Seattle City Council changes: new committees, new rules, new schedules — UPDATE

The Seattle City Council’s 2020 power shift includes a new leader, and new committee assignments — including new responsibilities for District 3 representative Kshama Sawant. It also includes a new rule set that could put a kink or two in some of Sawant’s favored legislative strategies while also reducing the number of times many of the body’s committees will meet.

The changes are set to be ratified in votes of the full council Monday afternoon.

First, citywide representative Lorena Gonzalez is set to take up the president’s role leading the council giving her control over the body’s agendas and some extra pull in City Hall.

But, more importantly, she’ll be leading a council set to move at a much different rhythm than in the past. Continue reading

With Seattle approval, King County Regional Homelessness Authority will take shape in 2020

The Seattle City Council, with strings attached, approved its part of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority Monday paving the way for the effort to launch next year.

CHS reported last week on an ordinance shaped by the council to enable the city to pull out portions of its planned $73 million in funding for the $132 million new county authority hoped to reorganize how homelessness services are planned and deployed across the county. Continue reading

Mapping Sawant’s 2019 win shows continued strength of District 3’s political divide

Sawant again performed strongly in the southwest core of District 3

It was a tale of two districts.

To the east and north were the wealthier homeowners of North Capitol Hill, Madrona, Montlake, and Broadmoor, where voters picked the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce-backed Egan Orion.

Meanwhile, in the more densely populated Broadway and Pike/Pine cores and the Central District, residents sided with the re-election of socialist Seattle City Council incumbent Kshama Sawant.

While the path to victory in 2019 included a dramatic shift from Election Night totals, Sawant’s win, in the end, looks extremely familiar.

To Erin Schultz, a consultant that worked on the Orion campaign, the voting distribution of District 3 looks like what Sawant saw in 2015 as she defeated Pamela Banks for the seat.

“The mapped results are similar to results Sawant has gotten in every election, but we were obviously hoping to close the narrow gap, especially after the Primary performance,” Schultz said in an email. She believes that Amazon’s late $1 million contribution turned the election into a “referendum on corporate influence in elections rather than solutions to addressing homelessness, improving affordability, and the many other issues our city is struggling with.”
Continue reading

Seattle’s new Legacy Business Program won’t save your favorite restaurant or bar from demolition (but it might help it find a new Capitol Hill home)

In business for a decade or more? Check. A community asset? Check. At risk of displacement? CHECK!

A new program will award one lucky District 3 business eternal immunity against dips in the economy, looming redevelopment, and changing tastes.

Those last parts? Not true.

But the city is rolling out a Legacy Business Program. The bad news is the new initiative is not really about preserving the most culturally important spaces in the daily lives of our neighborhoods.

Instead, Seattle’s first step in recognizing its most vital “third places” away from our homes and work will be a bit of a popularity contest:

One Legacy Business will be selected from each of the seven council districts. These businesses will receive public recognition at an awards ceremony in May, in recognition of National Small Business Month. Winners will also receive access to a variety of small business support services through the Office of Economic Development, including a commercial lease and succession planning toolkit, marketing and legal consultation.

The city’s Office of Economic Development officially opened nominations for the program this week and will continue to collect submissions through Valentine’s Day 2020. Continue reading

8-1: As county makes legendary victory official, Sawant back to business at Seattle City Hall

Kshama Sawant’s dramatic victory in the race to retain her District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council was formalized Tuesday as King County Elections certified its November 2019 results.

In the end, it was not close. Sawant tallied a solid 4.13-percentage point win over challenger Egan Orion. Turnout across District 3’s nearly 75,000 registered voters ticked in at just under 60%, only a smidge below turnout in Ballard’s District 6. Across King County, voters produced a 49% turnout, well above predictions.

CHS reported here on the Socialist Alternative incumbent’s victory as Sawant overcame historic spending by the business community and large companies like Amazon and Expedia to unseat progressive candidates in Seattle. “Our movement has won our socialist office for working people,” she said. “The election results are a repudiation of the billionaire class…and the relentless attacks and lies…and working people have stood up and said Seattle is not for sale!,” Sawant said in her victory speech the Saturday following the election. Continue reading

Saying Amazon cash handed Sawant the race, Orion concedes

From Orion’s kitchen table concession statement video

The latest drop from King County Elections only included around 600 District 3 ballots but Egan Orion’s view of Kshama Sawant’s claim to 66% of them was enough. Tuesday night, Orion followed Sawant’s weekend declaration of victory with a concession of the district’s race for the Seattle City Council.

As of Tuesday’s count, Orion trailed the incumbent by 1,700 votes and four percentage points, losing 47.8% to 51.8%. D3 turnout is near 60%.

In a video statement on the end of his campaign, Orion thanked supporters and described the final days of the election as a lost opportunity where the campaign’s massive influx of PAC spending cost him the race. Continue reading

Voter turnout is up — particularly in D3’s wealthier neighborhoods — What will that mean for Sawant and Orion in November?

In the “election surprises” category, this curious nugget of information wins first prize: in Broadmoor, the gated golf club community near Madison Park, five people voted for District 3 incumbent and Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant. Over 400 people in Broadmoor turned in ballots (mostly supporting third-place finisher Pat Murakami) this year. An unusually high number for the precinct.

Broadmoor is not alone. The uptick in voter turnout reflects a city- and D3-wide trend. Particularly higher-income homeowners turned out in larger numbers compared to 2015.

“The most conservative voters were more motivated for this election than they’ve been in quite some time in Seattle,” said local political consultant Crystal Fincher.

But, she added, “we’re seeing an overall energized electorate, particularly in Seattle. That’s a really, really big deal.” Fincher partly credits the city’s Democracy Voucher program.

According to local consultant Ben Anderstone, Trump and KOMO’s controversial ‘Seattle Is Dying’ documentary have something to do with it as well.

Continue reading

Early results show Sawant-Orion battle for D3

Orion celebrated with supporters Tuesday night at Rachel’s Ginger Beer on Capitol Hill (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Sawant, meanwhile, addressed a large crowd of supporters at Langston Hughes in the Central District (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

With reporting by Margo Vansynghel and Alex Garland

With some $716,000 in campaign contributions, another $250,000 in Democracy Vouchers, and tens of thousands more from special interest “political action committee” spending injected, the District 3 race to November is shaping up as a battle over Amazon — and bologna sandwiches.

District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant and challenger Egan Orion emerged with substantial, likely insurmountable leads in the first drop of ballots Tuesday night. Continue reading

A few final barbs — and a few laughs — in last-push District 3 Primary candidates forum

(Image: Mount Baker Community Club)

Four of the six District 3 candidates offered one of the funniest and, at times, consensus-filled forums of the lengthy primary season on Friday night at the Mount Baker Community Club, representing a neighborhood area that straddles D3’s south and D2.

Incumbent Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant dropped out of the event at the last minute due to illness and Seattle Public Schools Board member Zachary DeWolf could not take part due to a prior engagement.

The event provided the four remaining candidates with a large audience — one of the biggest of the forum season — to make their case before the top-two August 6 primary. While the election is just days away, many voters have yet to return the ballots. As of Friday afternoon, 13,187 ballots have been returned out of nearly 73,000 registered voters. In the 2015 Seattle City Council Primary, District 3 hit 36% turnout.

Meanwhile, early returns illustrate ongoing trends: older voters are much more likely to actually vote:

The candidates were quick to call out what they see as dysfunction on the current council, specifically criticizing Sawant at various times throughout the forum.

“They are not doing, and Kshama Sawant, our incumbent, especially, basic management duties of their job,” pot entrepreneur Logan Bowers said in his opening statement. Both Broadway Business Improvement Area head Egan Orion and neighborhood activist Pat Murakami directly disparaged the incumbent in their first remarks, as well.  Continue reading

Election notes | ‘Kshama Sawant broke into my apartment building,’ Orion brushes off Pride street fest ethics complaint, plus what else is on the ballot

(Image: @VoteSawant)

With Election 2019 coming to a Primary peak as ballots hit mailboxes across District 3, things have gotten a bit chippy with complaints and ethics violation threats flying.

  • Aggressive doorbelling complaints: The strategy of “aggressive doorbelling” that very well could propel incumbent Kshama Sawant through the Primary and help her keep her D3 seat on the Seattle City Council is also, apparently, one of the most controversial elements of this summer’s election — at least, if you measure controversy by the CHS inbox that is. CHS has received multiple reports and complaints about Sawant campaign workers inside apartment and condo buildings across the Hill and District 3. “Kshama Sawant broke into my apartment building,” is the subject line on the latest. “When I opened my door, there was a tall, blonde man in a red vest who asked me if I wanted to learn about Kshama Sawant. I said no and asked him how he got into the building. ‘Oh, we have other supporters in the building.’ Shutting the door, I told him that I had voted for Sawant and was not interested in speaking,” the complainant writes. For the Sawant campaign, bringing its messages to renters with good, old-fashioned human contact is key. “Our campaign’s experience has been that rent control is a bold policy measure that’s overwhelmingly popular among working people in District 3, and is especially relevant to apartment dwellers,” a campaign spokesperson tells CHS. “Renters are more likely to be low-income, younger people, and people of color, and often less represented in elections. With the million-dollar corporate PACs ready to flood the election with misinformation, it’s vital our volunteers reach out to every registered voter.” The rep also points out that Sawant also fought for legislation requiring landlords to provide voter registration forms to new tenants.
  • Ethics complaint quashed: Another D3 challenger has sloughed off a round of criticism. Capitol Hill Pride, the tiny group of original organizers of the Broadway Pride weekend street festival who lost their permit for the event in the face of criticism from city officials and the neighborhood’s business community, took a swipe at Egan Orion this week with an ethics violation complaint against the D3 challenger. Orion, whose PrideFest took over the street festival making him the seeming arch nemesis of Capitol Hill pride organizer Charlette Lefevre, was accused of making “false misleading statements” over “saving” the festival. The complaint also nicked Orion for information in his campaign marketing materials. “Additionally, Egan is also falsely claiming and implying on his website and in media his position as Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is active when in fact the chamber closed during his directorship due to lack of funds / bankruptcy in May of this year,” the complaint read. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission took only days to respond. “We have reviewed your complaint and have determined that it does not merit any further investigation,” they write. “Even taking your complaint on its face and the facts you allege as being accurate there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct would constitute a violation of the Ethics Code.” “I have no response to this claim except to say the city asked us to step in to maintain the event after the previous organizer violated the terms of her permit,” Orion said of the dismissal. “We are proud of the work we’ve done on PrideFest Capitol Hill and thank Charlette for her many years of service to the community.”
  • Also on the ballot: CHS has mostly been D3 obsessed, but don’t forget that there are a few other important issues on the August ballot: