If this election cycle goes the way City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda wants it to go, then Seattle will need to need to find another progressive workhorse who can win citywide sometime in the not-too-distant future. 

This morning, she announced her campaign for King County Council District 8, the seat Council Member Joe McDermott plans to vacate at the end of his term. She's coming in swinging with nearly 90 endorsements and a bag of legislative accomplishments from her 5+ years on council. If she wins, she'd become the first Latina ever elected to the King County Council, and she'll shake up an already pretty shook-up local political landscape. 

If elected to the position, which represents the people of downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Delridge, White Center, Vashon Island, Burien, and Tukwila, Mosqueda said she'd focus health, housing, and creating more supports for working people. 

To that end, she'd aim to "broaden out" Best Starts for Kids, a property tax levy that funds programs serving young children, to improve access to child care for the region. She also wants to "double down" on investments to Health Through Housing, a sales-tax-funded program that scoops up old hotels and turns them into badly needed permanent supportive housing. She's keen to dive into behavioral health policy and planning related to the $1.25 billion crisis center levy, which voters will consider in April, paying special attention to wages for social workers. 

Though those levies have already passed or will/won't pass before her potential start date, she's excited to pop the hood and see what she can do to fine-tune stuff: "I want evaluate these programs and determine who's left out and what we need to do to do better. And when it comes to evaluation and implementation, figure what more can we be doing for the workforce."

"I want to see pipelines into construction, child care, public health—and make sure we're investing in good union jobs," she added. 

She also wants to build housing that nurses, child care providers, social workers, grocers, construction workers, artists, and the like can afford so that they can live near the places where they work or else hop on fast and reliable transit to get there. 

As for shaping levies yet to come? Mosqueda said she'd need to get back to us on her support for a measure to raise $10 billion over 10 years to adequately address the region's homelessness crisis. (That said, those figures from the arch neolibs over at McKinsey now seem low, representing half as much money as the King County Regional Homelessness Authority says it needs in half the time to solve the problem.)

Her confidence in making these strides at the county level comes from her successes on the city council. She pointed to the passage of the JumpStart payroll tax, which dramatically increased local investments in affordable housing and saved the City's financial ass more than once during budget negotiations. She also led or co-led on a string of wins or labor, including protections for domestic workers and hotel workers, higher wages for most gig-workers and ride-hail drivers, hazard pay for grocery workers during the pandemic (but not afterward), and new laws to achieve gender parity in the workplace. 

As budget chair, she and other members had the foresight to set aside COVID relief money before we knew if Congress planned to act, stood up for the council's role as the keeper of the purse stings, and worked long hours to rebalance the last budget after last year's big shortfall. And somewhere in there, she created a human being. 

She credits these wins to her ability to "rise above the fray and pull people together," including business, labor, environmentalists, housing advocates, social justice advocates, etc. Her long list of endorsements speaks to that. She boasts support from Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and former Council President Lorena González, state lawmakers who overlap with 8th District, County Executive Dow Constantine, all the liberal King County Council Members (except the two who are leaving), the more progressive Seattle City Council members, every Seattle Port Commissioner, progressive and conservative labor unions, a bunch of nonprofits and other leaders in the African American, Asian American Pacific Islander, and Latinx communities.

But she can also jump in the fray, too. After several days of the cops gassing Capitol Hill in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, she joined the frontlines of the protest and told Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign.

Though the County spends a lot of time passing watered-down versions of legislation that Seattle already passed and vetted through the courts, Mosqueda said she does not anticipate boredom or experiencing debilitating levels of deja vu should she win the post she seeks. "They have jurisdiction over public health and behavioral health!" she said, getting a little animated about a policy area she's worked in for most of her career, including as a member of the King County Board of Health. 

She also relishes the chance to bring the life experience of a Latina to the council for the first time in its existence. "Fifty percent of our county is POC, and a quarter are immigrants and refugees. I'm excited to serve all residents of our region, but I'm going to take special care to think about who's been left out and left behind," she said. 

Though she acknowledged the vitriol and hardship Seattle Council Members have faced during the last few years, she said that problem, which affects red and blue councils nationwide, didn't drive her out as it may have with the others. But she does have a plan to address that issue. Before she leaves—if she leaves—she'd like to change city elections so that half of the district members and one citywide member goes up for reelection on one cycle, and then the other half would go up the next cycle. "That could yield greater stability for the city," she said.

But above all else, she wants to help shepherd through the next housing levy, making sure it includes "first-time home buyer options, good jobs, and diverse housing options." 

From a political perspective, her attempt to move from city to county chambers presents a low-risk/high-reward opportunity. If she loses to whomever, then she keeps her seat and moves on with her life. If she wins, then she would put a little buffer zone between her time in the trenches of contentious city politics and perhaps some higher office.

The County Council has served as a transition point for a number of ambitious politicians, and it could serve that role for her as well. Attorney General Bob Ferguson worked there before he became the state's lawyer, and Rob McKenna did the same thing before him. Ditto Greg Nickels before he became Mayor, Ron Sims before he became Executive, and Dow Constantine before he became Executive.

With four seats up for grabs so far this year, pulling Mosqueda's block from the Jenga tower could send the already wobbly progressive tower tumbling down. If 2023 sees another lurch to the right, a more conservative council could install a more conservative citywide member, who would hold the post until 2024. Mosqueda wouldn't offer any names of people she'd encourage to apply for the job, but she added that "the die is not cast for what the council will look like in the future." 


This piece was originally published at 6 am.