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‘Neighborhood activist’ Murakami, pot entrepreneur Bowers join race for District 3

There are now three challengers for the Seattle City Council District 3 seat held by Kshama Sawant.

And none of them are Kshama Sawant.

Pat Murakami, defeated in her 2017 run against Lorena González for the council’s Position 9 citywide seat, and pot entrepreneur Logan Bowers have joined nonprofit director and entrepreneur Beto Yarce in the race to lead District 3 representing neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central District, First Hill, and, yes, Beacon Hill.

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That D3 area south of I-90 is Murakami’s home turf. Described as a “neighborhood activist,” Murakami’s neighborhood focus and small business won her the Seattle Times endorsement in her 2017 race against González.

“Among the newcomers in the race, Murakami has a proven record of advocating for better governance and Seattle’s underserved communities,” the Seattle Times wrote. “A highlight was blocking the city from declaring a section of Southeast Seattle blighted, which would have enabled property seizures and redevelopment.”

She has also opposed the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability zoning changes.

Murakami’s campaign has launched a website at but hasn’t yet posted information about her platform. She is registered with the city’s Democracy Voucher program and may begin accepting contributions and qualifying signatures.

We know less about the politics and campaign plans of Bowers. He is co-owner of Fremont pot shop Hashtag and rents on the backside of Capitol Hill near the Stevens Elementary neighborhood.

UPDATE 2:01 PM: And now we know a bit more. Saying he wants to bring an engineer’s pragmatic approach to the council and Seattle’s problems of affordability, homelessness, and transit gridlock, Bowers tells CHS he hopes to shape his campaign around data and analysis. “I see Seattle going through an unprecedented period of growth and change and want to see Seattle come out the other side of that a world class city,” Bowers said.

“I think you have to rewind and look at the numbers and look at what the data says. Use every tool in the toolbox. The council is very idealistically focused — especially in the 3rd District.”

For a more specific example, Bowers said his priority will be to address Seattle’s need for more housing. “The biggest thing we have is making everything harder to solve is a severe housing shortage,” Bowers said. While the Mandatory Housing Affordability effort is a good start, Bowers said Seattle needs to follow the lead of Minneapolis and do away with single-family zoning. The numbers, Bowers said, show that midsize multifamily housing — wood-frame duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, etc. — are the cheapest to build per housing unit. That’s where he would put Seattle’s wood, so to speak. We’ll have more from Bowers about his campaign soon.

The duo join Yarce in the District 3 race. CHS talked with the nonprofit director in November about his path to Capitol Hill as an immigrant from Mexico and his work leading Ventures, “a nonprofit that “empowers individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential improve their lives through small business ownership.”

Given the backgrounds of the first three candidates declared for the race, it seems pretty clear that District 3 voters will hear a lot about small business and the city’s economic opportunity in the months leading up to the August primary and the November general election.

“To the hardworking people of District 3 who own small businesses or work for big businesses, to those with multiple jobs and struggling to make ends meet,” Yarce said in front of the scrum of TV cameras and reporters crowded into a small preschool where he made his announcement last month, “I hear you.”

Yarce said he also plans to utilize the city’s Democracy Vouchers program.

Early criticism of the candidate has centered on his home address. After moving to Mill Creek from Capitol Hill four years ago, Yarce said he is in the process of looking for a new home back on the Hill for him and his partner. Yarce said he considers Capitol Hill his home neighborhood after living for years on 10th Ave E.

Though her potential future opponents say they expect her to join the race, Leschi resident Sawant has not announced plans for a 2019 campaign and her representatives have not responded to our inquiries about her plans. Born in Mumbai, Sawant’s political career in Seattle was formed out of the Occupy movement when the economist was still teaching at Seattle Central and Seattle University. Sawant’s leadership, the council member has said herself, has been 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. 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. Some Capitol Hill community leaders have praised her “alternative” style and leadership on issues like the minimum wage. Sawant scored a relatively easy victory in her 2015 campaign against challenger Pamela Banks.

There are still months for new candidates to emerge. All candidates must file with the county by mid-May.

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16 thoughts on “‘Neighborhood activist’ Murakami, pot entrepreneur Bowers join race for District 3

  1. Wow, I didn’t think there was anyone who I would *not* vote for against Sawant — but Pat Murakami would be that person. Recall that she made her name in part by advocating for the light rail stations in Rainier Valley to have parking lots instead of adjacent new transit-oriented development. And who said she wouldn’t take the light rail without at least five people accompanying her because it’s such a crime-ridden hellhole. To wit: “I stopped wearing my necklace that my husband gave me because necklaces are literally just snatched right off your neck. You don’t take out your electronics when you’re on the light rail.” Not to mention her efforts to prevent El Centro de la Raza from having a center providing services by the Beacon Hill Light Rail station.

    I honestly can’t imagine what she’s thinking running in a district whose demographic centers are Capitol Hill and the CD, when she couldn’t win citywide. Sure she’ll get some votes in Madison Park and Mt Baker, and probably win a majority in Broadmoor, but that’s still a small sliver of the District 3 electorate.

    Meanwhile, Yarce or Bowers for the win! :-)

  2. Hopefully, we will have additional candidates enter the race. Bowers and Sawant are a definite no for me. If Steve’s statements about Murakami are correct. she is also a definite no. Yarce is not exactly thrilling.

    • Not only are those quotes correct (see the article cited above), but she goes on to say that her vision of Seattle is for it to be more like either Bellevue or an Olive Garden, both of which are places where people live together in peace harmony and economic prosperity I am not making this up.

  3. Hi citycat,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re not on board with making sure we have enough homes for the people who want to live here (or maybe I am misinterpreting your comment?). I’d love to learn more about what you don’t like about it, and also more generally what city issues are important to you.

    Would you mind sharing a little more detail on your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hello Logan,

      The tone of your response and your attempted public shaming of anyone who disagrees with you is more than enough to confirm my perception that you would be too similar to Sawant. I would a like a leader on the city council who can represent all constituents in respectful manner and deal with the issues facing this city with proven, practical solutions. As a voter, it is my assessment that you are not that person. If you happen to do any canvassing in my neighborhood, I will gladly say the same thing to you face to face.

      • I take it citycat did not wish to share any more detail on it’s thoughts.

        Odd, given how quickly it jumped to an unsubstantiated allegation that there was a negative “shaming” tone in candidate Bowers’ response.

        Citycat — I’ll repeat candidate Bowers’ request of you:

        Would you mind sharing a little more detail on your thoughts? Thanks!

      • @Logan: I started off this comment section showing my support for you based on your positions. I still support those positions. But I agree with citycat that your response to her/him was beneath that of what I expect from a public servant, which is what you are running to be (assuming this comment is actually from the candidate – we have no real way of knowing). Citycat merely expressed that they did not want to vote for you. You don’t know if it’s based on your housing proposal or not – they said nothing about it. And your response was indeed a bit snarky in its first line; it’s more “calling out” than “calling in”. Many in the district are tired of Sawant precisely because of her total focus on the former.

        If you’re actually looking to bring people over to your side, then something like this would be both more appropriate and more successful, because it suggests both steadfastness but a more sincere openness: “Hi copycat, I’m sorry to hear you aren’t interested in voting for me. I’d like to hear what I might do to earn that vote. If it’s based on my housing policies, though, I admit I will stand firm on the idea that Seattle has an unprecedented housing crisis, and we need to be building far more homes in far more places than we currently are to deal with it. If you have specific ideas for keeping up with that housing demand that my campaign could consider, I’d love to hear about them.”

        Keep in mind — this is coming from someone who is 100% ready to support you based on your policies.

      • Hi citycat (and Steve),

        No snark intended, and yes, it’s me. I always want to hear from folks. Online comments are so often vitriolic or sarcastic, it’s certainly hard to convey a genuine tone. I do mean it when I say I am bummed citycat does not think I will represent them and I do want to hear more about why and what they are looking for. I think it’s the most basic job of a representative to listen to everyone, regardless of ideology. It’s something definitely lacking in the current council.

        In any case, citycat, I would be happy to meet in person if you are interested. In addition to all the normal campaign things, I’ll be doing “coffee hours” in every neighborhood, so folks can chat about the issues they’re passionate about. I’d be happy to make yours the first. What’s your favorite cafe?

      • Hi Citycat, after re-reading this thread, I realize I really let you down by jumping to conclusions about your position and not being welcoming of a dialog with my reply to you. I’m sorry. I want to hear from everyone, even if they disagree with me, I often learn the most from those I have the least in common with. It may even be the case we share more views than either of us thinks. I’d be honored to discuss with you your vision for the neighborhood and for the city. If you email me at, we can meet at a time and location that’s convenient for you.

    • Logan: Thanks for engaging. People believe in the single family house. People also believe tenants degrade property values. To eliminate single family zoning is an attack on those people who believe in those realities. Please offer a vision. What is better than owning free-and-clear a single family house in a growing region?

  4. “While the Mandatory Housing Affordability effort is a good start, Bowers said Seattle needs to follow the lead of Minneapolis and do away with single-family zoning.”

    Holy smokes! I can’t cast a ballot in District 3, so here comes $ome $upport, Mr. Bowers!

  5. Seems that there’s quite a bit of information about Pat Murakami that voters should know about, especially her racist remarks and actions against the Latinx community. Here is an op-ed written for The Stranger by the founder of Casa Latina. She’s calling herself a Dem? LOL. Good luck with that.