Tight City Council race dividing neighbors, small businesses targeted by political activists

SEATTLE — The tight race between incumbent District 3 City Council member Kshama Sawant and her opponent Egan Orion has often divided neighbor from neighbor, and it has also led to the boycotting and public shaming of some minority-owned businesses caught in the battle dividing tens of thousands of votes.

One of them believes he was targeted by vandals and an online boycott--which was not authorized by a candidate--because of the proximity of his Mexican food truck to Orion's campaign headquarters.

Moises Santos, 25, who owns the popular "El Consteno" food truck and a corn roaster next to it, says his business has been targeted by vandals and hostility, from people presuming he voted for Orion.

"I tell people, we're neutral," Santos said, who added, "I'm an immigrant here. I didn't have a vote. But at one point it seemed that some of the neighbors started being divided, and they stopped coming by," he said. "You could tell, it was bad vibes."

Santos said his surveillance cameras caught people defacing signs, vandalizing his trucks, and pasting posters suggesting that Orion was supported by Amazon. Amazon has a business relationship with ICE, and therefore, people assumed Santos' food truck supports ICE.

"Are you kidding?" Santos asked. "We're a family run immigrant run business. All of our workers are immigrants and to see that word 'ICE' on a political poster when they come to work is really discouraging for them."

Just down the street, the owners of a black-owned shipping and mailbox business realized they were on an online boycott list, along with El Consteno.

KeAnna and D'Vonne Pickett, part of a long-time Central District family, say the trouble began at their business called "The Postman" after Pickett's father, when they put an Orion poster in the window.

"We've had people coming and like questioning us," KeAnna said. "It's almost to where they're not going to leave unless they get an answer. They're ripping up (political) signs outside, which are on public property."

Signs for Orion's opponent Kshama Sawant have been vandalized too, reportedly by the hundreds, with painted expletives the campaign had to cover.

Both candidates, who do not endorse the boycott or business targeting, went door-to-door asking for the support of minority-owned businesses during their campaigns.

"Putting us on a boycott list is doing the opposite of that, KeAnna said. "It's organized isolation. Why would you want to isolate a family that's from this community?"

Santos agreed, saying he looked forward to the District 3 election being decided, and over.

"At the end of the day we're a community, and we should support each other regardless of what our political beliefs are," Santos said. "We just need to move forward and be progressive, as a whole.''

More news from KIRO 7