Record-breaking satellite spending in Seattle city council elections
The nonpartisan elections for seven Seattle City Council seats on Nov. 5 have seen a record-breaking $3.5 million in satellite spending through Oct. 25. That’s more than four times the amount spent in 2015, the last time the seven district seats were on the ballot.
Four council races are open. In the other three contests, incumbents Lisa Herbold (District 1), Kshama Sawant (District 3), and Debora Juarez (District 5) are seeking re-election.
The elections are occurring a year and a half after the repeal of the 2018 head tax proposal, which would have required businesses grossing at least $20 million to pay $275 per employee in order to fund housing programs for the homeless.
The city council voted to pass the head tax 9-0 in May 2018 but then repealed it by a 7-2 vote in June 2018 after the city’s business community, including Amazon and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, opposed the tax. Sawant and Position 8 At-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda voted against repealing the tax. Juarez and Herbold voted with five others to repeal it.
Amazon contributed $1.5 million to the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the local chamber of commerce’s PAC.
CASE is among more than a dozen satellite groups spending on the council races:
CASE has spent $1.5 million supporting Phil Tavel, Mark Solomon, Egan Orion, Alex Pedersen, Juarez, Heidi Wills, and Jim Pugel, and opposing Herbold, Sawant, and District 4 candidate Dan Strauss.
Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy (CAPE), a PAC affiliated with the labor group Working Washington, has spent $280,000. CAPE endorsed Herbold, Tammy Morales, Sawant, Shaun Scott, and Strauss.
Labor union UNITE HERE’s local and federal PACs have spent more than $550,000 in support of candidate Andrew Lewis (District 7). He faces Pugel.
Fifty-six candidates filed to run in the Aug. 6 primaries for the seven council seats. That was up from the 37 who ran in 2015. Ten additional candidates filed to run for the council’s two at-large seats in 2015. Those seats are next up for election in 2021.
This is the second election in which a voter voucher program is being used to provide public funding to campaigns. Twelve of 14 general election candidates are participating in the program; Sawant and Ann Davison Sattler are not participating. Including the primaries, 42 candidates have participated, and $2.4 million from the program had gone to campaigns as of Oct. 23.