In all the recent news about this year's free-for-all city council elections, you may have missed this guy: Dave Montoure, one of the latest candidates to enter the super-crowded race for District 1, representing West Seattle. (There are now nine candidates in that race; more on the other new guy below.) Montoure owns the bar and restaurant West 5, spent three years as chair of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and touts his experience volunteering with the Seattle Food Bank and West Seattle Senior Center. In other words: another neighborhood guy who wants to represent hyper-involved West Seattle on the new city council, which will be made up of seven members representing districts and two elected citywide. But then the nonprofit Working Washington—a driving force behind organizing workers to call for increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour—started reminding people about something Montoure did last year.
He donated $1,000 to Forward Seattle, a group that originally pushed for a slower rollout of the wage increase and then gathered signatures to try to put the increase to $15 an hour on the ballot, which would have effectively delayed its implementation and possibly repealed it altogether.
I don't need to tell you this is significant. The city's move to a $15 minimum wage was easily the biggest policy shift that's happened on the watch of the current council and mayor. And, throughout their signature-gathering effort, Forward Seattle was accused of using some pretty sketchy tactics. Isn't Montoure worried this could hurt his campaign? Worse, is he going to actively lobby to repeal $15 altogether?
I called him up to ask.
"It's law," he told me several times. "Let's move forward and look at other things. I think Seattle and the Seattle process is that we like to chew a lot and don't like to swallow. We've swallowed this. Let's move forward."
But isn't this an indicator of the types of economic policies he'd bring to the council? And of his view on a widely popular policy? And of his outlook on worsening economic inequality in the city?
"The money I donated to that cause was because I didn't feel, particularly as a small business owner—that voice was not represented very well on the advisory council," he said, referring to the mayor's committee that hammered out the minimum wage deal. He told KUOW during the debate that "it seems the powers that be here in Seattle make it very challenging for the small independent business owner to compete." But, Montoure told me, now "It's the law. I will support it. Let's just move on... Let's look at what we can do for our city in 2016 and beyond."
On to what, exactly? Montoure said he wants more "middle class, blue collar jobs" in West Seattle—specifically he thinks the council could do more to recruit a hospital or some other type of emergency medical facility to the area. He supports light rail from downtown to West Seattle and Ballard (which is currently at the mercy of how much the state legislature will allow Sound Transit to ask for from voters). He said he's against allowing more homeless encampments and against linkage fees. He did acknowledge that we “need to do something about affordable housing,” but said he’s waiting for the mayor’s task force's recommendations for specific policies.
Then, he summarized his pitch this way: "I've created jobs. I've taken people out of poverty. I take action to get things done."
Okay, but, um, something else that takes people out of poverty: a higher minimum wage.
Another candidate has also entered the race this week (because why not, I guess?!). Tom Koch—"pronounced ‘kawsh,'" according to his campaign announcement—is a former preschool teacher and land-use consultant. The way he describes it, he works for developers as they plan for projects and navigate the fees and other requirements cities impose. But he's not exactly pro-developer.
"I am not afraid to say that developers aren’t paying their fair share," Koch said in a campaign announcement. When I followed up by phone, Koch told me that specifically he thinks the city should charge developers more impact fees, which would help offset the effects of new projects by requiring developers to pay toward improving things like traffic and schools.
"I see no reason the city should allow developers to keep money in their pockets that the state has given us the authority to collect," Koch said.
He said he also supports linkage fees, but he wishes the council was discussing higher requirements for how much affordable housing developers should have to provide.
Koch said he's unsure where he stands on allowing more homeless encampments in the city. He talks a lot about restoring "trust between the community and the people sworn to protect us," but he's short on specific police reforms he'd like to see.
Finally, the real news here: Koch says in his announcement he's been on Jeopardy!, Sale of the Century, and Wheel of Fortune seven times and "put himself through college appearing on quiz shows." Wow. Those were the days.