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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

November 12, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Seattle City Council campaign round-up: Who’s running and who isn’t?

West Seattle (1st District)

The race for West Seattle’s Seattle City Council seat is becoming more congested than the West Seattle Bridge during rush hour.

Including George Capestany, a business consultant (and goat owner) who announced a bid Tuesday, there are now five people seeking the 1st District position as seven of the council’s nine seats move to geographic representation for the 2015 elections.

West Seattle Blog had the news first. Amanda Helmick, Chas Redmond, David Ishii and current City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen have all registered 1st District campaigns with the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission.

Capestany, 54, who worked for several years at the Master Builders Association, was born in Tacoma to Cuban immigrants and says he would be the first Hispanic to serve on the council.

He says he picked Veterans Day to launch his campaign because he served ten years in the Navy, six active, as a naval aircrewman and an anti-submarine warfare instructor.

Many West Seattle residents feel neglected by government, as do minority communities citywide, Capestany says. The 1st District also includes Delridge and South Park.

“The council needs to be more diverse,” Capestany said. “It seems kind of like a club to me. There are too many 9 to 0 votes.”

Capestany is taking aim at the most prominent name in the race. “The person in charge of transportation the last four years hasn’t seemed to do anything about congestion in West Seattle,” he said, referring to Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s transportation committee.

Northeast Seattle (4th District)

Walk, bike and ride advocate Rob Johnson will run for council in the 4th District on a transportation platform, he said Wednesday. The district includes University District, Roosevelt, Ravenna, Laurelhurst and View Ridge above the ship canal. It also takes in part of Eastlake.

“There are a lot of projects underway that need a little TLC,” Johnson said. “I’m a guy who can help bring these projects home and make it easier for people to get around without a car.”

Johnson, 36, says work on the new Highway 520 floating bridge will include opportunities to “re-knit Montlake and Husky Stadium with some great bike and pedestrian infrastructure.”

Three of five light-rail stations set to open in Seattle in coming years will be located in the 4th District, at Husky Stadium, the University District and Roosevelt, he added.

Johnson, who spent time as a transportation planner in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, is executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition, a nonprofit. He chaired the campaign for the $45 million bus service ballot measure that voters approved earlier this month.

The Seattle native, who lives in Ravenna, will take on current Councilmember Jean Godden and Michael Maddux, a Democratic Party activist who pushed for the new Seattle Park District.

“This campaign is going to be about knocking on doors and talking to people,”Johnson said. “The district model is going to change the way people get elected. My hope is to be talking to people every weekend from now until August.”

Johnson also identified housing affordability and public school capacity as key issues. “I want to make sure density works for people of all income levels and for families,” he said.

Capitol Hill (3rd District)

The American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who led the successful campaign to legalize marijuana in Washington state won’t run for the council’s 3rd District seat, which includes Capitol Hill, Madison Park and the Central District.

Alison Holcomb caused a stir over the summer when she said she would likely challenge current Councilmember Kshama Sawant for the position. Holcomb bowed out last week after she was named national director of a new ACLU campaign to end mass incarceration.

“I was 99 percent certain I was going to run,” Holcomb said by phone Tuesday, minutes after wrapping up a television interview for MSNBC’s NOW with Alex Wagner. “I was scheduling meetings, talking to people. My plan was to announce in early January.”

Before her change of heart, the stage was set for a brutal race between Holcomb and the council’s socialist firebrand.

Holcomb, whose husband owns a Capitol Hill bar, indicated she would protect small businesses and work on quality of life issues. She accused Sawant of demonizing business owners earlier this year during the push for Seattle to adopt a higher minimum wage.

“What concerned us was the way certain people were advised it had to happen,” she said Tuesday. “If you were concerned, you were either a bad person, not progressive and wanting to exploit your employees or you were just dumb. The debate didn’t need to go there.”

Holcomb says someone else should challenge Sawant, who did well in a recent approval poll, unless she pays more attention to constituent services. “The people of the district deserve to have someone who understands the job,” Holcomb said, mentioning potholes and street crime.

Comments | More in Local government, Marijuana, Minimum wage, Politics Northwest, Seattle City Council, State government | Topics: 2015 Seattle City Council elections, Alison Holcomb, George Capestany

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