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Seattle council candidate: Lisa Herbold a key figure in council’s failure on homelessness

The Seattle City Council chambers. (Seattle City Council, Flickr)

While the coverage has died down just a little bit after the primary election, the campaigning has not at all, certainly not in West Seattle (District 1), where Phil Tavel hopes to unseat the incumbent council member Lisa Herbold. While he came in second, Tavel is motivated by the recent primary results.

“The truth is we were separated by less than 450 votes. So that, in my opinion, is a dead heat between status quo and change,” he told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. And from the people we’ve talked to, there were a lot of people just waiting to see which one between Brendan (Kolding) and I got through.”

In a recent MyNorthwest article, Jason wrote about emails confirming that Lisa Herbold was working behind the scenes to try to slow down the Navigation Team’s cleanup of some homeless encampments. Tavel, however, is a big proponent of the sweeps and doesn’t agree with how they’re characterized and applied.

Rantz: Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold tries to slow homeless cleanups

“It’s funny when you talk about them as a sweep, it’s this connotation. But you’re not sweeping them away,” he said. “For me it should be more about the Navigation Team’s contact with these people and saying, ‘Look, what do you need? Where can we help you go?’ Because I’ve been saying for a while that in a city with this kind of money and this kind of will to change this problem, I don’t see how we haven’t done better having places where people can go.”

“You’ll see a lot of times when they go into tent encampments that you’ll find a lot of the people in the tent encampment just waiting on the fringes for the people to walk away and leave, and then they come right back to the same spot … That’s why we need the options. And we don’t have an insurmountable number, you know, so we can find places. We can find buildings. We can find places where we can have people go as a transition to some place more permanent.”

On Herbold’s as a key figure in council’s failure on homelessness

Tavel says that Herbold has been a key figure in the city council’s seeming inability to show any tangible progress in improving Seattle’s homeless issue, occasionally undermining the Navigation Team efforts and funding.

Seattle adds to Navigation Team as it expands homeless outreach efforts

“I hate the thought of attributing to her that she wants to keep this problem going. But at the very least, she has completely failed at fixing this problem,” he said. “If you look at the last four years since she actually got into office and took that position as the council member, the homeless numbers have expanded, and it’s been getting worse and worse without any real sense that there’s a turning point, that it’s going to go in the other direction.”

“I don’t see our trajectory being good, and I don’t see any solutions coming from Lisa other than continually saying this is an affordable housing crisis, and it’s not. It’s about mental health issues, it’s about substance abuse issues, and it’s about a city that is failing to step up when it should.”

To learn more about Tavel’s campaign, head to tavelforseattle.com

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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