It was no contest in the race for the two citywide council seats Tuesday night. Like incumbent Lorena González, first time candidate Teresa Mosqueda won a citywide seat with more than 60 percent of the vote.
"I’m so excited about these numbers, not just because I get to serve the Seattle city council for the next four years, but because I get to serve on the city council with Teresa Mosqueda," González said at their shared election night party. "She’s my friend, my sister, my hermana. Over the next four years, everything and anything will be possible for us in the city-wide seat."
Mosqueda, who worked at the Washington State Labor Council and helped draft last year's statewide minimum wage increase, will be sworn in on November 28. She will replace interim Council Member Kirsten Harris-Talley, who was appointed after former Council Member Tim Burgess became interim mayor. Mosqueda had backing from a majority of current city council members.
Here are a few things to watch, now that we're finally done with one of the most contentious left-on-left fights in Seattle's recent memory:
First, a campaign lesson: Don't fuck with labor: Mosqueda won the backing of basically every labor union in town. On the campaign trail, she characterized her opponent Jon Grant's proposal to open police union negotiations to the public as anti-labor. As the new council member put it in her speech Tuesday night: "In order to win in Seattle, you must stand with labor. You must stand with the labor movement. You cannot divide us." Like in the mayor's race, labor unions came out strong for Mosqueda and they helped her win.
6-3: That will soon be the woman majority on the council (four of them women of color). That's compared to the 5-4 male majority just three years ago.
Gender pay equity: Are we finally going to do something about it? Seattle's pay gap is worse than similar sized cities. Candidates and politicians have been talking about this for years. Mosqueda made her proposal to create child care subsidies central to her campaign and told The Stranger at her election night party that the policies she was most excited to introduce were "equal pay and child care for kids." She has also proposed banning employers from asking about salary history. Incoming mayor Jenny Durkan has not taken a position on this idea.
Single family zoning: Also central to Mosqueda's campaign and her criticisms of Grant: urbanism and increased density. Now, she'll join the council as the city is in the process of considering citywide upzones. Will she push for a more ambitious reduction in the amount of this city zoned for single family housing, as many urbanists have called for?
The head tax: The proposed tax on large businesses to fund increased housing and homelessness services is on its last legs. At a council discussion Tuesday, Council President Bruce Harrell, the deciding vote on the tax proposal, introduced an alternative. Instead of passing the tax now, he suggests forming a work group to discuss it. During her campaign, Mosqueda dodged questions about this. She said she had supported a different head tax in the past but was vague on this specific proposal. Then, at the debate sponsored by the Seattle Peoples Party, she focused on alternative sources for homelessness funding but also said, "I want to make sure that we pass that tax." If the head taxes fails this month, will it come back later? And where will Mosqueda stand on it? Magic 8 ball says: "Ask again later."
One last thing: Quit with the lazy obituaries for socialism in Seattle already: Yes, this was a loss for Seattle's members of the Democratic Socialists of America and Socialist Alternative, who hoped Grant would join Kshama Sawant as a second socialist on the council. Yes, they ran a campaign against a labor-backed candidate, which has almost certainly burned some bridges for them. And yes, Grant's non-concession Tuesday night, even as he trailed by 24 points, was embarrassing and stupid. (That 2013 Sawant comeback over Richard Conlin that everyone talks about? She was behind him by just 8 percent on Election Night.) But there were a lot more factors in this race than whether Jon Grant was a socialist. He had plenty of shortfalls as a candidate, the complaints against him at the Tenants Union and his inconsistent messaging on zoning among the most glaring. Despite their shared policy positions, Grant just isn't as compelling a candidate as Sawant. But Jon Grant will not be the last socialist to run for office in Seattle, and SA/DSA will not pack up and go home because election season is over. After they lick their wounds, those groups will return to advocating for the head tax, fossil fuel divestment and a municipal bank, and new tenant protections. You're not rid of them yet. Plus, it's only two more years until the next city council elections.
Rich Smith contributed reporting.