In fight to head off state restrictions that would kill Seattle effort, Tax Amazon march will step off from Cal Anderson

Cal Anderson Park will again swing into action this week as a cradle of Seattle activism. Next Sunday will bring a Kshama Sawant-led March on March 1st to Tax Amazon starting at the park’s fountain and ending at the online giant’s downtown spheres:

Tax Amazon! March on March 1

“There is tremendous momentum to Tax Amazon, but big business is fighting tooth and nail to undermine our movement,” the rallying cry reads.

The rally and march follow a weekend victory for the effort to create a payroll tax on the city’s largest 3% of businesses in Seattle that would raise $300 million annually for housing and environmental initiatives. Organizers from the Tax Amazon campaign say their protest at a legislative town hall held Saturday on First Hill forced at least one key concession as Rep. Frank Chopp “was met with loud applause by community members” when he reportedly said he would “publicly oppose pre-emption.” Continue reading

Sawant targets ‘preemption’ in pushback on plan for King County big business tax

“Learn more about the Tax Amazon Movement,” front and center on Sawant’s City Council page

When it comes to taxing “big business,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is hoping to preempt “preemption.”

The socialist representative for Central Seattle is holding a news conference Friday night in City Hall with “union members, renters rights activists, socialists, rank-and-file Democratic party members, and faith leaders” to “speak out against the threat of a statewide ban on big business taxes in Seattle, known as ‘preemption.'” Continue reading

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