Welcome to the 2015 SonicsRising Voters Guide! The 2015 General Election is a pivotal event in the ongoing saga that is the SODO Arena MOU. Seattle voters will elect 9 City Councilors, while King County voters will elect 2 County Councilors (in opposition races) as well as 2 Port Commissioners. Each of these positions will have a direct say in whether the current MOU is amended or extended beyond the Fall 2017 expiration date.
Like any other special interest voters guide, this guide will advise the Sixth Man which candidates to elect based solely on their positions on the arena and the MOU. Please take this into consideration when completing your ballots. It's important to consider all the issues facing the city, county and port; however, the focus of this guide is squarely on the SODO Arena MOU.
Before we begin, let's recap the 2012 city council vote: Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Bruce Harrell, Mike O'Brien and Jean Godden voted Yes to approve the arena MOU. Nick Licata and Richard Conlin were the only councilors to vote No. Tom Rasmussen didn't vote. The measure passed 6-2-1. Meanwhile the County Council voted unanimously, 9-0, for its share of the MOU.
Sixth Man Endorsements (BOLD)
City of Seattle Council District No. 1 (West Seattle proper)
Shannon Braddock vs Lisa Herbold: Herbold is a longtime Legislative Aide for Nick Licata. Like Licata, she is not supportive of the MOU. From her campaign page:
"The 2012 arena deal with the City and King County, providing up to $200 million in public subsidies, is a flawed deal. I've been asked if I support this deal. Do I support it? Had I been on the Council at the time, I would not have voted for it. That said, if elected, I would respect the vote of the 2012 City & County Councils if all of the conditions of that deal are met, including getting both an NBA team and NHL club together in order to release the full $200 million subsidy. There is no provision in the ordinance agreement for an "NHL first" scenario, and I do not support, and would oppose, re-opening the agreement to allow for one. A publicly funded single-sport facility would not likely meet the attendance projections needed to make the deal pencil out, making the single-sport proposal far too risky. I believe the best option for the region, our workforce at the Port, the taxpayer, and the sports patron is the no-public subsidy proposal being pursued in Tukwilla."
Braddock is Chief of Staff for County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who voted Yes to the MOU in 2012.
City of Seattle Council District No. 2 (Southeast Seattle)
Bruce Harrell vs Tammy Morales: Harrell is the incumbent in this race and is a vocal supporter of the MOU. Harrell was one of 6 "Yes" votes when the MOU was authorized in 2012.
City of Seattle Council District No. 3 (Capitol Hill, Central District, First Hill, Madrona)
Pamela Banks vs Kshama Sawant: Oh the irony. Sonics fans helped elect Sawant in 2013, when she upset incumbent Richard Conlin. Conlin joined Licata is voting against the MOU in 2012 and the Sixth Man made him pay the next year with a retaliatory vote for Sawant. So why are we recommending Pamela Banks? This endorsement is not an indictment on Sawant's record on the council. It's about mitigating risk.
City of Seattle Council District No. 4 (U-District, Wallingford, Ravenna, Sand Point)
Rob Johnson vs Michael Maddux: We have the Seattle Times to thank for this endorsement. Per their recommendation for Johnson:
"Johnson could use more seasoning on Seattle's maritime and industrial core, which are threatened by efforts to shoehorn a new arena in Sodo and to scuttle the Port of Seattle's lease for an Arctic oil-drilling rig. Johnson supports both efforts, but should take a more pragmatic view and investigate further."
City of Seattle Council District No. 5 (Northgate, North Seattle proper)
Sandy Brown vs Debora Juarez: It's recently come to our attention that Sandy Brown support the MOU, especially considering the exhaustive vetting the project has undergone since its passage in 2012.
City of Seattle Council District No. 6 (Fremont, Ballard, Greenlake, Northwest Seattle)
Mike O'Brien vs Catherine Weatbrook: O'Brien is one the remaining incumbents that approved the MOU in 2012. When the Times published its endorsements for the August primary, it was so underwhlemed by the field that it did not endorse ANY candidate. Now the Times is suddenly aglow for O'Brien's opponent. If re-elected, O'Brien is expected to be the next council president. We need an arena ally in such a position of influence.
City of Seattle Council District No. 7 (Downtown, Uptown, Queen Anne, Interbay, Magnolia)
Sally Bagshaw vs Deborah Zech-Artis: Bagshaw also approved the MOU in 2012 and her opponent is unqualified. Re-elect Bagshaw.
City of Seattle Council Position No. 8 (At-Large)
Tim Burgess vs Jon Grant: Burgess voted to approve the MOU in 2012. Despite recent comments about his hesitance to amend the MOU to accommodate a hockey-first option, Burgess continues to be supportive of the MOU. Grant is on record as being ambivalent on the arena yet his remarks skew more toward being less supportive than Burgess. From an interview with KING 5's Chris Daniels:
"There's been a big push to put an arena put right next to the other two arenas in SoDo, and I'm a little hesitant about that. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a new arena somewhere in Seattle, but we shouldn't be displacing working class jobs to do it. And not to mention all the congestion that would happen because if it," added Jon Grant, who is also running for Position 8.
City of Seattle Council Position No. 9 (At-Large)
Lorena Gonzalez vs Bill Bradburd: Gonzalez worked in the Mayor's Office prior to jumping into the council race. Both Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine attended her primary victory party in August. The Mayor threw his weight around with DPD to complete the FEIS and is eager to see the arena become shovel-ready ahead of his re-election campaign in 2017, the same year the MOU is scheduled to expire. We're not saying that Gonzalez, Murray and Constantine agree on everything; however, having her on the council is more advantageous to the cause than not having her.
King County Council District No. 2 and 8: Re-elect Gossett (#2), McDermott (#8) Both approved the MOU in 2012 and are running unopposed.
King County Council District No. 4 (Downtown Seattle to NW Seattle Seattle, West of I5)
Jeanne Kohl-Welles vs Rufe Orr: Kohl-Welles represented the 36th District (Queen Anne, Magnolia) in the state legislature and is running to replace Larry Phillips, who has decided not to run for re-election. Orr is an unqualified candidate. Vote Kohl-Welles.
King County Council District No. 6 (Bellevue, Mercer Island, Greater Eastside)
Jane Hague vs Claudia Balducci: Hague is the incumbent and voted to approve the MOU in 2012. Balducci is a qualified candidate. She's currently the Mayor of Bellevue and has strong ties to our sister city...and there's the rub. Ever since the Sonics departed, Bellevue and the Eastside have been in direct competition with Seattle on the arena front. As recently as July 2015, efforts to usurp Seattle's first position were ongoing. Those efforts appear to be dormant as the Bellevue group also elected not to apply for NHL expansion. Whether they consolidate their efforts with the Seattle group remains to be seen. Until their intentions are known, it remains in our best interest to ensure that every member of the King County Council is all in on the SODO site. We can ill afford wandering eyes with less than 2 years remaining on the MOU. Re-elect Hague.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 2
Courtney Gregoire vs Goodspaceguy: Re-elect Gregoire.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 5
Fred Felleman vs Marion Yoshino: Unfortunately, the Sixth Man was unsuccessful in pushing the only vocal pro-arena candidate, Norman Sigler, into the top two during the August primary. This is why ALL ELECTIONS are important. This position is being vacated by Bill Bryant, who has declared to run for governor as a Republican candidate. Neither candidate is on the record concerning the placement of the arena in SODO. Yoshino boasts about her South King County roots, which may result in a bias toward the Tukwila alternative. The Port of Seattle Times Editorial Board is endorsing Yoshino. Sigler has endorsed Felleman and so are we. Vote Felleman.
Recap: If we all vote, 4 of the incumbents (Burgess, O'Brien, Harrell, Bagshaw) who approved the 2012 MOU will be re-elected with 5 new arrivals, of which at least 4 (Gonzalez, Braddock, Johnson and Brown) would likely support it through 2017 and beyond. As for the County, re-electing all 3 incumbents and adding Kohl-Welles would secure support from the County Council. Gregoire and Felleman may temper the Port's oppositional stance.
Directions: If you're reading this, then your ballot has likely arrived. Washington is a mail balloting state. Please complete, seal, sign, date, stamp and mail your ballot before November 3rd. If you don't have stamps, you may deliver your signed and sealed ballot to a drop box or drop van before November 3rd. For more information on voting in King County, please visit kingcounty.gov/elections.
VOTE BY NOV 3rd