Position 8 City Council candidate Tariq Yusuf is an electric scooter-riding, cat-rearing tech bro, but don’t click out of this post! He just might be one of the Good Ones.

Yusuf joins two other progressives—homelessness policy wonk Alexis Mercedes Rinck and lefty organizer Saunatina Sanchez—in challenging controversial appointee Tanya Woo, who hopes to win her first election ever to defend the seat her corporatist buddies gave her as a consolation prize after her loss against the council’s only tried-and-true progressive. After even the labor-backed candidates rode the center lane to failures last cycle, the three left challengers feel like a breath of fresh air. 

Yusuf told The Stranger that he refuses to sit idly by while the City Council defunds the social services that made his entire life journey possible. Instead, Yusuf will make the tech giants and other big corporations pay their fair share so the City can fulfill what Yusuf said ought to be its primary function, taking care of the people who live here. 

Lefty Urbanists, This One’s for You

Yusuf grew up in refugee communities in the New Holly neighborhood. He has seen families priced out of Seattle, but unlike the current administration, he doesn’t weaponize the real phenomena of gentrification to promote NIMBYism. He said Seattle must encourage the development of a variety of housing options throughout the city because we miss out on the “richness” of cross-class communities by pricing out the service industry. He wants to see baristas, teachers, and tech workers all living in the same buildings and neighborhoods.

But don’t get Yusuf wrong. He’s no real estate industry shill. He told The Stranger he’s very concerned about allegations that corporate landlords use RealPage to fix the prices of rental properties. Yusuf wants to see stronger renter protections and more community ownership.

As for those most harmed by the housing crisis, unhoused people, Yusuf said that the City must be more empathetic. He does not support the Mayor’s relentless encampment sweeps and he said he would support a ban on sweeps during extreme weather. He also wants Seattle to give more money to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to bring people inside. 

While Yusuf stands in stark contrast to Woo when it comes to housing and homelessness, he advocates for similar policies as his opponents Rinck and Sanchez. But he’s less versed in the issues than Rinck (who worked for the KCRHA) and has less on-the-ground experience than Sanchez (who comes from mutual aid circles). 

Care Not Cops

In his interview with The Stranger, Yusuf could not stop talking about the cops—particularly how much money the City pours into the Seattle Police Department (SPD) while neglecting other departments and services. He does not support the Mayor’s unrealistic goal to hire 1,400 cops, nor would he support any incentive program to that end. He also doesn’t think the cops need any new gadgets, particularly not Spotspotter. As a data privacy consultant, Yusuf thinks the acoustic gunshot locating software is super creepy, not to mention ineffective.

Yusuf said money would be better spent on social services than on cops. The police spend a lot of their time harassing homeless people and he would rather the City pay for more social workers to help homeless people get better-paying jobs and housing instead. 

All three challengers seem in agreement with Yusuf’s approach to public safety, but so far he and Sanchez seem to speak the most confidently against SPD, whereas Rinck came off a little more cautious in her interview last month. Still, all of them make Woo look like an absolute bootlicker by comparison. 


But Yusuf thinks it will take more than skimming off the top of SPD’s budget to fill the looming shortfall and beef up social services. That’s why he’s a big proponent of progressive revenue. He’s not into sales tax, he’s not into levies, he’s into taxing the exorbitant profits that big companies make in Seattle. 

“Big businesses benefit from us having a cleaner, safer city and they should actually be the ones to foot that bill,” Yusuf said. 

Yusuf is so committed to taxing specifically business, that he’s not really interested in an expansion to the capital gains tax because, he said, even though the state version taxes a wealthy few, it still taxes individuals.

Woo’s three challengers may distinguish themselves the most when it comes to taxes. Rinck told The Stranger she supports progressive revenue “with my full heart and everything I am” without caveats like Yusuf. Sanchez does not support imposing new taxes until the City reallocates police funds to other departments. On a council of conservatives, that slightly more nuanced anti-tax stance would probably yield similar results to Woo’s blanket advocacy against new, progressive revenue anyway. 

Overall, Yusuf told The Stranger he’s not sure he’s the right guy for the job, but he’s angry enough to try. If he loses to Rinck or Sanchez in the primary, he said he will gladly support them. 

“I'm really excited for the race and the conversations we will have in debates because I think fundamentally, we all want to make the City better,” said Yusef. “Or at least I can say that of the three of us.”