Published July 24, 2015 – video interview below
Phillip Tavel, a 44-year-old lawyer, might be the only political candidate ever who organized a trivia game for his fellow candidates past and present. He’s been hosting Trivia Night at Talarico’s in The Junction for eight years and recently, as covered here, invited current and former District 1 Council candidates to form a team. We noticed his increased community involvement recently and he explained during our conversation, “I want to be an active part of this community, promoting it as much as I can, just making it more fun.”
FIRST WSB REPORT ON HIS CANDIDACY: February 4th announcement
ABOUT CRIMINAL JUSTICE, SINCE HE’S WORKED IN THE SYSTEM: “10 years as a public defender definitely gives me an interesting view into the system.” He favors putting more money into probation services, mental-health and substance-abuse treatment: “You gotta realize that people who have undiagnosed … problems, that can lead them to do things that can be quite antisocial … Just throwing the book at someone doesn’t solve the problem. You want these people NOT to come back to court. … We can do a tremendous amount to turn their lives around.”
ABOUT POLICE REFORM: “We as a community, a society, want more accountability from our police … things are happening between the police and people they encounter on the street that should not be happening. But I think on the flip side, we should be talking about what we can do to support (the police). … There are far more good officers than there are bad officers.” He thinks he’s in a unique position to bridge between the community and police, in both directions.
HOW DID HE WIND UP IN THE LEGAL FIELD, AFTER OTHER UNRELATED CAREERS? Tavel said the TV show “Law and Order” inspired him. Ultimately, he says, it’s about “helping people.” He does family law and immigration law as well as public defense.
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY: He supports the inclusionary zoning and upzoning in the announcement – but has concerns about “disrupting the flavor of neighborhoods” by densifying single-family zoning. “If you end up with duplexes and triplexes all around you, it does change the flavor of the neighborhood.” And: “What’s going to be the impact on our parking and our traffic?” particularly with the thousands of units already under construction and newly built.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE TELLING HIM: “What never stops … it’s about the traffic.” And transit capacity, and property crimes. He also mentioned the police-presence (or lack of it) concerns repeatedly brought up by neighborhood advocates in South Park. And while nobody opens the conversation by mentioning the Highway 99 tunnel, he says they all manage to get around to it, from concerns about the tunnel-project delays and costs, to whether the Viaduct is really safe to keep using.
WILL HE VOTE FOR ‘MOVE SEATTLE’? He says he’s leaning toward “No,” even though he’s worried about SDOT not being able to handle getting the funds and having to “scramble” to find an alternate funding source. SDOT’s “inefficiencies” concern him too – asked for specifics, he says he thinks the agencies have some “redundancies.”
WHY VOTE FOR HIM? “We have an amazing opportunity right now … with a district election, a representative who’s new, from West Seattle, talking about West Seattle, who’s not beholden to anything … in the mix downtown. … I’ve been a business owner, trial lawyer, physics teacher .. you want to take someone who has enough skill and experience ot handle every issue that’s out there, not just the ones there right now … I’m something new, great set of skills good resume, I’m only going to represent this community because this is who I want to represent, the people of District 1.”
SEE HIS INTERVIEW WITH US: He ran for judge last year (first time he’s mentioned in WSB archives), so we started our conversation by asking for a comparison between that campaign and this one.
SEE HIM IN THE SEATTLE CHANNEL VIDEO VOTERS’ GUIDE: Here
CONTRIBUTORS’ LIST: Here