As promised, here are some highlights (beyond this morning's LIKES/DISLIKES outtakes) from our candidate interview with District One (West Seattle) candidate, Lisa Herbold.
1. Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda
Herbold, lefty city council member Nick Licata's longtime aide, has joined council member Kshama Sawant and another progressive council candidate, tenants rights advocate Jon Grant, in calling for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda deal to extend beyond the so-called grand bargain that gives developers an upzone in exchange for mandatory affordable housing development. The trio (angling to be the Bernie Sanders bloc on the future council) wants an across the board linkage fee for affordable housing on all development.
Asked to explain, Herbold told us yesterday: “My main concern about what they’re doing now is time. With O’Brien’s linkage fee, the council’s linkage fee package, we had something that we were ready to legislate now. Now that it’s going to be linked to up zones, those up zones are going to take time and that’s going to further delay addressing this critical need.”
Clearly aware, though, that her natural allies in the social justice community—Puget Sound SAGE, Real Change, the Tenants Union, Unite Here, El Centro de la Raza, the Housing Development Consortium—have firmly signed on to the compromise that doesn’t include a blanket linkage fee, she added: “But I’m a realist, and I understand that this is the deal and we have to move forward.”
However, Herbold isn’t one to hold her tongue: “I’m interested in making sure that the council includes accountability measures."
And here's what she meant: “It’s just a concept right now. But if those things [the inclusionary zoning deal with the TBA fees and square footage calculations] don’t happen in a way that aligns with the timelines in that resolution [O'Brien's timeline for implementing inclusionary zoning]...we’re going to revert back to what the original proposal was. [O'Brien's blanket linkage fee.] It’s a rough concept right now. But I think we’re going to hear some talk about that at the council. One, it will give us a fallback, and two, it will hold us accountable.”
However, she acknowledged that the original sponsor of the blanket linkage fee, O’Brien (who’s now all-in on the grand bargain), wasn’t going to push for that option. And, again, she also seemed cognizant that with the traditional lefty coalition signed on to HALA, it would be a tough fight. She concluded: “In order to get anything passed, we’re going to need some mobilization on behalf of the interests groups.” Of course, Sawant's m.o. is just that, so this is no idle threat.
2. Who's Supporting Her Opponent? Who's Supporting Herbold? And What Does it Mean?
Herbold has made noise about the financial support ($10,000) that the Rental Housing Association has given her opponent, Joe McDermott aide Shannon Braddock; asking, for example, if Braddock supports renters' rights protections like banning housing discrimination based on source of income.
Without mentioning Braddock by name, a recent Herbold press release titled "Preferred Employer Rent Incentives Hurt Seattle Renters" declared:
During the past several legislative sessions, Seattle's Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and other legislators have proposed a bill to prevent landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants based on their source of income when they are otherwise eligible to rent the property. Sadly, this bill has been opposed by the Rental Housing Association and this year never received a floor vote. This is another example of why we must not let housing policy be set in Olympia.... If elected Seattle's District One council member, I would make ending this practice a priority. I hope other Seattle leaders will consider doing the same.
We turned that line of questioning on Herbold, asking if she she could think of any example where she parted ways with her union backers, such as SEIU 925, UFCW 21, or Unite Here. (The union-backed group Working Washington has done a $1,300 independent expenditure against Braddock to combat the pro-Braddock IEs funded by groups like RHA, but their specific funders are not listed.) Herbold could not identify any policy differences with her union backers, and in fact, when asked about some controversial union positions from the past—SEIU’s alternative preschool measure, which got trounced at the polls last year, and UFCW’s opposition to the mixed-use Whole Foods development in West Seattle—she sided with the unions.
“I think the idea of having wages linked to a public benefit is a legitimate idea,” she said, for example, about a failed proposal to make a Whole Foods development permit dependent on union wages.
3. Opposition to SoDo Stadium
Like her boss (when asked, Herbold also couldn't ID any vote Licata has taken that she disagreed with) she gave the thumbs down to the current SoDo stadium deal. Licata, a longtime sports stadium critic voted against the former Mayor Mike McGinn/investor Chris Hansen Sonics deal.
Herbold told us: "I don’t think its a good deal. I think there’s still too much public money in it, there are too many impacts on family wage jobs. And I do think we need to maintain the industrial zoning and the integrity of that contribution to our community. Maritime jobs are really important to Seattle and have been. Those jobs have taken us through boom times and bust times."
However, she added: "But I’m sensitive to the idea that if I get into office I’m going to be obstructionist or overly ideological or that I’m going to be a mini Nick or something like that. So that’s why it’s important for me to say that I’m going to honor the decisions of a past council."
4. The Port and Terminal Five
Terminal Five, the vacant Port of Seattle dock where Shell wants to moor its oil rig, is in Herbold's district. There are hundreds of jobs riding on the controversy—the city, taking a "Shell No" stand for the environment, pulled the permit—and the port is currently operating at 30 percent vacancy. We asked Herbold if she was against allowing Shell to dock there.
She said: "This question that keeps getting asked is ridiculous. Of course, the city issues permits. The city has a right to see if the permit as [it is] being used is legal."
She added: "I think the port had other options, and if this process had been more transparent…[through] the public scrutiny of those options we would have found something that would have gotten the port the revenue it needs to invest into T5 so it can actually be usable and generate the use that that facility needs and the jobs. They would've been able to meet their triple bottom line."
And specifically on Shell: "Yes," she said when asked if she was against Shell being there.
5. Rent Control
We asked Herbold if she had any questions she thought we should ask Braddock. At first she copped out—ask her what issues we disagree on—but nudged, Herbold wanted to know if Braddock (she called her "Ms. Braddock") was against allowing Seattle to set its own housing policies. Herbold has sided with Sawant in asking for a repeal of the state's ban on rent regulation.
This quickly devolved into a conversation about rent control. Herbold then surprised us by coming out against Sawant's premier issue.
I’m really upset with how this is being framed. This is not about rent control. This is about our ability to pass any sort of rent regulation. There are countless different approaches to regulating rent. Rent control is one that there’s agreement that it doesn’t work. So the fact that it’s being framed as a rent control resolution is really problematic. I have not taken a position on rent control, I have not even taken a position on rent stabilization.
I think we should have the authority in the city of Seattle to regulate our rents. What about something that says no rent increases if you have housing code violations or no rent increases over 100 percent or no rent increases to circumvent other laws the city has. We can’t have a conversation about a Seattle solution.
So, Ms. Braddock’s position is to be opposed to having that conversation.
Braddock told PubliCola that she would "likely" support a resolution to overturn the state ban on rent regulation, though she does not support "traditional" rent control (i.e price ceilings). "I’m open to looking at [rent regulation] options. I’m not interested in limiting the options but I do have concerns at looking at rent control as the silver bullet," she said.
6. Mayor Murray
In another surprise, Herbold, who we envision becoming part of the Sawant council bloc that challenges Mayor Murray at every turn (if she's elected), lavished praise on Murray. Given, Herbold's unique status as a top tier council staffer for nearly 20 years at city hall, we asked her to say which mayor she's worked with—Paul Schell, Greg Nickels, Mike McGinn, or Murray—was the best.
Perhaps she was being politic about the popular mayor (70 percent approval rating), but here's what she told us.
I think Ed Murray’s been the best mayor so far. He’s just gotten a lot done and a lot done on the issues I care about. A lot done on income inequality issues. I think different administrations have had their pros and their cons both how they run their office and what their individual style was, and I think the Murray administration has got a good balance. He’s got staff who are wonderful to work with. The Murray administration balances both being open and incredibly effective. Too often people sacrifice openness because they say it’s what they have to do to get things done.
7. Police Accountability
One of Licata's legacies—in large part, thanks to Herbold's fastidious and dogged work—is police accountability.
This may strike you as bizarre in this day and age, but just a decade ago, it used to be that the public didn't have access to un-redacted reports on police misconduct. Working with staunch police accountability advocates like Herbold's simpatico activist, public defender Lisa Daugaard, Licata's office changed that. No surprise, Herbold currently supports the omnibus Community Police Commission legislation that gives the commission greater oversite leverage (Daugaard is on the CPC and helped write the legislation with Mayor Murray.)
But asked for any other police reform ideas, Herbold presented one of the best and most original ideas we've heard from a candidate all campaign season—a set of specific rights to protect those cell phone camera wielding observers at political demonstrations who are monitoring the SPD.
"One of the things I’ve been talking about lately, I would be interested in passing legislation that would serve as an observers bill of rights. The city police policies have a policy about how the police department is supposed to treat folks who are observing. I really think to highlight that issue more, I think we have to legislate an observers bill of rights. I think observation is one of the most cherished and effective tools in dealing with police misconduct."