Surrounded by current and former Seattle elected officials at Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair event space, Pamela Banks formally launched her campaign Monday evening for City Council District 3.
The longtime Central District resident and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle told the packed room she would bring “progressive leadership in District 3 that is inclusive.”
Banks didn’t mention any specific policies she would champion in the district, which includes Capitol Hill. She did say finding solutions to the rising cost of living in the Central Area would be one of her top priorities. “It’s unacceptable that rents keep rising while wages remain stagnant,” she said.
Expected District 3 frontrunner City Council member Kshama Sawant has also made affordability her top issue in the campaign and is promoting rent control and stabilization as the way to get it done. Banks told CHS she was skeptical of Sawant’s plan.
“If (rent control) passed, it would only be one tool. It’s not the only solution,” she said. “Rent control didn’t work in San Francisco and New York, so why would it work here?”
It’s no secret that Sawant’s presence on the council has been a thorn in the side of some of her colleagues. At least three are supporting Banks ahead of the November election. Council members Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess were in attendance at Monday’s event, and Council member Sally Bagshaw sent a letter of support.
“A lot of these city council wannabes all say the same things,” said Harrell , who had just come out of a contentious City Council meeting to fill Sally Clark’s recently vacated seat. “We don’t need to kick anyone down, we need to build up.”
Richard Conlin, who lost his council seat to Sawant in 2013, was also in attendance to support Banks. “I’ve known her for 15 years and she’s deeply committed to making her community work,” he said. Ron Sims gave the evening’s closing remarks. The former King County Executive and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development touted Banks’ long history working in the Central Area.
Even with some institutional backing, Banks will have her work cut out for her against Sawant’s name recognition and army of activist supporters. “It’s going to be a fight, I’m not naive to that,” Banks said.
Banks was the third woman to enter the District 3 race when she announced her candidacy in March. 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.
Hearne kicked his campaign off last week at 10th Ave’s Jensen Studios but — clearly — his campaign is still working out a few kinks. Somebody forgot to invite CHS. The campaign for rocker John Roderick’s bid for one of the two at-large seats on the Council will also have a Capitol Hill start. His kick-off party is Wednesday at Fred Wildlife Refuge.