West Seattle, Washington
EDITOR’S NOTE: A month has passed since the August primary, and general-election voting is a little more than a month away. Our election coverage continues with a closeup look at both candidates running for the open 34th District State Senate seat. We interviewed Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen separately before Labor Day; after featuring our conversation with her last night, tonight we’re reporting on our conversation with him.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Joe Nguyen‘s 34th District State Senate campaign is his first try for public office – and while he says that “I knew we worked harder than anyone else” in the primary field of 11 contenders, he was still “shocked” to have ended up with the most votes.
Though he hasn’t run for office before, Nguyen says he has “been involved with politics for a long time … I actually paged for (now County Executive) Dow Constantine when he was in the Legislature.”
Our opening question in our conversation (which you can see above, in its entirety, in unedited video): Why do you want this job?
EDITOR’S NOTE: A month has passed since the August primary, and general-election voting is a little more than a month away. Our election coverage continues with a closeup look at both candidates running for the open 34th District State Senate seat. We interviewed Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen separately before Labor Day, and are presenting the stories tonight and tomorrow.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Of the 11 candidates who were on the primary-election ballot for the 34th District State Senate seat, Shannon Braddock was the only one who had run for office before.
Three years ago, she finished a very close second in the first-ever District 1 City Council election, losing to Lisa Herbold by just 39 votes.
Now, Braddock is campaigning again, this time to represent a larger area – the 34th Legislative District, which includes West Seattle (where she lives), Vashon and Maury Islands, White Center and part of the rest of North Highline, and part of Burien. Its senator is one of three legislators for the district; the two State House Reps., Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, both ran for re-election this year, both unopposed. Sen. Sharon Nelson, the outgoing Senate Majority Leader, chose to retire.
Why does Braddock want the job? was our opening question when we sat down to talk at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. (You can see and hear our entire conversation, unedited, in the video above.)
The hottest local race on the November ballot, 34th District State Senator, is revving up. Tomorrow night (Wednesday, September 12th), candidates Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock will debate at the monthly meeting of the 34th District Democrats, who endorsed both before the 11-candidate August primary. According to an advisory from the Nguyen campaign, it will be a “Lincoln-Douglas style debate,” not the standard Q&A forum; the advisory explains, “Lincoln Douglas style debates are similar to the format used in high school debate competitions. Candidates will have the opportunity to cross examine one another and respond to claims made during the debate.” The 34th DDs’ meeting starts at 7 pm Wednesday at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).
P.S. We recently interviewed both candidates, recording a half-hour conversation with each one, and will be publishing those stories – text with video – here on WSB tonight and tomorrow.
After 19 days of testimony before city Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil, the appeal of the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning is now in his hands. Friday was the last scheduled day of testimony – the 19th, in sessions spread across 2 1/2 months – in the appeal challenging the city’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on the plan. We listened to audio from the hearing’s conclusion to find out what happens next: Both sides have deadlines to submit their wrap-up briefs to Vancil, and he indicated he doesn’t expect to announce his decision before November.
HALA MHA would upzone commercial and multifamily property citywide, plus residential property in “urban village” areas, with developers allowed to build higher/denser as a result, while being required to include a certain level of “affordable housing” in their projects or to pay the city a fee to fund construction somewhere else. (Check the interactive map here to see how/whether any particular site would be affected.) The coalition of more than 30 neighborhood groups that filed the appeal last November (plus some individual challenges that were heard concurrently) contends that the FEIS is inadequate for a variety of reasons and wants the city to have to go back to the drawing board and work directly with neighborhoods to address their specific challenges and conditions. Until the appeal is settled, the City Council’s vote on HALA MHA – a proposal initiated before Jenny Durkan was elected mayor – is on hold. They’ve had a multitude of meetings and hearings on it, including in-district hearings that concluded with one June 5th in West Seattle (WSB coverage here). Meantime, documents in the appeal case, as well as minutes (detailing who testified but not the substance of their testimony) and audio, can be found here. The Hearing Examiner (whose role is explained briefly here) has the city’s final say in matters brought before him; a court challenge would be the next step.
A problem that’s been before the City Council off and on for more than 10 years is back in the spotlight at a council-committee discussion tomorrow (Wednesday).
The problem: Vacant buildings. It’s been 9 1/2 years since the issue gained some attention when a Delridge community advocate invited councilmembers, department heads, and others on a tour of problem properties in eastern West Seattle.
The vacant-building problem has been addressed with incremental legislation over the years. But it’s still a problem. Stats prepared by Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff for tomorrow’s meeting of the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee show that West Seattle/South Park District 1 had the most vacant-building-related complaints last year of any of the city’s seven council districts – 95.
95 complaints – but only 2 properties in D-1 were enrolled in the city’s vacant-building-monitoring program. Beyond that, Herbold’s staff found that 44 District 1 addresses accounted for 284 Seattle Police responses last year alone, while 66 houses in West Seattle are signed up for SPD’s criminal trespass program. The slide deck (48 MB PDF) to be presented by Herbold assistant Alex Clardy also shows multiple examples of vacant, deteriorating properties in West Seattle and South Park.
The point of tomorrow’s briefing is to look at what might make the vacant-building-monitoring program more effective; this report from the Department of Construction and Inspections looks at a variety of possibilities, including changing the standards for enrolling properties in the program. For example, the report notes that properties slated for redevelopment usually aren’t enrolled because they’ll be demolished before long. (The report does not address the length of time that can elapse between the initiation of a redevelopment plan and demolition – sometimes years.) Another possibility addressed by the report is a “temporary caretaker” program in which good-quality vacant properties could be made available through nonprofits/social-service agencies identifying people who could live there until demolition is imminent.
You can see how the discussion goes by going to City Hall, or watching Seattle Channel, for tomorrow’s 9:30 am PLUZ committee meeting.
While Mayor Durkan looks for a permanent SDOT director – 8+ months after Scott Kubly‘s departure – she’s announced a new interim director to succeed Goran Sparrman. That new interim SDOT director is a former head of the state’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, Linea Laird. The mayor’s announcement says that Laird’s appointment takes effect Saturday (September 1st) and that she will “focus on upcoming permanent closure of the Alaska Way Viaduct and realignment of SR 99.” The same announcement also mentions that the mayor is seeking City Council approval for making three interim department directors permanent:
Calvin Goings, Interim Director of Department of Finance and Administrative Services; Sue McNab, Interim Director of the Seattle Department of Human Resources; and Andrés Mantilla, Interim Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.
Mantilla is a West Seattle resident who became interim Neighborhoods director 3+ months ago.
Two weeks after the August primary election, final results were certified today. So it’s official – Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock will face off for the 34th District State Senate seat from which Sharon Nelson is retiring. They finished atop the 11-candidate field, with 14,019 votes for Nguyen, 11,114 votes for Braddock. Neither has held elected office before; he hasn’t run for office before, while Braddock finished 39 votes behind Lisa Herbold in the 2015 City Council District 1 race. Both are West Seattleites. You can see the full August election results in King County by going here.
The city’s HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning plan has yet to go before the City Council for a final vote because the neighborhood coalition appeal of its Environmental Impact Statement remains unresolved. Testimony was scheduled to resume this morning before city Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil. This is the 11th day of testimony, but the 10 days so far have not been consecutive; it began with one week in late June (June 25-29) and continued with one week in late July (July 23-27). This entire week is also blocked for testimony, Monday-Friday, and four more days are on the HE calendar too – August 30th and 31st and September 4th and 7th. This week, the neighborhood coalition is scheduled to wrap up its case with witnesses today and Tuesday and in the first hour of Wednesday, before the city calls more of its witnesses. Those testifying this week, according to a document provided to the HE, will include West Seattleites Christy Tobin-Presser and Cindi Barker as part of the appeal case; city witnesses will include city employees and consultants including Geoff Wentlandt, the city Office of Planning and Community Development lead in preparing the EIS. The proceedings are in the Hearing Examiner’s chambers on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown (700 5th Ave.), open to the public; audio of each day’s proceedings is posted in the online case file.
BACKSTORY: The proposal would upzone property in urban villages, as well as commercial/multifamily property everywhere in the city, while requiring developers to either build affordable housing in their projects or pay fees to fund it elsewhere. The appeal was announced in November, two weeks after the city released the EIS. Five West Seattle neighborhood groups are among the 31 organizations from around the city in the coalition – Alki Community Council, Fauntleroy Neighborhood Association, Morgan Community Association, West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Organization, and the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition. An appeal is not a lawsuit, though it could be a precursor to one; once the HE rules – usually within a few weeks of the end of testimony – that will be the city’s final decision in the matter, but the decision could be challenged in court. In city appeals, the burden is on the appellants to prove that a city decision should be overturned or amended. The City Council has continued to review the legislation that would implement HALA MHA, though its Select Committee on MHA has yet to schedule its next meeting.
The third vote count of the primary election is out, and in the 34th District State Senate race, Joe Nguyen‘s lead over Shannon Braddock has widened in a big way – now more than 1,400 votes. The vote counts won’t be final until August 21st; here’s how the full 11-candidate field stands:
Joe Nguyen 10,505 29.82%
Shannon Braddock 9,014 25.59%
Lois Schipper 3,408 9.68%
Sofia Aragon 3,109 8.83%
Darla Green 2,866 8.14%
Courtney Lyle 2,184 6.2%
Lisa Ryan Devereau 1,152 3.27%
Debi Wagner 1,128 3.2%
Annabel Quintero 911 2.59%
Hillary Shaw 585 1.66%
Lemuel W. Charleston 361 1.02%
In the just-released second count of primary-election results, Joe Nguyen has widened his lead in the no-incumbent 34th District State Senate race. On election night, he led Shannon Braddock by 199 votes; after today’s count, he is 461 votes ahead. As the top two by far in the 11-candidate field, the two West Seattle Democrats will advance to the November general election. (See the full updated results slate here.) The winner will succeed Sharon Nelson as state senator for the 34th Legislative District, which includes West Seattle, White Center and vicinity, Vashon and Maury Islands, and part of Burien.
8:10 PM: The first vote count is in. Here’s how the no-incumbent 34th District State Senate race stands (updated with all 11 candidates, then updated again with vote counts – percentages are rounded to the nearest tenth):
Joe Nguyen 6,769 27.7%
Shannon Braddock 6,570 26.9%
Lois Schipper 2,324 9.5%
Darla Green 2,158 8.8%
Sofia Aragon 2,025 8.3%
Courtney Lyle 1,669 6.8%
Lisa Ryan Devereau 850 3.5%
Debi Wagner 796 3.3%
Annabel Quintero 609 2.5%
Hillary Shaw 416 1.7%
Lem Charleston 264 1.1%
And this election’s one ballot measure, the King County Prop 1 replacement levy for automated fingerprint ID: 56% yes, 44% no.
ADDED 9:31 PM: Once the results were in (next count isn’t until Wednesday), we stopped by the top two candidates’ parties for photos and a quick comment on video. Joe Nguyen was at Ounces in North Delridge:
Shannon Braddock was at Pizzeria 22 in Admiral:
We asked them both the same question: How will you appeal to the people who didn’t vote for you on this ballot?
Both are West Seattle residents. The 34th District also includes White Center and vicinity, Vashon and Maury Islands, and part of Burien. Next results update is expected Wednesday afternoon.
Quick followup on the city’s planned purchase of a parcel expanding the Orchard Street Ravine “passive park” in Gatewood – the $235,000 purchase, to be funded by Park District levy money, just got unanimous final approval from the full Council. The 5600-square-foot parcel at 7137 38th SW, on a slope past a dead end (shown on this map), currently holds a dilapidated house that will be demolished, with an additional ~$125,000 to be spent on that and other costs. Full backstory is in our two previous reports – here and here.
If you haven’t already voted, dig up your ballot to get it done and send it out! Tuesday is your last chance to get it in either a dropbox or a mailbox. It’s not a long ballot (here’s what it looks like) but you have three major decisions:
–34th District State Senate: 11 people are running for this open seat. Which two will advance to November? Here’s the order in which they’re listed on the ballot, with party preference – the names link to their infopages on the state website (with everything from resumé toplines to links showing you who donated to their campaigns):
Joe Nguyen (Prefers Democratic Party)
Lois Schipper (Prefers Democratic Party)
Sofia Aragon (Prefers Democratic Party)
Courtney Lyle (Prefers Republican Party)
Hillary Shaw (States No Party Preference)
Annabel Quintero (Prefers Democratic Party)
Lemuel W. Charleston (Prefers Democrat Party)
Shannon Braddock (Prefers Democratic Party)
Darla Green (Prefers Republican Party)
Debi Wagner (Prefers Independent Party)
Lisa Ryan Devereau (Prefers Democratic Party)
We’ve covered four forums in this race, all with video: White Center Chamber of Commerce‘s forum, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s forum, West Seattle Democratic Women‘s forum, 34th District Democrats‘ forum.
–U.S. Senate: Incumbent Maria Cantwell has 28 challengers. Which two of the 29 candidates (all listed here) will make it to the general election?
–King County Prop 1: Replacement levy for Automated Fingerprint Identification System Services
TO VOTE: This is the first election with prepaid postage, so if you send your ballot via US Postal Service mail, you do NOT need a stamp. You can also use a county dropbox – there’s one in West Seattle, alongside the High Point Library at 3411 SW Raymond, and you have until 8 pm Tuesday to drop off your ballot there. (The full countywide list is here.)
The Gatewood park known as Orchard Street Ravine might soon be a little bigger. Tomorrow, a City Council committee will consider the proposed purchase of a parcel adjacent to OSR, 7137 38th SW, a 5,600-square-foot parcel north of park boundaries (as shown on this map), currently holding the dilapidated century-plus-old house shown in the King County Assessor’s Office photo above. The purchase price would be $235,000, and it would come from Park District levy funds. Documents for tomorrow’s meeting of the Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee show the city expects to spend an additional $25,000 on “staff time, title insurance, and closing cost,” plus “up to $100,000 for demolition of the house.” We’re told that local residents plan to speak in favor of the purchase at tomorrow’s committee meeting, which includes a public-comment period. They will include members of the Friends of Orchard Street Ravine and Morgan Community Association, says MoCA president Deb Barker, who shared a letter that park steward Carol Schultz sent to the committee, saying in part:
We’re excited to hear that the proposal is coming before the committee for review tomorrow. I wanted to contact you and let you know that there are many supporters and users of Orchard Street Ravine. After many years of volunteer work it is now a beautiful green space with a stairway and trails connecting neighborhoods and nature.
With the increasing density of West Seattle the proposed park expansion will be a real benefit to the community and natural habitat. Orchard Street Ravine is an important green spaces connector as well as a beautiful natural area. A stairway built as part of the 2006 bond connects upper and lower parts of the neighborhood. It is a link in the Green Crescent or Morgan Junction Loop trail. The trail connects Morgan Junction, Orchard Street Ravine, Solstice Park, Lincoln Park, and Lowman Beach Park helping to create a total of a 2.5 mile walk. It is listed in the King County West Seattle Trails map.
The 2006 bond also set up a Vegetation Management Plan for reforestation with native plantings that we’ve been following since then. We’ve gradually reforesting what used to be a jungle of blackberries, ivy and clematis vine. We plant hundreds of new native plants every year and it’s now filled with NW native plants and wildlife and birds have returned. … Approving the proposed expansion would be a real benefit to the community and environment.
You can see the slide deck prepared for tomorrow’s meeting (2 pm Wednesday) here. If the committee approves the purchase, it would move on to a final vote by the full City Council.
If you haven’t seen the coverage we published this morning on partner site White Center Now: The White Center Chamber of Commerce hosted the last major pre-primary forum in the 34th District State Senate race. Six of the 11 candidates participated in last night’s forum in a forum presented by the White Center Chamber of Commerce, held outdoors at TommySound studios in South Delridge.
Aaron Garcia moderated; our video above includes the forum in its entirety. Participating, left to right, were:
Schipper lives in White Center; Aragon lives in Burien; the other four live in West Seattle. All are on your ballot as Democrats except for Shaw, who filed with “no preference” regarding party. They are running to succeed Sen. Sharon Nelson, the Maury Island-residing Democrat who decided not to seek re-election. If you don’t have time to watch the video, see our full report on WCN for toplines of their replies to the questions. And be sure to get your ballot into a mailbox (postage is now prepaid!) or dropbox by the evening of Tuesday, August 7th.
Two West Seattle events before week’s end will each offer a chance to talk with/hear from two city councilmembers:
THURSDAY: The West Seattle Transportation Coalition has just announced that its guests this Thursday night will be Councilmembers Lisa Herbold (WS/South Park District 1) and Teresa Mosqueda (citywide Position 8). (6:30 pm July 26th, Neighborhood House High Point, 6400 Sylvan Way SW)
FRIDAY: Councilmember Herbold’s periodic in-district office hours will include Councilmember Lorena González (citywide Position 9, and a WS resident) for the first hour and a half, according to her weekly update. (2-6:45 pm July 27th, with CM Gonzalez there until 3:30 pm, Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle)
Both are open to the public – just show up.
(Seattle Channel video of this afternoon’s council meeting; domestic-workers item is at one hour in)
Passed today by the City Council: What’s described as the nation’s first city laws “that specifically protect nannies, caretakers, house cleaners, gardeners, and other domestic workers,” according to the announcement from the bill’s sponsor, citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. Her announcement says the new protections for domestic workers include:
*Hiring entities must pay domestic workers the minimum hourly wage;
*Domestic workers must receive proper rest and meal breaks, including a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break if they work more than five consecutive hours for the same hiring entity, and a 10-minute rest break if they work more than four consecutive hours, or pay in lieu;
*A domestic worker who resides or sleeps at their place of employment will not be required to work more than six consecutive days without an unpaid 24-hour period of consecutive rest;
*Hiring entities will not be allowed to retain a domestic worker’s personal effects and documents; and,
*The legislation establishes a Domestic Workers Standards Board, which will be made up of workers, hiring entities, worker organizations and community members. The board will convene during the first quarter of 2019, and will be tasked with recommending how to implement new labor standards, such as retirement benefits, worker’s compensation and sick leave.
The ballots have been mailed and voting has begun for the August 7th primary election. The major local race in our area is for the 34th District State Senate seat. Last night at the DAV Hall in Delridge, five of the 11 candidates answered questions at a forum presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Our video begins with introductions from the Chamber and DAV; if you want to jump ahead to the candidates, they start 4 minutes in:
The Chamber said it invited all 11 candidates, with repeated outreach to those who didn’t accept the invitation, and these are the ones who showed up: Joe Nguyen, Shannon Braddock, Sofia Aragon, Lois Schipper, and Lem Charleston. Among the highlights of the forum: State Senator Sharon Nelson, whose decision not to run for re-election set up this wide-open race, was invited to question her would-be successors.
P.S. You have at least one more chance to hear from candidates in this race – the White Center Chamber of Commerce has a forum scheduled for 6 pm next Tuesday (July 24) at Tommy Sound (9409 Delridge Way SW). They have not yet announced which candidates will participate. And remember to get your ballot in a mailbox – prepaid postage! – or dropbox by August 7th.
King County Elections is sending out the ballots for the August 7th primary election. What you’ll be deciding includes narrowing a field of 29 U.S. Senate candidates (including incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell) down to 2 and narrowing the list of 11 34th District State Senate candidates (incumbent Sen. Sharon Nelson is not running for re-election) down to 2. There’s one ballot measure – King County Proposition 1 seeks to renew the property-tax levy for the Automated Fingerprint Identification Service, used in criminal investigations. Get your ballot in a dropbox (West Seattle has one at the High Point Library, 3411 SW Raymond) or mailbox – this is the first election for which ballots have prepaid postage if you use the U.S. Postal Service, so you can mail yours without paying for stamps.
Those are the four candidates for 34th District State Senator who participated in Thursday’s forum presented by the West Seattle Democratic Women – from left, Shannon Braddock, Joe Nguyen, Sofia Aragon, and Lem Charleston. Here’s our unedited video of the forum, held at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) in The Triangle and moderated by WSDW’s Rachel Glass:
11 candidates in all (listed on this King County Elections page) are running for the seat that Sen. Sharon Nelson is giving up; the field will be narrowed to two by the August 7th primary, for which ballots will be mailed July 18th.
The next announced forum in West Seattle is planned by the WS Chamber of Commerce, 6:30 pm July 19th at the Disabled American Veterans hall (4857 Delridge Way SW), with a focus on transportation and business issues; all welcome.
Will a new standard for excessive vehicle noise – distance instead of decibels – eventually lead to more police enforcement and a quieter Alki (and elsewhere)? The changes proposed by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who explained them at length earlier this month – won final council approval this afternoon. Discussion and voting started 35 minutes into today’s Full Council meeting:
You can find the full legislation here, along with one approved amendment – sponsored by citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, asking for quarterly reports on how the law is being implemented, so they could track any concerns or “unintended consequences.” That passed unanimously; the bill itself had one “no” vote, Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who expressed concerns that the change to a subjective enforcement standard could take an unintended toll on people driving noisy old cars, for example, because that’s all they can afford, though she said she agrees that people have a “right to peace and quiet.” So how long until this facilitates enforcement? Herbold said SPD had committed to a “robust” outreach/information campaign before starting. If you have questions, your next chance to ask police will be at tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, 7 pm at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster).
An expanded version of two expiring Seattle levies will be on your ballot this November. From the announcement of today’s unanimous City Council vote:
The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise plan to significantly increase the children in preschool, increase investments in K-12, and expand access to college for Seattle public school graduates through the Seattle Promise College Tuition Program.
With both the 2011 Families & Education Levy and 2014 Seattle Preschool Program Levy set to expire this year, Mayor Durkan proposed that the City renew and combine them through a new Families, Education, Preschool and Promise plan. Homeowners of a median-assessed-value property ($665,000 in 2019) would pay approximately $20 each month. For the first time, qualified low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans with a service-connected disability will be eligible for an exemption. Following Mayor Durkan’s signature, the plan will be placed on the ballot for Seattle voters’ consideration in November 2018. …
… As proposed by Mayor Durkan and amended by the City Council, Mayor Durkan’s plan would make seven years of investments to:
Continue the pilot of the Seattle Preschool program and substantially increase the number of children in quality preschool from 1,500 in 2018-19 to 2,500 in 2025-26;
Increase K-12 and community investments in closing the opportunity gap, increasing teacher diversity, providing support services for students experiencing homelessness, and helping students most at risk of dropping out of school;
Continue our strong support for school-based health programs; and
Expand access to college for Seattle public school graduates through support for the Seattle Promise College Tuition Program, which would serve approximately 1,350 high school students participating in college prep and 875 Seattle Promise college students each year.
As of this fall, pre-levy vote, West Seattle High School joins Chief Sealth International High School and four other schools in what started as the 13th Year Promise program, a free year at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). If the levy passes, all graduating public-high-school seniors in Seattle would be eligible for two free years at any of the Seattle Colleges, not just SSC. Meantime, for a comparison of the levy cost to taxpayers vs. what they’re paying now, it’s $9.36 more a month for that “median homeowner,” according to Councilmember Lorena González.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The result, on a second ballot, was a dual endorsement of Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen, who tied at 62 votes each in the runoff; she had led the first round with 57 votes – not enough for a sole endorsement – and he was in second with 39 votes,
We’ll add video highlights later (10:38 pm update – first ones added below), but first, here’s how the nomination process – including more than an hour of vote-counting – unfolded: