Dreaming of a mayor to save Seattle

Dreaming of a mayor to save Seattle

The campaign for a new Seattle mayor has begun with a rush of candidates. Which means the campaign for wanting to have someone else has really started.

The other day at a rally in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, Gary Locke, former two-term governor, cabinet secretary and all-round fixer, gave a speech condemning hate crimes against Asian Americans.

“We are always treated like foreigners,” thundered Locke, 71, a Chinese-American. “We cannot be scapegoated for this virus. Hate is the virus! “

“Former Washington Governor GARY LOCKE: Throw,” said a television reporter at the rally, adding a short video that was then shared on social media.

“Just one of a million reasons why Gary Locke should run for mayor of Seattle,” commented a Democratic campaigner from Seattle, adding a hashtag “ReadyForGary”.

This brought the punderati to the expert.

“Locke’s entry into the race would fundamentally change the dynamic,” speculated DJ Wilson, editor of Washington State Wire’s political website, in a post titled “Gary Locke for Seattle Mayor?”

“Gary Locke is causing a bit of a stir.”

Wilson explained his take on Seattle politics and why Locke would be a dream candidate. In city elections, Wilson says a politician usually runs “in an institutional way to Seattle” against a candidate who is more anti-establishment and ideological. Think of it as two sides of Seattle’s identity – our love of trial versus our love of protest.

Wilson argued that the trail is wide open for a consensus-building candidate who may resemble retired Mayor Jenny Durkan in political style and makeup.

“In Seattle politics, there will very likely be at least one Seattle-style institutional candidate in the general election this year. And if so, that person has not yet announced their candidacy, ”wrote Wilson.

I don’t know, in Seattle all candidates are to the left of 99% of the Senate. Maybe I’ve lost my ability to see. However, what strikes me about the 15-candidate field for mayors so far is how mainstream and non-radical and Seattle process-dependent it is mostly.

Arguably five of the top candidates are City Council President M. Lorena González, Former City Council President Bruce Harrell, Seattle Club Executive Director, Colleen Echohawk, Former State Representative Jessyn Farrell, and Lance Randall, Director of Economic Development South East Effective Development (SEED)). None of them was seen cruising around with megaphones against capitalism, à la Kshama Sawant.

Echohawk has overseen the construction of $ 100 million in affordable housing and has been an ally of Durkan. Harrell was a lawyer in the telecommunications industry who has been approved by the Chamber of Commerce in the past, as was González (this time she probably won’t be, having recently deviated further to the left on the council). Farrell, a transit attorney, is a traditional, non-radical Green who was a major Democrat during her tenure in Olympia. Randall’s group has developed and owns more than 1,000 residential units in Seattle.

No, the fascinating early dynamic in the Seattle Mayor’s race is that there is a left-wing activist candidate – and his campaign is the one that comes out of the gate.

Andrew Grant Houston – probably never heard of him, right? But the 31-year-old architect and green new dealer, who has never run for office, has already raised $ 175,000 in campaign funds. That is more than what was spent in the last Mayor’s Primary School in 2017 by all but two of the 22 candidates.

One big difference this time around is that mayoral candidates will for the first time have access to publicly funded democracy vouchers, and Houston incorporated them by making what is by far the left-wing grassroots appeal of all candidates. Examples: He’s for rent control. He is in favor of defusing the police by at least 50% (González in particular appears to have withdrawn from their support and the other top candidates did not accept it). He is in favor of making the entire transit free. He also envisions a city where “personal vehicles no longer exist”.

I’m not saying Houston will be elected. I say he has mojo. By comparison, the rest of the field is safe and consensual – perhaps too much to really get the movement going in Seattle. Again, this is due to the unusual terrain of politics in Seattle. In my opinion, a sizable segment of Seattle’s voters have gone into port so badly that one or more of these other candidates will likely have to go further left rather than center to get through the August primaries.

That brings me back to Locke. Is there still a place in the politics of Seattle for a centrist, fiscally thrifty coalition democrat?

“I love fixing things and Seattle definitely needs a lot to fix,” Locke said when I put him on the phone.

Then he told me stories about how he, as Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, brought the US $ 2 billion census under budget in 2010. As well as his ideas on how to fix the difficult vaccination system in the state.

He somehow sounded like he was a candidate for something. Then he dropped this uncomfortable fact.

“I don’t live in Seattle anymore,” said Locke. “I live in Bellevue.”

Oh. Candidates for Mayor of Seattle must be registered voters in Seattle as per the city’s electoral rules.

That’s how it’s been going for Seattle lately. Even our dreams went to Bellevue.

Danny Westneat:
[email protected]; Danny Westneat takes a look at the news, people and politics of the Puget Sound area.