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Candidates for Seattle City Council answer SODO arena questions

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The NBA season kicks off an 8th season without a team in Seattle. Today, a week before Election Day, seemed to be a good day to put candidates for Seattle City Council on the spot.

City of Seattle
City of Seattle
Seattle.gov

Today is the 8th NBA season Seattle Sonic fans will be on the outside looking in. Many will be thinking about who made this anniversary possible. That is understandable. While not forgetting who delivered us to this sad day, it is more important to take an interest in working today toward a positive future. If you are a registered voter in Seattle then there is something you can do in the immediate future, vote.

One week from today it will be Election Day for all 9 Seattle City Council positions. The council must decide on a street vacation and to find the the arena proposal to be a public benefit worth participating in, or to do nothing.

The decision process will require each council member to consider many things, including five questions I sent to each candidate running for council. Not all of the candidates responded. The candidates that did respond have their answers posted below, verbatim.

Seattle city council is divided into 9 districts, 7 of the districts are divided by equal population, the remaining 2 are at-large.

Seattle Council District map

Seattle Council District map (Seattle.gov)

Council District No. 1 (Southwest Seattle)

Lisa Herbold vs

Shannon Braddock

(Neither candidate responded to my query.)

Lisa Herbold worked for Seattle City Council member Nick Licata. Licata voted no on the arena  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and Chris Hansen. She did comment on it to Publicola (seattlemet.com).

"I don’t think it’s a good deal. I think there’s still too much public money in it," Herbold says candidly.

Shannon Braddock worked for King County Council member Joe McDermott. McDermott was the Finance Committee Chairperson that lead MOU through the county legislative process, then voted yes. The MOU should be familiar to Braddock.

Council District No. 2 (Southeast Seattle)

Bruce Harrell vs

Tammy Morales

(Neither candidate responded to my query.)

Bruce Harrell is an enthusiastic proponent of the arena. Harrell voted yes for the MOU.

Tammy Morales has not expressed the same enthusiasm for the subject as Harrell, then again, nobody really has.

Council District No. 3 (East Central)

Kshama Sawant vs

Pamela Banks

Pamela Banks did not respond to my request.

Kshama Sawant answered every question.

1. Do you support the NBA, NHL, and WNBA as part of arts and entertainment in Seattle?

Your answer:

I certainly support the establishment of basketball and hockey teams in Seattle, and the Seattle Storm deserve our continued support. Sports are essential to our culture - they inspire us, challenge us, and bring us together.

2. Do you support the current MOU process the city council agreed to follow on September 15, 2012?

Your answer:

Although much work has been done so far, more work remains, and it's unclear when the council may take up the issue.  New district elections may produce a City Council different in composition from the one that approved the MOU in 2012.

I am concerned that the process the city council agreed to will still require up to $200 million in public financing. Although I appreciate that this will not be from the existing tax and revenue stream, and that the debt would be repaid by Hansen's group, I would like to look into this more.

3. After reviewing the arena FEIS would you be willing to support the SoDo location for a multipurpose sports and entertainment facility?

Your answer:

Although the FEIS indicates that the SoDo location would not be a problem, I am not yet confident that all aspects have been taken involving traffic congestion and impacts on the maritime and other sectors have been taken into account. Initially, the proposal asked for the city to eliminate a nearly two-block stretch of Occidental Avenue to build the complex south of Safeco Field. Mr. Hansen's team has recently promised to build an access road to the east of the project to allow for transit to the Safeco Field garage and add a 14-foot-wide pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks to the south, along Holgate Street. The arena would also cede 2,400 square feet of the site to the city to properly align Massachusetts Avenue. Although these are substantial improvements, there are still questions about the flow of pedestrian traffic down 1st Avenue sidewalks, as well as possible congestion issues involving conflicts between sports event schedules and peak maritime cargo traffic times.

Finally, I would still like to see study completed on an alternative site for an arena in Tukwila, given we have a investor willing to close on the property for a site and the City of Tukwila has indicated they are working on an environmental review.

But I am committed that we need to find a way to bring  professional basketball back to our city.

4. If the SoDo site is selected for an arena which of these purposes would you support the Key Arena site to become.

(These alternative uses for Key Arena were included in a report linked below.)

A. Indoor Adventure Sports Park

B. Indoor Dinner Performance Attraction

C. Retail, Dining & Entertainment

D. Edutainment Attraction

E. IP-Based Attraction

F. STEM / Maker Center

G. Workforce housing, between 400 and 500 units.

[Link to Key Arena report is here.]

Your answer: Workforce housing (G) would be my preferred alternative, given the severe shortage of affordable housing the city currently has and the site's central location accessible to mass transit.

5. Based on your survey responses, why should Seattle's NBA, WNBA, and NHL fans vote for you?

Your answer:

As an incumbent with a strong track record of holding the City of Seattle accountable to the interests of ordinary people, I would be the councilperson most determined in ensuring the City held up its end of an agreement reached.

We need to avoid a process like the Bertha Boondoggle, with major cost overruns and unmet commitments. What I don't want to see is working and middle class people footing the bill, while developers and billionaire owners rake in profits.

We absolutely need sports teams, and as a sports fan and your councilmember, I am committed to work to bring professional basketball and hockey to Seattle.

Council District No. 4 (Lake Union to Sand Point)

Rob Johnson vs

Michael Maddux

(Both candidates responded to my query.)

Rob Johnson's answers are here.

1. Do you support the NBA, NHL, and WNBA as part of arts and entertainment in Seattle?

Your answer:

Yes. I’m a longtime fan of the Sonics and the Storm and would love to see an NHL franchise relocate here or become the site of an NHL expansion franchise.

2. Do you support the current MOU process the city council agreed to follow on September 15, 2012?

Your answer:

Yes.

3. After reviewing the arena FEIS would you be willing to support the SoDo location for a multipurpose sports and entertainment facility?

Your answer:

Yes.

4. If the SoDo site is selected for an arena which of these purposes would you support the Key Arena site to become (it can't be both a professional sports arena and one of these other things)?

Your answer:

Option C. As Key Arena would still be in the located in the heart of Seattle Center, I'd like to maintain current usage as best as possible.

(These alternative uses for Key Arena were included in a report linked below.)

A. Indooor Adventure Sports Park

B. Indoor Dinner Performance Attraction

C. Retail, Dining & Entertainment

D. Edutainment Attraction

E. IP-Based Attraction

F. STEM / Maker Center

G. Workforce housing, between 400 and 500 units.

[Link to Key Arena report is here.]

5. Based on your survey responses, why should Seattle's NBA, WNBA, and NHL fans vote for you?

Your answer:

I’m a 5th generation Seattleite whose brother played college basketball for 2 years under Coach Romar at UW, so the love of sports runs in the family and I consider myself a lifelong fan of the Sonics and Storm. We know from our beloved Huskies, Seahawks, and Mariners the kind of civic pride that college and professional sports teams inspire when they achieve success - a common banner for those of different stripes to bond over that few (if any) other activities can reproduce. Our sports teams, as well as other forms of entertainment at sports arenas (i.e., concerts), also have a huge impact on the economy, driving business to local restaurants, hotels, and other attractions. I would work hard to recruit an NBA and an NHL franchise to Seattle for the purposes of a mixed use arena. Our campaign has really been focused on direct voter contact, so when I’m out knocking on doors I’ve spent a lot of time talking to D4 voters about bringing back our Supersonics.

If Johnson is elected he should sit next to Sally Bagshaw as often as possible.

Michael Maddux's answers are here.

1. Do you support the NBA, NHL, and WNBA as part of arts and entertainment in Seattle?

Your answer: Yes

2. Do you support the current MOU process the city council agreed to follow on September 15, 2012?

Your answer: No

3. After reviewing the arena FEIS would you be willing to support the SoDo location for a multipurpose sports and entertainment facility?

Your answer: No

4. If the SoDo site is selected for an arena which of these purposes would you support the Key Arena site to become (it can't be both a professional sports arena and one of these other things)?

Your answer: I support renovating Key Arena (and re-naming it, now that Key Bank isn't paying for naming rights) in order to make it an appropriate venue for NBA and NHL, while keeping it available for WNBA and Derby matches (as well as other entertainment options). In the event the political will is not available, I would be supportive of measures designed to mitigate the impact of an arena on our maritime industry, including requiring adequate parking mitigation, freight mobility investments from Mr. Hanson, as well as a limit on use times and number of events to be held at any new arena, with priority given to the two existing stadiums.

(These alternative uses for Key Arena were included in a report linked below.)

A. Indooor Adventure Sports Park

B. Indoor Dinner Performance Attraction

C. Retail, Dining & Entertainment

D. Edutainment Attraction

E. IP-Based Attraction

F. STEM / Maker Center

G. Workforce housing, between 400 and 500 units.

[Link to Key Arena report is here.]

5. Based on your survey responses, why should Seattle's NBA, WNBA, and NHL fans vote for you?

Your answer: I believe that sports and entertainment are part of the fabric of our city. Key Arena has a footprint that is, to my understanding, larger than the proposed Hanson Arena, is in a location that is prepared for the effects of events (both sporting and entertainment), and, frankly, would make for a much better location for an arena. In addition, the workers are represented (Local 1239), and make a decent wage - being able to actually afford to live near where they work. I believe that fans have the same caring for their communities, which include maritime workers and arena workers, as I do, and would expect that our city be an advocate for working families, as well as working to bring the NBA back to Seattle, support the WNBA (more national championships than any other professional sports in Seattle, after all, have been with the Storm), and bring an NHL team to Seattle. We have a great location already that, with investment, can be ready to go for NBA if/when we get a team in Seattle, as well as NHL, and still support WNBA, Roller Derby, concerts, and many of the other events that are held at the Key Arena throughout the year.

Council District No. 5 (North, Seattle's version of Canada)

Debora Juarez vs

Sandy Brown

Debora Juarez did not respond to my request.

Sandy Brown answered my questions.

1. Do you support the NBA, NHL, and WNBA as part of arts and entertainment in Seattle?

Absolutely. I’ve been a Seattle sports fan since the late 1960’s and remember Saturday afternoons at my home in White Center, listening to the radio as Sonny Sixkiller quarterbacked the Huskies. Since then I’ve attended key Sonics, Husky, Mariners, Sounders and Seahawks games. Two of the highlights of my life were the Victory Parades downtown following our NBA and NFL championships.

Sports have a unique ability to unite us as a city and region and they also provide an important economic benefit. Though I regret that sports profits generally flow to wealthy individuals and families, I recognize too that people of low-income levels find great value in sports as entertainment. Among public activities, sports are often appreciated as the most accessible to people of color and also to people who are not already in the cultural and arts mainstream. I’m proud of our WNBA team, and having NBA and NHL franchises would add important assets to our entertainment portfolio. I strongly support our community pursuing all reasonable means to secure these franchises.

2. Do you support the current MOU process the city council agreed to follow on September 15, 2012?

Yes. By all accounts the project has been very heavily vetted prior to the MOU signing and many people believe it has had the most thorough review of any similar project.

3. After reviewing the arena FEIS would you be willing to support the SoDo location for a multipurpose sports and entertainment facility?

My primary concerns about the SoDo location had to do with impacts to traffic, particularly in relation to the Port of Seattle and Safeco Field. The FEIS predicts only a 10-13% increase in traffic on 1st Avenue South and a 14-20% increase on Edgar Martinez Drive South when games would be held simultaneously at Safeco and the new arena. Increases of this magnitude are well within the scope of acceptability and I believe much of this can be mitigated with additional transit options, particularly as our light rail network extends to the north in the next few years. I do also feel that any ongoing Port of Seattle transportation issues should be carefully attended to so that we do not experience loss of important, living wage jobs at the Port of Seattle.

4. If the SoDo site is selected for an arena which of these purposes would you support the Key Arena site to become (it can't be both a professional sports arena and one of these other things)?

The leadership team at Seattle Center under the direction of Robert Nellams has done a good job in developing the Center as an attractive destination year round. I appreciate Key Arena as an architecturally significant building and look forward to a smart recommendation from Seattle Center’s management team about how it could be used in the future. I’m glad we have these options and look forward to a great future use for the Key Arena space

(These alternative uses for Key Arena were included in a report linked below.)

A. Indooor Adventure Sports Park

B. Indoor Dinner Performance Attraction

C. Retail, Dining & Entertainment

D. Edutainment Attraction

E. IP-Based Attraction

F. STEM / Maker Center

G. Workforce housing, between 400 and 500 units.

[Link to Key Arena report is here.]

5. Based on your survey responses, why should Seattle's NBA, WNBA, and NHL fans vote for you?

Sports are a valuable community exercise, offering leisure and entertainment that help to make a city great. Lots of hard work has gone into this. Let’s address any remaining issues and make a great new sports venue for our community.

On a personal note, this is my district. I am both thankful and proud of my city for making my decision very difficult to make this year.

Council District No. 6 (Green Lake to Golden Gardens)

Mike O'Brien vs

Catherine Weatbrook

(Neither candidate responded to my query.)

Mike O'Brien supported the MOU through his Finance Committee, voted yes.

Catherine Weatbrook hasn't indicated public support for the arena. She may have indicated private opposition to her supporters from the maritime industry. I'll never know for sure.

Council District No. 7 (Downtown to Discovery Park)

Sally Bagshaw vs

Deborah Zech-Artis

Deborah Zech-Artis did not respond to my questions.

Sally Bagshaw did answer my questions.

Bagshaw voted yes on the MOU back in 2012 but now appears to be supporting the Port of Seattle and Seattle Times' position.

I totally support NHL and NBA returning to our city especially if we can increase revenues for the city and reduce traffic congestion issues.

Of course we must follow through carefully with the MOU conditions signed between Chris Hansen and the City.

The SODO site must be carefully reviewed for transportation impacts which to date has not been accomplished.

The Key Arena site --according to the recent AECOM study, is a significantly better site for the taxpayers, the Port, and SODO businesses.  The Port and SODO businesses are especially keen on reconsidering the Key Arena option, especially since ST3 is likely to propose a Link Light Rail line from Downtown through Seattle Center, stopping right at Key Arena.

NHL and NBA supporters should vote for me because I support the end goal; and, I am a lawyer and facilitator willing and experienced to tackle the complexities of this issues.

Council Position No. 8 (at-large, citywide)

Tim Burgess vs

Jon Grant

Jon Grant did not respond to my questions.

Tim Burgess did answer my questions. I appreciate that he answered every possible option to question 4. He did vote yes on the MOU.

1. Do you support the NBA, NHL, and WNBA as part of arts and entertainment in Seattle?

Your answer:

Yes.

2. Do you support the current MOU process the city council agreed to follow on September 15, 2012?

Your answer:

Yes.

3. After reviewing the arena FEIS would you be willing to support the SoDo location for a multipurpose sports and entertainment facility?

Your answer:

Yes, but remember that there are many prerequisites that must be satisfied before the city government will take additional steps toward building the SODO arena, the most important being awarding of an NBA team to Seattle.

4. If the SoDo site is selected for an arena which of these purposes would you support the Key Arena site to become (it can't be both a professional sports arena and one of these other things)?

Your answer:

(These alternative uses for Key Arena were included in a report linked below.)

A. Indooor Adventure Sports Park- No

B. Indoor Dinner Performance Attraction- No

C. Retail, Dining & Entertainment- Perhaps

D. Edutainment Attraction- Yes

E. IP-Based Attraction- Yes

F. STEM / Maker Center- Yes

G. Workforce housing, between 400 and 500 units.- Perhaps

[Link to Key Arena report is here.]

5. Based on your survey responses, why should Seattle's NBA, WNBA, and NHL fans vote for you?

Your answer:

I am committed to ensuring that we get a stadium built and I worked hard to make the MOU with Mr. Hansen stronger and more in the public interest.

Council Position No. 9 (at-large, citywide)

Lorena Gonzalez vs

Bill Bradburd

(Neither candidate responded to my questions.)

Lorena Gonzalez has not indicated a firm position either way.

Bill Bradburd said in 2012, on the city council Facebook page, "Any council member who votes for this proposal will never get my vote. Please do the right thing and vote no. #properuseofpublicresources"

I appreciate the candidates taking the time to respond to these questions for our readers. Thank you.