(Research and Images: CHS)
Flanked by Capitol Hill small business owners — and inside 12th Ave’s Rachel Ginger Beer, the setting for her new “small business for Pamela” advertisement — District 3 challenger Pamela Banks sat down with CHS to discuss her plans to address an important part of the district she says her opponent neglects.
Thursday, the candidate unveiled her “Small Business Action Plan,” a four-part platform that she says is independent business and community focused and has been honed by her time leading the Urban League serving Seattle’s African American and underserved communities.
“This is public safety, this is employment, this is economic development — they all overlap,” Banks told CHS Thursday.
The Banks District 3-focused plan includes a call for better community policing and closer relationships between neighbors, community businesses and organizations, and officers, two new loan program proposals, and the creation of a small business advisory committee at City Hall.
Additionally, Banks repeated her calls for more programs offering training “to help District 3 residents develop the skills they need to succeed.”
Supporters at Thursday’s media event — CHS was the only outlet to attend on what Banks campaign organizers said turned out to be “a busy day” for Seattle media — included Rachel’s Ginger Beer founder Rachel Marshall whose partnerships also own the Montana bar on E Olive Way and Nacho Borracho on Broadway.
“We’re a family-run, self-funded business,” Marshall told CHS. “I took on a half million dollars in debt to build something for my neighbors — and I employ my neighbors. There should be a real soft spot from our city legislators. Everybody at this table is sticking their neck out.”
Marshall said she respects City Council member and Banks opponent Kshama Sawant but feels that Banks is best positioned to help the neighborhood. (UPDATE: This post has been updated to more accurately describe Marshall’s statements.)
“You want to keep Capitol Hill weird, you want to keep it queer, you want to keep it indie and full of artists and musicians? This is how that happens. Not a fucking Pizza Hut on every corner,” said Marshall, who hosted Thursday’s event at her 12th Ave Arts building shop and also appears in a new small business-focused advertisement for the Banks campaign filmed there.
While much of her plan would build on existing City Hall resources, Banks said, if elected, she will push for the creation of two loan programs designed to help small businesses and organizations on Capitol Hill, in the Central District, and across D3.
The first would create a performance metric-driven lending program. If goals such as pedestrian count measures or created jobs are met, the borrower owes the city nothing:
The city should play a role in helping entrepreneurs find access to loans and other financing. Banks would replicate InStore, a Philadelphia loan program that offers $15,000 to $50,000 to small businesses and nonprofits, given they meet certain criteria such as enhancing foot traffic and impacting job retention or creation. The loans are forgiven if they meet the city’s requirements.
A second Banks lending initiative would be modeled on a San Francisco grants program that provides funding specifically to the city’s longest-lasting businesses in an effort to preserve the community and culture around neighborhood institutions:
Recognizing that District 3’s unique character is defined by its iconic small businesses, Bank proposes an initiative to protect and enhance businesses at least 30 years old. Modeled after similar programs in Buenos Aires, Barcelona and, most recently San Francisco, the program would provide grants to longtime business owners based on the number of employees and square footage. In San Francisco, the annual grants are capped at $50,000 per business and costs about $3 million per year.
The plan also includes a proposed “Small Business Advisory Committee” that both Banks and Sawant have championed in recent debate and forum appearances:
Banks would create a Small Business Advisory Committee to offer policy recommendations and feedback to the City. The Small Business Advisory Committee would address the specific needs of neighborhood-based businesses.
“It’s an ongoing issue for things that pop up for small businesses,” Banks said Thursday.
Michael Wells, who recently stepped down after five years of leading the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce said he is convinced Banks is the candidate to best serve the day to day needs of the District 3 business community.
“These are real, street-level programs that effect retail in a daily way,” Wells said.
Also attending Thursday’s event to support Banks were Travis Rosenthal of Pike’s Tango and Rhumba, Gregg Holcomb of Broadway’s Witness, and Wildrose owners Shelley Brothers and Martha Manning.
The plan and the support from a set of Capitol Hill business owners add to a Banks campaign that is finally taking shape after a primary that was mostly defined by the longtime City Hall insider not being Kshama Sawant. Late last month, Banks said public safety was her number one issue in the election following a summer of gunfire in Central Seattle. With a small business initiative in place, Banks has the potential to appeal to the owners and employees of the more than 8,000 businesses in District 3, according to the city’s business license database. You can read more about her proposed initiatives here.
Meanwhile, Sawant, has continued her winning formula of casting her work for City Council in the larger light of national — and global — inequity and the fight for social justice. Thursday morning while Banks was talking about small business loans, Sawant was calling out the SPD for what the councilor says it yet another instance of police brutality and cover-up in the city:
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian, other educators from Seattle Public Schools, and activists from the Black Lives Matter movement will hold a press conference Thursday morning immediately prior to Seattle Police Chief O’Toole’s budget presentation to Council. They will ask why Chief O’Toole reversed the decision of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) to issue a one day unpaid suspension to Officer Sandra Delafuente.
Sawant’s campaign platform is here.
As usual, the money probably tells the story most clearly. For one, the District 3 race has attracted the most campaign cash of any of the City Council races in Seattle. The contrast between the two candidates is perhaps most clearly illustrated by how that money breaks down — Sawant has built her war chest thanks to small sacrifices from many soldiers while Banks apparently has a general or two in the mix to help her keep up.
With the Marshall ad, we now see some of the ways the Banks war chest will be put to use in the final weeks before the first ballot count on November 3rd.
Witness’s Holcomb said he’s ready for any backlash that might come from taking a side in the political battle against what has proven to be an extremely effective Sawant ground operation. “I’m already out there on the D3 Facebook page,” Holcomb said. “I want Broadway to be the best moving forward. If I get vilified for supporting a candidate, so be it.”