The City Council’s District 7 seat has a new candidate only a day after Council Member Sally Bagshaw announced that she would officially not be seeking reelection. Andrew Lewis, a lawyer at the City Attorney’s office, announced this morning that he would run for the City Council seat.
Lewis joins a race that already has two other candidates. Naveed Jamali, a U.S. Navy veteran that worked in intelligence and claims in his Twitter profile to be a “former double agent/counterintelligence asset.” And Elizabeth Campbell, a neighborhood activist in Magnolia that raised only $2,500 when she ran for mayor in 2011.
I gave Lewis a call after we saw his campaign announcement. I asked him what the biggest part of his platform is (housing affordability), if he supported the head tax (he did not), if he wants to reduce single family zoning in the city (he waffled but didn’t commit to that), if he wants to save the Showbox (he said he would try), what his favorite breweries are (Cloudburst, Holy Mountain, and Urban Family), and if he was a socialist (he is not).
Lewis, who lives in Lower Queen Anne, frequently pointed to his upbringing in Seattle as a key reason he was running for office. He said the city no longer has the same opportunities for working class families.
“I had a working class family growing up and this was a much more affordable city then. They were able to own a home and send their kids to good public universities,” Lewis said. “That has always been a part of the social contract here in Seattle and it feel like it’s slipped away.”
Lewis said housing affordability was the biggest issue working people are facing in the city and the leading cause of homelessness.
“Housing affordability is the biggest issue that the current council is facing and I think it’s inextricably linked to homelessness. Homelessness is first and foremost a housing problem. It’s not just a housing problem but that is the biggest factor,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the city needs to directly build public housing units, not to just try to incentivize developers into building affordable housing. He said funding from the state should be combined with the city’s existing property resources to build new public housing.
“The big thing we need to do is directly invest in public housing and nonprofit supported housing,” Lewis said. “The city of Seattle, both here and around the state, is a land rich city so we can use public lands in the city that are vacant and are being underutilized to build on that land or to do land swaps with developers.”
Exclusionary single family zoning, which only allow single family homes and makes denser housing options like brownstones or apartments illegal, is seen as one of the biggest hurdles to making our city more affordable. It covers the majority of Seattle, thus artificially restricting the city’s supply of housing units. Lewis said there were certain areas where he would agree to removing single family zoning, but he wouldn’t commit to reducing the amount of single family zoning in the city.
“I don’t categorically believe that we should do away with single family,” Lewis said, “I don’t have a philosophical objection to single family zoning. It’s circumstantial.”
Lewis’s identity as a white guy will surely become a part of this campaign. When Jon Grant ran against Teresa Mosqueda for City Council in 2017, Grant’s role as a white guy running against a woman of color became a major campaign issue. Grant lost. Lewis said he expects to have to face the same questions.
“I do expect that critique to be raised, but I feel an earnest calling to public service, I want to work with everybody, “Lewis said. “I am a progressive guy and I feel really strongly about these issues.”
The City Council’s passage and subsequent repeal of the employee head tax earlier this year, which would have taxed major employers like Amazon to fund ways to fight homelessness, was one of the most contentious items to move through the City Council in recent years. He said he did not support the head tax because the city could be funding programs by spending money more effectively.
“I did not support the head tax. I wrote an editorial for Crosscut calling for more performance auditing,” Lewis said.
Lewis has contributed multiple editorials to Crosscut, a local news website, including one editorial calling for safe injection sites and another calling out bars that sell pints of beer that are not actually full 16-ounces, but rather 14-ounces. In that editorial he called for city regulations on the size of pints of beer.
Seattle can be the first city in the nation to take actions on false pints. If a bar really wants to use the 14-ounce glasses, that’s fine. But they should be obligated to label the correct ounceage on the menu and on the board.
Lewis told me this morning that this proposal would not be part of his campaign platform.
“That was partly meant to be satirical partly meant to be serious,” Lewis said.
I also asked Lewis if he supports saving the historic Showbox theater, which sits in the district he is running in. He said he wants to save it and thinks a compromise can be worked out with the developer where the new building can be built around the existing venue.
But how about the real hard-hitting questions. What’s the man’s favorite sandwich, beer, and coffee in Seattle?
“I am really fond of Holy Mountain down in Interbay. I love that we have some great breweries in District 7. Cloudburst Brewing in Belltown. Urban family which is over in Interbay,” Lewis said.
He prefers Monorail for coffee, which is a bit disappointing given the world class options in his district—Café Umbria, Storyville, Cherry Street, Slate, Seattle Coffee Works, Anchorhead, and Zeitgeist among them. But at least he likes good beer.
He said sandwiches “have gone out for me” ever since Bakeman’s Restaurant in downtown closed.
“I think it’s tragic that something simple and unpretentious couldn’t stay… part of our civic culture. I can’t think of very many places in the city that you have judges and prosecutors at one table and construction works and nurses at the other table. It was just a great place and they made a great sandwich,” Lewis said.
Given there’s the chance that two socialists could possibly sit on the next City Council now that Shaun Scott is running in District 4, I had to ask. Is Lewis a socialist?
“It’s a nonpartisan position but otherwise I identify as a Democrat.”