Meet the candidates for City Council

Position 1: Jean Godden vs. Bobby Forch Candidates agree on points, but a change is needed for accountability, challenger says

By Emily Jarrett

Job creation and the waterfront are two of the main issues that concern the candidates vying for Seattle City Council Position 1.

“I decided to run again because I know there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said incumbent Jean Godden. “For example, Seattle voters just approved the tunnel and rebuilding of the waterfront — that’s a legacy that we’ll be able to leave for our kids. But it’s a long-term project; we need proven leadership to see it through.”

Godden, who was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2004, said she’s been a longtime supporter of the tunnel, going back to her days when she was a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times. 

“I’m glad we can finally get moving on it,” she said. “And especially because it’s not just building a tunnel. It’s opening up the waterfront, and that’s something no other city has. Not to mention, the numerous jobs both the building [of the tunnel] and the finished waterfront will create.”

Challenger Bobby Forch echoed Godden’s statement.

“This has been debated for 10 years,” Forch said. “For me, more than anything, it’s a safety issue. For the city to finally be able to move forward on it, especially because it will create jobs, is a good thing.”

Forch, who works for the Seattle Department of Transportation, also pointed out possible transit benefits with the tunnel.

“If we can encourage more people to take public transit, that will help our city not only with the amount of traffic on the roads, but environmentally, too,” he said. “I really believe transit isn’t just a mobility issue but a social justice issue, too: People should have a choice about taking public transportation, and if we continue to build public transit up, I think more people would make that choice.”

Forch said he also supports the recent $60 car tab proposal, which will be on the November ballot, saying it was a “smart investment” for the city.



Godden, who touted her experience as the city’s budget chair, said the city needs to keep balancing the budget.

“I believe it’s about priorities,” she said. “We have to balance not spending more than we have with keeping our core services in line. And, of course, you also have to look at the other aspects. Libraries and our parks aren’t my absolute top priority, but they’re pretty close to the top. Seattle needs these things, too, to keep being a vibrant, cultural mecca.”

Forch agreed that public safety was a top priority, but he pointed out what he believes is a lack of accountability. 

“I have an eight-point plan for police-department accountability, and my No. 1 priority is to see an end to lifetime appointments for police chiefs,” Forch said. “Our policemen and -women work very hard, and they have a very dangerous job. However, when we have federal departments stepping in and investigating SPD (Seattle Police Department), we really need to take a hard look at what needs to change.”

Forch said the current City Council needs to be more engaged in the community and letting citizens know what’s going on at City Hall.

“People want to know where their City Council members stand on things, how they’re voting, what they believe,” Forch said. “I think it’s time for a change. In August, 57 percent of the people said they wanted someone new. It’s time for someone new.”

“I have a proven track record,” Godden said. “I would love to be given the opportunity to continue the work I’ve been doing for seven years.”

During the August primary, Forch was Godden’s closest competitor, earning 26 percent of the vote to Godden’s 43 percent, according to King County Elections. 

Position 9: Sally Clark vs. Dian Ferguson Candidates differ on timing of car-tab fees, governmental priorities

By Jack Mayne

Sally Clark is running for her second full term on the Seattle City Council and considers accurate her reputation as a policy wonk exhilarated at dealing with the minute details of city government. 

Her opponent is a former city department head, Dian Ferguson, who views Clark as a follower and not a leader, and as a person who becomes enmeshed in the snail pace of a city process that takes too long to make decisions. 

Clark, 45, was appointed to the council in January 2006, following the resignation of council member Jim Compton. She was elected to a one-year term in November 2006 and to a four-year term in 2007. 

Ferguson, 53, was the city executive in charge of the Seattle Community Access Network, a cable-access facility, until the city’s financial situation resulted in funding cuts to the program to be cut. She has also a record of working with nonprofits over the years. 

Ferguson came out of the August primary far behind Clark. Final tabulations showed Ferguson with 25,798 votes (21.93 percent) to Clark’s 84,955 (72.21 percent).


The council ‘job’

After six years on the council, why would Clark run for another term?

“I kind of looked around, and I still like…how the City Council makes good policies that help neighborhoods,” she said. “When we are not busy making policy, we are meddling in day-to-day stuff. When somebody calls and says, ‘My trash wasn’t picked up’ or ‘I saw a loose dog down on Alki,’ I don’t want to pass the buck; I call the appropriate city agency.

“I have a reputation for liking the wonkish policy stuff, and I do,” she said. “As for the meddling stuff, it’s the best way because I have gotten to meet the most amazing people.

She said she had to learn various facets of the job, including the policy-making facet and the budgeting part, but she likes “people work” most.

“People will take my call where they might not if I was an average person,” she said. “I get to convene, and I get to try to make those connections for people.” 

Ferguson said Clark’s voice is missing on the City Council. 

“I am running against Sally Clark because I think she exemplifies — more so than some of the other members of the council — process with no outcome. She is just squandering the opportunity to do something meaningful for people. 

“Basically, from my perspective, she is a follower,” she said. “[Clark] takes her lead from other council members and moves forward on whatever they are recommending.

“I see Sally as a person bogged down in the Seattle process and has a difficult time making up her mind about things and not stepping up to be a leader,” Ferguson said.


Viaduct vote

Clark has voted on the council to support the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel. 

Ferguson said she would not have chosen a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but after 10 years of discussing how to replace the roadway, “enough was enough.” 

However, Ferguson said she is “very concerned” the tunnel project will not be finished on schedule and within budget. She said government leaders will need to work hard to find any additional money that will be needed while being truthful about any project problems.

“There are now some opportunities to develop a waterfront that will showcase the wonderful landscape of the city,” Ferguson said.


City budget woes

Clark said the biggest problem before the city is the economy. The mayor is still working on the latest cuts of the city’s current budget, and Clark said she has heard it is not as bad as many had feared.

“There will be more layoffs…and a necessary and acceptable new configuration for community centers,” she said. “It means limited services. I think all of us struggle with the fact that we are limiting services.” 

She said she is still not completely “on board” with not hiring additional police officers.

“At the same time, I am faced with all of these revenue proposals because of the recession,” Clark said. “The city’s revenues are in the tank like the people’s revenues are in the tank, but we still must keep the water coming out of the tap and keep the lights on, have to keeping paying the police officers we do have.

These costs are often fixed to the extent it is salaries for the people who provide the remaining services she said.

Clark voted for the council proposal for an additional $60-a-year car-tab fee, on top of a $20 increase that went into effect last spring. The annual fee would be collected for 10 years and would bring in an estimated $204 million, with 49 percent of the city’s money going to transit, 29 percent to road maintenance and safety, and 22 percent mostly to pedestrian and bicycle projects. 

King County has also voted in a two-year, $20 car-tab fee to sustain bus services. So, if passed by city voters, the added tab fee would be $100 a year. 

“Voters will have to decide if we need to accelerate repairs and upgrades to the city’s streets — repairs that have been let go for many years, leaving a huge maintenance backlog,” Clark said. 

She noted that if everyone who had complained about traffic, potholes and crumbling streets in the past few years voted, the measure would pass.

“But if it is not the time to [raise money] to do that, then the voters will have to make that decision,” she said.

Ferguson said she does not support the $60 annual car-tab fee. 

“We are in a recession. We just had the report about the increase of people in poverty, and I see people all the time where $60 is a hardship — because you add $60 to the other $40 [city and county tab levy], but only 29 percent of it goes to [bridge and other] maintenance when we have a backlog of almost a billion dollars in repairs,” Ferguson said.

“I think it is a misallocation of what the priorities are,” she continued. “We are going to spend between $18 million and potentially $25 million [on whether we] link the [South Lake Union] trolley to Capitol Hill and to the International District — all really good objectives, but is this really a good time to do that?”

She also said she is not “comfortable” with the council, in effect, saying, “Trust us” about how the money will actually be spent.

“It is the wrong allocation at the wrong time,” Ferguson said, adding the person with “a junker has to pay the same amount as the person with a 2011 BMW.

“We can’t keep writing blank checks for all of our wish list because what we are doing is excluding folks that very much have a rich tradition of being here and want to be here,” she said.

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