The Seattle Chamber of Commerce announced last week that it would no longer endorse or fund candidates in elections, but even without the Chamber's
The mayoral race is crowded with candidates; hopefuls are jockeying for the open citywide Seattle City Council seat, and some bozos are even running against the incumbent in the other citywide council race. Plus, the initiative aimed at codifying Seattle's homelessness response into the charter and both campaigns on either side of the Kshama Sawant recall are already receiving piles of money in campaign contributions.
However, there's a limit to the money campaigns can raise, since nearly every candidate in the 2021 race so far is participating in Seattle's Democracy Voucher program, the property-tax-funded measure that gives each Seattle resident $100 to donate to political campaigns. The program is intended to allow more people to participate in the election process, while also limiting how much individuals can spend and how much campaigns can raise.
Council candidates in the program can only receive a max of $300 per donor, not including the $100 from vouchers. Mayoral candidates are capped at $550 per donor, including the $100 from vouchers. Candidates who don't participate in the program also have $550 contribution limits from individual donors. In total, citywide council candidates participating in the voucher program can only raise a max of $150,000 total for the primary election and $300,000 total for the primary and general election combined. Mayoral candidate campaigns are capped at $400,000 in the primary and $800,000 for the primary and general. Some candidates are already nearing these thresholds.
Let's take a look at the money.
According to recent filings with the Public Disclosure Commission, the current fundraising frontrunner in the mayoral race is Colleen Echohawk, the executive of Chief Seattle Club. Echohawk has raised $331,647. The nonprofit executive has had the most money in the race since announcing her campaign in January.
Council President Lorena Gonzalez trails Echohawk with $188,581.
Architect Andrew Grant Houston raised $137,027.
Former City Council President Bruce Harrell announced his campaign in early March. He's raised $103,077.
Rounding out the frontrunners is former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell at $52,795. Farrell announced her campaign after Harrell.
In the Seattle City Council races, Nikkita Oliver is now leading the District 9 candidates in fundraising. Oliver, who announced they were running in early March, has raised $116,944. Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson has raised the second-most money in the race with $90,517. Brianna Thomas, chief of staff for Lorena Gonzalez, reported contributions amounting to $30,692 on March 31.
Over in the District 8 race, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has raised $119,945 as of March 31. Technically, Mosqueda is running against four other candidates, but only one of them has raised any money. Kate Martin, a former council and mayoral candidate who is best known for wanting to turn the Alaskan Way Viaduct into a park, is up to $580 in council campaign contributions. However, Martin is also running for mayor. She's had a bit more luck in the fundraising department in her mayoral race where she's raised $1,365, though Martin contributed $470 of that money herself.
The polarizing Compassion Seattle initiative that will etch homelessness response policy goals into Seattle's city charter is already raking in cash, as PubliCola reported. The initiative, which a "fragile coalition" of business groups and homeless service providers unveiled less than two weeks ago, has raised $204,820. So far, the top donors include real estate developer Martin Smith, who threw $50,000 at the initiative. Mariner's owner and retired Microsoft executive Christopher Larson contributed $25,000, and Vulcan Inc. also sent in a $25,000 check. You can check out the other donors here. The mayoral candidates are split on whether they support the amendment.
The other initiative that could be on the November ballot or a February special election ballot, depending on when its petitioners collect a requisite 10,000 signatures, is the Kshama Sawant recall. The Washington State Supreme Court (WSSC) certified the recall against Sawant earlier this month. Both the Recall Sawant campaign and the Kshama Solidarity campaign have been raising money since last summer, when the recall campaign first announced its plan to remove Sawant.
Both groups have only posted financial disclosure reports from March 30, contributions from before the WSSC certified the recall. As it stands now, the Recall Sawant campaign has raised $337,306 and the Kshama Solidarity campaign has raised $425,816. Around 36% of the people contributing to Recall Sawant's campaign are from District 3—Sawant's district and the only district that will vote in the recall if it makes it on the ballot. Meanwhile, 22.9% of Kshama Solidarity's contributors are from District 3.
There's still plenty of time to donate to campaigns and initiatives. Make sure you use the four $25 Democracy Vouchers the city sent you in February. Forget what those are? Read up on how to use them here.
A previous version of this story included an inaccurate contribution percentage for the Recall Sawant campaign.