West Seattle Blog… | VIDEO: Chat with City Council Candidates, with Preston Anderson
By Tracy Record
Editor of the West Seattle Blog
Preston Anderson believes he can “bring positive change” to Seattle by being elected to the House of Representatives District 1 council Seat
He’s the latest candidate to sit down with us for our first series of candidate chats, videotaped conversations designed to give you an early chance to see and hear the candidates who have officially announced they are on the hunt apply for the seat Lisa Herbold leaves us after two semesters. Anderson is a West Seattle-based clinical social worker who works at Veterans Administration medical center. we spoke with him Fauntleroy Schoolhouse last Monday; Here’s our unedited half-hour conversation:
If you can’t or don’t want to take the time to watch/listen, here’s our summary:
Anderson says he chose his profession to help people and has intersected with the homelessness crisis over the years. He has seen how this has affected both the city and the people who live “on the streets untreated”. He was motivated to run for office to try to take action and help people in that way. He has been meeting with people in the community for months and knows this is a major concern for many. He believes his perspective and direct experience in homelessness-related programs would bring much-needed perspective to the council. He acknowledges that this is a “multifaceted” crisis in which behavioral health needs play a major role.
He can also bring his knowledge of the type of housing people need to the council. His work specifically includes “overseeing community contracts” for housing homeless veterans. This also includes finding a permanent home. He says health care needs also need to be addressed: “I think it’s important to look after the most vulnerable, the medically needy, the ones with a serious addiction problem…” Part of the crisis is about a labor shortage to deal with to help people, we realize . Anderson agrees that staffing is also an issue — specifically “designated crisis responders” as well as other “frontline workers.” Making these professions more “attractive” will help alleviate staffing shortages. And he’s confident the city can make a difference, although he worries about “so much overlap” between levels of government.
Since he mentioned that he’s already spoken to potential voters, we asked what he heard. Concerns about crime and illegal camps topped the list, Anderson said, along with a general sense of frustration that the city council wasn’t doing enough. The council will soon consider renewing/extending the housing charge and sees the potential to make a difference by getting more people out of camps that are ‘adjacent’ to crime but ‘don’t just push the problem elsewhere’. Out of town.”
Another public safety issue we discussed was the mayor’s plan for a CARE department – Civil supported response and engagement. Anderson agrees that certain calls “do not necessarily require an armed response – we need to extend our reach,” with various programs able to accommodate this.
What does he think of the police force? “We need to make sure the police department has adequate staffing,” he says, citing his military experience as a basis for knowing why this is important — not just for enforcement, but so they’re “better able to defend themselves.” to engage in the community.”
From there, he continued to talk about his military experience, which he enlisted as a medic army, eventually ending up in Kuwait and Iraq. He was studying sociology when he was called back to the field and completed his studies upon his return. He also worked with DESCR.
We’ve spent so much time talking about homelessness and public safety that we asked about other topics that were high on his radar. Transportation, he said, particularly with ongoing frustration sound transit project delays. West Seattle definitely needs a light rail, he says, but he also wants more attention to be paid to what’s happening outside of West Seattle — “after White Center and Burien and Renton” — and efforts to provide affordable housing near to create stations.
He also spoke about issues affecting small businesses – from graffiti vandalism to retail theft. “We must be dynamic and intelligent in our approaches and thoughtful in our actions.”
Overall, Anderson says he wants people to know, “My heart is in it…(I) walk consciously…I know I can make a lot of positive change” with unique experience of helping people through crises affecting the community concern , and lessons he learned growing up “very poor.” He emphasizes, “I want to be part of the decision-making process.” He also wants to help bring people together: “I’m not buying Seattle dying.” In the military, you work towards your mission. That can be replicated with the city council.” Neighborhood forums are also part of his vision — “safe spaces” where he could facilitate dialogue — anything to work on solutions, not just bitch about programs.
WHO’S NEXT? We’ll talk to you this week Stephen Brown, who announced his candidacy just last week, and you will see that interview here next Sunday (March 19). Here are our previous candidate chats:
*Phil Tavel (released March 5)
*Maren Costa (released February 26)
*Rob Saka (released February 19)
The field of candidates who will stand in the August 1 primary will not be final until after King County elections “Registration week” in mid-May. We also plan to present a candidate forum afterwards, to which all who will vote will be invited; In the meantime, we’re speaking again with those candidates and anyone else who’s officially announcing they’re running.