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Seattle City Council election highlights business-versus-labor struggle

The Seattle City Council, which often prides itself as a defender of workers’ rights amid one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., might look totally different after Nov. 5 general elections.

All seven of the Council’s district seats are on the ballot but only three incumbents are running, including District 1 representative Lisa Herbold, who squared off against Phillip Tavel in the final public debate of the race last night.

As in most of the other districts’ debates, pro-business vs. pro-labor emerged as a hot topic: Herbold, who is endorsed by the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, pointed out Tavil’s campaign donations from Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. The candidates found common ground on other issues, like taxing the income of rich Seattleites and limiting corporations’ spending in elections.

For a wider snapshot of the candidates’ positions, the Seattle Times asked each of them a list of Yes/No/Maybe questions on some of the most important topics facing the city, including homelessness, rent control and business taxation. The candidates were also asked to name the most important problem in Seattle and pick which committee they would chair, if elected.

Here’s a breakdown of their answers, with links to each Q&A:

Lisa Herbold

What’s the city’s most important problem? Affordability/homelessness

What committee would you like to chair? Public safety

Phillip Tavel

What’s the city’s most important problem? Not effectively and equitably delivering services to address housing, mental-health, public-safety and substance-disorder issues

What committee would you like to chair? Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education

Mark Solomon

What’s the city’s most important problem? Affordable livability

What committee would you like to chair? Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education

Tammy Morales

What’s the city’s most important problem? Inequality and racial disparities in wealth, housing, education, health care and justice

What committee would you like to chair? Planning, Land Use and Zoning

Egan Orion

What’s the city’s most important problem? Without a doubt the homelessness crisis and all its parts — the shelter crisis, mental-health and substance-abuse crisis and the affordability crisis — is the most pressing issue in the daily lives of citizens, both sheltered and unsheltered.

What committee would you like to chair? Human Services, Equitable Development and Renter Rights

Kshama Sawant

What’s the city’s most important problem? We need to make Seattle a city that is affordable for all.

What committee would you like to chair? Human Services, Equitable Development and Renter Rights

Alex Pedersen

What’s the city’s most important problem? Residents and local businesses want and deserve more accountability from their City Council.

What committee would you like to chair? Utilities, Housing or Budget

Shaun Scott

What’s the city’s most important problem? A regressive tax climate that balances budgets on the backs of working people, students and vulnerable homeowners

What committee would you like to chair? Planning, Land Use and Zoning

Ann Davison Sattler

What’s the city’s most important problem? Homelessness combined with an opioid epidemic

What committee would you like to chair? Housing, Health and Workers’ Rights

Debora Juarez

What’s the city’s most important problem? Seattle, especially District 5, is growing at a rapid rate so we need to focus on homelessness, public safety and the need for more transportation options like light rail.

What committee would you like to chair? Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities

Dan Strauss

What’s the city’s most important problem? The city and county need to regionally address homelessness in coordination with the state.

What committee would you like to chair? Transportation

Heidi Wills

What’s the city’s most important problem? Addressing affordable housing and homelessness

What committee would you like to chair? Budget

Andrew J. Lewis

What’s the city’s most important problem? Homelessness and affordability

What committee would you like to chair? Housing

Jim Pugel

What’s the city’s most important problem? Bringing various groups together to prevent future and resolve current homelessness

What committee would you like to chair? Public Safety or Human Services

The winners of the Nov. 5 elections will decide whether to continue expanding workers’ rights, like the four laws the Council passed last month to protect hotel workers, or pass over such opportunities.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us at if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, injury, or employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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