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32+ things CHS heard during the District 3 candidates forum

IMG_9724IMG_9751There weren’t many fireworks, but the crowd sure was fired up for the first ever candidate forum for the newly created District 3 race. All five candidates seeking to represent Capitol Hill and the Central District at City Hall gathered before a standing room only crowd Tuesday night to answer questions on a wide range of topics, including crime, affordable housing, and transportation.

There was no back-and-forth or debating among the candidates — in fact, candidates clapped for each other on multiple occasions and rarely addressed one another. Occasional boos and hisses from the crowd came mostly when a candidate spoke out against rent control, a key part of City Council member Kshama Sawant’s platform.

Despite being the de-facto incumbent in the race, Sawant faced no challenges to her two year record on City Council. It would have been a tough room to do so. Sawant supporters packed the space and were told several times by moderators to hold their applause.

Organized by the 43rd District Democrats, the event was unusually energetic and well attended by both voters and media for a City Council forum. You can see a raw play-by-play by scrolling though #43SeaD3 or watch a video of the event here.

Highlights: Sawant on housing and rent control | Banks opening | Lightning round waterfront tunnel and transit levy

Most of the event, held at 19th and Madison’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church, featured questions from moderators Josh Feit of PubliCola and Erica Barnett of The C. is for Crank, and included questions submitted by the audience.

Two lightning rounds had candidates answer questions by holding up “yes” or “no” placards, or a box of frozen waffles, which gave them 10 seconds to explain their reason for waffling on the issue.

Sawant is leading the fundraising race, with nearly $82,000 raised as of May 11th. She also has the lowest average contribution size at $110 — a testament to the candidate’s grassroots approach. Pamela Banks has raised the second most in the race at $48,500, closely followed by Rod Hearne as Morgan Beach and Lee Carter trail far behind.

Another candidate forum is scheduled to take place June 8th, organized by residents of Madison Park and Madison Valley.

CHS Notes:

  • In her opening statement, Sawant touted her role in passing a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle, her choice to not accept a wage above an “average worker’s wage,” and refusal to take corporate donations for her campaign.
  • Hearne received no applause for touting his role in fighting for marriage equality in the state, a key accomplishment for his candidacy.
  • Calling himself an “informational candidate,” Carter said he was not seeking votes., rather he wanted to promote a return to neighborhood government and senior housing.
  • “Activism for women’s issues … brought me into city politics,” said Beach, who sits on the Seattle Women’s Commission and was an organizer for Planned Parenthood.
  • Banks was the only candidate to use her opening to talk about creating more jobs in Seattle, particularly for young African American’s in the district. She also called SPD “far from perfect.”
  • Lightning round roundup: All candidates supported building a municipally owned broadband system, a personal income tax for the city, cap and trade or a carbon tax in the state, and using the city’s bonding authority to build more affordable housing,
  • Hearne, Banks, and Beach opposed rent control while Sawant and Carter supported it.
  • Sawant was the only candidate to put up her “yes” placard for stopping work on the Bertha tunnel project.
  • All candidates waffled on expanding trolley transportation in the city and all opposed a school board appointed by the mayor.
  • When asked about the job Mayor Ed Murray is doing, Sawant said “he’s doing a good job for big developers.”


  • “We need an up-zone expansion” that includes preservation, Beach said. “The Pike/Pine corridor is a good example of this.”
  • “Rent control does not work,” said Banks, who cited San Francisco and New York City as places where the policy has failed. “We need people moving up and out.”
  • “We absolutely need to fight for rent control,” said Sawant, calling it a “veritable lifeline” for working people in other cities.
  • Nothing if not consistent, Carter said neighborhoods needed to decide how to create affordable housing. “There is no single solution to housing in the city,” he said. Carter also called for all development in the city to cease until the new council is seated.
  • Sawant: “There’s this notion that you can represent big business and working people. You cannot.”
  • Banks repeatedly called for the city to support more youth apprenticeship and job programs.


  • Banks: “All forms of transit do not belong on all streets.”
  • Sawant and Carter were the only two candidates to say they had not taken public transportation four times in the past month.
  • Banks called for a return of Metro’s downtown ride-free zone.
  • When discussing how to fund transportation, Hearne said it should not just rely on transit riders. “If you own a car you’re in the transportation business,” he said.
  • Beach said kids should be able to ride public busses for free.
  • Praising the work of Seattle Subway, Hearne said the city’s light rail system should include stops on 23rd Ave at Union and Jackson.


  • Beach: “Let’s get people who live here to work on the police force.”
  • On the issue of SPD reform, Sawant called for an elected community oversight board with full oversight powers. “We cannot have the police showing up as an occupying force,” she said.
  • As part of the Seattle Women’s Commission, Beach pushed SPD to work through a backlog of rape kits that had never been DNA tested and praised the department for heir work.
  • Carter called SPD a “mercenary force” because many officers do not live in the neighborhoods they patrol.
  • Banks: “We need to make sure our captains in our precincts stay longer than a month.”
  • Speaking in opposition to replacing the aging youth detention center 12th and Alder, Sawant said the city should focus on putting more money into youth job programs.


LGBTQ/Women’s Rights

  • Hearne and Banks both called for a repeal of I-200, a measure which banned public affirmative action policies in the state.
  • When asked about which committee she would chair if elected, Beach said Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity because “it’s time to do more about it than tack it on like an after thought.”
  • Banks, who called for gender neutral bathrooms in City Hall, also joked that it would cut the line for the ladies room.

Meanwhile, in a poll of CHS readers prior to Tuesday’s forum, respondents showed the most support for Banks and Sawant. We’ve listed the campaign priorities that most defined the selections below:Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 2.45.08 PM

The candidate columns represent the % of respondents that included the line item in their responses about important issues in the campaign. Comparing the results for Banks and Sawant shows affinities for affordability and civil rights for the incumbent in comparison to her challenger. Meanwhile, Banks might want to focus on public safety issues and economic development to really appeal to her base while trying to find some common ground on issues in the middle like education and homelessness.

The candidate columns represent the % of respondents that included the line item in their responses about important issues in the campaign. Comparing the results for Banks and Sawant shows affinities for affordability and civil rights for the incumbent in comparison to her challenger. Meanwhile, Banks might want to focus on public safety issues and economic development to really appeal to her base while trying to find some common ground on issues in the middle like education and homelessness.

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35 thoughts on “32+ things CHS heard during the District 3 candidates forum

  1. You say: “Hearne, Banks, and Beach opposed rent control while Sawant and Carter supported it.”

    And then you say: “Hearne was the only candidate to oppose rent control.”

  2. They were all candidates for the new DISTRICT 3 position, i.e. our local voice on the Council.

    Almost all of the issues discussed were wide-ranging and citywide. (or often Statewide!).

    There were no questions I recall about how the candidates would address our local issues or respond to constituents local needs and issues.

    Pamela Banks is the only candidate (that I recall) who even mentioned local, district issues.

    • The fact is most Seattle politicians are U.S. Senate wannabes. Sawant even gave a response to President Obama’s state of the union speech. Hopefully district elections will change this. Few third district issues were addressed. We are a diverse community with complex issues. We are not all minimum wage earners clammering for rent control.

  3. Again, please give some examples of local issues that you are concerned with that were not discussed otherwise these comments are empty complaints.

    • Crime, litter, dumpsters, police reform, the golf club incident, retail vacancies, extending street car on Broadway, micro housing would be examples. They may have touched on these, but need more discussion

    • Capitol Hill seems to attract more than its share of people with mental health or substance abuse problems. The neighborhood also has become a big draw for of a great number of drunken, violent people who come here and enrich a few bar owners while treating the rest of us to non-stop stupid noise, rude and violent and ignorant behavior, and drunk driving. So I would like to see a district candidate talk about taking some of the burden of dealing with these populations off our residents, possibly by taxing the few who benefit from their presence.

    • OH never mind, missed that part of the article. I wonder if the waffle company made a donation for that product placement – all the pictures have a little bit of waffle box.

  4. I’d be much happier with Sawant’s rabble-rousing if she would lay off the rent-control nonsense. Is there anywhere it hasn’t been a disaster? I don’t understand how anyone who knows anything about SF or NYC can possibly claim with a straight face that we should try the same thing here and expect it to help.

    • After living in New York, I completely agree that rent control has had many unintended consequences. It makes NO sense that a social worker who is struggling to survive on a $35,000 a year salary should have to pay twice the amount for the same apartment as a millionaire banker because of the year when she was born, moved to the city, or entered into the lease. Rent control laws must be drafted in a way that directly benefits working class people not just the privileged few who were lucky enough to sign leases when the law was first enacted.

  5. After watching the forum I came away a Beach supporter.

    My other takeaway is that Sawant supporters are assholes and it was a mistake to let them into a Democrats event.

    • You’re an idiot, Steve. Most of the “Sawant supporters” in the house that night were from the 43rd District Democrats. It was their own body that invited her because there’s a large contingent of Democrats for Sawant—their rules just preclude them from endorsing her.

      • It’s one thing to be wrong, but it’s something else entirely when you’re a jerk while being wrong. Sorry Steve, you’re wrong + you’re a jerk.

        I’ve been a member of the 43rd Ds for years and attended dozens of the candidate forums. In all of that time I’ve never experienced the type of intimidating and un-democratic behavior from the crowd that I witnessed on Tuesday night. Anyone who has been involved in our organization knows that it was not our members who were responsible for that behavior. For you to suggest otherwise shows how little you know.

      • 43rd Member, my name calling was directed at the other Steve, who “started it,” not you. So, sorry if you took offense to that. Firstly, the 43rd District deserves a lot of praise for doing the right thing and holding a public forum with all candidates. That was a truly awesome example of democracy.

        However, in that action, you can’t wash your hands of anything you found offensive and “un-democractic.”

        I observed people in all sections of that audience cheering, booing, etc. It wasn’t relegated to one sect’s entourage. I sat behind 43rd members who were quite vocal. I have no clue what your organization looked like in the past, I just know what I saw—you can’t blame “Sawant supporters,” for whatever behavior offended you because Sawant supporters aren’t from one specific group.

        What you saw the other night was a movement of disenfranchised voters (from across the “liberal” spectrum) tired of a political establishment that fails to effectively address pressing crises in the city.

        If you want a room full of sycophants, by all means, insulate your party, expel Sawant supporters, exclude the public from your lightning round circle jerks and endorse your mayoral crony.

        If you want “democracy,” recognize that your constituency, along with many others across the district, are disenfranchised and demanding to be heard.

  6. Agreed, about Sawant supporters and Beach. Although letting her supporters in did allow others to see how they behave at a forum in which the candidates should be encouraged to express their views unencumbered by booing, hissing and prolonged cheering and applause. After all, aren’t we there to learn more about them, their opinions, positions, and priorities? This is made no easier by a subtle and not so subtle culture of intimidation created mostly be her vocal and at times rude supporters. I really thought she should have instructed her supporters to be more respectful and refrain from excessive clapping, etc. By doing so she may have allowed a more meaningful and respectful exchange of ideas. But frankly, her tone mirrors that of her supporters: loud, strident, and derisive.

    • I agree with Glenn in part:
      – I never clap at symphonies because I want to keep the silent harmonies in my heart. Enthusiastic Americans can be so unsophisticated! At city council meetings and town halls, Sawant has better discouraged her supporters from distracting from a thoughtful interchange. Next time, the debate mediator should clarify to the audience about the problem.

      I disagree with Glenn for two reasons:
      – This candidate forum wasn’t a symphony. I am not distracted from Sawant’s helpful advocacy and socialist message just because she has fervent volunteers and activists. I’m inspired that she clearly advocates for me as a voter.
      – The important thing was that I could hear the content of the debaters and connect to the political process. I encourage folks to stay involved.

      • The debate mediator did attempt at least twice to discourage excessive clapping, booing and hissing but to no avail. And the problem was clearly among Sawant supporters. I don’t want candidates discouraged from fully expressing their views at a candidate forum because they are booed while doing so. We may not apply symphony standards of behavior to these things (though i haven’t been to one of those lately), but can’t we encourage respectful disagreement?

    • Most of the “Sawant supporters” in the house that night were from the 43rd District Democrats. It was their own body that invited her because there’s a large contingent of Democrats for Sawant—their rules just preclude them from endorsing her.

      There’s a swell of supporters in the Democratic party because she more closely champions their ideals than other candidates.

      People are enthusiastic because she gets shit done and they’re reinvigorated by the political process and activated around issues that they know we can build a movement around and gain significant traction on. Sawant brings results.

      • When you find that one representative who speaks for all the black community, let me know their name.

        I highly doubt everyone in the black community supports Sawant. That’s being real. But, I know Black Immigrants and African Americans who support her. So, your assertion is false.

  7. Sawant has drunk almost all the SEIU Kool-Aid and it would not surprise me if they put up many of the “supporters” in the room. Sound like SEIU tactics. They bused in bodies for the March on Capitol Hill recently about min wage. Plus she is indeed a prime example of a nutty professor. The moderator should have really held the discussion to district issues.

    • All the unions and organizing groups involved in the minimum wage increase “bused” in workers for the rally. Perhaps it’s because so many workers in the city come from divergent areas, work in divergent areas and bus in themselves and don’t have autos to drive up to Capitol Hill.

      • By “bused in” I mean I walked past the buses with “Yakima” and other signs taped to the windshields. They had brought people in from out of town to make the crowd look bigger. “Local workers” were not “speaking.”

  8. The Sawant supporters we really rude to me and my friend. It was intimidation politics, not what I want to see up here on the hill or down in city hall. I hope this district can see through her and elect someone that talked/cares more about our issues up here. Banks and Beach seemed to get it for me.

  9. I live on Capitol Hill and I support Sawant. I walked there on my own two feet, no bus. I do agree with the opinion of there being rudeness from some of her supporters. Much like a packed concert or sport event, you’re going to have some annoying folks. I would just like to point out that there were many supporters there for her that acted appropriately.

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