Hey West Seattle, this guy likes games and hates the tunnel, and he wants to be your next city council member.
  • Hey West Seattle, this guy likes games and hates the tunnel, and he wants to be your next city council member.

Lawyer, game-creator, and host of "the largest weekly trivia night in West Seattle" Phillip Tavel yesterday joined the race for Seattle City Council District 1 in West Seattle.

"Tavel’s background in technology, education, law, and as an entrepreneur," reads the campaign announcement, "gives him the right experience to enact policies that continue growth and innovation while expanding opportunities for everyone in our district."

Whatever that means. The only specific issue in his press release: Kill the tunnel.

"The risks associated with continuing this tunnel and leaving the aging viaduct up are too great," he said in the announcement. "The tunnel contractor has a well-documented history of not paying for cost-overruns and the potential costs to taxpayers are too high. Stopping the existing tunnel project is the most responsible decision we can make. The remaining project money should be used to increase transit and implement a lower-cost alternative that actually delivers on the promise to reduce traffic."

Tavel, 43, took part in West Seattle Blog's candidate forum last night, where questions focused on transportation, development, and property crime. It's early, so most candidates are still short on specifics, but Tavel did say he's against the current iteration of linkage fees the council is considering, as well as the mayor's plan to allowing more tent encampments in the city. Tavel told me afterward he'll also focus on police reform during the campaign and thinks the ongoing negotiations with the police union are a chance for change (as Ansel tells you about in this week's Stranger), but he's still figuring out specific reforms he supports.

Tavel co-founded the company Interactive Imagination, which created the collectable card game turned GameBoy game Magi-Nation. ("It's made to be between `Magic,' which is darker, older, for the over-16 crowd, and Pokémon, which is cute and fuzzy," Tavel told the Seattle Times back in 2001.)

He says he's worked as a high school physics teacher, an analyst at the National Science Foundation, a creative director for an Australian video game developer, and a public defender. (Notably, he briefly represented Isaiah M.K. Kalebu, the man currently serving life in prison for a gruesome 2009 rape and murder in South Park.)

"I'm really tired of politics as usual," Tavel told me. "What the council needs is someone who is not beholden to anyone in downtown... I don't think West Seattle is always heard."

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Last year, Tavel unsuccessfully ran for West Electoral District judge, arguing his opponent wasn't technologically savvy and took the wrong approach in responding to a defendant who told him to suck his dick. We disagreed.

In that election, Tavel used the slogan "Give the gavel to Tavel." The nagging question now is whether he can come up with an equally good rhyme for his city council race. And if not, why the hell even bother?

(P.S. If you want to attend Tavel's trivia night, it's Wednesdays at Talarico’s Pizzeria.)