Jon Grant: enemy of landlords.
Jon Grant: enemy of landlords. courtesy of campaign

In its lawsuit over Seattle's new campaign financing system, the Pacific Legal Foundation singled out one candidate running in this year's city council races: Jon Grant.

Grant—a tenant advocate running for citywide position 8 who has raised $129,000 in vouchers—says tenants should have collective bargaining rights with landlords. One of PLF's plaintiffs is a landlord. Seattle's Democracy Voucher program, the firm argues, "compels property owners to bankroll speech they do not wish to support." (Renters, of course, also pay property taxes.)

Grant's response: Landlords sure seem nervous.

"Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit clearly demonstrates that the rental industry is scared of the growing strength of tenant power," Grant said in a statement issued yesterday. "Tenants are demanding fair housing policies, protection from economic eviction, and to have their voice heard at the ballot box."

"If there is one thing that the Pacific Legal Foundation and we agree on," Grant added, "it’s that our campaign represents the strongest force for change for Seattle tenants."

When I talked to PLF lawyer (and aspiring fantasy novelist) Ethan Blevins about the case yesterday, he told me he wasn't trying to "pick on" Grant. He also said he stands by his legal case, though other lawyers I talked to thought it was a losing battle.

This case isn't the only way landlords are showing they're worried about who ends up in city hall. The Rental Housing Association of Washington, which is also suing the city over renter protections, has been fundraising on social media for its political arm. The group has also donated $7,500 to the Chamber of Commerce's PAC.

Last time Grant ran for council, the Chamber's PAC spent $150,000 in support of his opponent, Tim Burgess. The group is likely to spend big again this year. In the Position 8 race, the PAC has endorsed Grant's opponent, Sara Nelson.