West Seattle resident Preston Anderson wants to be the next District 1 Seattle City Council Member. If you vote for him, he’ll propose funding social housing in a way that pisses off both its supporters and its critics, he’ll hire more cops, and he’ll make patriots out of all you Leninists. 

Anderson was born and raised in Tacoma. After high school, he joined the Army and worked as a medic for six years, including two deployments overseas. Then, he went to the University of Washington to study social work because he wanted to work with homeless veterans. Dreams do come true: he became a clinical social worker and spent the last 12 years at Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System, climbing the ranks from case manager to grant monitor. 

He’s also run into a little trouble with the law. In a 2007 Seattle Municipal Court case, Anderson pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. 

In a message to The Stranger, Anderson described the DUI as an "entirely out of character" and a "terrible mistake which could have been fatal for myself and others."

He did what the court asked him to do: Stop drinking and driving, go to alcohol school, attend a victims panel. Still, Anderson said he continues to "carry that shame."

Speaking of shame, he also ran for Pierce County Council just two years ago. He lost, moved to Seattle, and now he wants to bring a social worker’s perspective to the Seattle City Council: “Politicians don't know what they don't know. So, I'm really committed to offering at least that voice, that insight on the council,” he said. 

A “Mature” Conversation about Housing 

In an interview with The Stranger, Anderson said that Seattle needs to double its supply of  recuperative care units (hospital beds for unhoused people who are too sick to stay in normal shelter) and transitional housing (temporary housing that provides services). He sees these both as important stepping stones to permanent housing. 

Like so many council hopefuls, he isn’t sure how he will fund his ambitious plan: “I think I would have a better idea when I'm on the council.” 

He also said he wants to make Seattle a more affordable place to live. One free way to incentivize housing production is to give developers shortcuts. In that spirit, he wants to “reduce” the time projects spend in design review. The City Council already extended its pandemic-era design review exemptions for some affordable housing projects, and members are working on a permanent policy. The next step, according to urbanists and developers, is to exempt all housing projects from design review. Anderson said he’s open to that. 

He’s also a big proponent of Initiative I-135, a measure to establish a public development authority (PDA) as a first step toward building and acquiring social housing. The voters approved the measure, but the fight is not over. The PDA needs a permanent revenue stream (hopefully a progressive one) to support the authority without dipping into the pot for existing programs. 

When I asked Anderson which progressive revenue streams he would propose to fund the PDA, he suggested the City use a portion of the $51 million homeownership assistance funding in the upcoming housing levy. That’s weird, because supporters and critics of I-135 both want to avoid another housing program fighting for scraps of existing resources. Even if people find that “abhorrent” or say “Preston, that’s a stupid idea” as he anticipates, he wants to start a “mature” conversation.

Loves Cops 

One thing about Anderson–he likes cops. To make up for the Seattle Police Department’s staffing shortage, he told The Stranger that he’s on board with the Mayor’s goal to hire 500 more officers in the next 5 years. I applaud him for giving an actual opinion–even if it's just the Mayor’s–instead of dancing around the question like his competition, Rob Saka.  

How will he get more cops? Anderson isn’t quite sure, but he called the City’s decision to authorize huge hiring bonuses for cops “better than nothing.” After all, he joined the Army because of the financial incentives to enlist.

Would that they were all like him, though. According to the latest SPD report on the impact of  those bonuses, the department aimed to hire 68 cops between July 2022 and Feb 2023, but they only picked up 42. 

In addition to bolstering the police force, Anderson said he wants to “expand” Health One, an alternative response vehicle for the downtown area driven by firefighters and social workers. He wants to pay for that super indirectly by “growing the economic pie,” aka the general fund, by “stimulating business,” which generates much of the City’s tax revenue. 

He thinks the City could increase economic activity in his district by building a new veterans memorial in West Seattle. He pictures tourists taking the water taxi from downtown to West Seattle. They pay their respects, and then maybe they’ll go to a restaurant on California Avenue for lunch. 

But it's not just about the economy for Anderson. He said it's “hurtful” how little Seattle seems to care about honoring the troops. There are a few different sites, like Shelley Hillcrest Cemetery, Evergreen Washelli Veterans Memorial Cemetery, and the Garden of Remembrance, but that’s not enough remembrance opportunity for Anderson.

“You ask a tourist or the average Seattleite where the statue of Lenin is–they would know right off the bat. But they don't know where a veterans memorial is. For me, that's problematic,” he said in an interview with The Stranger

A Crowded Corporate Lane

Anderson joins six others in the battle over Council Member Lisa Herbold’s open seat. He appears to fall closer to a Sara Nelson than a Kshama Sawant, if you catch my drift, but there’s at least two other candidates gunning for the business endorsements in the race. D1 candidate Saka may already have the Mayor’s backing, and business rallied around candidate Phil Tavel in his attempt at the seat in 2019, so they might do it again if they don’t back Saka. 

So far, Anderson is not a D1 favorite among donors. He’s raised about $6,000, which is half of what both Saka and Eltana Bagels co-founder Stephen Brown have raised. He also trails Amazon whistleblower Maren Costa, who will likely go after the labor endorsements.

Money isn’t everything, though, so if Anderson can charm D1 voters, he could be the conservative pick for the primary. Or, if D1 is sick of progressives after Herbold allegedly defunded the police (she did not), maybe two business picks will go head-to-head in a nightmare scenario general election.