Seattle Chamber endorses City Council change

VIDEO: Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to put money behind candidates it supports

SEATTLE — Seattle's biggest business group today announced its endorsements for the City Council and the theme is "change."

This year's endorsements are a reaction in part to last year's fight over the employee head tax to fight homelessness. Members of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce were frustrated.

“On homelessness and housing, we'd been talking about ways we wanted to engage and be at the table. Instead we got a progressive revenue task force that had a predetermined conclusion,” said Markham McIntyre, executive director of the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy.

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Socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant is a clear target for defeat. To replace Sawant, the Chamber's Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy endorsed Egan Orion. He's director of the Broadway Business Improvement Area on Capitol Hill. He says the business endorsement doesn't make him a rubber stamp for the chamber.

“At the end of the day, as a candidate, I'm going to go my own way with feedback from the voters about how to proceed with this campaign and on council, if I am lucky enough to be elected.”

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Reached late today, Sawant responded to the business endorsements.

“Big business, big corporations, the billionaire class have a lot of power, and if we are going to change the balance of forces in the interests of ordinary people and turn Seattle into a city that is welcoming and affordable to all working people, then we are going to have to fight for it,” she said.

The Chamber’s political action committee is endorsing new faces for all but one of the seven City Council positions on the ballot.

They endorsed Phil Travel for District 1, Mark Solomon for District 2, Orion for District 3 and Alex Pedersen for District 4. Debora Juarez in District 5 is the only incumbent who was endorsed. Jay Fathi and Heidi Wills were both endorsed for District 6, and Michael George and Jim Pugel were both endorsed for District 7.

Marilyn Strickland is the CEO and president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, “One message I have is it's OK to be a liberal progressive Democrat and want an effective City Council that focuses on neighborhoods in this city.”

The Chamber has $800,000 to put behind the endorsements, $200,000 of which comes from Amazon.