Our Grant Rant

OK, we've kept quiet for long enough.

For weeks, fearing that anything we said about city council candidate Grant Cogswell would be dismissed as biased drivel (Cogswell's a contributing writer at The Stranger and editor Dan Savage donated $300 to Cogswell's campaign), we've mostly remained mum, letting Cogswell establish himself as a candidate in his own right. He's done a fantastic job, and it's time to weigh in on a campaign that cannot be ignored.

Never mind Cogswell's media-savvy lawsuit against the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission--he has grabbed attention at forums and endorsement meetings thanks to his outspoken urban environmentalism, unassailable record as a monorail visionary, and near-poetic passion for Seattle. (To celebrate the 1997 monorail victory, Cogswell had a five-inch-wide official City of Seattle seal tattooed on his left arm. He's also writing a three-part punk poem about the history of Seattle.)

It became impossible for us to ignore Cogswell after he wowed a roomful of Democratic Party regulars at the 43rd District endorsement meeting on August 21. Booming where others (including incumbent Richard McIver) figuratively and literally mumbled, Cogswell laid it down: control suburban sprawl, build the monorail (really), maintain HOV lanes, and save affordable housing in Seattle.

The Democrats sitting in the sweltering basement social hall of St. Patrick's church on North Capitol Hill cast about 45 percent of their endorsement vote for Cogswell, stalling incumbent candidate McIver. McIver was the only council incumbent (Richard Conlin, Jan Drago, and Nick Licata were also at the meeting) who didn't walk away with an endorsement.

Indeed, for the liberal 43rd to withhold its blessing from the city council's sole African American vote (McIver is also a longtime Democrat with a background in community investment and a solid council voting record on civil rights), something pretty compelling must be going on. That something is Cogswell.

As the co-author of the original monorail initiative, Cogswell wants Sound Transit to shift gears and build the less expensive monorail in Seattle, so the agency can eventually serve its regional charge. As it is now, Cogswell argues, the bogged-down light rail system won't even make it downtown.

Mobilizing the monorail forces, drawing on the same progressive core that elected City Council Member Nick Licata (Licata has shown up for at least two Cogswell campaign events), and generating interest from disaffected young voters, Cogswell is the surprise candidate of the 2001 council race.

However, to truly surprise the establishment this November, Cogswell will need more than in-kind contributions from The Stranger. Write a check--$5, $25, $50, $100, whatever you can afford--to support Grant Cogswell. Make checks payable to Grant Cogswell for Seattle City Council, and send them to 409 16th Ave E. #16, Seattle 98112.

josh@thestranger.com

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