The great sort: A guide to the crowd running for City Council

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With the new district elections format, Seattle city voters face choices, choices and more choices in the City Council primary. To help you sort through the candidates, here's Crosscut's guide to all 47 contenders for the seven district positions and two at-large seats. The primary voting deadline is Aug. 4, when the field will be narrowed to 18 candidates.

Crosscut's guide is built for speed — to orient you to the districts, the candidates and their reasons for running for the council. There's a lot at stake in this first election under the new system: How will both neighborhood and citywide concerns about housing, transportation, growing income gaps and public safety be dealt with? How will the new council work with — or against — the mayor? How well will neighborhoods be represented, really?

In translating a new system from paper to reality, a lot will depend on the personalities and backgrounds of the people doing the work. So we think it's good to know something about everyone in the wide range of candidates running for each position. And you can use the links to jump to the candidates' websites or their emails to learn more about them and their issues.

Other good resources include: two minute statements from each candidate in the Video Voters' Guide produced by Seattle Ethics and Elections Office, Seattle Channel and King County TV; the online Voters Guide on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission's site; and Seattle City Club's Elections 2015 page.

For those of us still getting used to the new concept, here's a map of the seven districts (two positions continue to be elected citywide).

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This map was created by the campaign to establish districts.

Check out the Seattle City Clerk's site for detailed maps. Still unsure? King County has an online site to check on what district you are in.

We've taken our quotes from candidates' websites, public statements or, in cases where we didn't find material, emailing them questions.

District 1: Southwest Seattle, including West Seattle and South Park.  

Lisa Herbold

Crosscut archive image.Education: Studied political science and journalism at New York's Syracuse University

Profession: Previously, legislative aide with City Councilmember Nick Licata. Currently campaigning

“I’m running because I’m excited to continue the work I’ve done with Nick Licata, I’m excited about the democratic potential of the new district system, and I’m excited to represent you — my community — as your District 1 Councilmember. I’m looking forward to getting to know you, sharing our hopes and concerns for our district and our city, and achieving great things together.”

Jody Rushmer

Crosscut archive image.Education: Seattle University, B.A. in marketing (2001)

Profession: Project manager for software implementation (currently, at Vertafore)

"If elected I will champion West Seattle and South Park public schools, work to create public/private partnerships with our business community, and get money into our schools now, to ensure that lack of funding is never a roadblock to the success of our children."

Chas Redmond

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Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.A. in journalism (1969). Graduate work in speech at the University of Houston

Profession: Retired NASA civil servant

"I would like to include the concepts of accountability and equity into everything I do and consider. These are two key words which describe how I believe Seattle and all of us who live, learn, work and play here can move forward and make significant contributions."

Shannon Braddock

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Education: University of Washington, Master's in public affairs (2007)

Profession: Chief of staff for King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

“We have unique challenges in our part of the city, starting with a need for improved transportation and transit access. We also have an affordable housing crisis for too many seniors, young families and our diverse, growing population. And we need to enhance the work being done to provide the safety and services every child needs to learn and grow.”

Karl Wirsing

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Education: Emerson College, Master of Fine Arts in creative writing (2007). Emory University, B.A. in English and anthropology (2002)

Work: Director of Communications, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

“Our campaign is going to focus on smart growth and rapidly expanding our public transit system, starting with light rail and more bus routes servicing West Seattle.”

Brianna Thomas

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Education: University of Washington, B.A. in political science (2010)

Work: Field director, Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund

"I'm an Army brat who moved to the Northwest 18 years ago and have made Seattle my home. Having worked my way through college at SSCC and the UW, holding multiple jobs including the Church Council of Greater Seattle by day and the Showbox by night, I appreciate the challenges facing West Seattle and South Park's working folks. That's why I'm running for office. I was raised in the spirit of service and I see this as the next step."

Phillip Tavel

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Education: Vassar College, B.A. in physics (1993)

Work: Entrepreneur/Attorney

“Phillip Tavel's background as an entrepreneur and attorney, and his deep roots and service in our district have provided him with the right experience to represent District 1 on the the Seattle City Council.” (from his website)

Pavel Goberman 

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Education: All Union Agricultural University, B.A. beekeeping (1972)

Work: Health and fitness entrepreneur. Author and publisher of book Get Energized!

"Vote for me not because I say that have experience, but because I’m a problems solver. There is no need too much brain to run city or country by increasing taxes. I do not say “We need”, “We must”, “Somehow”, but I have a concrete plan to create a few thousand jobs in Seattle, also develop fish farms, improve traffic, fight crimes: harder punishment and prisons must be profitable. Allow people to use weapons to protect lives and property. More police patrol."

Arturo Robles

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Education: Wichita State University, Master's in public administration (1989). Washburn University, B.A. (1983)

Work: Substance use disorders counseling (Consejo Counseling)

His goals are to “Ensure Seattle residents have a living wage, eliminating homelessness, and insuring that among the housing development taking place in the city we do not displace existing residents because of gentrification type of activities, and insuring housing remains affordable."

District 2: Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, Georgetown

Josh Farris

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Education: University of Washington, B.A. in history (2008). Graduate studies in education

Work: Union electrical worker. Founder, grassroots community organizer with SAFE

“Together we can join forces and build the movement to transform Seattle into a city that works for the 99%. ... A new transit stop, safer community, thriving small business, and civic diversity shouldn't force people out of their homes. ... We have to change the system. The capitalist logic of built-in obsolescence, creation of need, and maximizing profit as its first priority is in effect, a process of turning the natural world into garbage. We need to put people before profit.”

Tammy Morales

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Education: University of Texas Austin, Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning (1999) . University of Texas at San Antonio, B.A. in anthropology (1991)

Work: Principal at Urban Food Link

"It’s time to transform the way we invest in our communities. Our city leaders should be responsive to the needs of working families, not beholden to special interests. As your District 2 City Council Member, I’ll work tirelessly to ensure that our city policies give everyone a fair shot at success so that they may share in Seattle’s prosperity.

Bruce Harrell

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Education: University of Washington School of Law, Juris Doctorate (1984). Seattle City University, Master's in organizational design (1994). University of Washington, B.A. in political science (1981)

Work: Incumbent Seattle City Councilmember. Attorney.

"The world will step aside for a community that knows where it is going. In our district, we know that building a community starts with our preschoolers and extends to our college students. We recognize that our transportation systems and modes of travel affect where we live; our public safety affects how we live and the pursuit to improve ourselves and others reflects our purpose to live."

District 3: Capitol Hill, Central Area, Montlake

Morgan Beach

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Education: Pepperdine University, Master's in public policy (2010). University of Denver, B.A. in political science and international studies (2008)

Work: American Red Cross, Regional Corporate Major Gifts Officer

"My campaign’s top priority is gender equity. Let me tell you why: In the city of Seattle, $16,000 a year is the median wage gap between men and women. At the area median rent, that $16,000 is enough to pay for the rent for an entire year AND then some.  In the last ten years there has been an increase in the number of women living below the poverty line and we will not reach pay equity at the current pace in my working lifetime."

Rod Hearne

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Education: University of Chicago, B.A. in Psychology (1990)

Work: Previously the Executive Director of Equal Rights Washington. Currently campaigning

“Let’s use the momentum and relationships we’ve built to work on transportation, education and justice. Let’s find ways of telling the story to get to positive change on other issues too. Managing growth, creating jobs for all, ending homelessness, enriching our lives with arts and culture – I believe we can find beautiful solutions to all of these issues when we are each able to tell our story about why they matter.”

Lee Carter

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Education: College classes, including newswriting and paralegal investigation

Work: former Executive Director of the Central Seattle Community Council Federation

"This campaign is focused on the issues facing our senior citizens (housing, poverty, quality of life), knowing that the real solutions to those and all the other issues facing us, can only come from the people that make up our neighborhoods."

Kshama Sawant

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Education: North Carolina State University, Ph.D. in economics (2010). University of Mumbai, B.Sc (1994)

Work: Incumbent Seattle City Councilmember

“While construction cranes and luxury condos increasingly dominate our skyline, most of us face an affordable housing crisis. While our city and state are home to some of the world’s wealthiest corporations, we face underfunded services and the most regressive tax system in the nation.”

Pamela Banks

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Education: University of Washington, B.A. in communications  (1981)

Work: President of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

"I’ve never shied away from a tough issue, but always work to build positive, lasting relationships.  I have stood with union members demanding fair wages, worked with community and faith leaders on racial and social justice issues, and organized with neighborhood leaders for police response and accountability. I’ll bring the right combination of progressive values and neighborhood priorities."

District 4: Wallingford, U-District, Points East, Eastlake

Abel Pacheco

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Education: University of Washington, Master's of public administration (2012). California State University-Northridge, B.A. in political science; public policy & management (2010)

Work: Assistant Director for External Relations, UW office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. Adjunct Professor, North Seattle Community College

“Together we can bring new energy and a fresh perspective to the Seattle City Council. Let's put our district, District 4, on the forefront of solving our city's growing challenges by ensuring safe and vibrant neighborhoods, and an engaged community.”

 Rob Johnson

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Education: University of California, Los Angeles, Master's in urban planning (2002). Willamette University, B.A. in Political Science (2000)

Work: Executive Director of the Transportation Choices Coalition

"I am a long time advocate for more sidewalks, bike lanes and transit service. Over the last 10 years I’ve led campaigns that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to improve transportation choices in Seattle."

Michael Maddux

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Education: Everett Community College certificate program in paralegal (2001)

Work: Paralegal at Graham Lundberg & Peschel, P.S., Inc.

"District 4 deserves a person who will actively listen and transform good ideas into good policy. District 4 deserves a voice that understands the needs of our city, and will fight for district residents, small businesses, university students, and people who have traditionally gone without a voice. I am asking for your support to be that champion for District 4."

Tony Provine

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Education: University of Maryland, College Park, Master's in government and politics (1975). University of Maryland, College Park, B.A. in government and politics (1972)

Work: Executive and consultant for associations and non-profit groups. Currently, neighborhood and advisory group leader

"As the only neighborhood leader seeking to represent Northeast Seattle under the new neighborhood-based City Council districts, Tony is our best choice for giving us a strong voice in City Hall. Tony understands and cares about the important issues impacting our neighborhoods in District 4." (from his website)

Jean Godden

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Education: University of Washington, B.A., summa cum laude (1974). Attended classes at Northwest University's Medill school of Journalism

Work: Seattle City Councilmember

"I love this job – and I bring a sense of reality, priority and experience to tackling the issues that are important to the citizens of Seattle:

1.) Address and fix Seattle's gender wage gap. 2.) Enhance the environment that we cherish, while keeping our city affordable, livable and           desirable for Seattle families. 3.) I aim to preserve neighborhood character—and the quirks we know and love — while planning for neighborhood centers as gathering spaces and transit hubs."

District 5: Lake City, Northgate, Northwest Seattle

Halei Watkins

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Education: University of Washington, B.A. in Political Science and History (2009)

Work: Regional Field Organizer at Planned Parenthood

“I believe that Seattle is quickly becoming the tale of two cities:  one city for the wealthy and one for the rest of us.  Like many Seattleites, my husband and I wonder if we will be able to afford to continue to live here, to raise a family here, to grow here."

Debora Juarez

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Education: Seattle University School of Law, Juris Doctorate (1987). Western Washington University, B.A. in Civil Rights & Federal Indian Law

Work: Attorney, currently focused on tribal practice. Former judge and Washington governor's Executive Director of Indian Affairs

"I’m running for City Council to fight for fairness and opportunity for all of the people of North Seattle. My real world experience – and refusal to take no for an answer – will make me an effective Councilmember for you starting on Day 1. ... Let's build a better North Seattle together!"

Debadutta Dash

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Education: Starwood University, Northwest Campus. B.A., hospitality administration/mangement (2011).  Trade Fair Authority of India, Post Graduate Diploma, trade fair management; international trade (1990). Sambalpur University, Bachelor's in commerce, accounting, business administration (1990)

Work: Group sales manager & service culture trainer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

"My emphasis will be on: 1. The importance of common-sense approach over big money, in public service. 2. Equality, equity and social justice for all."

Kris Lethin

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Education: University of Washington, Certificate in Commercial Real Estate Development (2001).  University of Washington, B.A. in economics (1996)

Work: Broker and Property Manager for Century 21 North Homes Realty Inc.

“I love North Seattle and believe we have tremendous potential for revitalization and renewal if our neighbors will welcome growth and the city will invest in the critical infrastructure needed to get things started."

David Toledo 

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Education: Unable to afford college but attended a 12-month Business Occupations program at Job Corps Oregon (1991)

Work: Assistant Property Manager, Seattle Housing Authority. Founder of the NonProfit Unified Outreach in 1998

"I want to see North Seattle thriving with job growth up and the crime rate down.  I want new businesses to open and flourish; able to provide much needed services without being strangled by unnecessary regulations.  I want local residents to have a shot at good jobs close to their homes."

Hugh H. Russell 

Crosscut archive image.Education: Did not respond to requests for information.

Work: Did not respond.

"I think the transportation and the water resources are the two most important issues. ... I worked for the Seattle water department for 10 years, so I am acquainted with the city government procedures from the ground up." (Video voters guide)

Website and email not provided.

Mercedes Elizalde

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Education: Seattle University, Master's in nonprofit leadership, nonprofit management (2015). Dominican University of California, B.A. in psychology (2008) 

Work: Volunteer Programs Coordinator at the Low Income Housing Institute

"I am running for city council to fight for equitable access to social services across the city and ensure responsible community centered development.  There is a lack of vital services like affordable childcare, crisis intervention and homeless services in the northern neighborhoods of Seattle."

Sandy Brown

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Education: Princeton Theological Seminary, Doctorate (1997). Garrett Theological Seminary, Master's of Divinity (1982). University of Washington, B.A., history (1978)

Work: Head Pastor at Seattle First United Methodist Church, author.

"Progressive faith leader, human rights activist, and lifelong Democrat, I was raised in White Center in a Mexican-American family, graduated from UW, and am a proud father of two grown sons. I co-founded the King County Committee to End Homelessness, fought suburban anti-homeless restrictions, and built one of Seattle’s most effective shelters."

District 6: Green Lake, Fremont, Ballard, Crown Hill

Stan Shaufler 

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Education: Southern Illinois University, B.S. in education, vocational education (1991)

Work: Counselor, Community Psychiatric Clinic

"I am campaigning on a platform based upon addressing issues surrounding community mental health and feel that many of our complaints of homelessness, car camping, crime and other neighborhood  concerns can be addressed with increased awareness of our low income, disabled, aging and otherwise disadvantaged populations in our cities governance."

Mike O'Brien

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Education:University of Washington, Master's in business administration (1997). Duke University, B.A. in economics (1990)

Work: Seattle City Councilmember

"Hi, I am Mike O’Brien and I am so excited to represent District 6 and Northwest Seattle on the Seattle City Council. I want to continue working on the issues that have defined my time on the Council so far, such as building a reliable transit system, leading on sustainability and helping raise wages and benefits for workers in Seattle."

Jon Lisbin 

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Education: University of Washington Evans School of Public Affairs, Executive Master of Public Administration (2015). Fairleigh Dickinson University, MBA in Management (1982). Fairleigh Dickinson University, B.A. in Communications (1980)

Work: Founder of Point It, Inc.

“This is an historic time in Seattle due to newly established district elections; particularly because growth management in our district has been an unmitigated failure. Parking is unavailable, traffic is a mess, housing is unaffordable, crosswalks are unsafe, transit is inadequate, bike lanes are missing, and our infrastructure is crumbling."

Catherine Weatbrook

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Education: University of Washington, Bachelor's in engineering (1990)

Work: Facilities Manager at Small Faces Child Development Center

"Seattle identifies as a city of unique neighborhoods, but we have allowed them to become more bland and less livable every day. I am new to politics, but I'm not new to getting things done, and I believe that we can bring city hall back into our communities through more transparency, better communication, and more collaboration between our neighborhoods, city departments, and city council."

District 7: Magnolia, Queen Anne, South Lake Union, Downtown

Deborah Zech Artis

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Education: Capella University, Ph. D. in Organizational Behavior (2015). City University, MBA in management and organizational leadership (1995). City University, B.S. in business administration (1986).

Work: Procurement and supply chain management, Boeing.

“It is time for substantial and careful change in our city’s government. I am running to provide that essential task.  My concerns for my City of Seattle today include transportation, communications, the health of our small businesses, and the services dedicated to the well-being of its citizens. ...   I am passionate about Seattle and I want to help it grow and stay great. "

Gus Hartmann

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Education: University of Wisconsin, B.A. in computer science (1998)

Work: Site Reliability Engineer, Google

"What I'm running on in large part comes down to embracing and preparing for the growth Seattle — and particularly the seventh district — is poised to continue experiencing. The influx of people who want to live in dense, walkable, vibrant neighborhoods is self-evident in Seattle today. This impacts a vast cross-section of issues."

Sally Bagshaw

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Education: University of Idaho Law School, Juris Doctorate (1976). Stanford, B.A. in History (1973)

Work: Seattle City Councilmember. Attorney.

"Participation and civic engagement are my top priority, which is why my office has an open-door policy. I want to hear from you and I vow to work diligently on your behalf. I am committed to bringing people together and finding the common ground on the issues that face Seattle and our region. I'll strive to reach out and listen to the various sides of each issue.”

Position 8 (elected at-large) 

John Roderick

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Education: Attended classes at Gonzaga University, Seattle Central College and the University of Washington

Work: Musician, writer

"Yes, I’m an artist. I absolutely intend to be a tireless advocate for the arts, not just in our schools but in our civic life. But I’m also a citizen of Seattle. I’m running for one of the new city-wide positions on the city council because I believe the work we have right in front of us — the work of building a city that truly reflects our progressive, urbanist values — requires someone from outside the insular culture of our professionalized political and activist class."

Jon Grant

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Education: University of Redlands, B.A. in political theory (2004)

Work: Executive Director of the Tenant's Union

“We need bold leadership on City Council if we are going to successfully advance the effort to eliminate economic inequality. We could lose the gains made from raising the $15 minimum wage and requiring paid sick leave if our housing costs continue to soar. If elected I will bring the needed urgency our communities require from City Hall.”

John Persak

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Education: Voracious reader of history, Western philosophy, civil society, politics and government, and labor studies

Work: Longshore worker, executive board member of ILWU local 19

"Our City needs fresh leadership on the council that truly reflects our progressive values. People who live and work in Seattle need a voice at city hall that can be heard above the super-wealthy interests. While my opponent has always sided with corporations, I will always consider our neighborhoods and people first."

Tim Burgess

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Education: Attended classes at the University of Washington

Work: Incumbent Seattle City Councilmember

"First elected in 2007, Councilmember Tim Burgess was re-elected with 83% of the vote in November 2011. After leading the Council's Public Safety and Education Committee during his first term (which included human services for the first two years), Tim now chairs the Council's Government Performance and Finance Committee and is vice-chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee.  " – Personal blog

Position 9 (elected at-large) 

Bill Bradburd

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Education: University of Illinois, B.S. in Computer Science (1980)

Work: IT and systems consultant

"As an at-large City Councilmember, I will be a leader who listens thoughtfully to local concerns in the context of citywide issues.  I promise to visit with neighbors and community groups in each district on a rotating, weekly basis, with a special focus on the communities being impacted by change.  A vibrant city begins with strong communities and I will begin shaping citywide policy at the neighborhood level."

Lorena Gonzalez

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Education: Seattle University Law School, Juris doctorate (2005). Washington State University, B.A. in Business with a focus in law and public policy (1999)

Work: Former Senior Advisor and Legal Counsel to Mayor Ed Murray

"In the past year I've helped set policy and implement historic minimum wage and worker rights alongside the mayor, unions and progressive leaders throughout Seattle. With your vote, we can take on the current challenges that face Seattle: Traffic, expanding light rail, the crisis of affordable housing, and the inequities in our schools that keep too many of our children from reaching their potential."

Omari Tahir-Garrett 

Crosscut archive image.Education: Classes at Shoreline College, US Merchant Marine/US Army School, University of Washington School of Architecture and School of Education

Work: Unemployed veteran

"My name is Omari Tahir-Garrett, and I am running for Seattle Citywide City Council in order to address and solve the following problems: The cultural economic development crisis in Native American "Indians" (not born in India) and African refugees from  European colonial settler (self proclaimed "Judeo-Christian ") terrorism and slave trade  is the direct result of ongoing  institutionalized colonial strategies well defined and exposed  in the Kerner Report On Civil Disorder (referring to the Black rebellions of the 1960's) as 'WHITE INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM.' ..."

Thomas A. Tobin 

Crosscut archive image.Education: College graduate (did not provide details)

Work: Service industry and support systems, currently at Webrotator.

"I am not a politician, nor am I a activist. I am a concerned citizen that sees city government failing to represent those who pay their salaries. Every election for years, its the same issues, the behind closed doors politics ... (i.e. changing of zoning laws that are ruining neighborhoods). I know this city and I want to be its voice that listens."

Alex Tsimerman

Crosscut archive image.Education: Says he has college and university education equal to a Master's degree. (Did not provide requested details about his work and education)

"It is time to stop the abuse of the system by elected officials and elite and bring power back to the people and our community. I will do everything I can to bring America and Seattle back on track and to common sense!  Restore our State and Federal Constitution and freedom of speech and justice for all."

Alon Bassok

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Education:  University of Washington, PhD in urban planning (2009). UW, Master's in urban planning  (2004). UW, B.A. in economics (1999)

Work: Research Scientist, the University of Washington's Runstad Center for Real Estate

"Our community is a city of opportunity ... . However, we must take action now to ensure our city remains livable for the working families. As a resident of West Seattle, a transportation and urban planner, and former manager of several small businesses, I will be your voice on the city council to ensure that our growing prosperity does not leave current residents behind."

Crosscut's Harrison Lee and Cody Olsen were the key staffers assembling and creating the guide.


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