Editorials — August 4, 2015 10:16 — 0 Comments

Brett Hamil’s Election Advice

Wrtier Brett Hamil is holding a fundraiser for Councilmember Kshama Sawant on Thursday, Aug. 13th. We asked Brett for his thoughts on Sawant’s history in office and what his hopes are for this upcoming local election.


The fundraiser you’re doing for Kshama Sawant’s campaign must have two goals: to raise money for her and to get her message out. Can you elaborate on your mission? 

Kshama is the #1 reason I’m engaged in local politics. In her less than two years on the council she’s been able to completely change the civic conversation and tilt it towards the needs of actual, working people as much as she’s able to with the furious resistance of the do-nothing corporate-backed establishment politicians who try–and often fail–to thwart her at every turn.

She got the $15 minimum wage passed, she’s the only councilmember to vote against this proposed new $210 million youth jail they’re trying to cram down our throats and she helped prevent Seattle Housing Authority from hiking low-income housing rents by 400%. She’s getting things done and deserves to be elected to another term by a landslide so she can get to work on affordable housing, a situation that’s reached crisis levels.

I’ve made several videos about what a badass she is which probably explain it best. Here’s the first one:

And here’s the one about our current election cycle and her opponent in District 3:

I’ll give you a good example of how she’s changed the conversation: last year she blocked the CEO of City Light from getting a $60,000 raise. Before she was on the council, that obscene expenditure to one of the city’s already highest paid employees would’ve been quickly rubberstamped and never mentioned again, even though the average City Light worker only got a 2% cost-of-living raise. Kshama made a stink about it and rightly so.That CEO is retired now.

I want Kshama on city council to continue to make a stink about these types of things. I’d also like to see us elect more progressive candidates and vote out incumbents to form a new lefty voting bloc on the council.

Do you have any sense of who would be fit to join her on the City Council? 

Anyone But Burgess in D8–Grant or Roderick would be better than Seattle’s Shittiest Councilmember.

Anyone But Harrell in D2, my district–Morales or Farris would both be more likely to support Kshama’s work.

Michael Maddux in D4 because Jean Godden has been a worthless lackey of our ineffectual mayor.

Mike O’Brien in D6, but he needs to be a better ally to the left and I see him wavering a bit.

Lisa Herbold in D1. She was a highly effective legislative aide to Nick Licata, one of the city’s legendary progressives (seriously, go look up some of the cool/crazy grassroots organizing things he did before he became a councilmember–911 Media Arts Center, Coalition Against Redlining, the Seattle Sun alt-weekly).

Lorena Gonzalez in D9 because even working in the mayor’s office she was a powerful advocate for racial equity.

An easier way to put this would be to say, “Vote out any incumbent who foisted Bertha and the Viaduct Doom Portal on us.”

Oh and I’m waffling on D2 and D8 because those are both races I can vote in and I’ll fully support whichever challenger gets past the primaries to take down incumbents.

Actually, screw it: I voted for Jon Grant in D8. He has a greater grasp of affordable housing and tenant’s rights issues than anyone currently on the council–he was director of the Tenants Union for years. I talked to him for about a half hour about his plan and was solidly impressed by his mastery of a very difficult and contentious issue. He’s got his shit together on housing, big time. Though I’d be delighted to support Roderick too! He’s great. Like I said, Anyone But Burgess.

What are the top three issues voters should be paying attention to in the next two years? 

1. Affordable housing. This is an ongoing CRISIS–ask anyone who’s had to move off the hill in the past couple years, which is a staggering number of my friends. Someone tweeted the other day: “This is a city that’s decided to fix it in post.” So true. Sadly, once everyone I know is forced out of the metro area, there’s no fixing that in post.

2. Police accountability: our cops are currently being monitored by the justice department! Can you imagine! The nation’s top law enforcement agency is directing resources to keep an eye on our PD, that’s how bad it is.

Our cops use unconstitutional excessive force 20% of the time they use force. Brutalizing cops need to be held accountable, which is impossible under the current setup where they go before a majority-cop appeals panel. The mayor has unprecedently completely ignored the recommendations of the Community Police Commission, which is insane. He’s done nothing and he’s currently negotiating a new contract with SPOG. My video about them here:

As usual, the Stranger’s Ansel Herz is doing indispensable reporting on this. If you want to get an idea of the changes that need to be made, check out this article he wrote.

And for #3, there’s lots of issues that need to be addressed but my pet obsessions are the absolute toweringly insane failure of Bertha and the Viaduct Doom Portal:

And the need to build city-run municipal broadband network to run Comcast and CenturyLink out of the city. I hate those two companies with the burning heat of a thousand suns. It shouldn’t even be legal for regional monopolies like that to offer service as abysmal as they do. Unsurprisingly, Murray’s taken a commission-a-report-then-ignore-the-report-and-do-nothing approach. Here’s a recent video that ties together those two issues:

Can you point me to one or two specific examples (besides the amazing $15 Now campaign) where you think Kshama has made significant progress as a council member? 

First, you can’t understate the massive significance of the $15 minimum wage law, passed within 6 months of Sawant getting into office. Before that, when’s the last time you saw the national media openly grappling with the dignity and humanity of low-paid workers? Do you see the shrewdness and conviction it takes to make the most exploited people in our economy a vital part of the national conversation? Massive.

I also like how she joined the effort to successfully establish Indigenous People’s Day, replacing the horrific, genocide-glorifying Columbus Day. A symbolic but meaningful act, especially for those still impacted daily. Some damn acknowledgement for once.

Kshama made the first People’s Budget and succeeded in clawing more money into social services for the poor and working class along with getting raises for the city’s lowest-paid employees. Also: her socialist framework guarantees dependable and fierce advocacy for the homeless and unemployed.

Most important is her current push for affordable housing, rent control/stabilization and linkage fees on developers to fund a billion dollars’ worth of public/low income housing. The plan she and Jon Grant are pushing is the only viable plan out there protecting people who are CURRENTLY living in Seattle. This urbanist fantasy of totally unfettered development ignores the fact that those of us WHO LIVE HERE NOW won’t be able to afford all those brand new overpriced free-market trickledown condos and apartments that we ALREADY can’t afford. Speculative investment in housing has once again fucked us, this time in a whole new way, and we’re in a crisis. The crew of dingbats who foisted the criminally botched Bertha fiasco on us can’t be the ones calling the shots for something this important, something requiring real solutions and not just another round of big-money bonanzas. We need to empower Sawant to set the agenda this go-round.


Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

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