UPDATE: Here’s a report on the Yarce announcement and our CHS interview with the candidate:
Original report: Nonprofit director and former Capitol Hill business owner Beto Yarce will challenge for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council representing Capitol Hill and the Central District currently held by Kshama Sawant.
Yarce’s campaign describes the candidate as an “award-winning community leader and advocate for women and community of color owned businesses” —
Entrepreneur, immigrant, and award-winning community leader Beto Yarce will announce his campaign for Seattle City Council at El Cuento Preschool on Thursday, November 29th at 11:00am.
Yarce will run for the Seattle City Council in District 3, which includes the Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Park, Madison Valley and Montlake neighborhoods. Yarce, making his first run for office, is the first candidate to announce they will challenge Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
Yarce moved from Mexico to Seattle in 2003, starting his own business shortly thereafter. After selling that business, Yarce joined the team at Ventures, a non-profit that provides capital, coaching, and assistance to low-income entrepreneurs. Since 2014, Yarce has served as Executive Director of Ventures.
Yarce will kick off his campaign at El Cuento Preschool—the first business Yarce helped through Ventures’ Latino program. El Cuento was founded in 2009 and now employs 20 people, serving countless students and families in Capitol Hill and throughout Seattle.
Yarce was one of the recipients of the mayor’s Pride awards this summer for his work as executive director of Ventures, a nonprofit that “empowers individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential improve their lives through small business ownership.”
Last spring, Yarce was also part of more than 300 small business owners who came out against the early recommendations from the city’s “progressive revenue” task force.
You might also remember his short-lived project running the Cintli Latin Folklore shop on Broadway. Cintli was envisioned as a new take on Yarce’s successful art and jewelry business in Pike Place Market that would include shopping and a cafe with coffees, drinking chocolates and tamales, pupusas, arepas and empanadas. It opened in March 2013 but closed a year later. “We have great customers and some big supporters,” Yarce said about the closing at the time. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough.”
Yarce has been a 10th Ave E resident in a north of Broadway apartment unit but we’re checking with the campaign about his current neighborhood. UPDATE 11/29/2018: Erica Barnett reports that Yarce is currently a resident of lovely Mill Creek where he moved four years ago from Capitol Hill to be closer to his partner’s work:
In response to my questions, Yarce sent the following statement: pic.twitter.com/54Hjbm1kn9
— Erica C. Barnett (@ericacbarnett) November 29, 2018
The plan is for Yarce to move back into the city — not necessarily an easy prospect for most as the city’s housing market has only just begun to cool. We asked his campaign what Yarce is planning for his home neighborhood: “Capitol Hill.”
Those running for district seats must reside in the district but are only required to have lived there for 120 days prior to their formal declaration of candidacy. Council members must also stay in the district throughout their term in office. At-large candidates can live anywhere in the city. The districts will be redrawn every decade to account for population shifts.
UPDATE x2: The first scandal of the Yarce campaign is complete — and wonky! We’re told he has until May’s formal filing to establish the 120-day requirement. That gives Yarce about a month buffer to work with. Good luck!
Yarce will now be part of what could be a tumultuous political year in Seattle. Part of Seattle’s move to district elections for its city council was a decision not to stagger the terms — all seven of the district seats are up for a vote next year. Already, two incumbents have begged out.
At this point, Sawant has not joined the incumbent exodus but has not announced any plans for a 2019 campaign.
Sawant’s leadership, the council member has said herself, is focused on larger, sometimes global issues. As other district leaders have made habits of community meetings and “coffee talk,” Sawant has mostly avoided that kind of interaction in favor of rallies and protests.
A September agenda-less community gathering at a Central District coffee shop was a rarity for Sawant who has maintained a larger focus despite her position as theDistrict 3representative. During her election night victory party in 2015, Sawant gave a rousing speech but included no mention of District 3. When asked why, she said separating the issues facing District 3 from broader social struggles was a false dichotomy. “If you look at the issues that are the most urgent issues in District 3 … it’s the problem with the affordable housing crisis, the problem we have with traffic gridlock and the need for world class mass transit,” she told CHS. “What stronger referendum are you going to find on what the people of District 3 want than the election itself?”
At the local level, this has left Sawant open to criticism about her office’s interest and availability in neighborhood issues and day to day problems around homelessness, drug use, and street safety. But Capitol Hill community leaders have praised her “alternative” style as well as leadership on issues like the minimum wage. And, despite criticism of her focus on the Socialist Alternative party and her adversarial approach to politics, Sawant scored a relatively easy victory in her 2015 campaign against challenger Pamela Banks. With a base in the district’s densest areas and the Central District, Sawant might be set up for a similar battle in the more affluent District 3 neighborhoods of North Capitol Hill, Madrona, Madison Park, and Montlake in 2019.
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