Recap: September Breakfast 2015: Seattle City Council Candidate Forum

Politics! Can’t live with it or without it. On September 16, NAIOP Breakfast attendees were treated to a Seattle City Council candidate forum. The breakfast was sponsored by Clark Nuber - we sincerely thank them for their continued support. Incoming NAIOP President John Teutsch began the meeting and gave the assembly an update on the new members and conducted the Election of Board Members and Officers. Tim Syverson told us about the Community Enhancement event on October 3 at Camp Terry. Lastly, Gordon Buchan outlined the nominees for the Night of the Stars Event in November.

Kevin Wallace, Bellevue City Council member moderated the discussion. Seattle City Council candidates included:

  • Council Member Bruce Harrell
  • Candidate Pamela Banks
  • Candidate Rob Johnson
  • Council Member Sally Bagshaw 
  • Council President Tim Burgess
  • Candidate Lorena Gonzalez

Note: Candidate Shannon Braddock was unfortunately unable to attend

The first question went to Council Member Harrell. “Where does the increased revenue to the city from all of the construction activity go and how can we manage the inevitable downturn?” Harrell responded by saying that it is difficult for the full amount to be allocated exclusively to capital improvement. He did state that one of his priorities is to create efficiencies in how we manage the current situation and downturns in the future.

Kevin asked Candidate Banks about public safety issues. Banks responded by saying this is an issue that stems from a number of causes. Some examples were:

  • The proliferation of guns and violence
  • Substance abuse and mental health issues
  • Youth unemployment, especially withinin minority communities

She stated that she would work to support the police and the chief of police in their efforts to build community/police relations. Banks also stated that leveraging new technologies plays a part in improving public safety.

Council Member Wallace asked Candidate Johnson about the future of transportation in Seattle. He responded that we are undergoing exponential growth and that he would work with Sound Transit and Transit Oriented Development to address this. Johnson also stated that an increase in housing density was going to be a required part of the solution.

Wallace asked Council Member Bagshaw for an update on the seawall and tunnel projects. Bagshaw stated that she was not happy with the cost overruns and that the Council was briefed on the seawall overruns on September 14. She also said that there were challenges that led to the overruns, particularly the shutdown of work due to the migration of fish and to support the businesses that are located on the waterfront. Bagshaw gave an update on Bertha’s progress and also stated that the L.I.D. will be postponed for another year.

The next question was to Council President Burgess about education. Burgess responded that he was particularly proud of the City voters in supporting universal Pre-K. The McLeary case over school funding is leading to a property tax hike for additional funding. He also stated that it has been shown by credible studies that early and wise spending on education leads to great outcomes.

Candidate Gonzalez was then asked about how to keep Seattle competitive on national and global scales. Gonzalez responded that support of our great universities and strategically attracting business are key elements to compete globally and nationally.

Audience questions followed and centered on public safety. In regards to the homeless population, Bagshaw responded that more public money is needed to manage this problem, specifically earmarked for mental health, public health and public safety. Burgess contended that we need to have better metrics to insure that we have measurable outcomes evaluating the success and failures for the money spent. Gonzalez stated that the homeless issue is a moral and human crisis.

Public safety in the downtown core was the next question and centered on an increased presence of police on the “beat” walking the downtown area. Burgess related how we need to get more police personnel and provided some historical context on why Seattle has moved away from police walking the street. Harrell committed to working with the chief of police to ensure there was a bigger effort on this. Johnson stated that more public space and parks are an ingredient in making downtown safer. Bagshaw implored the county and state to provide their services throughout the county rather than centered on downtown Seattle.

The last audience question related to public safety on Capitol Hill. Candidate Banks answered that she sees three main points in addressing this:

  • Increased shelters and hours of operations for the homeless
  • An increased emphasis on finding and prosecuting hate crimes
  • More eyes on the street – more police officers.

The breakfast concluded with Council Member Wallace stating that if you own a business in Seattle, conduct business in Seattle, or live in Seattle, these candidates deserve our support with votes and contributions!

The Deal is generously sponsored by: 

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