City Council member — and de facto incumbent — Kshama Sawant and challenger Pamela Banks will take the stage at Seattle University’s Pigott Auditorium Sunday night at 7:30 PM.
Town Hall, Seattle Channel, and Seattle University present Seattle City Council Debate: District 3 Kshama Sawant and Pamela Banks
7:30PM, Sunday, October 4, 2015 Pigott Auditorium at Seattle University Free Doors open at 6:30 pm. Because this event is televised live, audience members are asked to take their seats by 7:25 pm for the 7:30 pm program. This event is free, but registration is required. No late seating.
You can also watch via the Seattle Channel’s live broadcast.
There is no theme or specific topics listed for the event and moderators will be asking questions tweeted to #seacouncil.
Erica C. Barnett of The C is for Crank will be moderating the forum, along with community moderators Jazmin Williams, founder of Rouge Lioness, and Danielle Askini, executive director of Gender Justice League. You can reserve free tickets here. The Seattle Channel will also broadcast the debate.
Meanwhile, both sides appear to have agreed to drop out of a planned District 3-dedicated debate planned for October 15th, according to an email sent from the Sawant campaign to organizers. Seattle Public Library had planned to sponsor the debate as part of simultaneous forums in districts across the city. CHS and the Capitol Hill Community Council were asked to help moderate event.
Even without debates dedicated solely to the District 3 race, the candidates face a full schedule of forums dedicated to various communities and organizations across the city. Shuffling candidates for multiple races through can make for somewhat harried affairs but occasionally the focus points for the specific community or group hosting the event can provide useful insight.
In mid-September, the Greater Seattle Business Association — the city’s gay chamber of commerce, if you will — hosted a forum at the W hotel that included a D3 session featuring Sawant and Banks taking on questions with an LGBTQ and business-friendly bent.
This doozy started the proceedings:
The Office of Labor Standards was recently established to focus on education and enforcement of the City’s labor laws. The Office itself reports that it receives four times as many inquiries about compliance from businesses than from workers, yet 100% of the requested funding allocation for business outreach and technical assistance was removed. How will you help honest small businesses without human resources departments understand the City’s new, unique laws and obtain the technical abilities to comply with them?
In a format we expect you’ll hear Sunday night, Banks answered with a call for building up existing City Hall resources with “more funding” and creating a new commission “for small businesses” that “need a platform,” while Sawant set up her answer in a larger framework saying the situation illustrated “the reality that City Hall and halls of government in general are accessible only to big business” and that a University of Washington study showed that “big business” was responsible for the majority of “flouting labor laws.” And, yes, Sawant also called for more funding.
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In a preview of what could be a significant tussle on Sunday after Banks has now said that public safety is her number one issue in the election, the GSBA forum also asked the candidates to identify “two immediate, effective solutions to this violence that you would suggest that don’t just involve pushing the problem to another neighborhood.”
Banks again focused on a limited, some might say practical solution saying she was “very frustrated” by the “toothpaste effect” of pushing crime from one area of the city to the other and that “we have a serious issues with guns” and “have to address it.” Banks said SPD needed to be out “walking beats” — “We don’t know our police officers,” she said.
Sawant, again, pushed a larger agenda with “a broader strategy.” “If you keep passing the buck, the problem doesn’t go away,” she said. On gang violence, Sawant said “Society has failed them. They have no options.” Her solutions included a need to “address income inequality” and housing and fight for “serious answers” on underfunding of social and mental health program. As for funding, Sawant told the GSBA audience we can’t put the burden on small businesses — we need a “tax on millionaires,” the candidate said.
The candidates last met at the Seattle Human Services Coalition forum, where social media captured barbs traded over campaign contributions and gun violence.
Hours before the coalition debate, Banks rolled out her public safety plan, which included calling for Seattle to hire ex-gang members to help quell gun violence. She also called for increased funding for the Career Bridge jobs program — an Urban League initiative that Bank’s has been calling for more public investment in since she was running the Seattle branch of the organization. On the issue of youth violence, Sawant touted her efforts to fight against building a new youth jail at 12th and Alder and her support for the Seattle teacher’s union strike.
Sawant took her strongest public safety stance early in the campaign before the primaries with a focus on anti-LGBTQ violence on Capitol Hill. The candidate said economic disparities underpinned bashings. “I want to make an appeal to everyone to connect these (crime) issues to larger economic issues,” she told CHS in March. “Underlying all of this is that people of color, LGBTQ people, working people are finding this city increasingly unlivable.”
The richest race in Seattle
In the fundraising race, Sawant was first to reach the $300,000 donation mark with just under $326,000 raised as of Monday, according to City campaign finance records. Banks is close behind with $299,160.
CHS previously wrote about the different paths the two candidates have taken to create Seattle’s richest race. As of earlier this month, Banks had received just under half the number of contributions of Sawant. However, Banks’s donations are on average about double the size of Sawant’s. Meanwhile, Sawant has raised nearly three times as much as Banks has from outside the city.
While District 3 candidate events may be ending, there are still opportunities to gather with fellow politically-minded District 3 denizens. One such event took place Tuesday night at Witness with a gathering co-hosted by the Capitol Hill Community Council.
Much to the chagrin of Witness owner Gregg Holcomb, there were no full-blown Sawant supporters to grill among the small group. Holcomb hustled out of the 43rd District Democrats endorsement meeting last month after the group declined to endorse big “D” Democrat Banks in the D3 race.
The informal conversations around a few tables touched on familiar election themes. One District 3 resident said he wanted to hear how candidates would ensure affordable housing will be included in development in the future of the MidTown Center property at 23rd and Union. Others voiced concern about Sawant’s views on public takeovers of private businesses and Banks’ lack of specific housing affordability proposals.
Tuesday’s meeting, and the handful of others, have mostly been organized through the relatively robust District 3 Facebook page.
UPDATE 10/2/2015 9:15 AM: The action is heating up heading into Sunday’s debate. Publicola has the account on two tiffs playing out between the campaigns. First, Sawant’s camp reportedly tried to play hardball after the 37th District barely found enough votes to endorse Banks:
Sawant’s troops, hoping for the “No Endorsement,” challenged three pro-Banks votes cast by brand new members, East African immigrants recruited by city council member and 37th member Bruce Harrell (who has endorsed Banks.) The new recruits may not have been members long enough to cast votes.
Second, in a six-night string of thefts, somebody was caught on surveillance video stealing Banks campaign signs from outside the Urban League at 14th and Yesler:
All’s fair, perhaps. It hasn’t been easy for Sawant’s legendary ground game, either. Last Saturday, police were called to a 19th Ave E address to a report of a suspicious black male in a red shirt “trying to get the complainant to come outside.” Police arrived and briefly detained the man who was, of course, a Sawant campaign worker on a get out the vote canvas.