City Council races

You May Be the Incumbent, but You’re Off the Island

This ‘Survivor’ separates the candidates from the, er, boys.

August 1, 2009

This post was written by Seattle Met news intern Connor Guy

You wouldn’t call it a serious debate, but 15 Seattle City Council candidates showed some sides of themselves they don’t usually get to share—or have to disclose. The occasion was Candidate Survivor, an event hosted by the Washington Bus at the downtown Showbox last Tuesday night. In keeping with the Washington Bus’s declared mission as an “innovative vehicle for hands-on democracy,” the candidates tried to sell the audience on their ability to represent young people—in some cases people less than half their age. Toward that end, they had to introduce themselves with haikus, compete in a talent show, and pause several times for “10 second dance parties” led by DJ Sabzi of the Blue Scholars. And they had to answer questions that elicited these revelations:

-All but three have smoked marijuana. Among the inhalers: incumbent council president Richard Conlin, who also opted to, as he put it, “do a rap” during the talent show portion.
-All but one, Robert Rosencrantz, support decriminalizing marijuana possession.
-All but three have “been in the back of a cop car—not for a ride along.”
-Only two are women, but…
-A majority have dressed as women.

A few less amusing but more pertinent disclosures:
-All but three support the bag tax.
-All want to toll the I-90 and SR 520 bridges.
-All support the “war on cars.”

True to the “Survivor” theme, the mostly young audience got to vote candidates off the stage between events. Several ties were decided by tried-and-true methods like the clap-o-meter and dance-off. Entering the end lap, six survivors remained: Sallie Bagshaw, Dorsol Plants, and David Bloom (all seeking the same seat), incumbent Nick Licata and his opponent Jessie Israel, and Bobby Forch. The contest then heated up as the candidates faced tougher questions on real issues like bag tax, the Alaska Way Viaduct, and whether they were too inexperienced for the job.

The candidate to whom this last question was directed was 24-year-old Dorsol Plants. Perhaps not surprisingly, he ended up winning the final audience vote by a considerable margin. “I’m not ashamed of my age,” Plants said in his final statement. “We need someone [on the council] who you’ll see riding the bus with you because he doesn’t own a car.” But despite his success in this room of text-messaging youngsters, Plants will likely have a harder time winning votes on August 18th, especially considering that the average age of voters in an off-year primary election like this is 62—not to mention the fact that real voting isn’t conducted by text message.

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