Morning Fizz

36th Endorses González, Rejects Burgess

Caffeinated news featuring more city council endorsements

By Josh Feit May 21, 2015

Caffeinated News

The week of endorsements continues: Last night, the 36th District Democrats (Ballard, Greenwood, Queen Anne) made its choices in the city council races. (Like the other districts, the 36th only endorsed in races where the newly districted city council seats overlap with their state house boundaries.)

The 36th's picks? First: Council member Mike O'Brien (whose position six council seat is smack dab in the middle of the 36th) and Sally Bagshaw (she's in position seven, which has some 36th overlap in Queen Anne and Magnolia, but mostly represents downtown).

In the most newsworthy endorsements of the batch, though, the 36th went with Lorena González in citywide position nine—and no endorsement in the other citywide seat, position eight.

The González endorsement capsizes the idea that the current election is shaping up as a Throwback Thursday mandate for the lesser Seattle neighborhood movement. González's opponent is Seattle Neighborhood Coalition chair and anti–pod apartment crusader Bill Bradburd, whose protect-Seattle pitch to the 36th led with: "For the last 10 years, I've worked to protect our neighborhoods and our quality of life.... [A]s chair of the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, I have valuable experience working on issues of zoning and development.... [T]oday, Seattle is far more under the control of development interests than...of the citizens who live here.... [U]nfettered development is displacing our neighbors and destroying the character of our neighborhoods...."

That type of rhetoric is supposed to wow the 36th, the supposed weather vane of Seattle's suburban aesthetic. O'Brien's recent bows to the antidensity push (cool it on pod apartments, ease up on density in low-rise multifamily zones) had been seen as a sign that he—once the premier urbanist on the council—was wary of his new status as a districted council member in single-family turf like the 36th. (His opponent, Catherine Weatbrook, is cochair of the City Neighborhood Council.)

González's pitch on the related issue of affordable housing prioritized increasing the housing levy (a property tax on everybody, not just evil developers). González does see fees on developers as "necessary and appropriate to help us," but describes developers as a "powerful partner for us moving forward on affordablity" and talks about development incentives as much as she talks about fees.  On growth itself, González, who said "Growth is happening because we're such a great city," added that it highlighted the need to focus on transit, long-term policies to promote housing affordability, and budgeting "for a strong safety net."

Burgess failed to score the required simple majority vote last night to go
along with the executive committee's recommendation.

Meanwhile, the nonendorsement in the other at-large spot, position eight, is a blow to incumbent city council president Tim Burgess. Going into last night, Burgess had actually gotten the recommendation from the 36th executive board (as had O'Brien, Bagshaw, and González). Burgess, who's running against renters' rights advocate Jon Grant and successful indie rock and roller John Roderick, failed to score the required simple majority vote last night to go along with the executive committee's recommendation. He then tried for a dual endorsement with Grant, but that proposal failed to get the two-thirds required.

The 36th also went with no endorsement, as the executive board had recommended, in the crowded race in North Seattle's position five. Thirty-Sixth chair Jeff Manson told Fizz that narrowing the field to just one or two top picks was impossible because there are too many good candidates.

Side note on González pitch to the 36th: Supposedly a member of mayor Ed Murray's "establishment" coterie—González was Murray's legal counsel—she told the executive board the current council member she most respected was Murray antagonist Kshama Sawant. "This may come as a surprise, but I have a great amount of respect for council member Sawant." She explains: "I may not agree with some of her policy direction, but I do respect the fact that she fundamentally understands who her constituency is, who she represents, and what her values are."

Meanwhile, for more curve balls in endorsement land, check out yesterday's Afternoon Jolt: "Overlapping Chamber, Sierra Club Endorsements Blow Up Trite Sound Bite Analysis of Council Races."

West Seattle's 34th Legislative District also endorsed last night; its endorsement in position one, West Seattle, is a potential bellwether: The 34th went with a dual endorsement of Nick Licata aide Lisa Herbold and Joe McDermott aide Shannon Braddock. Meanwhile, in the two at-large spots, Burgess shared a dual endorsement with Grant and, again, in a sign that there doesn't appear to be a neighborhood revolution going on, West Seattle (even more provincial than the 36th) endorsed González along with Bradburd.


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