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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 6, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 45
Election wrap-up:Seattle City Council will be majority women
Incumbents heading for re-election
Section One
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Election wrap-up:Seattle City Council will be majority women
Incumbents heading for re-election

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Seattle City Council will be the same, but different, as a result of the November 3 election.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the majority of City Council members will be women. On the other hand, all the City Council incumbents who made it to through the primary appear to be heading for re-election.

The retirement of veteran City Council members Sally Clark, Nick Licata, and Tom Rasmussen, as well as the defeat of incumbent Jean Godden in the primary, opened the way for Shannon Braddock, Debora Juarez, and Lorena Gonzalez to join the Council.

Juarez will be the first Native American to be elected to the Council, and Gonzalez will be the first Latina.

Incumbents Sally Bagshaw and Kshama Sawant are also heading for re-election, giving the Council five women out of nine seats.

In addition to Bagshaw and Sawant, incumbents Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, and Mike O'Brien are heading for re-election, meaning that the majority-women City Council will also be majority incumbents.

The new Council looks like it will retain the same ideological balance between progressives and business-oriented liberals as the old Council did.

Veteran progressive Nick Licata will leave the Council in January, and his long-time aide Lisa Herbold looks like she will not win election in District 1. Methodist minister and activist Sandy Brown is also trailing far behind Debora Juarez in District 5.

On the other hand, Herbold's opponent Lisa Braddock, an aide to County Council member Joe McDermott, also identifies as a progressive, as does Juarez.

Incumbent Tim Burgess is far ahead of affordable housing activist Jon Grant for one of two at-large Council seats. In the other at-large position, Lorena Gonzalez swamped no-growth activist Bill Bradburd.

In District 2, incumbent Bruce Harrell is leading Tammy Morales. In the District 4 seat lost by Godden, transportation advocate Rob Johnson is running ahead of Stonewall Democrats activist Michael Maddux. And in District 7, incumbent Sally Bagshaw took a four-to-one lead over challenger Deborah Zech-Artis.

Money can't buy you love, or District 3

In District 3, which includes Capitol Hill, the Central District, Montlake, Eastlake, Madison Park, and Madrona, Kshama Sawant fended off a challenge by Urban League CEO Pamela Banks. Although votes are still being counted, Sawant's lead is growing as new ballots are counted, and she now leads with 53% of the vote to Banks's 47%.

The race was the most hotly contested and most expensive in town, with Banks raising $384,345 compared to Sawant's $441,123. Both candidates spent more than they took in.

The difference in how they raised their campaign war chests and what they did with the money illustrates the differences between the two candidates.

Sawant had more than twice as many individual donors as Banks did, but they tended to give smaller amounts than the Banks donors. Banks also benefited from independent expenditure campaigns organized by business interests who resented Sawant's advocacy of a $15 an hour minimum wage and rent control.

Sawant's money went into a street campaign, with hundreds of red-shirted volunteers doorbelling, handing out flyers, and putting up posters. Banks spent her money on consultant Christian Sinderman and a series of TV and radio ads.

Money apparently can buy you Position 8

In Position 8, however, the power of money was clearly evident. Incumbent City Council member Tim Burgess raised a whopping $391,097, against challenger Jon Grant's $74,911. Burgess is leading in the vote count, with almost 58% of the vote to Grant's 42%.

Grant, former executive director of the Washington Tenants Union, charged that agents of real estate developer Triad Capital tried to blackmail him into getting the Tenants Union to drop a lawsuit blocking Triad's signature Civic Square development at Third and Cherry, in return for Triad pulling out of a pro-Burgess independent expenditure PAC.

Grant rejected the shakedown and publicly shamed Triad, but he later charged that they and other developers were financing Burgess anyway.

In other races

In another notable race, Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci trounced incumbent King County Council member Jane Hague in County Council District 6, winning 60% of the vote to Hague's 40%.

While the County Council is nominally nonpartisan, Balducci is a Democrat and Hague a Republican. Balducci's election shifts the County Council even more decisively in a progressive direction.

Former state legislator Jeanne Kohl-Welles easily won election to fill the County Council seat vacated by retired Council member Larry Phillips, and County Council incumbents Larry Gossett and Joe McDermott were re-elected without opposition.

In a special race to fill the vacant State House seat in the 30th District, Republican Teri Hickel is leading Democrat Carol Gregory with 54% of the vote to Gregory's 46%. If Hickel's numbers hold, the Democrats' majority in the State House will go down to two seats.

John Wilson, once chief of staff to former king County executive Ron Sims, ousted County Assessor Lloyd Hara, and deputy Director of King County Elections Julie Wise won the top spot at the elections office, beating 11th District Representative Zack Hudgins.

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