— Socialist NYC (@SocialistNY) May 31, 2015
Our provincial City Council District 3 race is making eyes and checkbooks open nationwide. City Council member Kshama Sawant spent the weekend in New York City attending a conference and a campaign fundraiser where she spoke alongside journalist and TruthDig columnist Chris Hedges. The Occupy Wall Street organizers asked attendees to bring their checkbooks and “consider donating generously! Solidarity!”
The $15 per ticket event generated around $9,000 for Sawant’s campaign, according to her political director Philip Locker.
The trip didn’t go unnoticed back at home. In a Monday morning media release, Sawant challenger Pamela Banks chided Sawant for traveling to NYC instead of attending at Friday City Council meeting about the mayor’s proposed transportation levy.
“Actions speak louder than words—even for someone who speaks as noisily as Sawant,” Banks said in a statement. “She can talk a good game about equity, but you can’t make an impact for the people of Seattle when you’re raising money in Manhattan.”
The statement was the first real political sniping between candidates in the City Council District 3 race, which pits the Socialist Alternative Sawant against three Democratic candidates and one independent.
“The establishment opponents know that in a discussion of (issues), Kshama wins hands down,” Locker said.
When Banks announced she was entering the race in March, the former head of Seattle’s Urban League posistened herself as a representative who would be more available to constituents than Sawant.
As of Sunday, Sawant leads the fundraising race with $81,757 in total contributions and has foregone contributions from corporate donors. Banks is in second with $48,434 raised, closely followed by Rod Hearne.
According to city campaign finance records, 37% of Sawant’s campaign contributions have come from “outside the city limits,” while 22% of Banks’s contributions have come from outside Seattle. One third of Banks’s contributions have come from inside District 3, about double the percentage Sawant has raised from the area.
UPDATE: According to the city’s Ethics and Elections Commission, the “no address” category primarily includes donors not required to disclose their address because they gave $25 or less to a campaign. Those small amount donors account for 40% of Sawant’s contributors, which her campaign says includes people from District 3. Around 6% of Banks’ contributors are represented by “no address” donors.
Sawant will be holding a major campaign event this Saturday with with Hedges and former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, this time in Seattle at First Hill’s Town Hall. Tickets are $15.
Meanwhile, an effort to lessen the impact of the “donor class” on Seattle’s local elections is moving forward. The Honest Elections Seattle Campaign announced Monday it submitted more than 32,000 signatures to the city to get I-122 on the the ballot this November. The initiative would enact a relatively small property levy to fund a system of public campaign financing in local elections. The opt-in program would give voters $100 “democracy vouchers” that they would give to candidates to fund their campaigns.