$3.5 million in satellite spending for Seattle City Council races

The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, Oct. 30, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Record-breaking satellite spending in Seattle city council elections
  2. New Jersey voters to decide 80 General Assembly seats, one special election for a state Senate seat, and local elections
  3. Delaware governor announces two supreme court nominations

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The city council voted to pass the head tax 9-0 in May 2018 but then repealed it by a 7-2 vote in June 2018 after the city’s business community, including Amazon and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, opposed the tax.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.

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New Jersey voters to decide 80 General Assembly seats, one special election for a state Senate seat, and local elections

Continuing our highlights of the Nov. 5 elections we’re covering nationwide, today we’re taking a look at New Jersey.

The following is a list of elections taking place in New Jersey:

  • 80 seats in the General Assembly

  • One special election for state Senate District 1

  • County register and county board of chosen freeholders in Essex County

  • County executive, county sheriff, and county surrogate in Hudson County

  • School board elections in Jersey City Public Schools

Note that this isn’t a comprehensive list of all local elections in the state, only those that Ballotpedia is covering.

New Jersey voters will also decide a legislatively referred constitutional amendment—Public Question 1. If approved, this measure would extend an existing $250 property tax deduction that would allow eligible veterans to receive the value of their property tax deduction if they reside in a continuing care retirement community. The deduction would be provided to a continuing care retirement community, which would pass the value of the deduction on to the eligible veterans who live there.

Jersey City voters will also vote on Municipal Question 1, a veto referendum concerning short-term rental property regulations and permit requirements.

October 29 is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot by mail in New Jersey. Voters have until Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. to apply in-person for a mail-in ballot at their county clerk’s office—known as in-person absentee voting—and submit the ballot in person. The deadline to return an absentee ballot is Nov. 5 at 8 p.m.

Delaware governor announces two supreme court nominations

Late last week, Delaware Governor John Carney (D) nominated Associate Justice Collins Seitz Jr. to replace Leo Strine as the next chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. Carney also nominated Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to serve as a new associate justice, replacing Seitz.

Chief Justice Strine announced in July 2019 that he would retire in the fall upon the nomination, confirmation, and swearing in of his successor. 

Seitz joined the Delaware Supreme Court as an associate justice in 2015. He was appointed by Gov. Jack Markell (D). 

Montgomery-Reeves is a vice chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery. She was also nominated by Gov. Markell in 2015. 

The governor appoints state supreme court justices in Delaware with state Senate confirmation. A judicial nominating commission submits a list of names to the governor, who then selects an appointee. The state Senate must also confirm the appointment. 

The state Senate is holding a special session Nov. 7 to consider the nominations. Approved nominees serve for 12 years, at which point they must apply to the commission for reappointment. All five judges on the court have been appointed by Democratic governors.

The Delaware Judicial Nominating Commission was established in 1977. It is made up of 11 members—10 governor-appointed members (including at least four lawyers and at least three non-lawyers) and one member appointed by the president of the Delaware State Bar Association with the governor’s approval. The governor designates the commission’s chairperson.

So far this year, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies in 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Retirements caused 14 of the vacancies. Two former justices took jobs in the private sector. One vacancy occurred when a justice was elevated to chief justice of the court, and two others occurred when the justices were elevated to federal judicial positions.