Brendan Kolding

Q1. What are you hearing from voters as the most important issue facing Seattle?  In your view of that issue, what is working and what would you do differently?

Homelessness is the most important issues facing Seattle.  The City's current approach is not working.  I want to create a regional network of immediately-available emergency housing with concentrated social services.  The solution to homelessness is to have enough space and services to meet the needs of all who are unhoused.  This will involve continuing to work with some of our current partners, but also establishing a network of FEMA-style tents.  I recently travelled to San Diego to review the tents they have down there, and I liked what I saw.  A 375-bed tent can be erected for $800,000 and provide shelter, food, security, and services for $36 per person per day.  Once we have enough shelter space and services available, we can enforce the law when people refuse to either accept services or move along; people will not be allowed to live in illegal conditions.

Q2. Please provide your perspective on how the current city council conducts its business with the public.  How would you conduct yourself as a council member?

The current City Council has lost touch with the public.  As a member of City Council, I will conduct myself with professionalism and will be courteous to my constituents and fellow elected officials.  I will never lose sight of the fact that my job is to represent the residents of District 1!

Q3. In your view is the current City Council mostly on the right track in addressing Seattle’s problems.? If yes, what do you like about the current Council’s approach? If no, what would you do differently?

No, City Council is on the wrong track in addressing Seattle's problems.  They have been practicing a policy of false compassion toward the crises of homelessness, addiction, and mental illness.  As such, people are dying on the streets, crime has gotten out of control, and people no longer feel safe going downtown.  They have created a political environment that is hostile toward law enforcement, which has resulted in a recruitment and retention crisis at SPD.  They have villainized the business community and inspired many businesses to leave Seattle.  They have been fiscally irresponsible, choosing to stack more taxes onto the backs of the hardworking taxpayers instead of making wise financial decisions. I will advocate for offering the necessary services to all who need them. I will support the SPD, empower law enforcement, and inspire officers to want to work in Seattle.  I will work with the business community to solve problems.  I will demand fiscal responsibility, to include an external audit of City budgeting, contracting and spending practices.  Basically, I will do things completely differently from how that have been done as of late.

Q4. Please comment on the city’s approach to unsanctioned encampments.  Would you change anything about the current policy?

The City's approach to unsanctioned encampments is not working.  Sweeps have not resulted in fewer encampments or fewer people living on the streets, they have simply circulated people throughout the City.  The solution that I outlined above will allow Seattle to have a true "carrot and stick" policy: we can offer assistance and then enforce the law against those who are not willing to accept it.  I must be clear that I am not talking about "criminalizing homelessness" or arresting our way out of this problem.  What I am talking about is getting back to a situation where all members of the community can rely on the rule of law to keep their city safe, livable, and able to thrive.

Q5. A recent study found a that a group of offenders with dozens of arrests, who regularly cycle through the courts and back onto the streets account for a significant amount of the property and violent crime in downtown and the neighborhood business districts. How should city government respond to these findings?

I am familiar with this study, and have met with the author.  He actually cited police reports that I approved during my time as a West Precinct patrol sergeant.  City government should respond to these findings by taking a more reasonable approach the crises of crime and homelessness.  As the author states, "The fact that so many of those with a high frequency of interaction with the criminal justice system are unhoused is an important piece of information that could be used to provide better solutions to this underlying need." (Page 47.)  In other words, we need to finally address the homelessness crisis in the way I have recommended above.  Also, we need to be more diligent about prosecuting offenders, to include court-ordered treatment and rehabilitation programs.  It is not in anyone's best interest for people to be continuously booked into jail, released, and simply left to continue within the same vicious cycle.

Q6. Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities with small businesses as the backbone of our local economy. However, as the city grows the cost of doing business has also increased. As a council member what is something you would do to help businesses survive and prosper in Seattle?

The first thing we need to do is address the crises of crime and homelessness.  Businesses throughout the city are reporting lost revenue and dissatisfied employees due to theft and the deterrent effect that the current intimidating environment has on potentials patrons.  Also, we need to give business a voice in how we run our city.  Rather than simply adding to their tax burden, we need to recognize the business community as an important partner!  Seattle deserves a City Council that values business and will create a business-friendly environment.

Q7. As the city has grown so has the cost of housing making Seattle unaffordable for many people in the workforce. What strategies do you support to increase the supply of affordable housing in Seattle?

We need to revisit the MHA and ensure that all up-zoned buildings necessarily include affordable housing.  It is incredibly frustrating to me that the City has revised zoning ordinances in the name of creating affordable housing, but allows for developers to pay a fee in lieu of actually building affordable housing.  Although the monies from this fee will be used to build affordable housing, I am very concerned about gentrification impacts and placing people farther away from where they work.  There are jobs that pay minimum wage in each neighborhood, and people should be able to live close to where they work.  Also, we need for Seattle to be a place where it is desirable to own rental properties.  Recently-discussed legislation (rent control, first-come, background checks) has discouraged landlords and inspired many to sell their properties.  The rental market is critical for Seattle to be accessible to the middle class, and so the City must stop villainizing landlords and work with them to ensure that they continue to provide this necessary service to the community.

Q8. Being on the City Council is a challenging job. Please describe your specific experience or skills that qualifies you to serve as the representative of your district.

I spent almost six years in the Policy Unit at SPD, half of which as the supervisor.  I was working right across the street from City Hall during the federal consent decree.  I have developed policy, tracked legislation, and worked with community entities to find mutually-agreeable solutions to issues.  This experience will be incredibly beneficial to me as I represent District 1 on City Council.  I also have undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science.  I taught undergraduate courses in criminal justice and political science for about six years.  I understand how government ought to operate, and I am well-qualified to bring smart government back to Seattle!