to be asked about some D1-specific matters.
First, the late add: That evening, councilmembers had just rejected, on a 5 no/4 yes vote, a proposal to have city code match the new state law criminalizing drug possession. We asked the candidates to say whether they would have voted yes or no on the proposal. Results: Tavel, Saka, Brown, Barefoot, and Anderson said they would have voted “yes”; Jacobson, Craciun, and Costa said they would have voted “no.”
Second question: With the enlarged D-1 map, how will you handle microconcerns?
ANDERSON – Already familiar with other areas of the district – Pioneer Square nightlife, SODO industry, Georgetown nightlife.
BAREFOOT – Lived and worked in other areas of the district – public safety, homelessness need to be addressed via root causes.
BROWN – District representation in councilmember’s office is important.
COSTA – Want to make sure there are more-accessible forums for everybody to more easily engage.
CRACIUN – Very excited about multicultural communities comprising district. She’s been engaging with Pioneer Square in particular.
JACOBSON – We’ve outgrown current system of representation and need technological way for 24/7 digital public comment, more digital town halls.
SAKA – Rather than thinking we’re divided and different, collaborate and find common ground to get stuff done that works for all.
TAVEL – Balance is difficult but important and he’ll be there as will “my amazing team.” Says he can go out and be there for people.
Third question: Georgetown & South Park are communities in need of economic and environmental justice. How will you advocate for their unique needs?
BAREFOOT – Language access. She’ll increase it and engage with as many people as she can.
BROWN – Councilmember will have to go there and reach out actively to ensure all voices are heard.
COSTA – Environmental justice and climate justice are incredibly important – will work with community members to decide where to spend.
CRACIUN – She created and founded Diversity Center of WA. Believes in communities speaking in their own voices.
JACOBSON – Can’t speak for BIPOC community, but they too can access technology and speak for themselves.
SAKA – Comes from a historically marginalized/disadvantaged community. Lives in Delridge. Understands firsthand what it’s like.
TAVEL – He has advocated for so many as a public defender and in community issues like bridge closure and South Park tides.
ANDERSON – Working with 34th District Democrats, he spent a lot of time in South Park recruiting PCOs and can build on that work.
Fourth question – Should we have a moratorium on new/expanded levies?
BROWN – No. Hopes housing levy will pass, transportation levy too. They’re a successful mechanism for funding things that need to be funded outside regular budgeting.
COSTA – Housing levy important. Would like to see new progressive revenue sources explored – like a vacancy tax.
CRACIUN – We need to look at it all with accountability, transparency, and efficiencies. She’d research and understand and take action.
JACOBSON – Yes, if public doesn’t have direct access and can’t give meaningful input on them.
SAKA – No moratorium that would circumvent the will of voters and a transparent process. Does support being “more efficient and effective with dollars we do spend.”
TAVEL – Not a time for a moratorium on levies but would like to see a moratorium on waste, government spending poorly, and giving to people spending inefficiently.
ANDERSON – No. But accountability, transparency, measurable outcomes important. Would implement measurable standards.
BAREFOOT – No. But Seattle needs to spend more responsibility and invest in self-sustaining programs. She’ll watch spending carefully.
Fifth question – Should West Seattle light rail be scrapped?
COSTA – We need to invest in public transportation and get people to use it. Maybe something sooner, but light rail – once it’s built, we’ll realize we can’t get along without this.
CRACIUN – Yes, a lot has changed. Will we continue with it just because we said we would?
JACOBSON – That decision would “require immense investigation by the public.” So we need a way for everyone to speak “in a meaningful way in public view.”
SAKA – No. We need to “expand our flexible transit options …” and biking options, and space for “people to travel in cars if they choose.”
TAVEL – No. But we do need to ensure the environmental impact report doesn’t claim that no buildings are affected – need to be intelligent about it but not scrap it.
ANDERSON – No. In 2015 King County studied extending it through White Center and Burien, I’d want to study that expansion.
BAREFOOT – Yes. “Elevated concrete structures continue to fail. If you cannot give us a tunnel, then scrap it.”
BROWN – No. Has lived in dense transit-rich places without a car. Wants everyone to be able to get around without a car (if they choose to).
Sixth question – City’s climate plan calls for fewer car trips. How will you encourage that?
CRACIUN – Make buses more bike-friendly. Think more seriously about the “15-minute community.”
JACOBSON – 15-minute community sounds amazing but it’s such a huge issue, we can’t just put a band-aid on part of it. “if we had a process that’s publicly accessible, we could access data” of people using all modes.
SAKA – Need to expand flexible options and incentivize people to reduce driving,. Transit needs to be safer.
TAVEL – Supports free ORCA card for all students and people of certain income levels. Son and I will bike around neighborhood visibly.
ANDERSON Increase bike corridors, more transit like small electric shuttles, increase bus access.
BAREFOOT – Runs successful voter education/outreach program and has success giving people options. Incentivize employers to give employees ORCA cards. Need more bike lanes.
BROWN – Support incentivizing moving around city many ways. His bagel business offers ORCA cards to employees. Must recognize topographical challenges
COSTA Make transit safe, accessible, convenient. If you do, people will ride it.
Seventh question – How would you address Admiral area’s transit shortage?
JACOBSON – Give everybody a forum to speak in a meaningful way. Current process does not allow for it.
SAKA – Would like to hear more from Admiral communities about what’s been suspended and why. Would be “best advocate I can be.”
TAVEL – Good bus system but could be so much better, here’s an example why.
ANDERSON – Deploy smaller electric shuttles deeper into communities. Get feedback from communities.
BAREFOOT – Lived in Admiral and was a bus rider – “in peak hours those buses were packed.” Need to take advantage of what we have.
BROWN – Worked for a transit agency, was involved in ORCA card introduction, would like to learn more about improving Admiral service, restoring pre-COVID levels.
COSTA – Wants to see data on underserved areas. We are a water town ane could have electric foot ferries running everywhere like San Francisco.
CRACIUN – Has adult and teen kids who provide ample feedback on what’s not working with the bus system. “I listen to the kids.”
Eighth question: When the Fauntleroy ferry dock is rebuilt, would you support expanding its over-water portion?
SAKA – Yes. We need to expand infrastructure to expand capacity.
TAVEL – Yes. Maybe add a youth-education center to teach kids about the water.
ANDERSON – Yes. Need to ensure we’re running an efficient system.
BAREFOOT – Yes, for people traveling to and from Vashon.
BROWN – Yes, important to invest in infrastructure, but not too familiar with this issue.
COSTA – Yes, would like to see terminal become world-class green construction terminal. Electric ferries. More amenities.
CRACIUN – Lives not far from the dock and experiencing early-morning traffic. Supports expansion but need to talk to neighbors about it.
JACOBSON – Everyone is in favor of improvement but the issue is how we approach it – people know how to solve it but need access to system.
Ninth question – Police are short-staffed and that won’t change quickly. How could SPD be most efficient with current resources?
TAVEL – Need better partnership with city council, city attorney, etc., to figure that out.
ANDERSON – Prioritize recruiting efforts, hire non-police crisis responders.
BAREFOOT – Hiring and training are slow. Sensitivity to diversity is important.
BROWN – Tough question, solvable by working with police union, mayor’s office, council. Not aware of current inefficiencies.
COSTA – Need to ensure Seattle is best place on planet to be a police officer but also need to stand up alternative responses to help take burden off SPD.
CRACIUN – She’s a sociologist with criminology focus. Need to talk to police more. Officer told us infrastructure for training is lacking.
JACOBSON – Working system must be transparent to be held accountable. Otherwise it’s not sustainable. No one is against a functioning public-safety officer. Need to find out why people are losing trust.
SAKA – Public safety issue is out of hand. Need to hire more police and empower them. But need alternative responses too.
Tenth question – Should people consider you the “law and order candidate”? Why/why not?
ANDERSON – Clinician’s perspective is vital.
BAREFOOT – No, although “I do support our police and public safety … There’s so much we can do as prevention” – address root causes.
BROWN – Not sure how to answer but his bagel shop was across from SPD precinct during George Floyd (aftermath) protests, was under pressure to speak negatively about police but didn’t.
COSTA – Would “prefer to be known as the holistic public-safety candidate … we can lead with compassion and still refuse to tolerate” bad behavior.
CRACIUN – She’s the “very pragmatic … researcher, sociologist, studying” candidate.
JACOBSON -No but would like to be considered logical, common sense, functional candidate. Need more data.
SAKA – What does “law and order” mean? As a Black man in this country, he’s experienced police brutality firsthand. But also has seen police acting nobly – would hire more, and hold them accountable.
TAVEL – “I want to be the criminal justice candidate.” Spent years as a public defender fighting for justice. Police need to be more “protect and serve” than “enforce and punish.”
Eleventh question – After (then-recent) unsolved shootings, say you’re a councilmember and a constituent said, “What are you going to do about this?” what would you say?
BAREFOOT – There are resources for victims. “We can do better and I can do better.”
BROWN – “I would join the person in their pain, listen to them, ask them how I could be of service.”
COSTA – “We can do better. We need to invest more in gun violence prevention programs. We don’t have an excuse for this, we need to fight on all fronts the fact that we have the highest rates of gun violence in the world.”
CRACIUN – “Shooting and shots-fired events were at all time high in 2022. I would work for (constituents) to solve whatever problems they were concerned about regarding the situation.” Need to be there for them.
JACOBSON – Technology is amoral. In order to have direct access to legislation, we need to have a real movement of community empowerment … because of the trauma we’re all experiencing.”
SAKA – “One of the communities bearing the brunt is my community, Delridge. I understand what it’s like. I lost an uncle to gun violence. We need to do everything.”
TAVEL – “The rise in gun violence is completely unacceptable … I would immediately be on the phone to SW Precinct commander to find out what’s being done, show up and talk to people affected …” and ensure resources are deployed.
ANDERSON – “I would listen to person to validate their concerns, then hold a forum to brief the community.” Must ensure appropriate investigative resources.
Twelfth question – How big an issue is homelessness in D-1 compared to the rest of the city?
BROWN – Doesn’t have the data but it’s profoundly affecting the people in D-1, in our urban villages and on our streets, so that’s what matters and “I would roll up my sleeves and work on it.”
COSTA – It’s a problem not only in our district but in our city. People are afraid to go downtown. It also affects our unhoused neighbors. Must increase affordable housing dramatically.
CRACIUN – Displacement is caused by large migration of poeople and problem is not enough places for people to live. Camp Second Chance is a successful solution … we have a lot of work to do.
JACOBSON – Remembers first time she saw a homeless person; the population is the most valuable resource to show how the system fails the community. People need direct access to the legislative process.
SAKA – Profound problem throughout D-1. Everyone deserves access to affordable housing and basic shelter, so he supports addressing root cause but we need to address symptoms as well.
TAVEL – Must understand we have many more homeless people by expanding the district, need to do so much more to get people into supportive housing and shelters.
ANDERSON – Have worked with the VA health system, which has reduced homelessness, so it’s doing something right. Need to improve clinically appropriate housing.
BAREFOOT – With expansion of district, homelessness crisis in D-1 has expanded, but the root causes are the real problems – every time there’s a sweep, that’s a displacement, but where are people moving? Need to work with KCRHA.
Thirteenth question – Describe one successful way to address homelessness.
COSTA – “Homelessness is a housing problem,” so build housing/shelter of all types.
CRACIUN – “Understand it.” It’s not just about alcohol/drug/mental problems – focus on “what people need from us, and what they need is a safe place to live. … 30 percent of houseless people are working people.”
JACOBSON – “Create a system that restores their humanity.”
SAKA – “As a former foster kid, I know what it’s like to be uprooted and swept away … we must do better for our unoused neiighbors,” can’t let them “live in squalor,” get them out of tents and RVs, get services.
TAVEL – Biggest problem “is calling this a problem of unaffordable housing … it’s not.” A friend’s brother is chronically homeless and he’s talked with him a lot.
ANDERSON – Complex issue – “25 to 30 percent have psychiatric and/or substance disorders … an expensive population to treat” so outreach must be extended.
BAREFOOT – “They’re all human beings, we’re all human beings, see each other (that way) … love thy neighbor … we need to uplift them, give them the tools they need to succeed.”
BROWN – “The one single tactic is a frame of mind, ‘housing first,’ next to impossible to lift out of your present situation if you don’t know where you’re going to sleep …” or don’t have a place to store your stuff.
Fourteenth question – Morgan Junction has two vacant city-owned spaces [future park expansion and future EV-charging lot] that are vacant, their future uses years away. What should be done with them in the meantime?
CRACIUN – At the Morgan space, allow a skatepark. “Let’s get creative and have fun … and involve the kids.”
JACOBSON – “We should have a community discussion and ask the community what they would like to see there.” Need to be able to access goverhment 24 hours a day for that discussion.
SAKA – “Starting point … listening and learning from the people of Morgan Junction.” Says he’s done a lot of that lately while doorbelling.
TAVEL – “Having been VP of Morgan Community Association …there’s a wonderful plan to put a skate park there” though there are liability issues – thee are things we can do in meantime.
ANDERSON – Should have a regular forum to hear from community members to figure it out.
BAREFOOT – Community “knows better, they know what they want,” hear from them in more convenient times and days.
BROWN – “I would echo panel’s thoughts on have it be driven by Morgan Junction folks,” biased toward social infrastructure as it’s a passion of his.
COSTA – “I would listen to the community as well …also would be great to bring ideas to the community, could we have a design challenge? Something fun and bring ideas to the community?”
Fifteenth question – The city’s commitment to urban creeks has eroded and they’re being treated more like drainage than habitats. Would you collaborate with the community?
JACOBSON – Yes. “A common sense will arise” of clean water and a place to live as a collaborative system arises.
SAKA – We all need access to clean natural environments – would like to hear SPU’s perspective. Lives next to Longfellow Creek.
TAVEL – Would bring in experts – has worked with Green Spaces Coalition, which has incredible environment, climate change experts; city needs to do more to bring in experts.
ANDERSON – Yes, important to preserve integrity and respect the committed citizens..
BAREFOOT – Yes, reach out to experts, put them at the same table and discuss all the D-1 creeks. Also emphasizes that we’re on Duwamish land and need to consult with (the tribe), which has stewarded the land for centuries.
BROWN – As councilmember for D-1 you represent land not just people – collaboration important.
COSTA – Completely agree with engaging the Duwamish people – looking at the river, we know it’s a lot more expensive to clean it up than to keep it clean in first place, “let’s not lose any more of our natural environment.”
CRACIUN – Lived in Alaska a long time – places like this were treasured – the fact that ours are in disrepair is upsetting – definitely need to bring indigenous people into the conversation and make a plan.
Sixteenth question – Woud you propose an election asking White Center/unincorporated North Highline residents if they want to be annexed to Seattle?
SAKA – Would poll D-1 residents first to see what they want.
TAVEL – After talking with Top Hat group, it does come down to what does potential annexees want. If the people there want to be annexed, I’m all for it.
ANDERSON – Absolutely important to engage communities that would be affected, first.
BAREFOOT – Before annexation conversation, needs to be big outreach to find out what they want.
BROWN – Not much to add – if WC folks are interested in being part of Seattle, their reasons and voices need to be heard.
COSTA – White Center’s just one small piece of what we’re facing – we’ll eventually be wall to wall city between Seattle and Portland – need to build out services, connect all these communities.
CRACIUN – Was at WC Pride the preceding weekend. Topic came up in various spots, regarding pros and cons. Just keep engaging community.
JACOBSON – Lived in WC for three years. Most love being unincorporated. Type of change my campaign suggests is cutting-edge approach to “problems that are only getting worse” otehrwise.
Seventeenth and final question – Civic engagement seems low these days – does city government have any role in changing that – what would you do?
TAVEL – Would like to see more council meetings available on Zoom, weekends, evenings, let people record their testimony and submit it; he’ll have monthly meetings and will show up at all neighborhood meetings,
ANDERSON – Wants to have regular forums throughout D-1 – format is pretty critical – social work-y folks talking with each other, not talking at an official.
BAREFOOT – Hybrid and remote meetings help – D1 is very diverse so we need to address every community differently, increase language access, support education.
BROWN – When he goes door to door, people say they are afraid and anxious and nervous, those are barriers to involvement, I let them keep talking.
COSTA – We may be seeing a dip but “what gives me such hope is passion in the younger generations – I would start there and bring them in every way we could … we could get people inspired that way.”
CRACIUN – Asks people at the forum to say hi to people they don’t know. “We need to do this kind of stuff, get together, talk about things you want to talk about.”
JACOBSON – This question speaks to my generation – “our voices don’t matter,” she had many barriers trying to interact with government previously. One thing she would change is that she would require reps to answer questions
SAKA – Education and advocacy. Has served on some boards and commissions. We need people to participate in more of those.