Meeting Minutes from InspireSeattle Social on October 3, 2015

InspireSeattle's Candidate Forum for Seattle City Council

8:00 - 8:30  Council District 1 (Southwest Seattle);  Shannon Braddock; Lisa Herbold

Shannon Braddock (left) and Lisa Herbold (right)


-         Why are you running for Seattle City Council?

-         Why should we vote for you? 


1.  Shannon Braddock (3 minutes)

Shannon has lived in West Seattle for 17 years.  Her kids attend public school.  She has been a member of the Lafayette Elementary school PTA, the West Seattle Food Bank's Board and on the Board of Westside Baby.  She has been Chief of Staff for King County Councilman Joe McDermott for the past five years.  From this experience Shannon understands the importance of regional districting.  She heavily focused on transportation issues.


2.  Lisa Herbold (3 minutes)

Lisa has been working for Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata for 17 years.  She is involved with many issues, including wage discrepancy, the growing distance people face between their homes and their jobs, affordability in Seattle, distribution of resources and others.  Previously, Lisa has worked as a community organizer for different organizations, including ACORN.  She has worked to empower citizens with information that affects their lives.  Lisa is a long-time West Seattle resident.


1.  High growth in West Seattle

o   Massive apartment/condo units being built throughout West Seattle

o   Risk of greater bottlenecks on West Seattle bridge; housing costs continue to rise

o   A very different look and feel in the neighborhood

o   Is this growth good or bad?  Why?

o   What is your strategy to address traffic, affordable housing and related issues?


1.  Lisa Herbold (2 minutes)

Community members keep telling Lisa that West Seattle's biggest issue is growth.  It must be addressed.  Our values must reflect our lives.  We must make sure developers are following the rules.  Development impact fees are needed in Seattle.  Developers must contribute to affordable housing in some manner either onsite or in a fund.  Developers must be good partners. 


2.  Shannon Braddock (2 minutes)

When Shannon moved to West Seattle 17 years ago, it had a very different feel.  Our growth has been both good and bad.  It brings many opportunities, but many impacts too, including on transit and our transportation infrastructure.  Believes we will see developer impact fees.  Neighbors need to have a say.  If elected, Shannon wants to bring in a new neighborhood facilitator to address community questions on our growth.


Lisa Herbold rebuttal (1 minute)

A big problem we face is that often affordable housing is removed when new construction happens.  We need to increase the supply of affordable housing.  This is hard when these places are being torn down.  We need a new preservation program.


Shannon Braddock rebuttal (1 minute)

Shannon concurs that a housing affordability program is needed.  We also need to focus on livability too.  Exclusionary zoning is good.  She also mentioned the Seattle mayor's new umbrella program.


2.  Public safety

o    What are your plans to reducing neighborhood crime and ensuring we have an effective policing policy?

o    Rash of break-ins in West Seattle - how to stop?

o    Ensuring civil rights?

o    High cost of incarceration?

o    Use of new technologies?


1.  Shannon Braddock (2 minutes)

A big picture item:  we need trust with the police department.  Police Chief O'Toole is doing good work, but we need to do more.  We need to increase community policing.  We have budgeted for 30 additional officers.  We need to work on a better trust relationship and continue to improve professionalism.  We should expect respect from our police.  A new micro-policing policing program by the police is a work in progress, and is exciting. 


2.  Lisa Herbold (2 minutes)

Lisa believes policing is city government's most basic function.  We have many challenges.  Lisa was on the staff of the Public Safety committee at the Seattle City Council.  We've faced retirements and we need to replace these.  Bike police are a strong way to increase police visibility.  We have a recruitment problem.  One idea is to use a cadet program to train non-uniformed officers.


Shannon Braddock rebuttal (1 minute)

It is important for community members to be engaged.  The city needs more programs.  The Block Watch program is a good way to participate.  It's a good idea to help get police out speaking with the community by attending the meetings. 


Lisa Herbold rebuttal (1 minute)

Police accountability is important too.  We've come far, but still have further to go.  We need to approach both accountability and an increase in force together. 


1.  Shannon Braddock additional remarks (2 minutes)

Shannon is excited about the prospect of serving both West Seattle and South Park.  We have been distanced from downtown.  If elected, she plans to have a staff person dedicated to the district, located in the district, as a point-person for community members to contact, and to more thoroughly and quickly learn of community needs.  We need to get closer to our government. 


2.  Lisa Herbold additional remarks (2 minutes)

Lisa stated she is a strong progressive.  She knows the ins and outs of our district.  We will see many changes next year at city council. We need an experienced person.  It is critical to have a person focused on affordability.  A council member should protect workers.  We need too ensure that transportation is adequately funded.  Developers need to support our growth.



Q - Racism.  What are your plans and perspectives when considering public safety?


Lisa Herbold:  I've been working on many issues, and it's easy to see that we have racism institutionalized in our system.  We need to expand the LEAD program that diverts people out of the criminal system before they get engulfed in it.  These program work.


Shannon Braddock:  I've personally experienced racism in that my boyfriend is African American and gets pulled over in traffic more often as a result.  Programs to get people help are critical, such as the LEAD program.  We are working on this, and making slow progress.


Q - With new development, only design issues can be addressed in public reviews.  How would you address this?


Shannon Braddock:  this does need addressing.  Not all Urban Villages are alike.  We need to address each one and facilitate somehow to get overall inputs.


Lisa Herbold:  Only design comments are allowed because the other issues are covered by zoning laws.  We need to get at the zoning laws if we want to change this.  Example:  assessing a parking analysis.  We must look at parking patterns.  What's happening?  Then we act to change zoning appropriately.


Q - It is difficult to get out of West Seattle with the traffic.  How would you address this?


Lisa Herbold:  This is a huge issue.  We must recognize that not everyone can take the bus.  We need to add service to denser areas with buses.  We need to focus on transportation equity.  There is a need to find a balance. 


Shannon Braddock:  The Council came up with 27 recommendations from a task force.  Some can be accomplished sooner than others.  These will be in review until the end of October.  Their next meeting will be this Oct 19.  We can do many things towards improvements.



8:30 - 9:00  At-Large Position 8:  Tim Burgess; Jon Grant

Jon Grant (left) and Tim Burgess (right)


-         Why are you running for Seattle City Council?

-         Why should we vote for you? 


1.  Tim Burgess (3 minutes)

Tim is a Seattle native.  He comes from a poor family and has lived through some difficult experiences, such as having his family's home foreclosed on.  This background has help to focus Tim's work on the City Council.  His primary focus has been on kids.  An example of this is the Nurse Family Partnership, a program for low-income families.  It focuses on kids from infancy to the age of two.  He's worked on another program that focuses on literacy, where the program staff comes out to community member homes.  It has achieved great outcomes.  Tim wants to do more in these areas. 


2.  Jon Grant (3 minutes)

Jon is the former Executive Director of the tenants union.  Through his work, he's seen some very bad circumstances, including evictions and people living in squalor.  Seattle needs a response to the affordable housing crisis.  Jon states that his opponent has received campaign contributions from many developers.  Jon states that gentrification can be a good thing, but not in its current form in Seattle.  He has put forward an affordable housing plan, but it was rejected by the City Council.  Jon claims this is because the Council is too close to developers.  Jon also believes police oversight is a key issue; we need better public safety accountability.


1.  A growing Seattle

o        Is this good or bad?  Why?

o        What will be the impact over the next decade?

o        How would you address gentrification and affordable housing?

o        How should Seattle move forward in meeting our future energy needs?


1.  Jon Grant (2 minutes)

Seattle is becoming a tech utopia.  This has had a big impact on affordable housing.  Jon proposed a $500 million bond to keep key properties from getting flipped.  He believes we need to do things such as this if we want growth to be a good thing.  Instead we are seeing rising rents.  As with energy, we have the goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.  We need to expand light rail and invest more in public transit. 


2.  Tim Burgess (2 minutes)

Tim explained that for the first time in Seattle history, multiple constituents have come together and proposed a growth plan to the Seattle mayor.  Tim pointed out that his opponent Jon was the only member of this committee that was against the plan.  With the huge growth we are seeing from Amazon and others, we need a steady hand and careful thought.


Jon Grant rebuttal (1 minute)

Jon explained that though on the mayor's housing committee, he abstained from the vote.  He believed the results were a bargain with the developers.  He said his goal is to make sure the public knows what we lost in the plan.  The linkage fee went from $1 billion to $640 million.  


Tim Burgess rebuttal (1 minute)

Tim stated he voted for the commercial linkage fee.  But then the committee changed its mind and voted for the compromise because it was better.  It let us do more for affordable housing.  Tim stated that the organization Solid Ground endorsed him over his opponent because he can get things done.


2.  Tunnel and seawall

o   What is your plan to handle delays?

o   What is your plan to ensure cost overruns are not put on Seattle residents?


1.  Tim Burgess (2 minutes)

Seawall:  The project is behind schedule.  There have been problems with the process.  We are now looking at a $70 million cost overrun.  Mayor Murray has promised we will face no new taxes as a result. 

Tunnel:  This is a state project.  Thus, cost overruns won't be passed onto Seattle.  It's clearly a critical project, but also a big burden and a mess.  The state is responsible. 


2.  Jon Grant (2 minutes)

Tunnel:  The reason we went this direction was due to local politicians being too close to developers.  This project was a move to booster property values for the downtown developers.  Jon placed some blame for this on his opponent.  Jon claims we were forced into the project, and discussed the legal battle ahead.  Jon also mentioned a new proposal his is crafting on fighting climate change with better transportation systems. 

Seawall:  Jon claimed we need a change at city hall to better get things done.  We need alternatives.


Tim Burgess rebuttal (1 minute)

This past month we have seen a large increase in METRO service.  The city is stepping up and we are moving forward. 


Jon Grant rebuttal (1 minute)

The new Seattle levy is quite large, and Jon put the reason for this partly on his opponent.  He also discussed other sources of revenue.


1.  Tim Burgess additional remarks (2 minutes)

Tim stated he's been a leader on police accountability, working in partnership with Councilman Harrell.  He recommended Police Chief O'Toole.  He authored a critical ban and has helped us make critical progress with public safety.  Tim was the first official to speak out against mass incarceration.  He's been a leader on social justice issues.  Tim reminded us of his ability to get things done.


2.  Jon Grant additional remarks (2 minutes)

We've seen some good progress in Seattle, including being a national leader on the $15.00 per hour minimum wage.  We have the opportunity now for a progressive majority City Council which can make progress on fighting excessive police force without any firings, on fossil fuels and on affordable housing.  Jon stated he's been a grassroots organizer for a very long time and has the experience for the job. 




Q - How do you view your role being different by representing an At-Large district?


Jon Grant:  With only two city-wide seats, this election is critical.  He plans to rotate time within all districts in the city.  A key issue is gender-pay equity, including a paid parental leave program.  He vows to work with other Council members to get things done.


Tim Burgess:  Tim agrees with the need for a paid parental leave program.  He already put it in place for Seattle employees.  He's proud of Seattle being way out in front on Progressive issues.  As an at-large candidate, he has a bigger role to play and will look at outreach with other cities throughout the country.


Q - What are businesses paying to support all of the growth we are seeing?


Tim Burgess:  One needs to remember that commercial property owners are also paying property taxes, so they contribute in that way.  Before Tim's time on Council, Washington State chose to remove developer fees.  Seattle has ordered a study on these fees due in the first quarter next year.  Growth will continue to come; the key is doing it intelligently.  We need to move forward with better transportation by supporting the Move Seattle levy in November.  This will cost residents about $12/month.


Jon Grant:  Growth should pay for growth.  Jon asks why have we gone eight years without developer impact fees?  He believes the answer is that the developers are financially supporting our leaders.  He says they have a direct line to Council members and are paying for his opponent's campaign. 


9:00 - 9:30  At-Large Position 9:  Bill Bradburd; Lorena Gonzalez

Bill Bradburd

NOTE:  InspireSeattle received a phone call from Lorena Gonzalez's campaign approximately two hours before the start of our event indicating Gonzalez was ill and would not attend.  We asked for a representative to fill in, but they were unable to provide one.  So, for this race, questions only went to Bill Bradburd.



-         Why are you running for Seattle City Council?

-         Why should we vote for you? 


1.  Bill Bradburd (3 minutes)

Bill has lived in Seattle for the past 17 years, and worked as a consultant here previous to that.  Bill use to reside in San Francisco.  The rapidly rising cost of housing in Seattle reminds Bill of what he saw in SF.  Bill began his local activism working on the Little Saigon project on south Capitol Hill.  He helped to create a local coalition.  From this experience he learned much, including that working together with others in the community can lead to success.  Bill has been active ever since.  He believes that Seattle City Council has not been responsive to the citizens.  Bill led the efforts to have Council elections changed to today's district format, believing this will lead to Council members better representing the people vs. big developers. 


1.  A growing Seattle

o        Is this good or bad?  Why?

o        What will be the impact over the next decade?

o        How would you address gentrification and affordable housing?

o        What are your ideas towards attracting businesses and jobs to Seattle while ensuring adequate revenue to cover costs associated with growth?


Bill Bradburd (2 minutes)

Bill described the way our current process works:  the state makes projections.  They contract with the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) to come up with the estimates.  They projected that we have 120,000 people moving into the area, and 115,000 new jobs.  Most folks will live outside the city.  We have 1.7 million in the area.  Growth is not paying for growth.  Traffic has become terrible.  Not only has arterial traffic become congested, but people are more and more driving through neighborhoods to avoid the arterial traffic, congesting neighborhood streets.  This is due to unfettered development with developers in control.  The Seattle City Council has diminished our ability to fight this.  That's why we need change.  We can demand impact fees and studies.  We can add more apartments. 


2.  Meeting Seattle residents basic needs

o   What are your ideas on hunger issues in Seattle?

o   Homelessness?

o   Public health?

o   High cost of transportation?


Bill Bradburd

Seattle has seen massive gentrification and an enormous economic uplift in the city.  The change we are seeing normally takes up to 20 years.  We need more measured growth.  A big reason for our fast growth has been due to the tax breaks we give developers.  If rent increases $100, it leads to 10% of the renters being unable to afford the rent.  Homelessness in this area is growing quickly.  This is shameful.  We are failing.  We need to stop helping the wealthy class make money without providing for the needs generated by that growth.  We need linkage fees.  There is a tremendous amount of money in this process that could be used to help these problems, to help the poor.  Senior citizens are frightened.  Bill is opposed to Move Seattle (Mayor Murray's plan), and he's the only candidate that is opposed to it. 


Bill Bradburd additional remarks (2 minutes)

Regarding our urban planning, Seattle has areas of stability as well as areas of change.  Ballard is an example of fast change, growing at 4X their growth targets.  This has had a desperate impact on the neighbors there.  We need to focus more on other areas that want the growth. 



Q - Why isn't Tacoma getting the growth that Seattle is?


Bill Bradburd:  The PSRC in 2008 changed our regional growth plan.  Before the plan was to have growth go to all areas.  Developers lobbied to concentrate the growth in Seattle and Bellevue, due to greater profit opportunity.  That is, the new plan was written with profitability for developers in mind.  That was the driving force.  Now, 60% of the cranes in use within U.S. cities are currently in Seattle!  Underway at this moment is new development that equals six new Columbia towers.  The new jobs in town attracting the development are being filled not by Seattleites, but by new-hires that move here.  The typical process is they then leave after two or three years. 


Q - How much of this growth is coming from California, in particular from the draught and climate refugees?


Bill Bradburd:  There is no doubt that we will get climate refugees here in Seattle.  The Pacific Northwest is forecast to have more of a stable environment than in other regions as climate change progresses.  But with climate change will come a reduction in our snowpack which is critical for Seattle's water supply.  So Seattle will face pressures from low water supply too.  Seattle needs a progressive solar strategy.  We need more electric car charging stations.  These things need to be the focus of our growth planning.  Currently our efforts are more directed on supporting millionaires.  We need more affordable housing, not more million dollar homes. 


Q - How would you address transportation and urban villages?


Bill Bradburd:  We don't control our transportation system.  We are supposed to build on a plan to reduce cars but right now more housing means more cars.  We can do much better with car-sharing, such as Car-to-Go.  These can work but while supply fails to meet demand for commuters, most of the Car-to-Go fleet ends up parked outside Amazon offices each morning!  The mayor has promoted new bike sharing stations.  As for bikes, Bill wants to focus on kids being able to cycle safely.  They are the bike commuters of the future.  He also favors a program to support electric assist with bikes since Seattle is so hilly.


Q - How do you differ from your opponent?


Bill Bradburd:  Bill got into the race to compete against Sally Clark.  Two weeks later, Clark resigned from the council for a different job.  The downtown establishment government then promoted Mayor Murray's person, Lorena Gonzalez.  She is the establishment candidate.  Bill is the anti-establishment candidate.  Seattle is against regressive taxes and growth plans for developers.  Gonzalez favors both.  Developers are funding her campaign.  Bill has grassroots funding.  We have clear distinctions between the candidates in this race.


Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to speak with us.  Many thanks to Dave Gamrath for organizing, moderating and hosting this important forum.


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