District 3 money and alliances at play in Seattle’s two citywide races

If you haven’t been following the City Council Position 8 and 9 races, the Central Area Neighborhoods District Council has got you covered. The group is hosting an at-large candidates forum on Monday from 6 to 8 PM at the Central Area Senior Center. The forum will feature three of the four at-large candidates (Position 9 candidate Lorena Gonzalez recently canceled, according to organizers). As an added bonus, Pamela Banks and Kshama Sawant will also take the stage.

All four citywide candidates, Sawant, Banks, and most others will also be at Tuesday’s Housing Development Consortium 2015 Seattle Candidate Forum. The “speed dating” styled event focused around housing issues will take place from 11 AM-2 PM at Town Hall. RSVP here.

Those living in District 3 will recognize some of the strategies in motion — and some of the cash. $108,000 in donations from District 3 has flooded into the two Seattle-wide City Council races.

Both citywide races feature an well established candidate backed by establishment endorsements and money challenged by somewhat underdog, underfunded contenders. From a District 3 perspective, the Position 8 race is fairly straightforward. Former Tenant’s Union director Jon Grant has the strong backing of Sawant and would be a natural council ally to replace outgoing City Council member Nick Licata.

As true-blue Democrats, Position 8 incumbent City Council member Tim Burgess and Banks are clearly aligned. In fact, they’re holding a joint fundraiser at Terra Plata next week.

The Position 9 race doesn’t fit the District 3 mold as neatly. Neither Banks nor Sawant have officially endorsed Gonzalez or her opponent Bill Bradburd. Rather than lefty versus far lefty, the Gonzalez-Bradburd matchup falls along another familiar Seattle spectrum: urbanism versus neighborhood activism.

The campaign language speaks for itself. Bradburd, a Central Area neighborhood activist, has championed “safeguarding strong neighborhoods,” “guarding against inappropriate infill,” and “protecting what makes Seattle great.” Gonzalez has grabbed the urbanism baton with her calls to “dramatically increase affordable housing,” “promote density,” and relax zoning restrictions in single-family home areas.

While Position 8 is the third most monied council race this year, there’s no real contest between the two candidates. Burgess has raised $352,000 as of last week, dwarfing Grant’s roughly $60,000. Notable Grant donors include Capitol Hill resident Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (who hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the race) and three Seattle locals of Service Employees International Union.

The largest chunk of Grant’s Seattle donations have come from District 3 (14%), but he’s received 41% of his money from outside the city. A third of Burgess’s donations have come from District 7, which includes downtown and Queen Anne, and 17% has come form District 3. Burgess has also received a sizable amount of union cash, including from SEIU locals, building trade unions, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

The Burgess campaign is also powered by some relatively big donations with a $289 average contribution size, the highest among all City Council candidates, as compared to Grant’s average donation size of $180.

Since Grant has sworn off corporate campaign contributions, companies interested in the race are left to Burgess. Alsaksa Airlines, Microsoft, the Seattle Mariners, the Washington Restaurant Association, and Costco founder Jeffrey Brotman have all contributed to his campaign.

Bradburd’s campaign ledger mimics his neighborhood politics. He hasn’t taken any major business contributions (his average contribution is $152), a quarter of his funds have come from District 3, and he’s only recieved 16% of his funds from outside the city.

Just over a third of Gonzalez’s contributions have come from outside Seattle, while donors from Downtown/Queen Anne’s District 7 represent 20% of her total contributions. Gonzalez’s average contribution size of $242 is also notably higher than Bradburd’s.

Gonzalez’s work as civil rights attorney and experience in City Hall working under Mayor Ed Murray has given her a wide spectrum of support, perhaps most evidenced by endorsements from both The Stranger and The Seattle Times.

When he was chair of the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, Bradburd was most known for his strong opposition to microhousing and the gentrification it’s been a part of. Bradburd is also a member of the Central Area Land Use Review Committee, a wonky civic group that has has become formidable in shaping area development.

As Council president, Burgess has lead the council through several high profile deliberations. He introduced the tax on gun and ammunition sales, and was Murray’s partner in creating the universal pre-K legislation. He also introduced the resolution asking the state Legislature to lift the ban on rent control, though he opposes the policy.

Prior to the August primary, Grant rolled out his biggest proposal of the campaign: an aggressive affordable housing plan he drafted as a response to the 60+ recommendations from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee. Among other things, Grant wants to use a robust developer fee to build 5,000 units specifically for homeless housing.

If the August primary was any indication, Grant has his work cutout for him come November while Bradburd will realistically need more than hard work and perseverance to pull out a win. Grant is aiming to close a 15-point gap while Bradburd faces the seemingly impossible task of covering a massive 50-point primary deficit.

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5 thoughts on “District 3 money and alliances at play in Seattle’s two citywide races

  1. Bill Bradburd is our best chance to stop corporate crony Gonzalez from getting a city council seat. Her donors are anti $15, while she campaigns on living wages. She talks affordability while cozying up to high-end developers. She wants to make Seattle into Manhattan. ICK.

    • “She wants to make Seattle into Manhattan.”

      The hyperbole here is non-sensical. And the more people make this comparison, the more they show that they don’t have any facts on their side, so they have to distract form them by appealing to emotions.

    • Bradburd, who was a property owner in San Francisco who cashed out and moved to the cheaper PNW to buy property, wants to turn Seattle into San Francisco – where NIMBYism rules and rents are now more expensive than New York City.

  2. Burgess cancelled too. Rumor had it that both he and Gonzalez cancelled for a high end fundraiser with developers. Nonetheless, I caution against pegging Gonzalez too much too soon and discouraging people from trying to work with her. We only have two city-wide positions, and all of us need to find ways to work with the person elected.

  3. Before or after I get in trouble, I realize that there are two events that were likely conflicts:
    Women for Tim Burgess:
    Date: Monday, October 26th, 2015
    Time: 5:30 to 7:00 PM
    Location: Victoria Apartments
    Address: 1915 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

    Join me on Monday evening alongside Mayor Ed Murray, Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, Representative Brady Walkinshaw, County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, SEIU 775, Vulcan, IAFF Local 27, PTE Local 17, Coalition for Housing Solutions, and many more housing advocates from across the city and county.

    The reception begins at 5:00pm on Monday at SEIU 775’s office downtown. I hope you will come support my campaign, as well as Council President Tim Burgess, and join the discussion around housing and affordability solutions in our city.