It's becoming clear that at least one race on the Seattle ballot in 2017 will be competitive: Seattle City Council Position 8.
Council Member Tim Burgess, who holds the seat now, has announced he won't seek reelection, leaving an open seat. Housing advocate Jon Grant is already in and Washington State Labor Council Political Director Teresa Mosqueda says she's considering getting in, too. And today, Seattle-King County NAACP Vice President Sheley Secrest added her name to the list.
"I'm running because we need jobs, not jails," Secrest said in an announcement today, adding later, "We don't need more [police] officers. What we need is jobs."
Secrest also voiced support for "ban the box" legislation to limit how much landlords can consider prospective tenants' criminal histories. (Similar legislation in Washington, D.C. says landlords can only consider certain types of convictions after they've made an initial offer of housing. Seattle already has this type of law for employment. Businesses can't consider criminal records until after an initial screening of an applicant.)
Secrest is a former policy analyst for the Alliance for a Just Society and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, experience her campaign said in a statement "provided her with keen insight into city policy and how it affects low income and marginalized populations." She is also a former member of the City of Seattle Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, which provides citizen oversight of the Seattle Police Department.
It's not Secrest's first time trying for a spot in local government. In 2015, she ran for an appointment to replace former Seattle City Council member Sally Clark. Last year, she ran for the appointment to replace Pramila Jayapal representing the 37th Legislative District in the Washington State Senate.
While Secrest was in the running for the council seat in 2015, then-Council Member Tom Rasmussen questioned the status of her Washington State Bar Association license. Secrest's license was suspended for 60 days in 2012 after she failed to respond to communication from a client and failed to tell a client she had been administratively suspended for not complying with mandatory continuing legal education. Her license is now active, according to the bar association.
Secrest plans to apply for the city's new campaign financing program, in which candidates who gather enough initial small cash donations can collect publicly-funded Democracy Vouchers. Grant is also using the program. (You should have received your vouchers in the mail by now. Don't throw them away.)
So far, 2017 looks likely to be a quiet year in local politics outside of this race. Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Council member Lorena González, and City Attorney Pete Holmes will all also be up for reelection, but none of them have drawn serious challengers yet. May 19 is the filing deadline.
"If you believe that black lives matter," Secrest said today, "if you truly believe we're stronger together, then join me in this movement."