Mike O’Brien vs. Albert Shen
Challenger Albert Shen entered the August primary with a strong resume, lots of cash on hand, and a sterling endorsement from The Seattle Times. Thus the race for Council Position 8 held the promise of being an interesting one. Yet in the primary, freshman Councilman Mike O’Brien cruised to a 24-point victory.
Shen attributes his lackluster showing to being a first-time candidate whose name still is not in wide circulation. He’s running as a candidate, he says, who’ll take on big issues—transportation, education, the Duwamish River. “I believe the city’s responsibility is to take care of the basic needs of the city: potholes, public safety, public transportation that works; education. His (O’Brien’s) priorities are plastic bags and paper phone books.”
That is a reference to O’Brien’s successful sponsorship of Seattle’s plastic-bag ban (which one recent survey showed had a 62 percent approval rating in Seattle) and his attempt to ban phone books (which was successfully passed by the City Council but overturned in court). O’Brien says his first term shows he’s adept at getting results as an elected leader. He also points out his successful push for more affordable housing in South Lake Union and for public financing of City Council races. He also strongly supported the city’s sick-leave ordinance, which Shen argues hurts small businesses, especially those owned by minorities, part of an often-times clumsy attempt by Shen to highlight his Chinese heritage in the race (In July, he told The Stranger that he was running, in part, because there were no minorities on the council, then corrected himself when reminded of Bruce Harrell, who is African American and Japanese American. Then, in September, he made an almost identical mistake, telling Seattle Weekly that “we haven’t had an Asian-American on the council for a while.” Reminded of Harrell again, he said he meant to say Chinese-American).
In the primary, Shen spent twice as much as O’Brien and continues to outraise him, leading the incumbent by more than $40,000 as of Sept. 30, suggesting he does have a base. He also, predictably, got another endorsement from the city’s only daily newspaper this week. But O’Brien says the primary results speak volumes that “Seattle is much further left than The Seattle Times would seem to imply in their endorsement of Albert.”
Sally Bagshaw vs. Sam Bellomio
Sam Bellomio asserts that the members of the Seattle City Council are members of an aristocratic elite who are unwilling to change the current political order because they are thereby enriched and empowered. He is a fixture at council committee meetings, where he uses his allotted two minutes to rail against this paradigm, at times donning star-spangled costumes for patriotic effect. In September he called Tim Burgess a dick.
Remembering that Cervantes’ gentleman from La Mancha is so detached from reality that he wages battles against dragons that are not actually there, Bellomio’s race against first-term councilwoman Sally Bagshaw is Quixotic in the truest sense.
Nick Licata vs. the City Fruit Initiative
When I Googled “Fruit for City Council Seattle” in hopes of finding some information on candidate Edwin Fruit, who is challenging long-time councilman and poetry advocate Nick Licata, the top two results were for something called City Fruit.
City Fruit is a program that seeks to better use the veritable cornucopia that Seattle presents to us every year by teaching people how to get the most out of their fruit trees. According to its website, cityfruit.org, fruit too often “goes unused because people are not sure when to harvest it, how to eat it, or they are put off by damage caused by preventable disease and pests.”
Edwin Fruit, meanwhile, hasn’t mounted anything approaching a serious campaign against Licata.
Were Licata running against City Fruit instead of Edwin Fruit, he may have had to actually campaign. But as it is, Licata is getting a free pass to his fifth term in office.
Richard Conlin vs. Kshama Sawant
Read Matt Driscoll’s excellent examination of this “dispiriting” race here.