Districts are here! Full map below.
Districts are here! Full map below. The Stranger

It's finally here! Today is the filing deadline for this fall's first-ever city council district elections, which means we now know who is actually running and who was pretending to run that whole time but didn't actually want to cough up the $1,200 (or 1,200 signatures) to get on the ballot.

Unfortunately, that second group doesn't include fringe council gadfly Alex Tsimerman, who is, in fact, running. (No, Alex, I am not going to return that creepy voicemail you left calling me "baby" and also a "typical American fucking asshole.")

I've broken down who's running and what each race might look like below.

This year's election will feature every single seat on the nine-member Seattle City Council because of the city's switch to a district elections system, in which two council members will be elected citywide and the other seven will be elected by district. Here's a big ol' map to remind you what we're talking about here (click to enlarge and click here to see a more detailed map). Below the map, my take on how each race is shaping up.


*** DISTRICT 1 ***

Where is it?

Southwest and West Seattle, including Delridge, South Park, and Highland Park

Who's running?

Pavel Goberman
Chas Redmond
Arturo Robles
Phillip Tavel
Shannon Braddock
Lisa Herbold
Amanda Kay Helmick*
Jody Rushmer
Karl Wirsing
Brianna Thomas

What's this race about?

This super-active district has had as many as 11 candidates planning to run at once, though some of them have dropped out since.

The frontrunners in this race are Lisa Herbold, a longtime staffer in city council member Nick Licata's office, and Shannon Braddock, chief of staff to county council member Joe McDermott. Herbold is likely to focus on housing issues, which she's worked on both before working for Licata and since, and Braddock on transportation. I haven't seen them criticize each other directly much, which has made them sort of hard to meaningfully contrast up to this point. But if they continue as frontrunners, we're likely to see more of that soon.

At forums for this district, there's lots of talk about improving bus service in West Seattle, someday getting light rail to West Seattle, reducing property crime, and improving access to food in neighborhoods like Delridge.

Thankfully, "goat guy" George Capestany is out. His answers were often nonsensical or noncommittal and he seemed to be counting on pure likability to answer tough policy questions. If you're just watching for absurdity, though, you're in luck because Pavel Goberman is still in. This is his website. I am not joking.

*** DISTRICT 2 ***

Where is it?

Southeast, including Beacon Hill, Georgetown, Columbia City, Rainer Valley, and Rainer Beach

Who's running?

Josh Farris
Tammy Morales
Bruce Harrell

What's this race about?

Josh Farris, an Occupy Seattle and anti-foreclosure activist, is a long-shot contender, but he may pull the race leftward by calling for policies like rent control.

The real battle is between Morales and Harrell, and it will likely focus on public safety. Morales has slammed Harrell for being unpredictable in his positions, beholden to downtown interests, and committing to one position only to later vote another way. As Ansel recently reported, between 2010 and 2013, 99 percent of allegations that police used excessive or inappropriate force were dismissed. And of the "11 most-investigated employees—one was investigated 18 times during the three-year period—every single one of them is still on the force." Harrell was an alternate member of the city council's public safety committee during 2010 and 2011 and has chaired that committee since January 2012. Morales argues Harrell hasn't done enough to hold the Seattle Police Department accountable.

Recently—in a move that sure looks like a campaign tactic to respond to Morales' criticisms—Harrell stepped up his criticism of the SPD in a briefing about its response to this year's May Day protests, calling the way an officer leapt off his bike to arrest one protester "idiotic." This is a departure from Harrell's tone last spring, when he described council member Kshama Sawant's criticisms of the police this way to KIRO's Brandi Kruse: "I think it's a cheap shot to suggest that the officers are out here just aggressively committing acts of violence."

*** DISTRICT 3 ***

Where is it?

Capitol Hill and the Central District

Who's running?

Rod Hearne
Pamela Banks
Morgan Beach
Lee Carter
Kshama Sawant

What's this race about?

This race is about socialist city council member Kshama Sawant. Some people will resist this idea because, technically speaking, District 3 is not "Sawant's district." Since districts didn't exist when the current council was elected, no one is a true incumbent in any district. But it's silly to dismiss the advantage incumbents have and the fact that—districts or not—their reelection campaigns serve as a referendum on their time on the council. Nowhere is this quite as dramatically true as with Sawant, who's almost universally adored or despised. Her supporters turn events like council meetings and candidate forums into rallies in support of her calls to reduce income inequality and the influence of big business on city hall. And her opponents are basically forced to define themselves in terms of how they're different from Sawant. Save issues that divide progressives, like rent control, it appears so far that most of her opponents agree with Sawant on many of her positions. Instead, they criticize her for being "divisive," too focused on a "socialist revolution," and inaccessible.

The frontrunners against Sawant are LGBT rights activist Rod Hearne and Urban League president Pamela Banks, who's seen as the mayor's pick in this race and already has support from Harrell and $500 from council president Tim Burgess.

I do also want to take a second to recognize Morgan Beach. I'm not hopeful about her chances—she's getting out-fundraised by Hearne and Banks almost five-to-one and her comment about the "socialist revolution" unwisely ignores the tangible things Sawant has accomplished while in office—but Beach is running primarily on the important issue of gender pay equity. As I pointed out this week, she's lapping the council's main pay equity proponent, Jean Godden, on specific ideas for how we should address that. The current council, including Sawant, could learn from Beach.

*** DISTRICT 4 ***

Where is it?

Northeast, from Lake Union to Sand Point, including the University District, Ravenna, most of Wallingford, and Eastlake

Who's running?

Jean Godden
Rob Johnson
Abel Pacheco
Tony Provine
Michael Maddux

What's this race about?

Again, I wrote much more about incumbent Godden and District 4 right here. Here's how political consultant Ben Anderstone (who's done some great number-crunching over at Crosscut and isn't working on any of this year's council campaigns) describes the landscape in the district:

District 4 is a district of stark contrasts, a mix of urban and suburban. It's Seattle's most educated, but also its second-poorest. You have a narrow majority of renters (54%), who are concentrated in the urban neighborhoods like Eastlake and the U-District. However, renters and students move around a lot, and are a lot less likely to vote in local elections. They just don't feel like local politics matter to them. In the Midterms, the entire UW campus only cast 228 votes.

That means many votes in District 4 will be from homeowners in single-family neighborhoods like Laurelhurst and View Ridge. These voters are liberal Democrats, but tend to be more risk-averse on local issues. They tend to vote for incumbents and moderates. They value neighborhood stability and are concerned with issues like crime and traffic. They have high turnout, and well-organized neighborhood groups. Opposing tent cities in residential neighborhoods plays well with these voters.

That's not to say Godden can just run to the right. Sawant almost won District 4 (she got 49.6%). Areas like Wallingford may be well-to-do and have a lot of homeowners, but they're also very liberal; Sawant got 59% there. That's why Godden is wise to raise issues like gender pay equity. It appeals to progressives, without alienating those more moderate voters. Even in an off-year election, Seattle's left still matters. Still, it's a tough two-step to pull off. This is a swing district, and a very polarized one.

*** DISTRICT 5 ***

Where is it?

North, including Northgate and Lake City

Who's running?

David Toledo
Kris Lethin
Debora Juarez
Halei Watkins
Mercedes Elizalde
Debadutta Dash
Sandy Brown
Hugh Russell

What's this race about?

None of the current council members—even those who've decided not to seek reelection—live in this district, meaning it's been wide open from the beginning. Like West Seattle and Southeast Seattle, this is an area of town where promises are likely to come along the lines of "I'll make sure [insert neighborhood here] is represented in city hall." Likewise with talks of sidewalks and potholes.

As the Seattle Times has pointed out before, former council member Richard Conlin (who lost to Sawant) and Mayor Ed Murray (who's often at odds with Sawant) both did well in this district. So, it may be a place where we see candidates fighting for the middle ground rather than staking out far left policy positions.

Former pastor Sandy Brown, who's long worked on homelessness issues in the city, is the frontrunner.

Mian Rice, the well-funded son of a former mayor, was seen as another leader, but he withdrew yesterday. That lends some more visibility to Debora Juarez, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe who grew up on the Puyallup Reservation; Halei Watkins, a young Planned Parenthood organizer and renter; and Mercedes Elizalde, who works at the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute.

*** DISTRICT 6 ***

Where is it?

Green Lake to Golden Gardens, including Ballard, Fremont, and Phinney Ridge (Greenwood is split between Districts 5 and 6)

Who's running?

Jon Lisbin
Stan Shaufler
Catherine Weatbrook
Mike O’Brien

What's this race about?

Incumbent Mike O'Brien has the advantage here with a strong track record on environmental issues and public campaign financing. Plus, he's leading the push to charge developers linkage fees to pay for affordable housing, which is likely to happen before this fall's election. (Everyone is waiting on the mayor's housing affordability committee to make its recommendations at the end of June before the discussion really heats up.) Whether O'Brien can win a strong linkage fee—or whether it gets watered down by the more conservative council majority—will speak to his ability to get things done.

His prime challenger, Weatbrook, is talking a lot about neighborhood issues. But we haven't seen the two of them—or the new guys Shaufler and Lisbin—together in a forum or debate yet.

*** DISTRICT 7 ***

Where is it?

Downtown to Discovery Park, including South Lake Union, Queen Anne, and Magnolia.

Who's running?

Deborah Zech-Artis
Sally Bagshaw
Gus Hartmann

What's this race about?

Incumbent Sally Bagshaw finally got some challengers in what looked for quite a while like it might be an uncontested race.

Google engineer Gus Hartmann has hired John Wyble, the political consultant who worked for former mayor Mike McGinn and has a candidate in all but one race this year. According to his campaign announcement, Hartmann is focused on "community policing," some way of making developers pay for affordable housing (though he's unspecific on which type of charge he supports), and creating "neighborhoods that are bikeable, walkable, and well-served by public transit." How bold!

One thing is clear: He's got serious catching up to do. Bagshaw has already raised $55,200 without any serious competition.


Who's running?

John Roderick
John Persak
Tim Burgess
Jon Grant

What's this race about?

I love this race. I mean, it would be nice if there was at least one non-dude in it, but the super-distinct philosophies are really fun to watch.

Tim Burgess, the current council president who has led on universal pre-k but is also widely viewed as the council's most conservative member, is being challenged by Jon Grant, the far-left former executive director of the Tenants Union who's not afraid to skewer Burgess on specific issues, and John Roderick, a minor celebrity who says stuff like, "A nascent urbanist supercity is right behind the gauze, and we just need to pull the curtain back."

John Persak, a longshoreman, has a lower profile, fewer specific proposals, and less money raised than the others, but is only about $3,000 behind Grant.


Who's running?
Alon Bassok
Lorena González
Omari Tahir-Garrett
Bill Bradburd
Alex Tsimerman
Thomas Tobin

What's this race about?

This race will pit Lorena González, former civil rights attorney and legal counsel to the mayor, against Central District community activist Bill Bradburd. Bradburd has taken issue with my description of him as an opponent of micro-housing as over-broad, saying he's not entirely against micro-apartments or density. Instead it's about "gentler infill," he writes on his website, pledging to "continue to fight against the production of out-of-place infill that detracts from our streetscape, causes undue impacts, or promotes gentrification of our neighborhoods." He said at a forum last night he's running because the city has "lost control of growth"

González already has Murray's endorsement, but she's more than just a Murray disciple. She's the past president of immigrant rights organization OneAmerica and represented the Latino man a Seattle Police officer threatened to "beat the fucking Mexican piss" out of. She's also the child of migrant farm workers and says she earned her first paycheck at 8 years old.

Africatown activist Tahir-Garrett is a new addition to this race and tells Capitol Hill Seattle Blog that he's focused on gentrification and running citywide instead of in District 3 because he supports Sawant.

Alon Bassok seems to be running mostly on the fact that he's an urban planner, and I haven't seen many specifics from him yet. He jumped in in early April and has raised about $15,400. Alex Tsimerman originally intended to run against Burgess, but has now filed in this race instead. Ugh.

Hey, by the way, are you registered to vote? Oh my god, it's so easy. Go do it. Right now. Seriously. (If you don't have a driver's license or state ID card, you can register by mail or in person.)

This is also a good time to remind you that all the districts have Facebook pages, where residents discuss the issues and races: District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5, District 6, District 7.

Get ready! The primary election is August 4.

*Pending approval of the signatures she turned in in lieu of the filing fee. UPDATE: Helmick officially ended her campaign on May 20 after falling nine valid signatures short of the requirement to make it on the ballot.