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Rent control and a statewide $15 minimum wage are top priorities for 43rd district challenger 

DSCN1631For the second election in a row, Rep. Frank Chopp will face a firebrand socialist challenger for his 43rd legislative district seat.

Following the successes of her lead roles in the 15 Now campaign and Kshama Sawant’s City Council run, Jess Spear officially announced her candidacy to unseat the influential speaker of the house Wednesday in an appearance on Capitol Hill.

Spear, a 32-year-old climate scientist, will run as a candidate backed by Socialist Alternative, the same party that helped elect Sawant last year.

“I and Socialist Alternative have proven we can win, we have proven results,” Spear said, speaking alongside Sawant at Seattle Central College. “I’m running to give a voice to renters in Capitol Hill that are facing skyrocketing rent. I’m running to give a voice to bus riders that are facing drastic cuts.”

Spear, who filed paperwork for her candidacy last week, said she would fight for a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage, closing corporate tax loopholes (including rescinding last year’s multi-billion dollar Boeing tax break), and work to lift the state ban on local rent control. She harshly criticized Chopp for being too closely aligned with the state’s major corporations and too out of touch with the district’s liberal Capitol Hill voter base. “Frank Chopp is Mr. Olympia,” she said.

ChoppEarlier this year Chopp supported House Democrats when they introduced a $12 an hour minimum wage proposal, but the bill died in committee.

After taking lead roles in two of Sawant’s campaigns, including her failed attempt to unseat Chopp in 2012, Spear is certainly aware of the challenge ahead. While Chopp is considered a crucial middle-of-the-road deal broker in Olympia, critics say he’s become vulnerable in his ultra-progressive 43rd district. And while he beat Sawant with 71% of the vote in 2012, it was a unprecedented showing for a challenger. Socialist Alternative leaders say the campaign proved the issues championed by Sawant, and now Spear, were more mainstream than conventional wisdom suggested — and they’re even more mainstream today.

That’s not to say Chopp doesn’t have his own, albeit less daring, progressive causes. As the founder of a housing and emergency food bank non-profit that eventually became Solid Ground, Chopp has prioritized funding for low-income housing and expanded state health care coverage since being elected in 1994.

Meanwhile, Spear, who will turn 33 this fall, remains a leader in the 15 Now campaign, whose members recently began gathering signatures to get a $15 an hour charter amendment on the ballot in November. The effort was launched after Mayor Ed Murray released his minimum wage plan, which called for five and seven year phase-ins for small businesses as well as tip and health care credits, allowing business to count those amounts towards wages.

“These workers can’t wait till 2025. The mayor’s proposal is a step forward but it falls short of what workers need by adding unnecessary delays of 3, 5 or even 10 years before getting up to an inflation adjusted $15,” Sawant said in a statement.

Sawant’s proposal, which would need more than 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot, calls for an immediate $15 an hour wage for large businesses and a three-year phase-in for small businesses. Depending on how things play out, Seattle 43rd District voters may be considering Spear and the 15 Now initiative on the same ballot later this year.

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19 thoughts on “Rent control and a statewide $15 minimum wage are top priorities for 43rd district challenger 

  1. “I and Socialist Alternative have proven we can win, we have proven results,” Spear said, speaking alongside Sawant at Seattle Central College.
    And have proven that you have horrible grammar

    • Of course not. The money to pay for all this comes from the sky and the earth mother, not from property owners.

      Besides, if you’re a property owner, you probably stole that property from some underclass. You’ve got to pay more attention to the violence inherent in the system…

  2. Won’t the $15/hour make rent control a moot point? Everyone will be making enough to live wherever they want…or are they saying that $15/hour still isn’t a living wage?

  3. The snarky “get a jerb” comments on this thread aside –

    An actual serious question – why should the voters of our District trade being represented by the most powerful pol in Olympia for a newbie far left firebrand that will have exactly zero juice in Olympia?

  4. I consider myself a progressive, however Sawant and the growing support of Socialist parties is a bit woriesome. A $15 minimum wage needs to be studied a bit more. I will make cost of living more for a majority of people. Prices of goods and services will increase. People who currently make minimum wage and slightly above will be the only winners. Anyone who currently makes $15 or more an hour will be the losers due to cost increases.

    • the math and studies have been done time and again. EVERY time there’s even a 15 cent increase, the Repugnicians bitch and moan about how it’s going to destroy America and jack the cost of products out of reach and IT DOESN’T.

      yes, we’ll lose a few businesses if we just slam it into place 6 months from now, but in reality, if that’s all it takes to push a business over the edge, it wasn’t doing well anyway. Sorry.

      • you understand the difference between a $0.15 increase and one of over $5, right? you aren’t really comparing apples to apples.

        and by your rationale, if all it takes is a few hundred dollars a month increase in rent to drive you off capitol hill; then maybe you should find a smaller town with a cheaper cost of living.

        we can’t protect one group at the expense of another. which seems to be the party line of the $15 NOW camp. “pay me more NOW no matter who else it hurts – because i’m entitled to it.”

      • You’re a liberal so what do you know about running a business? Seriously. Do you have any experience running your own business? At all?

        I love how dim-witted liberals, who have no idea how to run a business, let alone how much money it takes to actually start a business, seem to think they know all about it.

        That why people like you don’t run businesses. You literally have no idea how to do it or how much work it takes. Go smoke another joint and continue hanging out with your friend’s trashing capitalism.

  5. Can’t wait to see this self-assured person run. She is going to get her ass handed to her. I have met so many people who weren’t really paying attention when they voted for Sawant and now say…..WTF was I thinking?

  6. All I need to know is that Socialist backs her up…I don’t need to read anymore, the answer is NO! I’ll vote for whoever is opposing her…

    Can’t wait to vote that Socialist outta office in the next election.

  7. You can’t cap rent while driving up minimum wage. You’re essentially trying to have the bottom paid people receive more, which inflates cost of goods so owners can pay employees. With this inflation EVERYTHING will increase INCLUDING rent. Now if you cap rent, more people will be able to afford housing and quantity of homes will have to increase…..but wait, then cap.hill complains about increasing of apartment buildings in the area. Liberal cap hill citizens should take an economic class and learn about the impact of their decisions before trying to spread money from the top percentile, OR MOVE.

  8. Pingback: Capitol Hill’s longtime Olympia powerbroker Chopp faces Socialist Alternative in search of 11th term | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

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