Thursday, August 08, 2013

For Seattle council: Conlin against Sawant, O’Brien against Shen

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle City Council incumbent Richard Conlin will face Kshama Sawant, a Seattle Central Community College economics instructor, in the November general election. Incumbent Mike O’Brien will square off against engineering consultant Albert Shen.
Don’t look for an overarching theme in the first-day returns for the two primary races.
Sawant, a socialist, says she’s challenging Conlin because the four-term incumbent is too conservative for Seattle. Brian Carver, the other Conlin challenger, raised more in campaign contributions than Sawant, but she touted endorsements from The Stranger, local labor unions and activists including Real Change director Tim Harris.
Conlin collected 49 percent of the vote to Sawant’s 33 percent and Carver’s 17 percent.
In the other council race, Shen says O’Brien, a one-termer, is too close to Mayor Mike McGinn. David Ishii, the other candidate challenging O’Brien, did not mount a serious campaign.
O’Brien won 57 percent to Shen’s 35 percent.
The two races will offer voters a real contrast in candidates.
Conlin, 65, was an early adopter of environmental sustainability and has been the council’s chief advocate for urban agriculture. He’s been endorsed by environmental, labor, business and Democratic Party groups. He has raised over $100,000 more than either of his opponents.
Sawant, 40, is running as a “socialist alternative” candidate. She ran for the Legislature last year against House Speaker Frank Chopp. She supports a $15-per-hour minimum wage, rent control and a tax on millionaires. She criticizes Conlin as the candidate of the corporate establishment. She has raised approximately $20,000 in campaign contributions. Conlin has raised $143,000.
O’Brien, 45, a former local Sierra Club activist, is considered McGinn’s most reliable ally on the council. He has successfully pushed onto the November ballot a proposal to have taxpayers finance council campaigns. And he led the council to increase affordable-housing fees for developers in South Lake Union. He’s been endorsed by numerous labor unions and Democratic Party groups.


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