So what happened this week in City Council election news?
Sawant faces an ethics complaint: Councilmember Kshama Sawant is facing an ethics complaint from one of her challengers, pot-entrepreneur Logan Bowers, over how she conducts official business with the help of her political party, Socialist Alternative. The local blog SCC Insight published documents in January that show Sawant giving considerable control over to the socialist organization, including input on personnel hiring decisions at Sawant’s office.
Sawant responded to SCC’s story by saying that she has been upfront about her involvement with Socialist Alternative and that their work is less sinister than the work of normal “corporate politicians,” to borrow Sawant’s phrase. Sawant invoked the example of Mayor Jenny Durkan and Sandeep Kaushik, a lobbyist who works closely with Durkan’s team to craft policies even as he lobbies the city on behalf of major corporations like Comcast and Lyft.
Well, Bowers isn’t buying Sawant’s defense, claiming that Sawant’s involvement with Socialist Alternative amounts to her giving city funds and personnel to the party, which he says could be a felony. He also alleges that Sawant violated the public records act by withholding certain records.
Bowers's complaint was received by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission on Tuesday, according to Wayne Barnett, the executive director of the commission. Barnett has 30 days to decide if the allegations, if found to be true, could potentially constitute an ethics violation. I asked Barnett when he expects to announce that decision, to which he replied: “no comment.”
In other related-by-subject news, “Money bags” Sawant has had a big campaign finance week: Sawant nearly doubled her reported campaign loot this week, raising a total of $51,067 (last week she was at $23,392). Our house style at the Friday Council News Roundup™ dictates that the finance leader of the week gets the nickname “money bags” or “bags of money” or “the one with the hella loaded war chest of spoils.” Last week it was Alex Pedersen, this week it's Seattle’s favorite socialist. Who will it be next week? Probably Sawant, she’s the only major candidate so far to turn down the public funding offered by the Democracy Voucher program. Only 7 percent of Sawant’s donations so far have come from her district, meanwhile 18 percent come from outside of city limits and 54 percent have not yet been coded by location, according to the SEEC website.
Today in City Council History: The Seattle City Council gave the city’s entire streetcar network to a private company 119 years ago today, according to Historylink. There was widespread agreement that something had to be done to remedy Seattle’s tangled mess of separately owned streetcars, but conservatives and progressive disagreed on what to do. Conservatives wanted the city to grant a private company an exclusive 40-year franchise control of the lines. Progressives wanted municipal ownership, warning that private ownership wouldn’t adequately invest in the lines. In a contentious vote, the council sided with conservatives, granting the firm Stone & Webster exclusive franchise rights to run the entire streetcar system. You’ll never guess what happened next.
“The company did not make good on its promise to maintain and improve Seattle's street-railway system. The system deteriorated over the next two decades and an increasingly fed-up populace demanded change,” Jim Kershner wrote in the HistoryLink article.
Katie Herzog talks to the star of Strippergate: Former City Councilmember Heidi Wills spoke with my colleague Katie Herzog earlier this week, offering insight into the two scandals that tanked her first career on the council, which lasted from 2000 to 2003, and what kind of policies she would argue for if she is reelected to the council.
Wills’s description of her somewhat scandal-plagued tenure on the council is interesting. She did end up with two infamous titles attached to her name from that time, both “strippergate” and “Rate Hike Heidi,” but it’s her policy positions that are really of interest. She floats ideas about forcing ridesharing apps to go all electric; she wants to “help people get out of cars”; she wants to double the number of people the city employs to find solutions to homelessness; and she unequivocally stated that “we need more housing.”
Council candidate talks to UK newspaper about Jared Kushner: Naveed Jamali, aka the spy that doesn’t love me and a candidate for District 7, was quoted in a story in The Independent about Jared Kushner’s ties to Saudi Arabia. Jamali, who says he was a spy for the U.S. Department of Defense, told the UK newspaper that it was a flaw that Kushner has a security clearance at all.
There are now 12 people running for District 6: Mike O’Brien has opened up the floodgates of people clamoring over each other to represent Ballard on the City Council. There are now
11 12 people in the race for District 6 after O’Brien announced he would not seek reelection. One more candidate and we’ll have a Ballard baker’s dozen! And there’s only one baker in Ballard I care about. His name is Poul Larson and his family’s danishes are the best.
Five candidates qualify for redeeming Democracy Vouchers: Andrew Lewis, Lisa Herbold, Tammy Morales, Logan Bowers, and Alex Pedersen have collected enough donations to redeem the city’s publicly-funded Democracy Vouchers. Every voter in Seattle is allocated four $25 vouchers that they can then donate to any qualified campaign. Candidates must first receive 150 signatures and contributions before they can redeem the democracy vouchers.