Running for city council is basically like applying for a job, only the interview process involves getting your photo printed in nasty attack mailers and the hiring decision is a popularity contest. The prize is the chance to represent your district on the city council and make $62.11 an hour—or over $124,000 a year—while doing it.
Fourteen candidates are now vying for the job and, based on their financial disclosure forms, some of the candidates could use the council salary money more than others.
Six of the candidates are worth over $1 million including District 6 candidate Heidi Wills, who owns three homes, and District 2 candidate Tammy Morales, who listed the highest estimated net worth in the election at $2.6 million.
Not everyone is so lucky.
District 7 candidate Andrew Lewis says he’s worth only $5,000 and District 2 candidate Phil Tavel says his net worth is a whopping $0.
This year’s council candidates are, as a group, significantly richer than the average Seattleite. The median net worth for 2019 council candidates is $735,500. That's almost twice the median net worth of an individual in King County, which is $400,000.
Most of the candidates are homeowners, with 10 listing property they either own or have a mortgage on while four candidates—Shaun Scott, Andrew Lewis, Dan Strauss, and Tavel—did not list any property ownership.
The city’s financial disclosure forms ask candidates to list all of their assets and employers, as well as those of their spouses. Here’s what the candidates listed, divided by district:
Council Member Lisa Herbold lists her net worth as $527,000, which includes a mortgage on her home in Seattle, a property in North Bend, and her salary as a council member. Both properties are worth between $200,000 and a million dollars. Herbold’s husband, Robert Combs, works as a manager at Oracle and earns a small income from his side consulting business.
Phil Tavel, an attorney challenging Herbold for the West Seatle seat, estimates his net worth as zero dollars. He said he makes between $25,000 and $100,000 as an attorney at the Bellingham law firm Aaron M. Lukoff & Associates. He also lists an income under $10,000 a year from hosting a trivia night at Talarico’s Restaurant. His wife, Gene Weintraub, does not list an income on the disclosure form.
Tammy Morales estimates her net worth as $2.6 million, which includes her 6-bedroom house near Lake Washington. She didn’t list an appraised value on the home but the county appraised the home at $1.275 million in 2019; the real estate website RedFin estimates the home at a far higher price tag of over $2 million. Morales works as a community organizer for Rainier Beach Action Coalition, making between $25,000 and $100,000 a year, while her husband Harry Teicher makes between $200,000 and a million dollars a year as a physician at Swedish Medical Center.
Mark Solomon estimates his net worth as $1.1 million and is employed as a crime prevention coordinator for the city of Seattle, making between $25,000 and $100,000. His spouse, Suzanne Muse Solomon, works at Compass Housing Alliance and Paratex Pest Control. They own their home, which the county estimates is worth $610,000.
Council Member Kshama Sawant estimates her net worth at $490,000 and list an income from both her city council position and as a political organizer for Socialist Alternative, her political party, which pays her between $10,000 and $25,000 a year. Sawant owns a home worth between $200,000 and a million dollars and is married to Calvin Priest, who works for an organization called 15 Now.
Sawant said she would only take $40,000 of the salary and donate the rest, but came under fire after the blog SCC Insight reported that she donated portions of her salary to Socialist Alternative and 15 Now, the two organizations that her family gets an income from.
Egan Orion lists his net worth as $450,000 and he owns his home on Capitol Hill, which he said was worth between $200,000 and a million. In the most recent tax year, his event production company paid him between $100,000 and $200,000 and he lists himself as making $25,000 and $100,000 working as the Executive Director of Pridefest and making between $10,000 and between $10,000 and $25,000 as the director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce.
Alex Pedersen estimates his net worth at $944,000 and says he makes between $200,000 and a million dollars as a affordable housing developer at CBRE commercial real estate firm. His wife, Lindsay Pedersen, owns her own brand strategy business. The couple have a mortgage on their home, which is appraised between $200,000 and a million dollars.
Shaun Scott estimates his net worth between $5,000 and $20,000 and lists less than $5,000 in income during the most recent tax year from the now-defunct City Arts magazine, $10,000 to $25,000 as a field organizer for Congresswoman Pramilia Jayapal and over $25,000 as a caretaker for his sister.
Council Member Debora Juarez estimates her net worth at $2.022 million and says she owns two Seattle homes, one worth over a million dollars and one that is appraised between $100,000 and a million dollars. She lists her income as a council member as well as income as income as a glass artist and educator making between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. She’s married to Michael F. Dupille, who is a professional glass artist.
Ann Davison Sattler estimates her net worth as $1.2 million and says she makes less than $10,000 a year as a human resources specialist at University of Washington. Her husband, Scott Sattler, works at two different plastic surgery clinics in the Seattle area. The couple own a home worth over $1 million.
Heidi Wills lists her net worth as $1.25 million and says she makes between $100,000 and $200,000 as the president and CEO of her own company, Compendium, Inc. The firm makes “inspirational gift products” and is 48 percent owned by Wills and her husband, Kobi Yamada. Wills owns three different properties including property in King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties. The first two properties are worth over $1 million, the Kitsap county property is worth $200,000 to a million. Wills did not list full addresses for the properties. I reached out to try to find out where the homes are and I will update this post if I hear back.
Daniel Strauss: lists his net worth as $105,000 and says he makes under $100,000 as a legislative aid for the city of Seattle. He does not own any property.
Jim Pugel estimates his net worth as $2.4 million and says he makes between $100,000 and $200,000 as a retired police officer. His wife, Erin Overbey works for the King County Sheriff’s Office. The couple own a home in Seattle worth over $1 million.
Andrew Lewis estimates his net worth as $5,000 and says he makes less than $100,000 as a staff lawyer for the Seattle City Attorney’s office. He did not list any property ownership.