Mayor's Race 2017

Council Members Divided on Endorsements for Mayor

Mike O'Brien contributed $250 to both Nikkita Oliver and Cary Moon, their campaigns said.

By Hayat Norimine June 5, 2017

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Before mayor Ed Murray dropped his reelection bid, in the midst of a lawsuit alleging he sexually abused 46-year-old Delvonn Heckard in Heckard's teens (the 1980s), the mayor had endorsements from five Seattle council members. With Murray gone, council members' endorsements have shown just how divided the race (and vote) might be. 

Updated Tuesday at 3:30pm: Jenny Durkan has received three council members' endorsements—along with Sally Bagshaw, that includes Tim Burgess and Debora Juarez (all former Murray supporters), according to her campaign. Burgess and his wife and Bagshaw and her husband each contributed $500 to her campaign in May, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission reports filed Monday afternoon. 

Two other council members have officially endorsed different mayoral candidates (Kshama Sawant for Nikkita Oliver and Rob Johnson for Jessyn Farrell). Mike O'Brien hasn't endorsed anyone yet—but he did contribute $250 to Oliver's campaign on May 16, according to a new campaign disclosure report. Cary Moon's campaign told PubliCola he contributed the same amount to Moon that same day. The next campaign disclosure date is next week.

O'Brien told PubliCola, just two days following his contribution, that he probably planned to endorse but not for another few weeks at least.

"I'm excited to hear some candidates take some substantive positions," O'Brien wrote on May 18. "There is lots of time." 

O'Brien's been known as a long-time ally of former mayor Mike McGinn, having worked with him at the Stokes Lawrence law firm and the Sierra Club. O'Brien was also the only council member who sided with McGinn against the Alaskan Way tunneling project in 2011. John Wyble, McGinn's political consultant, said Monday he didn't know whether McGinn asked O'Brien for his endorsement. 

Bagshaw, Burgess, Juarez, Lorena Gonzalez, and Bruce Harrell all endorsed Murray long before the lawsuit emerged on April 6. When Murray dropped out, Burgess told PubliCola he didn't plan to endorse anyone else for mayor. Juarez, Gonzalez, and Harrell haven't commented.

Lisa Herbold also said she won't be endorsing anyone.

"I feel like endorsing a mayoral candidate could compromise public perception of my independence from a future mayor, which I really value," Herbold wrote. "So no, I'm not planning to do so, though I reserve the right to change my mind post-primary."

Here are the other council members' statements on their choices:

Bagshaw, who worked with Durkan for more than a decade, was a chief civil deputy prosecutor of the prosecuting attorney's office when Durkan was a U.S. attorney: "She is very stable, very steady, very solid Democrat with the ability to pull people together and solve problems. And she's not a vindictive person. This is a very good thing."

Sawant endorsed Oliver alongside her party, Socialist Alternative, and said in a statement: “By building movements, from 15 Now to the 1,000 Homes Coalition, we in Socialist Alternative have fought alongside working people to win truly progressive legislation. But just as important is ending big developers' domination over City Hall. Electing Oliver and Grant as independent, anti-corporate candidates would represent a major step forward in building the political power of renters, workers and the poor in Seattle.”

Johnson and Farrell were both former directors of the Transportation Choices Coalition: "I know she’s got the policy chops and political skill to be able to continue the work that we have started at the city to really make sure we’re building affordable housing near our transit centers." And, he said, he wants more parents's voices at the city for next year's pre-K and families and education levy proposals: "We need somebody with experience in our public schools to be our voice as we put forth those packages to our voters next fall to make sure that we have the right set of investments for our kids and our schools."

Updated June 5, 2017, at 2:30pm: This post adds that Cary Moon's campaign said O'Brien contributed the same amount.

Updated June 6, 2017, at 3:50pm: This post includes endorsements from Tim Burgess and Debora Juarez, as well as council members' contributions to Bagshaw's campaign.

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