Three progressives take on Tanya Woo in Seattle City Council race

Tariq Yusuf, Alexis Mercedes Rinck and Saunatina Sanchez have all entered the race for Seattle’s 2024 special election.

headshots of a man and three women who are candidates for city council

From left: Tariq Yusuf, Alexis Mercedes Rinck, Saunatina Sanchez and Tanya Woo are running for the at-large Seattle City Council seat formerly held by Teresa Mosqueda. Woo was appointed to the seat in January. (Courtesy of the candidates)

If it feels to you like there’s an overabundance of Seattle City Council elections, it’s not your imagination. This fall, Seattleites will vote in a special election to decide who will fill the citywide Position 8 seat through the end of former Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s term on Dec. 31, 2025.

Friday, May 10, was the filing deadline for the race, and four candidates are running.

Chinatown-International District activist and business owner Tanya Woo was appointed by the Council in January to temporarily fill Position 8 and is running to stay in the seat.

Woo will face three candidates in August’s primary — Alexis Mercedes Rinck, Saunatina Sanchez and Tariq Yusuf — who are positioning themselves as progressive alternatives to the new Council majority’s more moderate business-friendly, pro-police politics.

Rinck is an assistant director at the University of Washington working on state budget and policy issues for the school. Prior to that she held engagement and policy analyst positions at the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and the Sound Cities Association.

She is running on a promise to seek progressive revenue rather than spending cuts to address the city’s looming budget shortfall; expand the affordable-housing supply and help keep low-income renters from falling into homelessness; and tackle the root causes of violence and crime.

Sanchez is a community organizer who’s worked and volunteered with a swath of local progressive organizations, including the Transit Riders Union, Disability Rights Washington, Seattle Renter Organizing Council and the League of Women Voters. She grew up in south Seattle’s New Holly and has relied on biking and public transit to get around her entire life.

She supports social housing, wanting to emulate New York’s right to shelter for homeless residents and reform zoning laws to build more housing. Sanchez also supports expanding transit, tackling the root causes of crime, and stronger worker rights. When it comes to the deficit, she wants to comb through existing city spending before raising new progressive revenue.

Yusuf is a lifelong Seattleite who also grew up in New Holly and says he benefited tremendously from social services and safety net programs to get him to where he is today. He has spent the past decade working on data privacy for tech companies.

He is running on a platform to build more affordable housing, redirect money for homeless encampment sweeps to social services, limit taxes on small and medium businesses, bolster transit and expand police alternatives.

Woo ran for south Seattle’s District 2 City Council position in 2023, losing to incumbent Tammy Morales. During the pandemic, Woo helped found the Chinatown-International District Community Watch to conduct safety patrols and hand out basic supplies to people experiencing homelessness. Woo and her family also co-own the historic Louisa Hotel, which was redeveloped into low- and middle-income affordable housing after a 2013 fire.

Last year, Woo campaigned on promises to focus on police hiring while also supporting police alternatives, expand homeless shelter options, support small businesses and look for ways to cut spending in the city budget before raising taxes, among other issues. She gained the support of big business, who spent more than $70,000 on her behalf and more than $100,000 against Morales.

Following Mosqueda’s departure to the King County Council in January, the Seattle City Council appointed Woo to the citywide seat, with the understanding she would have to run this fall to keep that seat for one more year, if she wanted it. 

With the filing deadline passed, campaign season will kick into high gear. The primary is Aug. 6, when Seattle voters will choose the top two candidates to advance to the general. Whoever wins in November will have to run again in 2025 if they want to keep the seat for the next four-year term. 

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