[media-credit name=”Jorge2015″ align=”alignnone” width=”930″][/media-credit]Welcome to The Seattle Star‘s endorsements for the November 3 Seattle City Council general elections. Ballots will arrive in your mailboxes this week, signaling the countdown to Election Day. Our endorsements for the Seattle School Board, Port Commissioners, and other local ballot items will follow later this week.
For Seattle voters, the most important choices on the November ballot this year will be the city council races. Given the advent of districting, these races will be the most potentially game-changing in Seattle city politics and government in many, many years — and thus it’s well worth your time to start researching the candidates now.
Seattle’s current housing affordability crisis looms large indeed over these elections — and thus our endorsements have been largely determined by the candidates’ positions on that critical civic issue. Among the hot local topics this year related to that crisis are linkage fees and inclusionary zoning, which are both intended to make real-estate developers provide affordable housing by requiring them to either designate a portion of new units as affordable or contribute to the city’s affordable housing fund. Some current council candidates support these policies, while others don’t — and there lies a world of civic difference among this year’s candidates.
Most importantly, with several outstanding candidates, this year’s city council elections promise to finally bring what Seattle’s been absurdly lacking for several election cycles now: a progressive council for a progressive city.
On to our endorsements. Remember: these endorsements are inevitably subjective. Do your own research, make up your own mind, cast your own ballot.
West Seattle, Delridge, South Park
Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Rainier Valley
Capitol Hill, Central District
Along with Herbold’s peerless legislative experience in Seattle City Hall, she’s been a resident of Highland Park for 15 years, and therefore knows District 1 as well as she knows Seattle city politics and government. Yes, affordable housing will be among her top priorities as a council member, and yes, she strongly deserves your vote.
Among her priorities on the council will be increasing community policing and police accountability, a profoundly volatile topic for District 4, where people of color have long borne the brunt of the Seattle Police Department’s infamous dysfunctionality. Morales is also a sustainable food activist, which bodes well for Beacon Hill’s potential to become a national neighborhood leader in the urban farming movement, given the recent establishment of the Beacon Hill Food Forest.
Among Harrell’s liabilities, as with certain other current council candidates, is his financial support from certain prominent developers and landlords — such as Carl Haglund, the notorious South Seattle slumlord known most recently for subjecting immigrant tenants to the economic evictions that have become all too common throughout Seattle in recent years. Harrell’s ultimate complicity in such metastasizing gentrification qualifies him for the same direction as the council’s other Establishment incumbents: out the door. Vote Morales.
Certain local wealthy donors in District 3 are actively organizing to unseat Sawant. Those donors overwhelmingly support her challenger, Pamela Banks, the current president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. While both Banks and Sawant are women of color, among the key differences between the two candidates, Banks has fewer total donors contributing to her campaign than Sawant, while raising nearly the same amount of money — much of it from real-estate and finance moguls. Also, Banks has publicly opposed the $15 minimum wage, rent control, and linkage fees. Essentially, Sawant is grassroots while Banks is Big Bank. Caveat emptor, indeed.
As for the absurd allegation by rabid Kshama-bashers that Sawant is “divisive”: oh, bish-bosh. Sawant’s not the one who created the current gaping divide between Seattle’s haves and our have-nots — she’s among the ones currently trying to solve that problem. Vote Sawant.
U District, Wallingford, Ravenna
Lake City, Broadview, Greenwood
Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood
Michael Maddux is the best candidate in this race. A paralegal, parks activist, and past advocate for homeless LGBTQ youth, Maddux is well-informed about his home district and the challenges that face District 4 as it anticipates rapid urban growth in the coming decade, with specific policy proposals for how to manage and guide that growth intelligently and sustainably. He’s also the only renter among this year’s council candidates, which bodes well for his potential City Hall representation of that citywide constituency.
While Maddux’s opponent Rob Johnson is also a strong candidate overall, he has taken significant financial contributions from independent expenditure groups, including the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce-funded People for Rob, and the Washington Restaurant Association PAC, which opposed the city’s $15 minimum wage. He’s also pulled in money from real-estate developers. Big Money donations such as these should always be troubling for voters concerned with economic justice. Vote Maddux.
Attorney Debora Juarez, who has lived in District 5 for more than 25 years, brings an impressive public service résumé to her first run for municipal public office in Seattle. A member of the Blackfeet Nation who grew up on the Puyallup Indian Reservation, she has served as a public defender, a King County Superior Court judge, and a Native American affairs legal and policy advisor for Washington State Governors Mike Lowry and Gary Locke. Among the many notable endorsements Juarez has already received are those from five of the six District 5 candidates who did not make it through the August primary — including Mercedes Elizalde, The Seattle Star‘s primary endorsee, which makes Juarez our obvious November endorsee.
His challenger this year, Catherine Weatbrook, is a credible candidate who agrees with him on several critical issues, yet she offers no compelling reasons why the incumbent should be removed from office. Vote O’Brien and let his outstanding work continue.
Queen Anne, Downtown, Magnolia
We can think of no better protest vote for District 7 than Seattle’s all-time most famous rabble-rouser. Anna Louise Strong, if elected, will eagerly throw the money-changers from the circa-2015 temple of Seattle City Hall. And since China has increasingly dominated Seattle’s economy and culture in recent years, Strong’s longtime friendly relationship with China will be an obvious plus on the council. She’s even partied with Chairman Mao — and she’ll surely assist the re-elected Kshama Sawant with the latter’s nefarious commie plot to banish every Seattle tech-sector millionaire to a draconian gulag out on the Olympic Peninsula. The struggle is eternal, indeed.
You already know Sally Bagshaw will soar to re-election on wings made of money. Vote Strong.
Along with affordable housing, Grant plans to focus on police accountability, which will be a vitally important priority for the council’s at-large representatives. If elected, he would insist that Seattle’s Office of Professional Accountability add more civilian personnel in order to investigate police misconduct with greater impartiality.
Grant is challenging the truly execrable incumbent Tim Burgess, the one council candidate this year who most deserves a crushing defeat. Among his many transgressions since his 2007 election to council, Burgess was the author and chief advocate of the city’s infamous 2010 aggressive-solicitation bill, which was obviously intended to criminalize homelessness. This race thus presents a stark contrast between a serial gentrification enabler and a proven champion of local economic justice. Vote Grant.
Recognizing the role that years of uncritical City Hall deference to developers has played in creating Seattle’s current housing affordability crisis, Bradburd also intends to make developers start paying their fair share for their participation in our city’s current economic boom. Regarding Seattle’s current growth surge, Bradburd says: “Growth and change is something we should plan and shape together, not something that simply happens to us.” We strongly agree. Vote Bradburd.