The race to represent the Central Area on City Council got a new candidate on Thursday. Non-profit director and Central District resident Pamela Banks announced she would challenge assumed front-runner council member Kshama Sawant for the newly created Council District 3 seat.
Banks is CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle where she said in a statement she’s exhibited an inclusive approach to organizing that marks a “clear distinction” from Sawant.
“I’ve learned over my career that you solve more problems with a telephone than a megaphone,” Banks said in a statement. “I have stood with union members demanding fair wages, worked with community and faith leaders on racial and social justice measures, and organized with neighborhood leaders for police response and accountability. I won’t be making rebuttals to the State of the Union.”
Banks is the third woman to enter the District 3 race. Women’s rights advocate Morgan Beach announced her candidacy in January. A week earlier, LGBTQ advocate Rod Hearne entered the race as the first candidate to announce he would take on Sawant in the Capitol Hill-centered district.
Banks told CHS she plans to focus on affordable housing and income inequality during this year’s election — two issues that are also central to Sawant’s campaign. If elected, Banks said she would standout among current council members as one who is easily accessible to constituents.
“I always wanted to run,” Banks said. “The district council system is really made for candidates like me.”
The historically African-American focused Urban League has a long history of political and social advocacy in the Central District and is one of some 100 affiliate branches nationwide.
Here’s the full announcement from the Bank’s campaign:
Pamela Banks, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and former community organizer, announced today that she will challenge incumbent Kshama Sawant in the newly drawn District 3. Banks, who has lived in the Central District for nearly two decades, cites her hands-on advocacy for housing and workforce development, deep neighborhood ties, and commitment to inclusive government as a clear distinction against the incumbent.
“I have spent my career working for the people of Seattle,” said Banks, making her first run for public office. “I worked my way up in the City from a community organizer to Outreach Director in the Mayor’s Office, where I made government accountable to our neighborhoods and families. I helped build programs at the Urban League that create opportunities for all people. My record of success is based on results, not slogans.”
Banks points to contrasts in style— and track record— as defining issues in the campaign.
“I’ve learned over my career that you solve more problems with a telephone than a megaphone,” said Banks. “I have stood with union members demanding fair wages, worked with community and faith leaders on racial and social justice measures, and organized with neighborhood leaders for police response and accountability. I won’t be making rebuttals to the State of the Union. I’ll be working for the families of District 3.”
Banks was approached by many community leaders and neighborhood residents to run for District 3. Many recounted difficulties in gaining access to Sawant. This mirrored Banks’ own experience as she unsuccessfully sought to meet with Sawant to discuss a city program to help African American and other men of color find livable wage jobs.
“Seattle voters adopted districts because they want access to their Council member, and they want their local needs addressed, as well as bigger picture concerns,” said Banks. “Safe streets are a social justice issue, potholes are impediments to economic development, land use and zoning will shape our kids’ futures. I’ll bring the right combination of progressive values and neighborhood priorities to the Council.”
Banks enters the race with a broad spectrum of endorsements, including former King County Executive Ron Sims, longtime King County labor leader Verlene Jones, small business leader Joe Fugere, environmental leaders Michael Woo and Rachel Smith, community leaders Marie Kurose, Dr. Michael Washington, Jon Bridge, Retired Fire Chief Gregory Dean, Stephanie Tschida, and many more.
“I’m grateful for the strong, broad early support of my campaign and look forward to meeting with leaders, and of course neighbors, throughout the district as we assemble a true, Seattle-style grass roots campaign,” said Banks. “We have the opportunity to bring new leadership to the Council that reflects the diversity of our city, and the opportunities we have to build great neighborhoods for people from all walks of life.”