Originally posted October 21. Re-upping it because I can. You can read the official SECB endorsements here.—Dan
Full disclosure: We were planning to write this before the Seattle Times endorsed Jon Grant. But the Seattle Times endorsement forced us to re-write our lead. So here goes:
The Seattle Times fears Teresa Mosqueda. And what is it they fear? That she will be more effective than Jon Grant. As the majority of the Stranger Election Control Board (SECB) pointed out in this paper's endorsement of Grant, "We've got two solid progressives in this race and [so], whoever wins, a solid progressive goes to the council." We agree that this is a win-win race for progressives. (And the Seattle Times is aware of this: "Neither of the candidates... is likely to fill Burgess’ moderate role.") But one of the two progressives in this race can point to a track record of actual accomplishments. One talks a good game, one gets shit done.
Teresa Mosqueda gets shit done.
And that's why we're voting for Mosqueda—and that's why the Times endorsed her opponent. For the Seattle Times editorial board, which is forever dressing up its conservative, anti-tax, anti-equity agenda in the drag of "moderation," the question was simply this: Which one of these two progressives would be less effective? Which one is less likely to get shit done? They concluded Mosqueda would be more effective—she would get shit done—and that's why they endorsed Grant.
Mosqueda has more political experience, is overwhelmingly supported by urbanists, and has deep roots in the labor movement. And most importantly, unlike Grant, Mosqueda is running on a solid record of accomplishments. She was on the state board that rolled out and oversees Obamacare. To the use the words of former County Executive Ron Sims, she is “a respected health-care policy advocate with the heart of a caregiver.” Mosqueda also chaired the Farmworker Coalition and the Anti Wage Theft Coalition, and she helped found the Racial Equity Team. Since 2015, she has been the Political and Strategic Campaign Director for the Washington State Labor Council, an organization that is "implementing last year's successful ballot measure to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick time across Washington." But she does not always side with labor, as was the case with the soda tax, which she supported and the council passed by a 7-1 vote. (Unions that represented food service, supermarket, and warehouse workers opposed the tax.)
Grant made his mark as a housing activist, but he failed to get an endorsement from the Washington Housing Action Fund, a low income housing organization that endorsed Mosqueda. The experience he cites most often is his tenure as director of the Tenants Union, but his tenure there was contentious and rocky. And when it comes policy, he is vaguer than Mosqueda. And Grant's policy proposals on housing—his signature issue—would, if adopted, make our housing crisis worse, lead to more people being displaced, drive up property values (which is another reason the Seattle Times may have endorsed him), and speed up the gentrification process. Mosqueda, by way of contrast, has sounder positions on housing and density—as well sounder positions on transportation and labor negotiations.
Grant's signature issue—backing a 25 percent housing affordability requirement for market-rate developments in Seattle—is a disingenuous delaying tactic. During the SECB meeting, Grant said that although he is demanding 25 percent, he expects he will get less, which is why he is asking for so much. Misguided housing advocates in San Francisco also aimed high and won 25 percent at the ballot box. But the requirement was reduced to 17 percent after a long, bitter political process that made that city's housing crisis worse. Seattle, which is in the middle of its own housing crisis, cannot afford to waste one or possibly two years arguing about how high or low the requirement should be. Delays are what NIMBYs want and delays are exactly what Grant—who also opposes rezoning and upzoning—is promising to give them, which is why urbanists support his opponent, Mosqueda.
In contrast to Grant, who obfuscated throughout our interview, we got clarity from Mosqueda on housing and other issues. For example, she understands the dangers of daylighting police union negotiations, which Grant supports. Right-wing organizations, like the Olympia-based anti-union think tank Freedom Foundation, want to daylight all labor negotiations because doing so will weaken labor. So while it seems like a good progressive idea to open negotiations with the police union to the public, the move would imperil public sector unions in the long run. Mosqueda's stand on police union negotiations is not just correct, it's brave and rational.
Returning to Grant's position on single-family zoning—the single largest driver of gentrification and displacement—when asked by Erica C. Barnett if he would support "allowing more density in Seattle’s single-family-only areas," Grant responded with this:
If you just allow for a citywide elimination of single family zoning, what’s going to happen is that the first properties to go are going to be rental properties, because if you rezone that area, the landlord who owns those properties will be very quick to sell it off to a developer to build a million-dollar condo or whatever.
Those are weasel words. No one is calling for the "elimination of single family zoning." And what does Grant think is happening right now? Most of the city is currently zoned for single-family and landlords are already cashing in, million-dollar condos are already going up, and homeowners and apartment owners are already selling their properties to developers and displacing tenants. Mosqueda supports rezoning and upzoning, preserving some single-family zones, allowing for backyard cottages, mother-in-law units, and more duplexes and triplexes in areas of the city currently zoned for single-family. Mosqueda (a renter) wants to solve our housing crisis and make Seattle affordable to all, Grant panders to wealthy homeowners while pretending to care about renters and low-income residents.
This election season, there has been much discussion about the need for more people of color—particularly women of color—in elected office. In this race, we have a choice between a white man with a thin record and the wrong position on housing or a woman of color with a long list of accomplishments and the right position on housing. The choice is obvious. Vote Mosqueda.