Seattle to elect 7 of 9 council members one year after repealing housing tax proposal
Seattle voters will elect seven of nine city council members later this year in races which have attracted $1.2 million in public financing and $308,000 in satellite spending. All of the outside spending has been by the political action committee of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which has raised over $900,000. Amazon—which has its headquarters in Seattle—has contributed $200,000 of that amount.
In 2018, the city council unanimously passed a law that would have required businesses grossing at least $20 million to pay $275 per employee to fund affordable housing programs for the homeless. The proposal faced criticism from Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce. One month after its passage, seven of nine council members voted to repeal the tax.
Three incumbents are running for re-election in their districts and there are four open seats. The Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee has spent $308,000 in support of nine candidates across the seven districts, including challengers to two incumbents. Across all seven elections, 55 candidates are running. In 2015, 37 candidates filed to run for the same seven seats.
This is the second city council election in which candidates can participate in a public campaign financing program involving voter vouchers. Eligible Seattle residents received four $25 vouchers each, which they could distribute among council candidates of their choosing. As of last week, 42 candidates were participating in the program, and $1.2 million had been distributed among 32 candidates.
This is also the second election in which voters will elect district representatives to the city council. Seattle passed a charter amendment in 2013 that changed the city council from nine at-large positions to seven positions elected according to districts and two at-large members. The nonpartisan primary elections are on August 6 and the top two finishers in each district will advance to general elections November 5.