As promised, we recorded this afternoon’s City Council District 1 candidate forum at the Senior Center of West Seattle, organized by a member. Though the organizer had hoped for all eight candidates, the turnout was six plus a representative – here’s how they were seated at the table, left to right: Maren Costa, Stephen Brown, Jean Iannelli Craciun, Rob Saka, Preston Anderson, Jules Williams from Phil Tavel‘s campaign (the candidate was at a memorial), and Lucy Barefoot. Moderator was Paula Barnes from the League of Women Voters; questions were asked by attendees. For those without the time and/or interest in watching video, we’ll add text summaries of their replies in about an hour. P.S. There’s another forum tomorrow night at the West Seattle Democratic Women‘s meeting – info in our calendar listing.
ADDED 11:11 PM: The summaries are below, after our photo of moderator Paula and organizer Erica:
What you see below are our summaries/paraphrasings of what the candidates said, not direct quotes aside from any word, phrase, or sentence inside quotation marks.
First, self-introductions in which they were asked to list the big issues they want to work on:
COSTA: Came from big tech and solved big problems. Wants to see a future for our kids. Homelessness is out of control, public safety, affordable housing, climate justice. Wants to build relationships with existing government participants – “democracy moves at the speed of trust” – and “talking to all of you.”
BROWN: Agrees with organizer Erica that “there’s not a lot separating all the candidates.” His “talent and temperament” has been “best demonstrated” as an entrepreneur – not just food but great community experiences. Skillset of inventing means “seeing what’s not there and making it happen” – he had a short stint at Seattle Monorail Project, brought ORCA card to transit, also interested in small business support and revitalizing downtown.
CRACIUN: She came to Seattle 20 years ago. Parents have always been in service, it’s a family tradition. Accountability, transparency, efficiency – goals: to know her colleagues – amazed that councilmembers still have Plexiglas between them, “I get the feeling they don’t know each other.”
SAKA: Public school dad of 3, attorney, veteran, grateful. Talks about his rough start –
‘I know what good government programs and services look like and not so good ones.” Personally fed up with dysfunction in City Hall. Has built his professional life on … getting stuff done. Public safety (is a signature issue). “I know there’s a better way.”
ANDERSON: Based on standard his grandma set for him, joined military, went to college, been a social worker for 12 years. Works at VA now in transitional program regarding homelessness … Lost somebody recently, frustrating because we’re not making these changes. “I’m confident I could make changes.”
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Believes Phil is most qualified – professor, public defender, now an administrative law judge. There’s not a thing he doesn’t do that’s not public service. Worked with food bank – he can bring people together. He has a plan for first 100 days (as a councilmember) – perform audits, bring community together, get stuff done.
BAREFOOT: She has worked at state, local, national levels – she is currently an outreach specialist for secretary of state. Got pumped up about transportation … Sound Transit conducting outreach (for West Seattle light rail) but not listening. Second priorities – helping people age in place, keep housing – education, implementation, and outreach.
Audience questions from here:
Q: You’re newly elected. How do you plan to achieve your goals when you’re one of nine councilmembers?
BROWN: Is it essential for every one of us to say we have to work on biggest issues? Public safety is what he hears most about while going door-to-door. But what he is aligned with and interested … small business, moving around without cars .. will offer colleagues support and get theirs for his issues.
CRACIUN: “Advancing YOUR agenda” … families top the agenda – she has eight children in her life – why can’t they afford to live here? Diversity is like “liberty and justice for all.”
SAKA: Collaboration, which is missing @ City Hall. The nine plus the mayor plus “all of you. … I hear current councilmembers don’t even talk to each other … I have a great relationship with the mayor and I’m proud of it.”
ANDERSON: We’ve had forums, important to have dialogue with community members, need to amplify those voices, WA is first in nation with fentanyl deaths, I’m motivated to bring that change, I know where the gaps are in services
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Phil is somebody who “can get along with anybody.” He’s “driven to be their friend.” Will find what they agree on. Proactively create change and systems we have in place. He’ll work with whoever’s ready to work productively.
BAREFOOT: Has a lot of experience bridging communities. Will work with experts in the room. Must find ways to connect. Lots of attention to next year’s election because in 2024, democracy will be again at risk. She plans to build resiliency in City Council, win trust.
COSTA: Running this campaign has been an example of not doing things alone. This will help bring forward an agenda with people, groups, voters. Has a lot of experience and success bringing competing teams together – building connections and trust – play “agreement game,” find overlap of what we all want to get done, and get to work.
Q: Name 1 actual thing that you personally accomplished that benefited your District 1 community.
CRACIUN: Invited to be on Seattle Public Schools Title IX committee, two kids at WSHS at time, that report is influencing all the education systems in our district.
SAKA: Served on Charter Review Committee a few years ago, now unlawful to discriminate against vets and people with family-care obligations. Also protects people with eldercare responsibilities. Also a volunteer little league coach.
ANDERSON: Currently serving on executive board of Chief Sealth IHS PTSA. No kids at Sealth but feels an obligation to help mentor kids – helped increase PTSA membership twofold.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Most proud of Phil being a court-appointed special advocate, representing most vulnerable groups, he’ll treat us with same care.
BAREFOOT: Worked as intake for Northwest Immigrants Rights Project. Had a six-month waiting list, worked there for nine months, reduced the waiting list. Was translating documents in language assistance program.
COSTA: To make change, you start where you are. Started a nonprofit for women and girls. Most proud of, huge win to pressure Amazon to have a climate plan – including Rivian [electric] vans delivering packages – will keep air clearer in places such as South Park.
BROWN: He started where he was, too – has a “profoundly cognitively disabled 28-year-old son,” helped develop programs for people like his son.
Q: What’s your stance on clearing encampments? My children went to a day care with encampments outside and violence.
SAKA: Knows what it’s like to wake up and not know where you’re gonna rest your head but we just can’t turn our back on them living in unsafe conditions – supports better connecting them with services – we all need to win.
ANDERSON: It’s the wrong narrative. We need to talk about cconnecting people to resources. Doing it wrong. Shouldn’t be focused on permanent supportive housing. Need to focus on transitional housing. We’ve reduced homelessness at VA.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Phil does not support sweeps but everybody has right to pubic safety. Phil would like to work with existing orgs to get folks off the street. Also would like for every person acknowledged as houseless to be getting resources.
BAREFOOT: Believes we’re lacking infrastructure – be mindful of how people needing services might instead be ending up in jail.
COSTA: Realizes our compassion is getting stretched. Need to rapidly increase emergency housing – safe lots, tiny home villages, need to pay our social workers a living wage – need well-skilled staff – where harm is happening, we can refuse to tolerate it.
BROWN: We can’t have unmonitored and unsanctioned tent villages all over the city — city council’s challenge is to balance (homeless people’s and others’) needs, not doing a good job balancing – need safe lots etc.
CRACIUN: The country is watching Seattle. As a sociologist, she can help people look at this from many angles. Tiny homes are a good solution, There are working houseless people.
Q: Appreciative of Costa’s climate mention – what local grassroots ideas would you work toward to mitigate the existential issue of climate change?
ANDERSON: Electrify all city fleet. Shore power for port. Help incentivize electrifying port trucks. Enhance electrical grid locally so it’s efficient. Smaller electric shuttles as circulator transportation.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Phil wants to electrify fleet, expand tree canopy, usually off picking up trash at least monthly – supports solar.
BAREFOOT: Invite those not impacted by ST route to see tree canopy we’re about to lose – we’re going to lose more trees.
COSTA: We have to address at two levels – immediately build adaptability – mitigate effects – first, climate resiliency hubs, need them in every neighborhood – libraries, schools – cars are the bigger problem, so we need to invest in public transportation – get cars pff the road – we are behind on our climate goals as a city and need to do better.
BROWN: Help Seattle be a great city. Get people to live in a neighborhood rather than burbs. Density is best way.
CRACIUN: Look to Indigenous peoples – they understood. A study said whatever you have now, you’ll have more of. And we must listen to children – they’re who invited her to a silent protest at City Hall about the tree canopy yesterday.
SAKA: Climate action is urgent. He’s running to fix Seattle’s problems. Supports what’s been said, plus expand EV infrastructure, work on transit comfort, people need to feel safe so they’ll take transit.
Q: how do you address homelessness (offer services, etc.) without the area becoming a magnet?
ANDERSON: Need more resources for addiction – be sure we’re not concentrating permanent supportive housing in certain areas of city – like having a building where people trying to stay clean are grouped near people who aren’t.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Seattle is setting standard. Other states then can implement same programs (so less incentive for people to leave and come here).
BAREFOOT: If we build and get people into permanent housing and jobs, we have the opportunity to build a leading program.
COSTA: Surveys show most homeless people are from here. We’re going to have more people here because of the weather. Would like to have big pharma show up, and more money from feds, to help fund bringing more people inside,
BROWN: Some other West Coast cities facing influx too. Admits he doesn’t have “a great answer.”
CRACIUN: We are a Sanctuary City. It’s about multilevel collaboration – the Regional Homelessness Authority – need other cities to join it. We have enough research, we need action.
SAKA: Dangerous, divisive, counterproductive [to focus on who’s from where] – we are all one crisis, one paycheck away from experiencing homelessness ourselves. So let us always be a sanctuary city for people who want help – “I don’t care where you’re from, if you come here and you want help, great – but let us not be a place for people to come here and exploit.” Treat people with compassion and dignity.
Q: Following up on that, talk more about how the Regional Homelessness Authority can help.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Phil would like to implement ACO. Phil’s been clear, concerned re: discrepancy about top earners profiting off it. Phil just wants to see change. Collaboration.
BAREFOOT: It takes a lot of time and resources to build something – if we can fix it, why get rid of it?
COSTA: She meet with an RHA senior leader and talked for an hour and a half, “tell me what’s going on, it seems like a mess” – was heartened by her conversation with him, “I do think they are heading in the right direction” – they are seeing a 90 percent success rate in reaching out and connecting.
BROWN: Regional problem with regional solution- RHA benefits from firsthand insights, butit doesn’t necessarily benefit from management having (lived experience).
CRACIUN: She too met with people – the nonprofit employees, so thick and deep, it’s paralyzed. Need management with efficient ways of streamlining – we truly need some policies – move forward in collaboration.
SAKA: Not here to tear down or divide but to uplift and embolden – will continue to invest but need to better track and monitor the results, want to see an audit of spending and achievements – people will pay more IF they see results – need a new leader who’s more involved.
ANDERSON: You don’t know what you don’t know.” At the VA health-care system they use certain metrics.
Q: From a person who owns two businesses in Georgetown – “the homeless issue is really what we want to see focused on” – broken windows, stolen catalytic converters, needless fires, drugs on public transit, robberies, we have license plates and images but no arrests – what are you going to do about people who don’t want help?
BAREFOOT: Need to ID people who will accept help – want to take downtown revitalization (plan) to other neighborhoods.
COSTA: What’s good for small biz is good for communities. There is a huge cost with addressing downtown problem. Would like to get to point where we can see how many people have been offered housing but are still outside and then we can deal with them in a different way.
BROWN: “I hear your pain,” If people won’t make a choice, we need to make the choice for them, it’s enabling to let people just stay on street. He would have voted to give authority for drug arrests.
CRACIUN: Knows a clinician who works in street with drug addicts/mental-health patients Trying to get lawyers to represent them. We have to be ready with help when they want it.
SAKA: “As a lawyer I’ve helped biz be successful at all levels. I hear your concerns.” It’s a delicate balance – absolutely a public-safety issue. He would have supported drug law too.
ANDERSON: Our policies have contributed to acceleration and expansion of what we see today. He too would have supported the drug law. Meth will cause psychosis, he adds, so there’s intersection of problems.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: When somebody victimizes somebody else they need to be held accountable. Need to provide adequate mental health and substance-abuse care and housing. Phil is trying to work on solutions.
Q: Gunshots on 35th, car crash on Alki, we haven’t talked about those kinds of major safety issues, but those are the top concerns of the people they know.
COSTA: “We’re all feeling it.” Gun violence – need to address. Want to partner with Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Choose 180, community policing, bring gun violence down. Need more (traffic calming) on our roads.
BROWN: Laws on books re: guns are not being enforced, “shame on us.” Should be enforcing as powerfully as we can. Speeding is terrible thing. Laws on books need to be enforced, fast response times, culturally sensitive police …
CRACIUN: Was at City Council yesterday, good thing that they passed drag racing law, good that speed humps are helping, there’s road rage too … need to bring it forward to city council, it does work when public shows up.
SAKA: “The public safety situation in this city is out of hand.” He brings up the deadly shooting near Whale Tail Park, the deadly Delridge shooting earlier this week. Need to hire more police, have better response times, empower them, they need to be empowered to carry out public safety mandate, hold people accountable.
ANDERSON: Our policies have contributed to permissiveness. Hopes we can start at early age for pro-social behaviors, pull them away from this lifestyle, if you see drug use, criminality, you’re gonna pick up those behaviors. Need to adequately staff police, Health One, and third department with clinical social workers.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Phil and I have been talking about how you hire more police without police contract (not settled yet). He’d like to see more gun regulation — more local access only streets – but you’ll have to increase transit.
BAREFOOT: “I do want to acknowledge that defunding police was big mistake.” Need programs to find young folks that want to go into service.
At that point, a mom with a baby wanted to ask a followup question about the recent shootings but the moderator chose to move on to closing statements and wrap up the forum. From those statements:
BAREFOOT: “2020 built me to do this type of work.” She says she’s a “connector” and won’t avoid difficult conversations.
WILLIAMS FOR TAVEL: Phil’s a public servant.
ANDERSON: Encourage friends and neighbors to vote. He’s committed to addressing homelessness because it’s otherwise going to get worse.
SAKA: Declares he has most diverse experience in this race. Military, business, believes in “collaborative responsive government with progressive values and a little common sense.”
CRACIUN: She’s a 40-year market researcher, small biz owner, loving Italian mama, breast cancer survivor, LGBTQ community member, elder … The country is watching us.
BROWN: Despite it all, “I’m an optimist about Seattle’s future.”
COSTA: “I put my whole career on the line” to stand up for warehouse workers’ safety. People’s lives were in danger. “My actions speak louder than words.” Endorsed by people who know “I will fight the right fight.”
Again, next Tuesday – August 1st – is the deadline to vote. 8 pm if you are putting your ballot in a county dropbox, earlier if you’re using USPS, so your ballot will be postmarked August 1st at the latest.