Tenant advocate Jon Grant has received a notable new endorsement for his campaign against Council President Tim Burgess.
Tenant advocate Jon Grant has received a notable new endorsement for his campaign against Council President Tim Burgess. courtesy of jon grant

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Have you been feeling nostalgic for some of that old-school mayor-vs-council antipathy that used to be so common in Seattle City Hall? All this talk of grand bargains got you feeling sleepy?

Former Mayor Mike McGinn is here to help.

Today, McGinn endorsed yet another challenger to the city council's conservative-leaning bloc, the bloc with which he clashed often while he was mayor from 2010 to 2014. McGinn has endorsed Jon Grant, the tenant advocate looking to take down Council President Tim Burgess.

"When you look at the issues he prioritizes," McGinn says of Grant in a statement, "you know who he stands with. That makes him a clear choice to his opponent Tim Burgess. While Jon was working for the homeless, Tim Burgess was working on an anti-panhandling statute." (Here's more about the bill McGinn's referring to, which he vetoed.)

McGinn had previously endorsed a different Burgess challenger, John Roderick, who lost in the primary race for citywide Position 8. McGinn is also supporting Tammy Morales, who's challenging Bruce Harrell in District 2, and Michael Maddux, one of two candidates who bested incumbent Jean Godden in the primary race for District 4. Unsurprisingly, McGinn also supports the council's two farthest left members, Kshama Sawant in District 3 and Mike O'Brien in District 6. (Need a reminder of which district is which? Check it out.)

Here's McGinn's full statement (emphasis added):

I’m voting for Jon Grant for City Council because I know where his values are - he works on behalf of people who don’t have much political power. He’s effective. He reinvigorated the Tenants Union and made it relevant again in local politics. His ideas have power. Check out how many of of them are now becoming law, and he’s not even in office.

While I was in office, we partnered on protecting tenants of the Downtowner apartment. He organized locally, and I went to DC to get the federal government to extend benefits. We both worked to get a local rental housing inspection law in place before the state preempted us, and we succeeded.

While his passion is affordable housing, I also appreciate his support for transit, social services, and gender pay equity. This is all party [sic] of creating a good city. And when you look at the issues he prioritizes, you know who he stands with.

That makes him a clear choice to his opponent Tim Burgess. While Jon was working for the homeless, Tim Burgess was working on an anti-panhandling statute. When I was in office, Burgess blocked proposed expansions of Career Bridge and the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. He delayed Seattle’s Transit Master Plan while supporting massive highway projects.

The defenders of the status quo want you to believe that both candidates are progressive, just different kinds. But yesterday a business coalition announced a $200,000 independent expenditure campaign to attack Grant. They don’t buy the line that “everyone is really progressive”, and neither should you.

There are times when we need people to take on the status quo, and push for new approaches. Jon Grant has proven he is willing to do so. Jon Grant is the progressive choice in this election.

And here's more about the Downtowner apartments McGinn mentions, from a press release from Grant's campaign (emphasis added):


The first time the two leaders worked together was in 2011 to stop the mass eviction of low income tenants at the Downtowner Apartments, a 240 unit HUD-subsidized apartment in the International District. In the process of selling the building, the landlord issued illegal rent increases at the same time HUD informed half the tenants they were ending their housing subsidies. The building was a diverse mix of seniors, people with disabilities and immigrants and refugees where tenant meetings were often spoken in four different languages.

Grant, newly hired as Executive Director of the Tenants Union, immediately launched a campaign to fight their displacement at the Downtowner Apartments. This would require both the landlord to hold back on rent increases, and changing federal housing subsidy regulations so that tenant’s rental assistance wasn’t cut off by HUD.

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The Tenants Union assisted the tenants to form an association and filed a successful lawsuit blocking the rent increases. The organization reached out to Mayor Mike McGinn to pressure HUD to change its regulations to issue new housing subsidies so the tenants didn’t lose their housing. Mayor McGinn flew out to Washington D.C. to meet with top HUD officials, at the same time Grant raised funds to fly impacted tenants to HUD headquarters to demand a change in federal regulations.

Grant and McGinn’s efforts succeeded when HUD changed federal regulations and expanded housing subsidies to all 240 households at the Downtowner, at the same time the tenant’s lawsuit stopped the landlords illegal rent hikes.