Editor’s note: This endorsement was updated after the Aug. 6 primary election.
As Seattle grapples with homelessness, pockets of increased crime and other ongoing problems, voters must elect City Council members with fresh perspective and expertise.
In District 1, the city’s southwest corner including West Seattle, Delridge and South Park, defense attorney Phillip Tavel is the clear choice.
Tavel is an articulate progressive who respects the diverse perspectives in District 1. The area includes high-density urban villages, a mix of employment centers and single-family neighborhoods housing many families supported by industries south and west of downtown.
A pressing challenge is closing gaps between the city’s expansive homelessness response and its underfunded criminal justice system. A recent study funded by business and neighborhood groups found at least 100 prolific criminal offenders have slipped through these gaps, escaping punishment and repeatedly victimizing homeless residents, retail workers and others.
As a defense attorney who helps offenders navigate this system, while sharing community-safety concerns, Tavel could immediately contribute to reform efforts with authority.
Incumbent Lisa Herbold is a former council aide elected in 2015. She has raised the bar for being responsive to constituent inquiries and on a few instances took principled stands against her peers.
But Herbold’s extreme left politics are now causing the city more harm than good. That includes her support of homeless-service providers failing to meet even the city’s tepid performance standards and open hostility to large employers. The latter was evident when she and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda helped organized labor in New York City rally against Amazon’s second headquarters, helping kill a project that would have created tens of thousands of jobs.
Back in Seattle, this attitude contributed to Amazon’s recent decision to move thousands of jobs to Bellevue. The concern is not for Amazon, which can take care of itself, but for Seattle’s business climate, and long-term ability to create and retain jobs. High-paying jobs lost to another city translate to jobs Seattle loses in construction, government, restaurants and other service industries.
Many city residents are tired of activist council members crusading on behalf of special interests while allowing the city’s real challenges to spiral out of control. This was demonstrated by the flood of ordinary residents petitioning against a job-killing employee “head tax” that Herbold championed. The council approved it and then repealed it in the face of backlash, with Herbold voting to repeal.
Incumbents have impeded efforts to get better results from the city’s ever-increasing spending on social services. In lockstep with powerful unions holding sway at City Hall, they’ve alienated employers who create jobs and opportunities to escape poverty.
Herbold and other incumbents lament regressive taxes, then repeatedly push for more regressive property taxes. They’re increasing city spending faster than population growth. From 2016 to 2017, city population growth hit a record 2.5% and general-fund city spending grew 11.9%.
This spending is cast as a moral imperative, even though wasting tax dollars and failing to punish those who repeatedly rob and assault people harms the homeless and working people alike. The effect is to make Seattle less affordable and less safe for everyone.
In short, the status quo is no longer acceptable.
Elect Tavel in District 1.