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

February 10, 2015 at 11:21 AM

Tenants Union leader will take on Burgess or Clark in Seattle City Council campaign

Jonathan Grant

City Council candidate Jonathan Grant

Jonathan Grant wants to be the new Nick Licata.

Grant, executive director of the Tenants Union of Washington State, announced his Seattle City Council candidacy Tuesday with a tip of his hat to the longtime, lefty council member.

Licata said last month he won’t pursue re-election.

“With Nick Licata announcing he will not run again, I decided to run so that Seattleites have a solidly progressive candidate who shares his values and will push the envelope to get things done,” Grant said in a news release.

The 32-year-old, who lives Southeast Seattle’s Brighton neighborhood, will seek one of two citywide seats as the council moves to representation by geographic districts for seven of its nine positions.

He hasn’t decided whether to test Council President Tim Burgess or Councilmember Sally Clark.

Being a “progressive candidate,” to Grant, means campaigning on “economic relief for renters and homeowners, greater police accountability, and campaign finance reform to level the playing field against moneyed interests in politics.”

Seattle should enact limits on rental move-in deposits and fees and should pass a resolution directing the state Legislature to reinstate the ability of local governments to restrict rent increases, Grant says.

The city should also institute and fund a “principal reduction program” for homeowners who owe more on their mortgages then their homes are worth, he says.

“Jon firmly believes that to make all these changes possible, we must get money out of politics as too many on the City Council accept campaign contributions from (real estate) developers, and he would push for public financing for local elections,” Grant’s news release said.

The candidate says he declared before picking a specific race in order begin raising money right away. He hopes to collect at least $100,000 in campaign contributions.

In his 2011 race, Burgess drummed up more than $250,000. Clark snared more than $240,000.

“I’m going to be at a fundraising disadvantage,” Grant said in an interview Tuesday.

“The only way someone like me can win is to rely heavily on the relationships I’ve built in the community over the last ten years of doing housing-justice work.”

Three candidates have lined up against Burgess thus far: John Persak, David Trotter and Alex Tsimerman. Bill Bradburd, Terry Hoffman and David Ishii are taking on Clark.

With the Tenants Union since 2010, Grant pushed the city to require rental housing inspections. His organization recently took Seattle to court over a redevelopment project on vacant public land across the street from City Hall and helped block a Seattle Housing Authority plan to raise rents.

Comments | More in Local government, Politics Northwest, Seattle City Council | Topics: 2015 Seattle City Council elections, Brighton, Jonathan Grant

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