If you decide to run for Port Commission, make sure you have lots and lots of money. That's the major lesson observers can draw from this year's Port final, which matches Laurie McDonald-Jonsson and Bob Edwards.
McDonald-Jonsson, who negotiated the crowded primary election through a $86,030 television advertising buy, plans to hit television again hard before the November 2 election. The Edwards campaign was hoping they'd caught the "cruise ship heiress" (her nickname among the nonbelievers) in a violation of election law, as her campaign coffers contained just a few thousand dollars and candidates cannot donate more than $5,000 to their own campaign in the 21 days before the election. Curiously enough, what McDonald-Jonsson actually did was pay for her television ads out-of-pocket, in hopes of being reimbursed partially from the proceeds of her recent fundraising event. Impressive stuff, as "reimbursable expenses" charges in a political campaign generally mean paying for pizza for the volunteers; McDonald-Jonsson instead wrote a check for $90,000 in TV time. And she didn't have to worry that it might bounce—the candidate's disclosure forms show she has at least $4.2 million in stock holdings alone.
While acknowledging that her client is filthy rich, political consultant Cathy Allen notes that Edwards is no pauper. The financial adviser has a bulging stock portfolio of his own, and he's dumped $123,000 into his campaign in the last two months, albeit in the form of loans from himself, his wife, his father, and others. While Edwards' fundraising has been decent for a Port commission campaign, he isn't going to be able to repay many of these loans with the $50 and $100 donations he's been getting. Win or lose, expect Edwards' financial worth to take a tumble this November.
Rage to endorse
City Council members don't always get to choose their own colleagues, but some are eager to try, based on this campaign season's endorsement lists.
Council member Tina Podlodowski held a big fundraising breakfast for candidate Heidi Wills in early October. The event was attended by a who's who of the Seattle power elite and raised about $21,000 for Wills' race against Charlie Chong. Podlodowski, whose public battles with Chong during his year as a council member were legendary, isn't shy about explaining her actions. "I spent a year sitting next to Charlie on the dais," she says. "I appreciate his opinions, but I just don't think he's interested in actually moving along any solutions." She describes Wills as an interesting mix of her council colleagues Margaret Pageler and Sue Donaldson. "[Wills] comes with experience and she's willing to listen," she notes.
Council incumbent Nick Licata is working the other side in that race—his endorsement of Chong is prominently featured on that candidate's final election mailings. Licata has also endorsed candidates Dawn Mason and Judy Nicastro. "They're the folks who have stuck their head up the furthest on issues that I think are of concern to a lot of the people who generally don't have access to City Hall," Licata says of his slate. "I'm sure I will have disagreements with all of them on various topics, but I respect their credentials as civic activists and I think they would add a broader view to the City Council."
Among the other council picks: Podlodowski is backing Mason and Cheryl Chow; council president Sue Donaldson and retiring incumbent Martha Choe both like Jim Compton and Wills; and incumbents Jan Drago and Richard Conlin are also backing Wills.
News from the front
*The noble-sounding Safe Streets and Parks for All, an establishment-funded independent expenditure campaign, is working to elect a slate of moderates to City Council by bashing the homeless. The four candidates found worthy of protecting us from the ragged masses are Chow, Compton, Wills, and Pageler. Somewhat embarrassed to find herself on the list is Wills, who has portrayed herself on the campaign trail as being sympathetic to amending or repealing some of the "street civility" laws. This proves we've underestimated Heidi—most folks thought she'd be in office for at least a month before she started waffling on her few "progressive" campaign stands.
*After a so-so performance in the primary, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer distinguished itself with great final election coverage by reporter Kery Murakami and a series of first-person editorial page pieces by each council and school board candidate. Maybe they really are going to run the Times out of business.
*Speaking of the afternoon daily, this marks the second straight city election in which The Seattle Times has succumbed to establishment pressure and switched its final election endorsement to the downtown-approved candidate. This year's victim is Judy Nicastro, a co-endorsee in the primary but rejected in the final for business-backed Cheryl Chow.
*Adding to Nicastro's woes is a $25,000 donation from the Apartment Association of Seattle-King County to an independent expenditure committee headed by AASK's own executive director. The committee, known as Citizens Working for a Better Tomorrow, will blast Nicastro's efforts to convince state legislators to repeal a ban on local rent control laws. Guess this means that higher housing prices are an essential element of "a better tomorrow."