Work the Vote is Working Washington's Voters Guide for the 2015 Elections in Seattle. Each week, we'll send out a question to everyone running in each of the nine Seattle City Council races, and then post the answers here so voters can see out how the candidates make their case on workers issues.

First, we asked for brief videos from the candidates making the case why they were the better choice for workers. This week we asked for more information about endorsements by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Restaurant Association.


Chamber of Secrets?

Big business lobby groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Restaurant Association are typically the most prominent opponents of higher wages, paid sick days, and other workers rights issues. They also endorse candidates, but their process and agenda are bit of a mystery. We know they have questionnaires and even interviews, but what happens there is rarely made public, and it's not always clear why they end up backing the candidates they do.

So we asked each candidate to go public with the candidate questionnaires they completed for the Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Restaurant Association (aka Washington Hospitality PAC). In addition, we asked for them to answer two additional questions: 

  1. If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.
  2. Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

We'll post the answers below as we receive them


District 2 (Southeast Seattle)

Bruce Harrell

For all related questionnaire requests, I ask all organizations to contact the respective organizations about releasing the questionnaires.  I have granted the authority to these organizations to release my questionnaire.  My positions advocating for fair wages, equal treatment and employee empowerment have been consistent and transparent.

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

These organizations are among the 45 organizations that have endorsed me for Seattle City Council District 2.  I have also received endorsements from 26 labor organizations representing 200,000 teachers, nurses, construction workers, food workers, janitors, security guards, transit operators and others represented by UFCW 21, M.L. King County Labor Council, UNITE HERE Local 8, SEIU Healthcare 775NW, and other labor groups.  The labor movement supports me and not my opponent; I am the only one with a background in fighting for labor rights. 

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

Again, I advise contacting these groups and ask them why they endorsed me for Seattle City Council. 

I believe I have the track-record of working collaboratively with labor, businesses, and social justice organizations, and the ability to just get things done. The growing disparity among underrepresented diverse cultures and a weakening middle-class needs to be at the forefront of our city politics.  I am known as a strong legal advocate for fairness to all; that is why social justice leaders support me.  Ban the box, paid sick and safe time, minimum wage, policy responsibility for Seattle Office for Civil Rights, are all values that they know I hold high. 

As an attorney, I have worked in board rooms, courtrooms, with neighborhood communities across Seattle, and walked our toughest streets.  I have served as counsel to many non-profits, housing and social justice organizations.  This has allowed me to develop strong listening skills and advocacy skills to find the best solutions for all.  The people of Seattle know that with me, what you see is what you get.  They can trust in my abilities to be transparent and forthcoming and I have demonstrated that to the City. 

Tammy Morales

I did not submit a WRA questionnaire because I was not seeking their support.

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

I haven’t received endorsements, direct contributions, or any IE from either of these groups because I am an outspoken advocate for progressive taxation and other measures to protect small businesses and low-wage workers. This is stark contrast to my opponent, who has received maxed out donations from both CASE and WRA.

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

My opponent received these contributions because he has been in office for 8 years and in that time has gotten very close to the powerbrokers and others who spend to influence policy in our city. Mr. Harrell has been a reliable ally for both of these organizations in his time in office, during which time he presided over growing income inequality, an affordability crisis that is pushing people out of the city, and the displacement of small businesses. 


District 4 (Wallingford, U District, Eastlake) 

Rob Johnson

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

The Rob for Seattle campaign has been endorsed by, and has received both a direct contribution of $700 (the maximum donation), and an independent expenditure from CASE and the WA Restaurant Association. The independent expenditure received contributions of $46,500 and $25,000 from CASE and the WA Restaurant Assc. Hospitality PAC, respectively.

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

I dislike the way some people have portrayed the “People for Rob” independent expenditure. It’s odd to see yourself in the news and be branded as in the pockets of corporate interests. I’ve always disliked the influence of outside money in politics; this is, unfortunately, the reality of our post-Citizens’ United American electoral landscape.

As a progressive non-profit executive director proudly endorsed by UFCW 21, SEIU 925 and Local 6, Sierra Club, Cascade Bicycle Club and other strong advocates for working families and diverse, vibrant communities, I am learning in this campaign that you can remain true to your values and still earn the backing of certain groups that some don’t see as the most progressive organizations in Seattle. I’d like to think the support of labor, environmental, and business groups speaks more to my hard work, coalition building skills, and straight-forward approach as much as anything.  Our campaign has picked up votes and supporters by knocking on over 25,000 doors, making thousands of phone calls, and recruiting almost two hundred volunteers.

I've been nothing but up front with the people I work with, whether you're on the left or the right. I don't always agree with the Chamber or the Restaurant Association's politics all the time, but they still endorse me as a candidate despite. While I welcome the support of a diverse set of organizations, I also want to be clear that my positions— rooted in my proven track record of progressive issue advocacy— remain rock solid and focused on how we can work together, business and labor, builders and environmentalists, renters and home owners, for a Seattle that is more affordable, fair, and responsive to the needs of all.

Michael Maddux

First, here is my questionnaire from the Chamber. I never received a questionnaire from the WRA, just did an interview. 

On to the questions,

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

I have not. My opponent was the beneficiary of a significant independent expenditure campaign funded by the Chamber, the Rental Housing Association, and the Washington Restaurant Association in the primary.

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

Putting my political hat on, I believe the Chamber of Commerce and Washington Restaurant Association want a Council Member who they believe will work "better" with them and will be more inclined to support their agendas. My campaign has been focused on, among other things, supporting small businesses, and working with them on implementation strategies with regard to local labor laws designed to protect workers. I have made clear to all groups I speak with - and I speak with anyone that asks - that my door remains open, but working families and small businesses will be permanent fixtures in my office. I'm not running to be a mediator; I'm running to represent the families of District 4. I run with a long history of effective advocacy behind me - whether it be connecting homeless youth with housing while working for Planned Parenthood; representing workers at the bargaining table (after preventing a decertification drive) while with UFCW 1001; ten years working as a litigation paralegal, primarily representing people in civil litigation matters against insurers, as well as victims of excessive force and child abuse; various leadership positions in the Democratic Party; and notably, work with our parks. This broad experience, with numerous progressive successes, has prepared me to be an effective advocate for the people and small businesses of our city. Frankly, if I were an economically conservative group, I wouldn't want me on council, either. I’m all about collaboration, but collaboration from the perspective of benefiting working families first.

 


District 5 (North Seattle)

SANDY BROWN

Please find Sandy Brown's CASE questionnaire attached, we never did a restaurant questionnaire however.  

Please find Sandy Brown's CASE questionnaire attached, we never did a restaurant questionnaire however.  

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

 
I have not received endorsements, direct contributions or independent expenditures from either of these groups. My opponent however has been endorsed by CASE.
 
2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did?
 
I believe I was not chosen for a CASE endorsement because when asked by its endorsement committee which current city council member I most respected, I answered “Nick Licata,” one of Seattle’s most stalwart progressives. Furthermore, my longstanding work on homelessness and my strong support from the labor community (including endorsements from 24 labor unions) positioned me as pro-labor and pro-human services candidate, two sectors opposed by CASE.
 
The Chamber has long been involved in trying to guide Seattle government in an economically-conservative direction, standing against important legislation for working families. While the Chamber has indeed taken progressive stances on social issues such as marriage equality, it remains committed to the kind of economic conservatism that continues to promote widespread income inequity.
 
As the child of two blue-collar workers, a Mexican-American mother and a Boeing Machinist father, I have always had a strong connection with the working class. I carried this legacy into my professional career and while I value economic development, I have shown a consistent commitment to working with and helping the every-day workers that make our country and city great. Enforcing a $15 minimum wage and fair workweeks and creating affordable housing are top priorities in keeping Seattle livable for all. I’m disappointed that our business community, as represented by CASE, seems opposed to these goals.
 
Additionally, I have made the commitment to limiting the influence of wealthy individual donors and large organizations that seek to influence elections through independent expenditures. I have already endorsed I-222 and will be voting for it in November.
 
Unlike my opponent, I support I-735 and its call for a constitutional amendment to undo the influence of Citizens United v. FEC. Our District 5 race had the largest total amount of independent expenditures of any race in the 2015 Seattle City Council primary. We deserve a fair hearing of our issues without big expenditures from outside organizations attempting to influence votes and buy elections.

Debora Juarez

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

Neither my opponent nor I received an endorsement or contribution from these groups in our primary election. However, I have received notice from CASE and the Hospitality PAC that they intend to endorse my campaign in the general election. Neither group has donated or done an IE in our race so far. 

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did?

These groups didn't endorse in the primary because there was no candidate in our race who aligned with their agenda. Even though I made it clear in my interview that I support the $15 minimum wage, paid sick and family leave, and predictable scheduling, I think they eventually chose to support my campaign because they too find value in building more transportation infrastructure, increasing the supply of affordable housing, and increasing the number and diversity of businesses in District 5.


District 7 (Downtown, Magnolia, SouthLake Union)

Sally Bagshaw

Here are my questionnaires -- CASE and DSA.  I wanted you to have both.


Position 8 (Citywide)

Tim Burgess

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

Yes, both CASE and the Restaurant Association have donated $700 to my campaign, which is the legal maximum.  I have not benefited from any IE expenditures.

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did?

These organizations support my re-election because they know I listen carefully to all sides with every issue and then make my own independent decisions. I was the key negotiator on the City Council's passage of paid sick/safe leave, voted in favor of the $15 minimum wage increase, and have supported worker rights at every opportunity. Another example of "competing" sides working for my re-election is the hotel workers unions, Unite HERE Local 8, and the Seattle Hotel Association. Both of these groups have donated to my campaign and endorsed me. They do so because they know I will be fair in my deliberations of public policy. I'm proud of the broad support I have received because of my collaborative approach to public policy.

Jon Grant

1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

My opponent received the sole endorsement from both the Chamber of Commerce and Washington Restaurant Association. While they have not set up an independent expenditure group, my opponent has raised $325,000 in direct contributions from the CEO's and wealthy individuals that represent their interests. I have refused to take any contributions from any Chamber related group, whether it is PAC, CEO, or otherwise. I stand with workers and the community and only take grassroots contributions for my campaign. You can draw a direct line between the campaign contributions my opponent accepts from these wealthy interest groups and the influence on his policy decisions. We also assume that when ballots drop a Independent Expenditure group will materialize in our race to push their agenda.

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

My opponent has championed the interests of downtown developers and the Chamber of Commerce his entire eight years in office, but only now that he is facing truly a progressive challenger has he been adopting many of my policy positions. Where he previously opposed these issues, he now has flipped his position and supports legalized homeless encampments, increasing affordable housing fees on developers, opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership, endorsing campaign finance reform through the Honest Elections initiative, enacting an Employee Hours Tax, lifting the ban on rent control, and more. But that was all just in an election year.

After the election downtown industry groups know he will be right back in their corner pushing their agenda. There are many examples of Tim Burgess pushing a corporate agenda at the expense of workers and our community. In 2013 he watered down the incentive zoning program in South Lake Union that could have assessed an $85 per square foot fee on development, and instead knocked it down to $22 per square feet, leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table for affordable housing in the midst of a housing crisis. When preschool educators introduce an initiative to raise their wages, he pitted his own pre-school initiative against them forcing voters to choose one or the other, denying teachers a much needed wage increase. When Whole Foods was seeking an alley vacation from the City, he voted to approve it without requiring living wages and fair benefits for their employees. Tim also led the charge to pass the anti-pan handling ordinance which would have criminalized people trying to survive on the street. He successfully repealed the Employee Hours Tax in 2009 which lost the city tens of millions of dollars in revenue to pay for our transit infrastructure, which now is going to be paid for by the public with the Move Seattle $930 million dollar levy.

Big business has a lot at stake in this election. They know if I win I will be a champion for progressive revenue reform that will come out of their pockets rather than the public, that I will be an unwavering champion on workers' and tenants' rights, push for the maximum development fees to keep our housing affordable, and take on bold new initiatives to close the gender wage gap such as implementing a 12-week paid parental leave program. It's not just what Tim will do for them, it's stopping me from advancing a truly progressive agenda to make Seattle affordable for all.


Position 9 (Citywide)

Lorena Gonzalez

No response to questions submitted.


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Return your ballot by November 3rd...

Ballots will be mailed out in mid-October, and must be postmarked by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2015.