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Round 2 of District 3 candidate forums a more scripted tussle in Madison Valley

This week’s second Council District 3 candidate forum was more scripted than the first but Kshama Sawant and Pamela Banks still managed to get in a tussle or two.

“Rent control is not the answer, it doesn’t generate units and it creates false hopes,” Banks said about her opponent’s signature campaign issue.

“Candidates who take campaign funds from companies like Vulcan show they could not create affordable housing,” Sawant said during one of her opportunities to punch back.

Sawant has been clear about her affordable housing goals including support for rent control, linkage fees, and city-developed housing. For Banks, who has served as public relations lead for the Department of Housing and Human Services and served on the board of organizations like Capitol Hill Housing, the affordability platform is more fluid though CHS discussed issues of homelessness and the soaring cost of living in Seattle with her earlier this year.

All five candidates gathered Monday night before a Madison Park/Madison Valley crowd Monday evening. Inside The Bush School’s expansive indoor gym, residents of District 3’s northeastern neighborhoods heard candidates run through the standard gamut of questions, plus a few neighborhood specific ones.

Unlike past forums, candidates were given many questions ahead of time and the crowd was noticeably more subdued.

Rod Hearne shared a cautionary personal story about the rapid changes on Capitol Hill when asked about how Seattle could accommodate hordes of new residents while keeping neighborhood character. Hearne, a marriage equality organizer and the race’s only gay candidate, said he was called an anti-homosexual slur last week while walking alone on Capitol Hill.

After the event, Hearne told CHS that he was walking near Summit and E Pike when one male in a group of “dude bros” called him a gay slur. After living on Capitol Hill for 10 years, Hearne said it was the first time he felt unwelcome as a gay man in the neighborhood. “It was like, Ok, this is real,” he said.

During May’s candidate forum at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the candidates hardly acknowledged one another. This time around it was Carter, a self-described “informational candidate,” who threw several jabs at incumbent Sawant, calling her dishonest for saying she was the only independent candidate not accepting corporate cash.

As with most public forums, there were a few missteps along the way including when Banks struggled to say what differentiated her from other candidates.

Facing a key local issue, candidates were asked if they supported the planned bus rapid transit line on E Madison. Beach said no, Hearne waffled, and all the others said yes.

And lest they forget how far the boundaries of District 3 actually extend, candidates were given this question: Capitol Hill and Central District get lots of attention, how will you represent needs for the entire District 3? The answers were mostly un-illuminating.

The forum came one night after Sawant’s massive Town Hall campaign rally, which featured a slate of local and international speakers.

The top two District 3 vote-getters in the August 4th primary will head to the general election in November. No additional District 3-focused forums have been announced. See the rest of CHS’s District 3 coverage here.

CHS Notes from Monday night’s forum:

  • As the only renter in the race, Beach said she worries every year if rent increases will force her to move. “I work for a nonprofit and I will never be able to buy a house in this neighborhood,” she said.
  • In addition to calling for residential rent control, Sawant said Capitol Hill’s storefront businesses should have their rents stabilized as well.
  • All candidates responded “no” when asked if Seattle Police respected protestor rights during this year’s May Day demonstrations.
  • None of the candidates rode a bus more than three times in the past week.
  • Beach made her call for Seattle to be the first U.S. city to reach gender pay equity.
  • Calling for a millionaires tax to fund mass transit and fees on big developers to fund city-owned housing, Sawant said “I want to live in a city where all people can live in dignity.”
  • Banks: “Unfortunately … we can’t stop people from coming here, we can’t put up a gate.”
  • Sawant: “Giant developers have run roughshod over neighborhoods.”
  • When asked about how they would work with other council members, Banks took a dig at Sawant by saying “you won’t get anywhere by belittling colleagues.”
  • Sawant’s response: “When we organize grassroots efforts, we get progressive legislation.”
  • “We cannot put every transportation mode on every street,” Banks said, adding that the city needed to invest more in road infrastructure. “You can lose a tire in some of the potholes we have right now.”
  • All candidates supported the mayor’s Vision Zero campaign to eliminate accidental pedestrian deaths and called on more work to be done to improve mobility for the disabled.
  • Sawant was the only candidate to call for more citizen oversight of the police department.

Here’s a look at the contributions reported through June 9th by the campaigns:

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39 thoughts on “Round 2 of District 3 candidate forums a more scripted tussle in Madison Valley

  1. Hi Bryan, I’m a little confused about the fundraising figures:

    The Public Disclosure Commission is reporting different cash figures than the Ethics and Elections Commission. Any thoughts on what may account for this difference?

    For example, EEC reports Pam Banks’ grand total, as of today, at: $48,433.73 (which does not include “recent” unvetted contributions of: $3,525.00)

    But, the PDC reports Pam Banks’ grand total, as of today, at: $94,698.73
    (PDC’s report located here:

    Both reports seem to cover relatively the same timeframe, but ECC’s report seems to have fewer entries for different dates than PDC’s. For example, PDC’s report lists these two entries, but ECC does not:
    LAKE UNION PARTNERS 2015-05-19 700

    Any thoughts on what might account for this difference in the two committees’ reports?

    Sawant’s totals between the two reports are closer in dollar amount. PDC: $97,509.75. ECC: $81,756.65 (which does not include “recent” unvetted contributions of: $23,270.42)

    • Both PDC and SEEC reports are due on the 10th. It looks like the Banks campaign filed their May PDC reports early, but still haven’t filed their SEEC reports.

      • It was reported that Sawant raised about $9K in New York (on her controversial trip where she missed a city council meeting to do fundraising for her campaign), but I’m not seeing contributions from New Yorkers (or other out-of state sources) that would reflect her raising $9K from out of state. I for one would like to see who these out-of-state donors are.

    • Hearne’s are close but they’re not complete. I’m on this list but only half of my contribution is listed. I suspect across the board for all candidates there may be inaccuracies.

  2. I hope that bit about none of the candidates riding the bus more than three times last week means that they walk or ride their bike to work, or work from home. When our representatives don’t use public transit we often get less than ideal outcomes in that arena.

    • This is a great point. Would it be possible to follow up and find out how many days a week each candidate gets around using something other than a car, meaning foot, bike, bus, rail, etc.? I’m more concerned that a candidate understand the challenges of trying to get around without a car than that she specifically use the bus.

    • I’m glad you pointed this out, David, because I was going to as well. I cannot fathom that these candidates don’t ride the bus!

    • Excellent point. I solely walk and ride the bus. With the new construction on 23rd Ave for (at least) 8 months, my commute completely changed as of Monday. My vote is for a candidate who understands our local district 3 issues as well as the need for public transit city-wide. I can’t afford a car and neither can my housemates (one of whom is currently injured and couldn’t walk far or bike if she wanted to.) Public transit is essential for those of us who live in CD/Capitol Hill and it needs to be improved.

  3. 1. so ALL the candidates are not commuters. I guess some of them probably NEVER take bus more than three times a month. How do they know the real life living here?

    2. Ms Beach you lost our vote. Do you know how many commuters along Madison corridors and how the buses stuck in the traffic?

  4. I am considering calling the police on Sawant and her campaign for vandalizing city property with her populist banners. I am curious if anybody else finds this to be an issue. Sawant is a newcomer to the city that clearly does not respect our traditional respect towards nature and our resources. Littering is just one small sign of how undesirable she is as a political figure and as a person.

    Lenin and Stalin started out by disseminating literature and harmless posters. They went on to murder millions in the name of socialism. I would watch out for this Sawant.

    • Lenin and Stalin were two different people with different goals. Your reductive… whatever it is… just blew my mind.

      Before you get wadded up about campaign posters, you should take a walk up Pike/Pine and check out the handy work of Poster Giant, the other street marketing companies, and any related venue/artist/musicians who have been violating the SDOT rules ever since the poster ban was struck down.

      “…respect our traditional respect towards nature and our resources…” You referring to the Duwamish people?

    • I don’t know about the banners but her overly zealous distributors of campaign materials hung on doorknobs ticks me off. Her worker trespassed on private property that we have intentionally blocked off from the street and which is a back entrance to our building that is most definitely removed from the street. It’s bad enough to have to dispose of her “advertisements” around the front door of our building but trespassing and quite literally, breaking into our back entrance really makes me angry.

  5. Sawant is a nut and those who live in District 3 should remember if they elect her they won’t have access to her and real life municipal matters in the district will be neglected in favor of generating lime lite on minimum wage, public protests, and other items on her agenda. And she has been completely missing from the African American community and their concerns. And the super entitled young white guys and gals hell bent on “speaking for the oppressed’ who follow Sawant will also come with if the district is unfortunate enough to pick her.

  6. Sawant has my vote! I had been thinking about Banks, but I can’t support someone who doesn’t support an income tax. Income tax is the best way we can get the wealthy tech employees to support our city since they don’t seem to be making any major investments on their own for public transit or equitable low income housing. I’m for income tax, millionaires tax, rent control (I think…still on the fence about that one), and giving a voice to women of color. Go Sawant!

    • Also, when I walk around Volunteer Park and see the sorts of houses that have Banks signs up, it makes it extremely hard for me to believe that she will be working for the average wage earner.

      • Sawant is great for the average worker if that individual intends to rely on welfare and handouts for their entire life. Socialism is a system that rewards those who contribute less by punishing those who contribute more. Sawants narrative is that many in society will never be able to get ahead because the greedy capitalists want to forever hold them down. Not only is this antagonistic stance not good for overall economic progress but it hurts those that espouse such views the most in that they can now easily play the victim card instead of focusing on personal growth.

      • Politicians can and should work for all of their constituents. One can work for the wage earners of all incomes, retired, children, disabled and dare I say, the wealthy. There is common ground by those who care about their communities, quality of life, infrastructure, transit, education, crime and more. Sawant has made it clear that she works for only one group: Those who she has annointed as the oppressed and victimized. Come election time, many of these will tell her where to put it, with their vote for one of the other 4. Sawant has the misfortune of running in a district of people who value the diversity of their district, appreciate their neighbors of all stripes, and by and large have worked hard for what they have and don’t want a self-described socialist who would socialize ‘redistribute’ their property and companies to others. Sawant is the real deal, and scary as hell.

      • HAHA! Seattle’s top regressive tax system, growing unaffordability, skyrocketing rents, insane gentrification, and palm greasing establishment politicians have done a great job thus far of looking out for everyone.

        Keep deluding yourself. Hold on to your coin purses. The socialists are coming for ya!

        There’s no realistic way socialism will overtake Seattle. Why so scared?

        What is realistic is having a strong progressive council person move that Overton window further left so that your imaginary egalitarian Seattle government can get closer to something resembling equality.

    • Are you misinformed or purposefully dishonest? Banks has consistently been on record as supporting an income tax.

      The reason that I’m not voting for Sawant is her advocacy for rent control. No other single issue in all of economics has been as studied. And all of the studies are consistent in showing that rent control ultimately hurts renters. It’s a great topic for Sawant to fool voters to get elected, but it shows me that she’s more interested in getting elected than actually helping to lower rents.

      • I believed for many years (originating from the wrong side of the red line) that the wealthy around Volunteer Park were staid conservatives who were looking out for their own interests (or lost in a coddled legacy), until I started working for some of them and heard their personal stories and accompanying growth.
        I find the struggle to impact fairness and understanding is dynamic and effective when those with resources become infused with truthful passion.

      • I agree, and I think this implication that the well-off automatically don’t care about lower income or less fortunate is nonsense. By that line of reasoning, should we then conclude Sawant’s own spouse doesn’t support her politics, since he’s a (probably) highly paid tech worker? (You know–just like those tech workers everyone is so fond of demonizing).

      • Sorry if I am misinformed. I’m not being purposefully dishonest. The caption of the first picture says “Banks was the only candidate to say she wouldn’t support a city income tax.” So either you are misinformed, Banks has changed her mind, or CHS got the caption totally wrong (and many people, including myself are misinformed.) I want to give Banks a chance if she truly supports our most marginalized and oppressed (Iow wage workers, LGBT, people of color.) Homelessness is on the rise and this city seems to be catering more and more to the tech crowd. I know Sawant supports the 99% and if elected, Banks hopefully would too.

      • The question was about a “city income tax,” not a state income tax. I asked Banks to clarify just to be sure that’s why she voted “no.” Here’s what she said:

        “I fully and enthusiastically support a state income tax on the wealthiest households as a way to address our regressive tax structure and reduce the burden on working people. But I cannot say I support something that is illegal or impossible at the city level. It’s not how we have an honest conversation with voters.”

      • Are there any examples elsewhere of a “city income tax?” I thought income taxes were always on a state basis, and of course federal.

  7. I am one of those wealthy people near Volunteer Park who will vote for Banks. I was not always that way. I started out like many, working basic jobs while going to school, studying hard and making a fine life for myself and family. And I give to my community. I pay taxes on my home in excess of 20K per year. I employ over a 100. And I pay a heck of a lot of taxes – well in excess of 35% of my income, and a considerable actual number. I don’t pay income tax in Seattle and WA because it is not levied, but if it were, I would pay it. And if it was imposed, I would hope that anyone who pays Federal taxes would also pay these, not just the ‘rich’. Sawant says tax the rich. Well surprise folks, we are, have been, and will be. Thank us for paying into systems that we barely use relative to our contributions, such as criminal justice, education, infrastructure and more. Thank us for the taxes that build the low income housing and provide the safety net for others. Thank us for our contributions to non-profits in arts, social services and environment, that help make Seattle a place worth living in. If we live on the Hill, we are by default, sharing our lives with our community, not ensconced on the water or a gated subdivision somewhere.

    I am voting for Banks. She represents the community, does not seethe hate, class warfare and anger, and reflects far more than Sawant, the perspective and views of those in the District.

    • I would just like to point out that just because you don’t directly engage in a system such as the criminal-justice system, doesn’t mean that you don’t benefit from it. One could make a strong argument that you benefit from it very much. You pay taxes instead of security guards. Its better for most all of us this way, but it far more better for you who has much to defend. Similar arguments can be made for education, etc. I think it is good to keep in mind that a political system is made by elites and run to benefit elites as a general rule. The deal that is supposed to mollify the broader populace in the US is that we all get a shot at being elites (or our kids becoming elites, or grandkids).

      I personally agree on being leary of Sawant’s Hatred. I would add that folks that see the world as being explained by one single unified theory often demonstrate an intellectual rigidity that can cause a great deal of harm. Her perscriptive solutions and reductive diagnoses turn me off.

    • Thanks, Lowell….yours is a great commentary of why “the rich” (which usually means “you have more money than I do”) should not be so demonized, as they often are by many in our neighborhood.

      I can’t quote any statistics, but I believe that on a national basis the top 5-10% pay the vast majority of the funds which the IRS collects. I’m not in that category, but appreciate those who are for the contributions they make, both literal and in other ways.

      • That’s because 47% (remember that number from 3 years ago?) don’t make enough money to pay income taxes. Do you not consider owning a 2 million dollar home like Lowell admits to as being rich instead of just unfairly envied? Do you not think that the top 10% that own 75% of the wealth should pay the vast majority of taxes? When do I get thanks and appreciation for creating wealth through my labor?

      • Tired old stats to be sure, but here is a run down of the tax burden in 2013. Tax rates with the Medicare tax has only made the spread wider.

        The top 1% pay 30% of the Federal tax burden, and are taxed at an average that year of 35.5%. The middle 20% earner is taxed at 13.8%.

        The bottom 20% receive tax income back.

        This is clearly a progressive tax system at the Federal level. Property taxes likely are progressive to the degree that more affluent have more property. Sales tax is not progressive in that the less affluent spend more of their income in taxable items.

    • Haha. Thank you for all you do oh great master on the hill! In all your benevolence and compassion! May I kiss thy ring? Perhaps get you more wine? Annoint thy feet?

      This is hands down the most megalomaniacal post I’ve ever seen on CHS.

      • Two people.

        One of them studies hard, works hard, and creates something for humanity. In exchange for their hard work and contribution, they get to profit somewhat from their efforts.

        The other does not innovate but may work hard in a low skill job that is easily automated. They hopefully produce greater value for an organization than their wage but do not contribute anything other than their daily production. In exchange for their work they should also profit.

        However, our current system takes part of the profit of the first and puts it in the pocket of the second through our numerous handout programs. And you think this is fair because?

      • As long as some people don’t have the opportunities to succeed, this is fair. Our public schools are failing. Low income neighborhoods have high crime rates, poor air and water quality, lack of public infrastructure, and a host of other problems. The second person may have been born into a zip code (highest indicator of success vs. “failure”) without opportunities, or may be say, a woman, or person of color, who has to work harder than a straight white man just to get the same opportunities. If you’re a low wage worker, working in an “automated” position, you don’t even get the chance to innovate and pull yourself out of a low income situation without support from those who are making exponentially more for running the company.

        I’ve worked “automated” jobs and I now work at a 9-5 desk job. Believe me, the time I was working in a kitchen was much harder than what I do now.

      • I committed in your view the sin of candor, by sharing another side of the coin, and attempt to balance the haters here. Hardly megalomaniacal. I guess I dislike being reduced in a simplistic manner by those who believe that the affluent are somehow less human than others, and that they don’t pay into the system in significant ways, and help society. I was not always affluent and my work and life keeps me quite aware of the reality of the less fortunate, and the middle class among us. I agree with the poster who challenged me on my dismissing the value of the criminal justice and education systems. Both mean a great deal to society and my kids have benefited from the public and private educational systems and I have teachers in my family. It is just frustrating when Sawant engages in diatribes that are so one sided. We have a lot of problems in Seattle and society. I fail to see how Sawant will solve rather than further divide. Sorry my honest feedback offended you. If we were not anonymous here, over a beer we would likely find each other quite reasonable people, and I am reasonably confident you would change your view about me.

      • I wasn’t the one asking for praise for my benevolence or magnanimity—that was you. There’s a difference between trifling over a different opinion and calling someone out for their conceit.

        I will not have a beer with you, sir, not because I don’t think you’re a decent person, but because you have a lot to overcome around your privilege before enjoying we can both enjoy each other’s company.

        And to Reality Check—value in America (‘s capitalist economy) is not defined by what someone puts in or contributes, their level of hard work or study, or their contributions to society. If that were the case, social workers, teachers, garbage men, bus drivers would all be millionaires. Your thought experiment is myopic in that you seem to equate degree and variety of skill with value, and thus, a fast-food worker has little value to society (and only miniscule value to the corporations they work for). That’s not America.

        Value is derived by what can turn a profit, and by how much—not how hard or smart you work, or how many hours of study you put into your career/job. There was a time when American auto workers were lauded as skilled workers and manufacturing jobs considered the backbone of America. But when it became cheaper to produce cars elsewhere, or through automation, with more profit to be had, American laborers (and its manufacturing cities) were cast aside and forgotten.

        There will be a point in time when coders, software developers, web designers, etc. lose value in American society. When tech work becomes so commonplace everywhere else in the world, or automated, that these skills lose value to capitalists. What then? Do we resurrect the argument that those employees aren’t working or studying hard enough? That they should’ve had the foresight to learn a different trade or set of skills?

        The profit value American capitalists put on labor and work is what’s problematic with your scenario.

  8. Well, the beer is off since I am not sufficiently in touch with my privilege or so you think. Somehow I doubt that anyone is reading this old comment thread or post but I could not refrain from another response.

    First, I viewed my prior posts and see no place where I demean the value of others, or somehow claim that I am more deserving of my income and good luck than others. You have created a false dichotomy and attempt to put words into my mouth that were not uttered.

    You rightly point out that there is a disconnect between work, value and compensation. Investment bankers and professional hockey players make oodles more than school teachers. I don’t have a solution to this conundrum, other than some progressive taxes and safety nets for those in need. Regulating the excesses of the marketplace, rather than letting competition take place, is not the answer. But an even playing field and avoidance of monopolies and antitrust behaviors is in order.

    Whether wealth happens at the expense of others is an interesting question. To use an extreme, consider Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the Microsoft realm. They started a company that has incredible value and got paid accordingly when the rest of us in the world bid up the value of Microsoft. Their wealth vastly exceeds their consumptive abilities. They have a choice, once their wish for toys have been met, to pay massive inheritance taxes, or give it away while alive, which they do via their respective foundations.

    Sawant and her ilk would I imagine prefer to give Microsoft to their generally well-paid workers, or mandate lower prices for the products, and/or mandate a compensation cap. In my case, I have a much more modest enterprise, in a competitive arena, whose profits are distributed in a way that I negotiate with my team, reflecting risk, reward and other factors. I think that these decisions are best made by me. The value of the enterprise could easily be zero if those making key decisions lose interest, which would be the case if someone showed up and started telling me what to do with the company and its profits.

    You point to the future demise of the high paid tech worker. You are darn right. Unlike those service jobs like cleaners, drivers hospital workers, and some teachers, computer programming can be done today in China, Russia, Cuba, the Ukraine, or Vietnam for a heck of a lot less money and high quality, by motivated and educated people. The resulting product can be ‘shipped’ via the Internet, in seconds for free.

    I grew up in an era when America was on top and we had a disproportionate share of global wealth. The middle class enjoyed great lives, home ownership, and auto workers made a living wage. Now the best cars are designed elsewhere and made abroad or in domestic factories owned by foreign companies, and the workers make far less than their forebears.

    Others in the world are demanding their piece of global wealth. To the degree that productivity improves, we all gain (We no longer as a globe, spend the better part of the day feeding ourselves as was the case a century of two ago). To the degree there is a zero sum to be distributed, not only is there an effort to address this politically in the US, but there are others demanding their share. I think we as a nation will be fighting over a smaller pie.

    Sawant is fighting a losing struggle with herself and her thoughts. The rest of us are tired of hearing her speak.

    Time for a beer by myself.

    • Globalization as we’ve come to know it isn’t about creating competitive marketplaces for consumer benefit—it’s about allowing corporations to become their own nation-states so they can better exploit cheap, worldwide labor through alliances with oppressive regimes all in the name of profits. Perhaps you have more in common with socialism and Sawant (aside from the rhetoric you’ve heard from her critics and the media) than you think.

    • And relying on philanthropy to steer our investment in welfare and social services, versus a strong planned economy, is a sad dystopian nightmare.