Orion celebrated with supporters Tuesday night at Rachel’s Ginger Beer on Capitol Hill (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)
Sawant, meanwhile, addressed a large crowd of supporters at Langston Hughes in the Central District (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)
With reporting by Margo Vansynghel and Alex Garland
With some $716,000 in campaign contributions, another $250,000 in Democracy Vouchers, and tens of thousands more from special interest “political action committee” spending injected, the District 3 race to November is shaping up as a battle over Amazon — and bologna sandwiches.
District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant and challenger Egan Orion emerged with substantial, likely insurmountable leads in the first drop of ballots Tuesday night. Continue reading
(Image: Mount Baker Community Club)
Four of the six District 3 candidates offered one of the funniest and, at times, consensus-filled forums of the lengthy primary season on Friday night at the Mount Baker Community Club, representing a neighborhood area that straddles D3’s south and D2.
Incumbent Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant dropped out of the event at the last minute due to illness and Seattle Public Schools Board member Zachary DeWolf could not take part due to a prior engagement.
The event provided the four remaining candidates with a large audience — one of the biggest of the forum season — to make their case before the top-two August 6 primary. While the election is just days away, many voters have yet to return the ballots. As of Friday afternoon, 13,187 ballots have been returned out of nearly 73,000 registered voters. In the 2015 Seattle City Council Primary, District 3 hit 36% turnout.
Meanwhile, early returns illustrate ongoing trends: older voters are much more likely to actually vote:
The candidates were quick to call out what they see as dysfunction on the current council, specifically criticizing Sawant at various times throughout the forum.
“They are not doing, and Kshama Sawant, our incumbent, especially, basic management duties of their job,” pot entrepreneur Logan Bowers said in his opening statement. Both Broadway Business Improvement Area head Egan Orion and neighborhood activist Pat Murakami directly disparaged the incumbent in their first remarks, as well. Continue reading
With Election 2019 coming to a Primary peak as ballots hit mailboxes across District 3, things have gotten a bit chippy with complaints and ethics violation threats flying.
- Aggressive doorbelling complaints: The strategy of “aggressive doorbelling” that very well could propel incumbent Kshama Sawant through the Primary and help her keep her D3 seat on the Seattle City Council is also, apparently, one of the most controversial elements of this summer’s election — at least, if you measure controversy by the CHS inbox that is. CHS has received multiple reports and complaints about Sawant campaign workers inside apartment and condo buildings across the Hill and District 3. “Kshama Sawant broke into my apartment building,” is the subject line on the latest. “When I opened my door, there was a tall, blonde man in a red vest who asked me if I wanted to learn about Kshama Sawant. I said no and asked him how he got into the building. ‘Oh, we have other supporters in the building.’ Shutting the door, I told him that I had voted for Sawant and was not interested in speaking,” the complainant writes. For the Sawant campaign, bringing its messages to renters with good, old-fashioned human contact is key. “Our campaign’s experience has been that rent control is a bold policy measure that’s overwhelmingly popular among working people in District 3, and is especially relevant to apartment dwellers,” a campaign spokesperson tells CHS. “Renters are more likely to be low-income, younger people, and people of color, and often less represented in elections. With the million-dollar corporate PACs ready to flood the election with misinformation, it’s vital our volunteers reach out to every registered voter.” The rep also points out that Sawant also fought for legislation requiring landlords to provide voter registration forms to new tenants.
- Ethics complaint quashed: Another D3 challenger has sloughed off a round of criticism. Capitol Hill Pride, the tiny group of original organizers of the Broadway Pride weekend street festival who lost their permit for the event in the face of criticism from city officials and the neighborhood’s business community, took a swipe at Egan Orion this week with an ethics violation complaint against the D3 challenger. Orion, whose PrideFest took over the street festival making him the seeming arch nemesis of Capitol Hill pride organizer Charlette Lefevre, was accused of making “false misleading statements” over “saving” the festival. The complaint also nicked Orion for information in his campaign marketing materials. “Additionally, Egan is also falsely claiming and implying on his website and in media his position as Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is active when in fact the chamber closed during his directorship due to lack of funds / bankruptcy in May of this year,” the complaint read. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission took only days to respond. “We have reviewed your complaint and have determined that it does not merit any further investigation,” they write. “Even taking your complaint on its face and the facts you allege as being accurate there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct would constitute a violation of the Ethics Code.” “I have no response to this claim except to say the city asked us to step in to maintain the event after the previous organizer violated the terms of her permit,” Orion said of the dismissal. “We are proud of the work we’ve done on PrideFest Capitol Hill and thank Charlette for her many years of service to the community.”
- Also on the ballot: CHS has mostly been D3 obsessed, but don’t forget that there are a few other important issues on the August ballot:
There are only 20 days left until the ballot drop boxes close at 8:00 PM on August 6th. That means D3 voters and others have less than 500 hours left to choose among the six candidates hoping to make it through the Primary and onto the General Election in November.
As ballots are heading out today, candidates switch into the highest gears to stay top of mind with voters — particularly in a crowded race where five candidates are challenging Kshama Sawant for the District 3 City Council seat.
“Once ballots are out, voters start paying attention, and there’s a mad rush to get in front of them while they’re paying attention, but before they vote,” said Ben Anderstone, a Seattle-based political consultant. “Because not even the liveliest campaign can contact every likely voter in-person, things like mailers become incredibly important.” Continue reading
DeWolf and other challengers in D3 are holding gatherings to collect more support like this “a #DemocracyVoucher / Candidate Meet & Greet” gathering at a home on Capitol Hill (Image: Elect DeWolf)
On a long, wood table at Optimism Brewing Company Thursday night sat a makeshift box decked out in pamphlets talking about Zachary DeWolf and his campaign’s purple stickers, which were also being worn by many of the few dozen supporters that ranged from union members from Teamsters 174 and Ironworkers Local 86 to sitting at-large council members Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González .
“Put your Democracy Vouchers right in here,” Mosqueda implored, holding up the box.
As attendees sipped beers and ate appetizers, González called out the only candidate in the District 3 race not taking part in the Democracy Voucher program: Council member Kshama Sawant .
“Zachary is going to be accountable to this community in this room and in this district,” González said. “You know who he is going to take his words from? It’s not going to be a committee in New York I can tell you that much.”
“The Democracy Voucher program is a beautiful thing,” she added of the measure held up as constitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court (PDF) earlier in the day after being approved by voters at the ballot in 2015.
In the city’s most expensive city council race where loads of PAC cash are coming into play, the Democracy Vouchers are living up to the ultimate test, powering the D3 challengers and creating even stronger reasons for the candidates to get out into the community and meet constituents. Continue reading
Cary Moon is backing incumbent — and Mayor Durkan nemesis — Kshama Sawant
While CHS is breaking all sorts of rules around “horse race journalism,” let’s talk about a couple more big endorsements sure to further shape the field in the District 3 race where the candidates can say lots of similar things about homelessness, safety, and development but the proof might just be in what bedfellows they keep. Don’t worry — we’ll get back to the issues soon.
But in the race, the Broadway Business Improvement Area’s Egan Orion is making big gains in the back stretch. Wednesday, the Seattle Times — it’s a newspaper that covers the city of Seattle that a few people around Capitol Hill might still read — endorsed Orion as their horse — or dog — in the race:
Orion rightly says District 3 needs a council member who is less dogmatic and committed to listening to all sides. “It’s not us versus them; it’s just us,” he told this board. Indeed. Vote Orion in District 3.
(Image: MLK Labor)
One District 3 candidate just won big-time Seattle business support. And these candidates — all of them — just failed to get the backing of the influential 43rd District Democrats. Now this D3 candidate just struck a major blow in the fight thanks to support from the county’s labor council.
MLK Labor announced Wednesday night it has given its support in the D3 primary to school board member Zachary DeWolf. Continue reading
Orion at his campaign announcement this spring on Broadway
Calling it a “huge” moment in his campaign that will “shape the race going forward,” District 3 candidate Egan Orion has won the endorsement — and the financial backing powered by Vulcan, Amazon, and Expedia — of CASE, the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
“They like a lot of Seattle voters are looking for pragmatic folks to get on the council,” Orion said. “Somebody who can work with all sorts of different groups.”
The pro-business and anti-street disorder CASE — the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy — announced its 2019 primary endorsements Wednesday morning.
Orion said he will not take campaign contributions from business PACs — but the group is likely to be a big spender on his behalf.
Tuesday night, Orion came in dead last in a vote to win the key endorsement of the 43rd District Democrats on a night when none of the challengers rose to the occasion despite a polarizing incumbent in Kshama Sawant.
Orion said CASE’s choice positions him as the best candidate to face off with Sawant. “She’s framed her campaign as her a binary choice between workers and big business,” he said. “I see things in a much more complex way.”
CASE says it endorses candidates who “demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the quality of life and economic opportunities for all Seattleites” on four core issues: Continue reading
It was Sawant vs. DeWolf Tuesday night — and nobody came out on top
The one time council member Kshama Sawant didn’t want a no endorsement result she got it as the 43rd District Democrats failed to reach agreement on a single District 3 candidate with a standing-room crowd at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall Tuesday night. After two ballots, the attendees were unable to come to an agreement on an endorsement, even when the field was whittled down from the six candidates to Seattle Public Schools Board member Zachary DeWolf and Sawant.
This decision signals a splintered electorate where none of the five challengers have truly seized the mantle in taking on a polarizing incumbent and that anything could happen in the next two months before the August top-two primary. It also could be a sign of things to come in a summer of political races featuring an unprecedentedly huge field of candidates.
The first ballot Tuesday was inconclusive, leaving DeWolf and Sawant to duke it out on a second round. The All Home King County staffer received votes on 46% of ballots in the first set, while the incumbent was on 42%.
“These kids have hope and they cannot wait for us any longer to act,” said DeWolf, catching his breath after arriving a few minutes late to speak as he was running from another school graduation ceremony. “Please do not let them into a world where people are sleeping outside, where people are going hungry, where our cities crumbling because of the climate crisis. We owe it to these kids to deliver results so that they can be proud of the world that they’re living in.”
Unlike in last month’s contentious 37th District Democrats endorsement process, which resulted in a complicated ‘no consensus’ decision after three and a half hours and four ballots, the 43rd’s Democratic Party allows for the endorsement of a candidate outside of the party, such as Sawant of Socialist Alternative. Continue reading