Morning Fizz: The Unthinkable
Caffeinated News and Gossip featuring a potential upset, potential shakeups, and transportation inaction.
1. "The unthinkable is happening."
That was the first line of an email Fizz got over the weekend, noting that in the last ballot drop on Friday night, socialist Kshama Sawant got 58.44 percent of the vote to incumbent city council member Richard Conlin's 41.52 percent, reflecting a general upward trend for Sawant in late ballot drops, cutting Conlin's lead down to 1,237 votes. Assuming there are about 33,000 votes left to be counted, Sawant only needs to hold a lead of about 52 percent to defeat Conlin—which would represent a major reversal of the current trend.
Conlin sent out a frankly desperate-sounding email on Saturday, asking supporters to "ensure your vote is counted!" by going to King County Elections' web site. The campaign was also phone banking this weekend.
2. Wouldn't it be weird if the ultimate legacy of defeated Mayor Mike McGinn was that socialist Kshama Sawant got elected to the city council, thanks to McGinn's late get-out-the-vote effort targeting young, politically liberal voters?
3. If Sawant wins, she'll have to run in two years in the newly created 3rd council district, which includes not just Sawant's home (and support) base of Capitol Hill, but more conservative (or at least, not socialist) single-family areas like Madrona, Montlake, and Madison Park. It's far too early to say how much support she'll get (that will depend, obviously, on her performance during her first year or so in office), but the speculation has already started about who might challenge her, including—as we mentioned last week—two-time council candidate Bobby Forch, but also density advocate Roger Valdez.
Meanwhile, a group of folks in West Seattle met over the weekend to start discussing who to support in the newly created District 1. On the list of (again, still very speculative) possibilities: Former council candidate Dorsol Plants and 34th District Democrats activist Michael Taylor-Judd.
4. The new council map puts two popular liberal council members in the same district: Nick Licata, who lives just one block south of the northern boundary of District 6 in Greenwood, and Mike O'Brien, who lives in Fremont. Licata says he'd be more likely to run citywide (potentially pitting him against Sally Clark and Tim Burgess, who both live in districts that overlap with other council members; however, in a conversation with Fizz on Friday, Licata also left open the possibility that he would retire in two years, after 18 years in office.
With the membership of the council still in question, it's unclear who will head up which committee when the biennial council leadership shakeup gets underway later this year. Burgess is expected to be council president, and Licata says he wants to head up budget—a committee he's never chaired despite his long tenure on the council.
5. The state legislature's special session ended this weekend with big tax breaks and training dollars for Boeing but no transportation package—the second time this year the legislature has failed to act on transportation.
In a statement, senate transportation committee co-chair Tracey Eide said she was "disappointed" at the legislature's continued failure to pass a transportation package:
We spent weeks earlier this year, traveling around the state on a listening tour to confirm what our constituents need. We have spent weeks negotiating the components of a fair, common-sense transportation package that works for Washington. We know what our communities need. We know how to make it work. All we need now is to reach agreement.
Our constituents don’t want more delay. They don’t want more hearings and meetings and debates. They want safe roads, they want better transit options and they want reliable movement of freight. They want us to fix what’s broken and improve major problem areas. Hopefully during the next couple of weeks, we can strike an agreement to do just that.