Jon Grant: de facto 10th city council member?
Jon Grant: "de facto 10th city council member?" courtesy of jon grant

Tenant advocate Jon Grant has officially conceded to Council President Tim Burgess in the race for citywide council Position 8. Results showing a decisive victory for Burgess have held since the election last Tuesday, with Burgess currently leading Grant by about 16,000 votes and 10 percentage points.

In his concession, Grant credits his campaign for forcing Burgess leftward on issues like tenant protections, homeless encampments, and rent control.

"In many ways," Grant writes in his statement, "our campaign had the privilege of being the de facto 10th City Council Member in 2015 to advance these many causes."

Burgess deflected those claims throughout the campaign, saying he was "comfortable in [his] political skin." His consultant, Christian Sinderman, did the same when he was on our week-in-review podcast last week. "It wasn't a matter of Tim moving left," Sinderman said. "It was a matter of what the city needed and what the conversation was about and Tim responding to that in a way that was appropriate and consistent." (Hmm. I wonder who was helping to set "what the conversation was about.")

Here's Grant's full statement:

Today I announced my concession to my opponent for Seattle City Council Position 8. But in truth, it doesn’t feel like a concession knowing that the people who came together to support our campaign can claim concrete victories this year for many progressive causes. Together, we moved the body politic of Seattle and showed that a community driven campaign led by women, workers, students, people of color, tenants facing rent hikes, transit riders, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folks, teachers, and more, are a political force that must be reckoned with. And we wouldn't have had it any other way.

This campaign was the only citywide race against an incumbent backed by big business. It is precisely these three factors that have allowed powerful interests like downtown developers, the Chamber of Commerce, and landlords to maintain their influence on City Hall over the years. This race was the hardest nut to crack, and incredibly even though we were outspent over 8:1 our grassroots campaign garnered almost 45% of the vote against the Council President who is a two term incumbent that spent $627,000 to defeat us. Our message was so powerful that it triggered the largest independent expenditure backed by corporate interests than in any other city race.

For those reasons we made campaign finance reform central to our platform and took a pledge not to accept any corporate money. We made waves when we exposed the shakedown by Triad Capital on how far developers will go to manipulate our democracy for their private gain. The values of our campaign and our ethical leadership resonated with voters, who agreed that we needed to send a clear message in opposition to the egregious amounts of money stymieing our democratic process and passed the Honest Elections campaign finance reform initiative.

And while we lost the race, the clear winner this election is progressive politics. Thanks to the pressure of our campaign, when my opponent voted in committee to block the resolution to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership, after we called him out he reversed his vote so Seattle could send a clear message to Congress that we must protect our environment and workers’ rights. Where last year my opponent voted against city sanctioned homeless encampments, this year he switched his vote so that the homeless can have their basic right to survive realized. Two tenants’ rights bills to protect against economic eviction and displacement that I had worked on while at the Tenants Union were appropriated by my opponent and made into law. Even more incredibly, when our campaign put a laser like focus on affordability and rent hikes, my opponent had no choice but to introduce a historic resolution calling on the state to repeal the 35 year old ban on rent control. In many ways our campaign had the privilege of being the de facto 10th City Council Member in 2015 to advance these many causes.

This year was a rollercoaster, but I was most touched by the groundswell of support from the very same people who I have organized with over the years. Rebecca, a tenant who successfully fought against the Seattle Housing Authority’s “Stepping Forward” proposal to hike their tenant’s rents 400%, joined the campaign to knock on doors. Tenants who organized against their displacement from the Lockhaven Apartments in Ballard came out in support. It was powerful to march with Reverend Jesse Jackson and the security workers of Amazon organized by SEIU Local 6 to demand a fair contract. It was wonderful to work with leaders like Morgan Beach to push the conversation on gender pay equity and establishing a plan for 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and work with former Mayor Mike McGinn to push the conversation on climate change. We were one of the first campaigns to release a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement shortly after their direct action when Bernie Sanders campaigned here, and we also called on the city to fire Officer Whitlach for excessive force against an African-American elder. I was humbled to be endorsed by Washington CAN!, a powerful membership based organization which I greatly respect, social change unions like UFCW 21, SEIU 925, as well as my mentor Council Member Nick Licata.

The whole experience has only deepened my love of our city. Everyone who invested in this campaign should be proud for what we all accomplished together. We changed Seattle to be a better, more equitable place for all.