Folks, I must confess my guilt. I allowed my ego to get in the way of better common sense. I stand by every thing that I write (until I don't), and in particular my position that working with people where our values align is much more important than demanding ideological purity. But in reality, I know I shouldn't respond to folks who lob petty insults and make stuff up. I can ignore them, and I erred in failing to do so.
I say this because it is all ultimately a distraction. The Grant v. Mosqueda race is heading in a direction that will likely end with Council Member Teresa Mosqueda. They've both maxed out on Democracy Vouchers. Mosqueda's ground game (if we're looking at their respective social media photos of GOTV days) is far superior. And when we look at historical trends, it's very rare that someone comes from being down in the primary to winning in the general election. Here, that Grant's primary take was worse than in 2015...the trends are not looking good for him.
And what this whole thing distracts from: the world outside of Seattle. We live in a nice little bubble here. The City has effectively pushed through funding to support immigrants in federal courts (thanks Lorena Gonzalez), increased the minimum wage (thanks Kshama Sawant), added a tax on guns and ammo (thanks Tim Burgess), implemented developer requirements for affordable housing (thanks Rob Johnson), created an innovative way to preserve affordable housing within the Housing Levy (that didn't require an increase in the size of the levy) (thanks Lisa Herbold). Hell, we passed a goddamn municipal income tax this year. We're exploring allowing safe consumption sites in Seattle, and with leadership of council members Debora Juarez and Mike O'Brien, our city isn't trying to dump them all in the poorest parts of the city.
Council Member Sawant once reminded me that for every victory, there is still work to be done. And that is true here in Seattle. Are the MHA requirements enough, or do we need to zone higher to get a larger taking? Will doubling the guns and ammo tax provide relief for our budget, or shut down gun sales in Seattle? With sick and safe leave, secure scheduling, and an increasing minimum wage, are there more steps that we need to take to protect workers (such as, I dunno, mandatory PTO/Vacation time)? Cities can be like petri dishes for innovation and experimentation. Sometimes successfully, other times not.
But we don't exist in a vacuum. For all of the gains we have made in Seattle, our neighbors in surrounding communities have not seen the same benefit. Renton has significant need for affordable housing, and has seen an increase in homelessness (particularly in light of aggressive sweeps in Seattle). I've talked about this with friends on the council there, and they just don't have the political support to do the big things we're doing in Seattle.
In Federal Way, the council has actually moved to ban construction of apartments, and more recently has moved forward with legislation that would disallow any safe consumption sites in the city. To elected officials there, neighbors facing addiction are trash, and should be trucked to Seattle for help. If you believe that we need people who will work with communities to provide education and collaboration, not fan the flames of fear, I highly recommend checking out Jesse Johnson.
Looking east to Bellevue, one of the city council races' biggest flare-ups is whether to have a homeless shelter near transit, or as far away from the rest of the community as possible. If you believe that all people are people and deserve to be treated as such, I highly encourage you to vote Karol Brown in Bellevue. And she's not doing the whole "we'll put a shelter somewhere, but not near me." She lives right near the proposed site, and is a staunch advocate. That basic decency needs this highlighting is a fucking crime.
On Seattle's southern border lies a city called Burien. Back in January, the Burien City Council voted to become a Sanctuary City. For folks new to this, Sanctuary Cities effectively operate under the belief that all residents of the city are part of the city - irrespective of citizenship or immigration status. In practice, these cities do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers who are working to find and deport folks who may not have the most clear (or any) "legal" status.
Sydney Brownstone has been covering this in Burien since the beginning. By enacting this ordinance, the city of Burien sent a message: it was going to be welcoming of all members of the community, and that folks who might fear interacting with their government (by reporting crimes against them, for instance, or acting as a witness to crimes against others) could participate fully in their city without fear of their government collaborating with ICE to kick them out of their home.
As we have learned, in Trump's America, bigots have felt empowered. And in Burien, they have turned this into the campaign issue of the season. White nationalists have recruited and are backing a slate of candidates who promise to repeal the measure. Folks who have a "law and order" vibe that could very well lead to not only sending in information on undocumented immigrants to ICE, but full-on collaboration in order to expel as many community members who don't look like them as possible.
As can be expected, people who have this worldview often do not share other values that you and I may. Here, this includes a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality. So if you would expect Burient to increase funding for affordable housing, forget it. Remember when Burien basically made it illegal for neighbors experiencing homelessness to use public libraries? Expect legislation like that to return. Moratoriums on affordable housing projects, treatment centers, or homeless shelters would likely be on the table. Using taxes to lower the cost of use of parks and community centers? Nope. Pay to play, folks. And if you can't pay, you can't play.
And this is happening right on Seattle's southern border. Our liberal bubble has not spread as far as we'd like.
Of course, things are not all doom and gloom. Throughout the debate over sanctuary status, Council Member Nancy Tosta was a steady voice in favor of protecting all members of the community. When the Mayor wasn't doing her job (by actually sticking around during council meetings), Tosta was prepared to point out that discrepancy in work ethic, and the damage it was causing to providing a safe city for all residents.
For the open Position 1, Pedro Olguin has presented a plan to work collaboratively with colleagues, and listen to concerns of residents, while pushing forward with an agenda that ensures workers' rights are protected, small businesses can thrive, and folks experiencing homelessness are treated with dignity and respect. He's a fierce advocate for working families, and would be a voice of every day folks on the Burien City Council.
Looking at Position 7, Krystal Marx has stood out as a candidate bringing liberal values and a tireless work ethic to her campaign. She has endured the disgusting and sexist attacks lobbed in her direction, and instead of sinking to the level of the Republicans who hate her, she has continued to focus on a vision that ensures each resident of Burien feels welcome, and has access to needed services and amenities that every city should provide.
In Position 3, Jimmy Matta, running against incumbent Debi Wagner, the leader of the anti-immigrant right-wing of the Burien City Council, will bring his experience as a son of Guatamalan immigrants growing in in Central Washington to the Council, and be a role model for Latinx children that no places in government can be shut out to them. His history of leading the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters gives him the leadership experience to get things done, and his focus on combining a strong economy for small business with investments and actions on affordability and homelessness intervention and prevention inform me he will be an ally of liberals in Seattle on the Burien City Council.
While we put up a so-called "blue wall" in major cities, if we neglect smaller cities, we effectively send a message that safe communities for all, that affordable housing and worker rights, that environments where small businesses can thrive, are reserved for some. This ignores immigrant and refugee communities that can't afford to live in Seattle. It sets aside the needs of women who commute downtown from Federal Way. It invites ICE to our city's southern border.
But by engaging and joining the ground games in municipal elections, we can continue to spread a lefty influence so that it is not just focused on our bubble, but can be truly regional, and grow from there. Seattle only has 1/3 of the population of King County, and less than 10% of the entire state. I would posit that the folks outside of Seattle also matter.
And there are ways you can help. Not doing anything Saturday? Hang out with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and knock on some doors for these candidates in Burien. Or come on out to a fundraiser for all four - and meet and learn more about them - on October 17. Can't do either of these? Check out their websites, and donate or volunteer. Here is an area where I imagine all of our interests on the left - Democrats, Socialist Alternative, People's Party, Seattle DSA - align. And by engaging in building a left-majority on the Burien Council, we can show that we see the bigger picture beyond the City of Seattle.