West Seattle, Washington
Tuesday is Election Day, snow or no snow, so if you go out tomorrow, and haven’t voted yet, you might consider a stop at the ballot box or mailbox. Ballots in West Seattle and the rest of the city have only two issues, both Seattle Public Schools levies:
Prop 1 is a three-year levy, Prop 2 is a six-year levy, and each requires a simple majority to pass. Each link above takes you to official info including pro/con arguments and full measure text; for the school-by-school project list for Prop 2, go here. Voting deadline is 8 pm Tuesday; ballot dropbox locations are here; you can also send you ballot via the US Postal Service, no stamp required.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Phil Tavel says his main motivation for wanting to join the Seattle City Council has only intensified in the four years since his first try.
“When I ran the last time, I wanted to represent our district … in the four years since then, I can’t think of anything that’s gotten better. My desire to help the city work better has only increased.”
It’s been three months since Tavel registered his intent to run, as reported here in October. Now he’s running at full speed as of his campaign kickoff last night at Easy Street Records in The Junction. Here’s what he and his featured speakers told the crowd:
That’s community advocate Pete Spalding speaking after Tavel in the first clip; he was preceded (second clip) by Peel & Press proprietor Dan Austin, who emceed; Easy Street’s Matt Vaughan; local business advocate Lora Radford, entrepreneur Joe Jeannot; and Husky Deli‘s Jack Miller. Responsiveness to small business is a central theme for Tavel, a lawyer who himself has been, among other things, a small-business owner. We sat down to talk the night before his kickoff:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“I’m running.” That was how City Councilmember Lisa Herbold opened a coffeehouse conversation with us this morning, announcing that she’s seeking a second term as the District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) representative on the council. She says that while she has a reputation as a “policy wonk,” she and her staff have “gotten the most satisfaction” out of working directly with constituents. “From getting a streetlight fixed … to getting SDOT to build a stairway,” Herbold says it’s been “powerful” to connect residents with the people in city government who can help, to “amplify their voices.” We talked about a lot more, of course, including her response to critics on a variety of issues – so check back in about an hour as we add the rest of the story. Herbold’s declaration means at least five people are now in the D-1 race, looking ahead to the August primary.
ADDED 11:50 AM: Working for the district, Herbold says, doesn’t just mean individual constituents’ issues, which were also a reason for running that she cited when announcing her original run in February 2015. She adds that she’s proud of “policy work that has specifically helped the district.” She’s been recounting that in lengthy weekly updates, published online and sent to her mailing list. Just a few she lists: The noise-ordinance work requested by Alki residents; advocating for shore power to be part of the T-5 project; a ready-to-work program in High Point; safety advocacy in South Park.
Others are listed on her campaign website, including commitments made during her 2015 campaign. “And there’s still a lot of work to be done.” Impact fees is high on that list – she mentions transportation and utility fees – and “addressing displacemen issues” (right now, evictions are in the spotlight).
We observe that it’s been a rocky four years for the council in general.
Last week, we reported a fourth candidate had joined the City Council District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) race, popcorn entrepreneur Jesse Greene. Last night was his first public campaign event, a kickoff pizza party at Talarico’s in The Junction. We were there to record the speeches, starting with his, which lasted 15 minutes:
His themes were the same as in our interview last week. Before he spoke, the gathering heard from three introductory speakers:
The first speaker, Lora Radford, has also been announced as a speaker at D-1 candidate Phil Tavel‘s kickoff this Thursday; she tells WSB that she hasn’t endorsed a candidate but is speaking to promote small-business advocacy in the campaign. Also speaking at the Greene kickoff were South Park community advocate Carmen Martinez and former state Commerce Department director Brian Bonlender. Along with Greene and Tavel, two other candidates have registered campaigns in District 1 so far: Brendan Kolding and Isaiah Willoughby.
The District 1 City Council race is intensifying, with 7 months until the primary. On Friday, we broke the news of a fourth candidate in the race, Jesse Greene. Now there’s news that the first candidate to register his intention to campaign, Phillip Tavel – who also ran in 2015 – has scheduled his official launch event. Thursday night at 6:30 pm (doors open at 6), he and supporters will gather at Easy Street Records – here’s the official flyer (PDF). Four candidates in all have registered campaign intentions (formal filing is in May, but paperwork is required sooner in order to fundraise), also including Brendan Kolding and Isaiah Willoughby. Incumbent Lisa Herbold has yet to announce whether she plans to run for re-election
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
He’s an entrepreneur, a graduate student, and now a candidate for the Seattle City Council District 1 seat: Jesse Greene plans to file paperwork today, with a public candidacy-announcement event on Monday.
The proprietor of Uncle Woody’s Popcorn is the first of this year’s D-1 candidates to contact WSB before turning up on the city/state websites showing campaign filings. We sat down for a coffeehouse chat on Thursday.
Greene is a West Seattle resident whose popcorn business is headquartered in South Park; he also owns a construction firm based in Sumner, where he grew up (though there are other local roots in his family – he mentions a grandparent who is a West Seattle High School alum). He says his entry into politics is inspired by time he has spent serving on the State Advisory Council on Homelessness – the issue that is motivating his run.
By Brian Bergen-Aurand
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The February 12th special election is three and a half weeks away. Voting starts in days.
The only measures on the ballot in our area are two Seattle Public Schools levies. The district is asking voters to approve both the “Replacement for Educational Programs and Operations Levy” and the “Capital Levy” (BEX V) measures.
As part of a series of community information meetings, Deputy Superintendent Stephen Nielsen addressed about a dozen teachers and parents last Tuesday in the Alki Elementary School lunchroom. Nielsen presented a brief overview of the proposed 2019 levies and fielded questions and comments for an hour. (See the Seattle Public Schools website for more information on these meetings and the levies.)
While schools throughout the city are scheduled for some sort of upgrade, renovation, or replacement, Alki Elementary is the only facility in West Seattle earmarked for a new building, should BEX V pass. (Here’s the full citywide project list/map.) And this replacement plan provoked several important questions during the meeting.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:58 PM TUESDAY: More than tbree years have passed since then-Mayor Ed Murray proposed the upzoning plan eventually named HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability,to affect commercial and multifamily property citywide, as well as other property in the city’s “urban villages.” Now it’s moving toward a final vote, expected in mid-March. First, councilmembers will consider potential amendments to the plan. Wednesday morning at 9:30 am, they will look at 10 amendments proposed for West Seattle, as well as 1 for South Park, plus dozens in three other City Council districts. From the agenda documents, here are short descriptions of the 10 amendments proposed to modify what HALA MHA upzoning would otherwise do in West Seattle:
Intersection of SW Carroll St and Beach Dr SW
Do not rezone the Residential – Commercial node at the intersection of SW Carroll St and Beach Dr SW.
That’s the area by Weather Watch Park, best known businesswise for La Rustica.
1-2 through 1-6
Single-family zones within the West Seattle Junction Residential Urban Village: Modify all proposed rezones from Single-family within the West Seattle Junction Urban Village to Residential Small Lot.
Otherwise, the single-family-zoned areas there are slated for upzoning to Lowrise 1.
West Seattle Junction Residential Urban Village: Triangle Area
Increase proposed maximum heights of Neighborhood Commercial zones within the Junction triangle area from 75′ to 95′.
The Triangle area went through its own planning process early this decade.
Area west of Fauntleroy, south of SW Graham Street
Reduce the proposed zone designation in the Morgan Junction Urban Village south of SW Graham Street and northwest of Fauntleroy Way SW to a less intense Lowrise multifamily zone designation.
That would be LR2 instead of LR3.
Area bounded by SW Barton, Barton Pl SW and 21st Ave SW
Reduce the proposed zone designation within the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village in the area generally between SW Barton Pl and Delridge Way SW from Lowrise multifamily to Residential Small Lot.
Here’s an explainer of RSL and other zoning designations.
26th Ave SW between SW Barton & SW Roxbury ST
Reduce the proposed zone designation within the WestwoodHighland Park Urban Village along 26th Av S from Lowrise multifamily to Residential Small Lot.
(Close-up maps for each proposed amendment are toward the start of this document from the meeting packet.) The council will discuss these, and the amendments proposed for three other council districts, at Wednesday morning’s meeting (9:30 am, City Hall, live coverage as usual via Seattle Channel) with more discussion planned February 8th. An evening public hearing is planned February 21st, and then the council is scheduled to vote on amendments February 25th.
ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: The video of today’s council committee meeting is now available online.
Those are the three people who will be representing you and the rest of the 34th District (including West Seattle, White Center, Vashon/Maury Islands, part of Burien) when the Washington State Legislature starts its new session tomorrow in Olympia. From left are Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, re-elected unopposed in November, which is also when about-to-be-sworn-in Sen. Joe Nguyen was elected. Before the session starts, the trio held an hour-plus Town Hall-style gathering Saturday morning at Delridge Community Center. Each began with a short introduction and summary – along the lines of the conversations we’ve already published (Cody and Fitzgibbon here, Nguyen here). After a few minutes, they opened the floor to comments/questions. We have it all on video, plus part of the introductions:
If you don’t have time to watch, here are our topline notes:
That chat with West Seattle Junction Association executive director Lora Radford was one of the stops for City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda on a visit to West Seattle on Friday, as she launched a half-year tour of the seven council districts, starting here in D-1. She is one of two at-large councilmembers, elected to citywide Position 8 a little over a year ago. We asked her for a quick description of the tour’s start:
She has more West Seattle stops planned on Friday, January 25th, including the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse and 2:30-4:30 pm “coffee/office hours” to meet constituents at a TBA location.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Next week, as many West Seattleites grapple with downtown-bound Viadoom, at least three will be heading the other way:
The state Legislature convenes on Monday, so your 34th District state legislators (all of whom live in West Seattle) will be going south, to Olympia.
Before then – State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen.-elect Joe Nguyen are offering you a briefing and Q&A this Saturday morning (10 am January 12th, Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW).
We checked in with Sen.-elect Nguyen for this December story – and then sat down to talk with Reps. Cody and Fitzgibbon recently to get their take on what’ll be big this year.
8:35 PM: Our area’s largest political organization has a new chair: Gina Topp was elected tonight to lead the 34th District Democrats. She succeeds David Ginsberg, who decided after one 2-year term not to run again. Topp had previously served as treasurer. We’ll add more details from tonight’s meeting after our crew returns.
ADDED EARLY THURSDAY: First, the pitches made by Topp and the other two chair candidates, on video:
A third candidate has now entered the race for the District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) City Council seat. After Brendan Kolding‘s name appeared Wednesday on the list of those who have registered campaigns, we contacted him to find out more, and he responded with this announcement:
Seattle Police Lieutenant Brendan Kolding has announced his plans to challenge City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for the Council District 1 seat in 2019. “City Council is very much in need of an experienced law enforcement professional,” stated Kolding. “Seattle is in a public safety crisis, and the fine men and women of the SPD do not feel supported by City government. Officers are leaving the Department faster than their replacements can be hired, and the City Council was reluctant to approve the collective bargaining agreement that has been worked out between the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild and the City’s labor relations team. SPD is grossly short-staffed, and this problem will only be exacerbated by the passage of I-940. I am running so that our police officers can have someone on City Council who supports them and will fight for their ability to serve the people of Seattle.
“I am also running because City Council has failed to adequately address the homelessness crisis. I support the creation of FEMA-style shelters. These would be warm, dry places with healthy meals, laundry facilities, ample security, and access to critical services such as mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and job placement. The goal would be to find permanent housing for people within a regional network. It is undignified, unsanitary and unsafe for people to reside in the tents, vehicles, and other makeshift shelters that are currently scattered across Seattle. Many of these living situations are illegal, and for good reason. The solution is not RV lots, tent cities, or tiny villages. Instead, we need to provide basic emergency shelter with concentrated services aimed at elevating people into a more stable lifestyle. Once that is in place, we need to direct people who do not have homes to that option and not allow our sidewalks and parks to be used as campgrounds.”
Kolding, 36, has served on the SPD since 2008. He joined the Policy Unit in 2012, where he was actively involved in the development of key policies related to the federal consent decree. When the City was found to be in initial compliance with the consent decree in January, Kolding returned to Patrol and served as a sergeant at the West Precinct. Promoted to lieutenant in July, he currently serves at the North Precinct. He has been a voting member of the Force Review Board since 2014.
The Kolding campaign will be launching a website in the near future.
In 2017, Kolding applied for the opening on City Council that resulted when former Councilmember Tim Burgess, himself a retired SPD officer, became interim mayor.
Kolding holds a BA from Gonzaga University and an MA from Marquette University, both in political science.
He and his wife have lived in West Seattle for nine years. They have three young children. Kolding is actively involved in the community, coaching basketball at the YMCA and serving as president of the Holy Rosary School Commission.
Kolding has sought elected office before – running for State House in 2014 and 2016.
The first to register a campaign for the District 1 position was Phillip Tavel (here’s our October report), a West Seattle lawyer who ran in 2015; second, Isaiah T. Willoughby (here’s our December report). Incumbent Herbold has yet to announce whether she plans to run for re-election.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
That’s how Joe Nguyen reacted on Election Night to news the first vote count had him way ahead in the race for 34th District State Senator.
That’s how things have been since then, he told us during a recent conversation … and he’s not even officially in office yet.
We requested an interview to check in once the vote was certified, and sat down to chat on a recent Saturday morning at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) – where, one month earlier, we photographed him rallying supporters – including U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal – for one last campaign push.
Two weeks ago, the City Council talked about a “best-case scenario” for moving toward a vote on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, since the city Hearing Examiner upheld most of the plan’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. Today, neighborhood advocates sent us the schedule that councilmembers are circulating – including a deadline of tomorrow for potential amendments, and a final vote on March 18th if all proceeds without a hitch:
The timetable is not yet (as of this writing) on the official city page for the City Council’s Select Committee on MHA. The amendments will be closely watched, as our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted at the meeting earlier this month that they could be a way to address some of the concerns that led to the appeal.
We’ve continued watching the city’s list of candidates who register City Council campaigns for next year. A second candidate has registered to campaign for the District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) City Council seat – Isaiah T. Willoughby. He doesn’t have a website but the information on file with the city does include an e-mail address, as well as the organizational title “Promoting Healthy Minds and Spirits,” so we sent a note requesting more information. He sent this reply: “Read this article; everything you need to know about me.” It accompanied this link to a 1997 Seattle Times report about him and his siblings being raised by adoptive parents in a family helped by the Times’ Fund for the Needy. Willoughby’s filing comes almost two months after Phillip Tavel became the first candidate to register a campaign for the seat currently held by Lisa Herbold, who has not yet announced whether she will run for re-election.
From our partner site White Center Now, video of Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Q&A/briefing with three local elected officials, all West Seattleites who represent this area as well as White Center/North Highline: 34th District State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon and County Council Chair Joe McDermott. (34th District State Senator-elect Joe Nguyen was also expected but unable to attend due to multiple conflicts; we interviewed him today for a post-election, pre-Legislature followup that you’ll see here within the next few days.)
The council met Monday morning as the Select Committee on Citywide MHA. They got a briefing on the ruling, plus this potential timeline for what happens next:
Council staff cautioned that the timeline is a “best-case scenario.” (Among other potential complications, the coalition hasn’t yet announced whether it will pursue a court challenge to the city Hearing Examiner’s ruling. Its leader said during the meeting’s public-comment period that the coalition remained open to talking with the city.)
West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted that she had asked for urban-village-specific resolutions regarding planning, and didn’t see that reflected in the timeline. Committee chair Councilmember Rob Johnson said he intends for that to happen and it was an “oversight” that it wasn’t shown on the timeline. Herbold said that she felt specific resolutions would address some of the concerns that led to the appeal. Later in the meeting, she repeatedly stressed concerns about displacement that could result from the upzoning, including that city staff has underestimated how much of it could happen.
The election results were finalized this past week, and with them, 34th District State Sen.-elect Joe Nguyen‘s historic victory:
He and 41st District State Rep.-elect My-Linh Thai are the first Vietnamese-Americans elected to the Washington State Legislature, and both were the guests of honor at two celebrations Sunday afternoon. Above, the two are shown in scarves presented by the Vietnamese Representative Council of Washington at the NewHolly Gathering Hall.
Some of the elders pointed out this day has been long coming – a sizable wave of people from Vietnam arrived in this area in 1975. Among those who fled Vietnam: Sen.-elect Nguyen’s mom, who was there to celebrate with her son:
Also there for the celebration, the director of West Seattle’s Vietnamese Cultural Center, Lee Bui:
After speaking briefly to the VRC, Sen.-elect Nguyen and Rep.-elect Thai headed this way for a party in White Center, where Nguyen’s family lived when he was born:
The crowd gathered at Diamond Hall, a new event space in downtown WC. The senator-elect told them in a short speech of thanks that he considered the multigenerational gathering inspiring and hopeful:
The youngest partygoers included Nguyen’s own children:
In the results certified this past week, Nguyen won the State Senate seat with 58.3 percent of the vote. He’ll be back in White Center next Thursday night (December 6th) as one of four local elected officials speaking with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (7 pm at NH Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th). He will be sworn in January 14th in Olympia.
One year ago today, Mayor Jenny Durkan took the oath of office at a series of ceremonies around the city, including one in West Seattle. This week, she’s on another citywide tour, which included a brief lunchtime stop at the Senior Center of West Seattle. No speech or open-microphone Q&A this time – she did that at Cupcake Royale down the block just two weeks ago.
Senior Center executive director Lyle Evans (with the mayor in the photo above) tells us, by the way, the center’s upstairs café remodeling should be complete next week.
The City Council passed next year’s budget today, finalizing its changes to the plan Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed in September, and including some changes championed by West Seattle/South Park (District 1) Councilmember Lisa Herbold. We’ve reported on most of them previously in the process. They include, as listed in her budget-wrapup announcement:
DISTRICT 1 CAPITAL PROJECTS:
*Adding the Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street Roundabout project to the SDOT Capital Improvement Program
*Adding 35th Avenue SW road paving to the SDOT Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
*Seattle Parks Department planning to enhance Trail Access on SW Brandon Street
*Adding the South Park Playfield to the CIP, noting $1.8 million in funding
The roundabout and 35th SW items don’t guarantee funding for those projects, but they’re a key step toward moving them toward the SDOT front burner. Meantime, Herbold also notes in her announcement:
… “funding to maintain a public safety coordinator for South Park, funding for RV Remediation, and enhancing and adding three inspectors to the Vacant Building Monitoring Program, so more vacant properties are monitored and don’t become public safety nuisances for the neighborhood. … $60,000 in funding for Concord Elementary’s Community Learning Center, Citizenship Program funding for Neighborhood House at High Point, funding to allow Colman Pool stay open for an additional 4 weekends a year.”
Herbold’s announcement also mentions nine other “citywide wins” among her proposals that made it into the final budget.
Eight days after the election, the monthly meeting of our area’s largest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, included looks ahead to other elections – including one of their own.
SEATTLE SCHOOL LEVIES: Two Seattle Public Schools levies – capital (BEX) and operations – are expiring, so in three months, Seattle voters will be asked to approve their replacements. The group endorsed “yes” votes after hearing from Leslie Harris, who said she was speaking as an individual and longtime 34th DDs member rather than as our area’s elected rep on the School Board and its president:
The School Board finalized the levy plans two weeks ago; here’s the info sheet, including what property owners will pay. The biggest projects the BEX levy would fund in our area are a rebuild for Alki Elementary and an addition for West Seattle Elementary; go here to see other projects listed school-by-school.
4:53 PM: 24 hours after the mayor and police chief came to West Seattle to in essence campaign for council approval of the Seattle Police contract, the vote has just happened at City Hall downtown. The contract required seven council “yes” votes to pass and got eight, with Councilmember Kshama Sawant the lone “no” vote. West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold voted yes despite a number of concerns, explaining that – among other reasons – she has told constituents that she supports police staffing to address public-safety concerns, and didn’t see how that would reconcile with a “no” vote given the expectation that contract rejection would make SPD hiring even more difficult than it’s been lately. M
ADDED 9:31 PM: The Seattle Channel video from this afternoon’s meeting is available now, and we’ve embedded it at the top of this story. Also, we talked briefly with Councilmember Herbold after an unrelated community meeting we covered tonight. Asked to comment on her voting decision, she reiterated what she had said during the meeting – both that she felt she had to be consistent with her three years of telling constituents she supported increased police staffing, and also that she knew she let some people down, too. She said that when alternatives she was exploring turned out to be unworkable, she felt she had to vote “yes.”