Before vote results were announced at Jess Spear’s election night party last week, Socialist Alternative staff were already preparing for 2015. Next to the event stage, organizers were placing red stickers on a large map of the newly formed City Council District 3, marking where volunteers would distribute a new Kshama Sawant-focused newsletter around Capitol Hill and the Central Seattle district.
It was an early look at the ground game already underway for Sawant’s City Council race next year. It was also an early look at the newsletter you can start expecting to show up on your doorstep every month.
Spear lost handily on election night in her race for the 43rd legislative district seat, but things are looking better for Sawant in District 3. In a recent poll by EMC Research, Sawant had a 61% favorable rating in District 3, the highest rating among current council members within each of their respective home districts.
Citywide, Sawant had a 50% favorability rating, the second highest rating after council member Nick Licata. A quarter of respondents also said Licata would be their first choice for an at large seat, but Sawant did not make the top four.
In last year’s council race, Sawant garnered over 58% of the vote in District 3 and did even better within Capitol Hill. Richard Conlin, the incumbent she displaced, did pick up strong majorities in District 3’s wealthier neighborhoods of Madison Park, Broadmoor, and Madrona. That could translate into some big checks cut for the right Sawant opponent and leverage against Sawant’s refusal to accept corporate donations. However, Sawant and Socialist Alternative have run successful grassroots fundraising campaigns in the past, and have accumulated supporters far beyond Seattle.
Sawant got more favorable news last week when potential Distrcit 3 candidate Alison Holcomb announced she is directing a new anti-mass incarceration campaign with the ACLU. Holcomb, a Capitol Hill resident and author of Washington state’s I-502 pot law, told CHS in August that she was considering a run against Sawant.
No candidate has actually filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission for District 3 (Sawant has filed for the election, but listed her position as undecided). Publicola recently identified a few potential candidates, including Equal Rights Washington director Rod Hearne and ID/Chinatown neighborhood advocate Don Blakeney. Two-time city council challenger Bobby Forch said he was also considering a run. The three did not return CHS calls for comment on this story.
Next year will be the first elections for city council under the new districts system approved by Seattle voters last year. All nine council members will be up for election in the race for seven district seats and two at-large seats.
Seattle District 3 includes Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District as well as the heavily residential, homeowner-dominated neighborhoods of Madison Park, Madrona, and Montlake. Critics of the boundaries have argued that the map was drawn up based on irrelevant geographic boundaries that disenfranchised denser neighborhoods by splitting them apart.
District supporters have promised greater accountability from elected officials. For many that will mean having a one stop complaint-line for any issue, instead of having to look up which council member chairs the relevant committee.
You can check out the Seattle District 3 Facebook group to keep track of issues — and possible candidates — in D3.