You’ve got Seattle Democracy Vouchers, here’s how to use them

$2? Thanks for nothing

Seattle’s effort to change the game around campaign financing has already become an issue in the 2019 race for District 3 as who will — and who won’t — be participating in the progressive program has become a dividing issue in the earliest days of the race. Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers for the 2019 election have already been sent out and you may have been looking at the unopened envelope wondering what to do next.

  1. First, don’t lose them. Registered Seattle voters can use the four $25 a piece vouchers through the end of November.
  2. You’ll need to make a choice. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be about District 3. “Your 2019 Democracy Vouchers can be given to any participating City Council candidate, including candidates within or outside your council district,” the city writes. You can give all four of your vouchers to one candidate or you can engage in a little democratic roulette and spread the love around your favorite deserving candidates for city council who are participating in the program. The list of eligible 2019 recipients to-date is here. The mayoral race will not be eligible for the program until 2021 as the voucher fundraising limits are higher and the program needs more time to accumulate funds.
  3. Please print clearly. You can cash in your Democracy Vouchers directly to a candidate’s campaign, to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, or by dropping them off at one of the designated locations. Vouchers must have your signature and the candidate’s name clearly written to be processed. Drop off locations and email addresses for the program can be found here.
  4. Or wait until the online portal is launched on February 28th. You can also make your Democracy Voucher online starting at the end of the month if everything goes as planned. Tune in here for details.

Registered voters in Seattle should automatically receive the $100 in vouchers in the mail. Seattle residents who are at least 18 and are either a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or a lawful permanent resident can apply for vouchers here. You can request replacement vouchers here.

More information is available at seattle.gov/democracyvoucher.

In race for District 3, Bowers puts housing first

Bowers says it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand Seattle’s lack of affordable housing (Image: Vote for Logan)

Covering an election as if it were a horse race is frowned upon when it comes to journalism ethics. It puts the focus on things like polling data and popularity — not policy. So, how about a Solowheel race?

It’s true. Logan Bowers rides an “electric unicycle” — he Solowheeled to our meeting with the candidate around the holidays at 15th Ave E’s Victrola. But while he was rolling across Capitol Hill, he was thinking about housing — housing policy.

“I think the thing to remember is that we had a huge win when we got $15 an hour minimum wage, but all of the gains from that wage — or nearly all of them have been eaten up by rent,” Bowers said. “So folks aren’t better off if we can’t control the price of housing.” Continue reading

Washington considers moving up 2020 presidential primary — but will Democrats use it?

The Democratic caucus lines were long and winding in 2016

Washington leaders are again considering a plan to try to give the state’s presidential primary vote a stronger standing in the nation’s political landscape. And state Democrats might finally use the primary this time around.

The Washington Senate has approved a plan to move the state’s 2020 presidential primary from May to the second Tuesday in March. The House will now take up the bill.

The legislation would permanently move the date of Washington’s presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March and allow the parties to determine which names appear on their respective ballots, a decision currently made by the Secretary of State. Continue reading

Opponents criticize Sawant for decision to forgo Democracy Vouchers in District 3 race

During her campaign announcement Thursday, Kshama Sawant said she supports the “progressive” Seattle program but won’t be participating in the city’s Democracy Voucher in the race for her District 3 seat on the City Council. Her opponents are questioning the campaign’s explanation.

“The Democracy Voucher program ensures every Seattleite gets a voice in our elections,” candidate Beto Yarce said in a statement Thursday. “Public financing of campaigns means community needs comes first—not special interests.” Continue reading

‘Who runs Seattle?’ — Sawant bracing for million dollar battle for District 3

Sawant embraces Ubah Warsame, a Seattle East African community leader, during Thursday’s press conference at 12th Ave’s Saba restaurant

With promise of tens of thousands of volunteers and support of the Socialist Alternative movement, Kshama Sawant kicked off her 2019 re-election campaign Thursday morning inside Saba, the 12th Ave Ethiopian restaurant she has committed herself to help save as it searches for a new location in the face of planned redevelopment.

“This year will be a referendum on one vital question: Who runs Seattle? Amazon and big business,” Sawant declared. “or working people?” Continue reading

Re-election: Sawant officially enters District 3 race — UPDATE

Kshama Sawant has entered the 2019 race for her seat representing District 3 on the Seattle City Council.

Vote Sawant 2019 is now an official political committee registered with the city’s Ethics and Elections Committee.

According to records, the group is starting with around $2,700 in debt to various organizations including Sawant’s political organization Socialist Alternative, the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, and the Smith & Lowney law firm.

Expect the campaign’s finances to greatly improve. In 2015, Sawant out-raised her opponent by 20%, accumulating some $480,258 in contributions from some 3,900 supporters — about 2,500 more than Pamela Banks. Continue reading

Sawant, D3 candidates respond to reports on Socialist Alternative influence at Seattle City Hall

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has responded to reports on the control the Socialist Alternative party has over her Seattle City Council office.

Meanwhile, her possible opponents in a race for the D3 seat have weighed in with harsh criticism.

In her statement, Sawant does not refute that she is “democratically accountable” to Socialist Alternative.

“I was elected and then reelected to the Seattle City Council on the basis of my pledge to unwaveringly use my office to help build movements to win victories for ordinary working people,” Sawant’s statement on the reports reads. “A recent article from SCC Insight, now happily picked up by the corporate conservative media, argues that pledge is somehow at odds with my long-standing and publicly declared commitment to remain democratically accountable to the members of my organization, Socialist Alternative.”

Her full statement is here.

Seattle City Council Insight reported this week on findings from a trove of internal Socialist Alternative documents and communications that showed the extent to which Sawant “has handed over her Council responsibilities to Socialist Alternative.”

CHS examined the documents and reported how the Socialist Alternative structure determined Sawant’s votes on City Council actions like the confirmation of Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

The documents and letters show that not only is Sawant beholden to the tenets and causes of Socialist Alternative but that the political organization is also calling the shots in Sawant’s City Hall office, setting her policies including how the veteran council member votes, what she will say about her decision in the council chambers, and who works on her city payrolled staff. Continue reading

‘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. Continue reading

‘Beto for Seattle’ — from Capitol Hill’s little pink house to a run for City Hall

Beto Yarce announced his candidacy with supporters and partner Phil Smith at his side

When he first arrived on Capitol Hill in the early 2000s, Beto Yarce’s living arrangements were pretty typical for a young, gay person in their 20s. You may have seen his home — it was hard to miss the little pink house on John just above Broadway.

“I lived with three drag queens and two of my friends were women from Mexico and that’s how it really started, my journey here, you know,” Yarce tells CHS. “I’m seeing the different components of the CD and Capitol Hill and the complex diversity and, now, the needs of having this movement today.”

Yarce talked with CHS Thursday after coming to Capitol Hill for his big announcement — and the start of this movement he’s talking about. He is running for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council currently held by Socialist Alternative leader Kshama Sawant.

Back in his early days in Seattle, Yarce wasn’t thinking about public office. Working as a busser, and then a waiter, and, then, eventually the manager at Broadway’s dearly departed Mexican restaurant and lounge Galerias, Yarce began his life in America as an undocumented immigrant from Guadalajara.

“Today, you see me wearing a jacket — but it was not like this all the time,” he told CHS Thursday. “I lived here, I struggled. I worked as a busser. I worked 12 hour days.” Continue reading

Yarce to make 2019 run for Sawant’s City Council seat

UPDATE: Here’s a report on the Yarce announcement and our CHS interview with the candidate:

‘Beto for Seattle’ — from Capitol Hill’s little pink house to a run for City Hall

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.

Continue reading