Downtown Seattle is at the forefront of the mayor race this week.
Seattle City Council President Lorena González tweeted about her refusal to answer a Downtown Seattle Association candidate questionnaire on how she would go about restoring downtown.
“I declined to answer because our city cannot afford a mayor who believes that the recovery should focus solely on big companies,” said González.
And she wasn’t the only one at the center of a political thug.
The question the DSA asked was fairly innocuous, with questions like, “Please describe the role of the city in the recovery of the inner city. What is your redevelopment plan for the inner city and how would you implement it? “
“How is that too exclusive [to big business]? “asks Joni Balter, host of the Seattle City Club’s Civic Cocktail on the Seattle Channel, adding that González seemed to be signaling to voters that she would fight back against business giants like Amazon.
“I think that’s a campaign mistake,” said Balter. “First of all, downtown is a collection of neighborhoods – Pioneer Square, International District, South Lake Union – neighborhoods with thousands of small businesses.”
And Balter says González doubled her stance during a virtual DSA forum.
“The city center is the city’s economic engine. And González didn’t sound like the mayor of an entire city, ”adds Balter.
González and her team also got into some political fights this week, engaging in what KUOW political reporter David Hyde aptly called “smack talk”.
In another candidate forum (on the same day as the DSA forum) González defended her stance on downtown recovery. Also, someone hinted that Echohawk is too cozy with outgoing Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has lost favor with the left.
Basically, according to Hyde, Echohawk’s answer was, See, I am so interested in my work with the homeless that I do whatever it takes to be effective.
And in particular, she said, “I’m honest, I’ve drained the power.”
A González political associate tweeted the comment out of context, sparking heated exchanges mainly between political advisers and former officials on Twitter – a platform little known for facilitating constructive conversations for the public good.
It’s best to ignore the drama, voters.
“From the voters’ point of view, this is a total sideline,” he says. “And certainly not a great example of substantial differences between these two candidates.”
And that is exactly what this is really about, says Balter: The candidates absolutely want to distinguish themselves in this mass field of very similar ideologies.
“This is a performative struggle to endorse Stranger, and when things work out as they have often done in the past, that endorsement will help a candidate get one of two places in a top two primary,” she says.
So Hyde encourages everyone to take a deep breath.
“Aside from the Twitter Wars, are Colleen Echohawk and Lorena Gonzalez really that different about what they want to do?” he says. “Jessyn Farrell? Even Bruce Harrell? Yes, he’s more business-friendly, but on a national level, he’s a very liberal type of people who might think. “