November General Elections a Mixed-Bag for the Industry

Posted By: Heather Pierce Advocacy , Law , Seattle Laws ,

What is abundantly clear from the 2019 General election is that the issues the rental industry faced in the City of Seattle prior to the election are not going to go away overnight. This was highlighted by Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s winning re-election in Seattle’s 3rd District after being down more than eight-points on election night. What was touted as being a “change election” in the city did not materialize the way some had hoped as each incumbent on the ballot – Sawant, Lisa Herbold, and Debora Juarez – won their races by comfortable margins. Newcomers to the Council include Tammy Morales in District 2, Alex Pedersen in District 4, Dan Strauss in District 6, and Andrew Lewis in District 7.

Outside of Seattle, however, an interesting and hopeful mix of new candidates emerged in growing suburban markets where rapid population growth is fueling a heightened level of attention given to rental housing operators and managers. Big winners included Bellevue City Council incumbent, Jennifer Robertson, and Jeremy Barksdale taking the city’s open position 3 seat. Renton’s mayoral race saw existing Council Member, Armondo Pavone, win handily in what was thought to be a close race over former state legislator, Marcie Maxwell. In the city of Burien, where Council recently enacted a Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, RHAWA PAC endorsed candidate, Kevin Schilling, easily defeated long-time incumbent Lucy Krakowiak. Federal Way voters approved of all three of RHAWA PAC’s endorsed candidates in that city, too – Mark Koppang, Susan Honda, and Linda Kochmar.

We’re hopeful that we can continue to build relationships with these elected officials and their new cohorts on Council to push for housing policy solutions which have a broad base of support and are forward thinking.

Among the overall positive results for the industry as far as supported candidates winning office, 15 of our 17 endorsed candidates in 10 jurisdictions were elected, one disappointment for the industry was in the City of Federal Way where voters approved a ballot initiative which enacts a Just Cause Eviction ordinance. The policy was pushed by Seattle-based tenant activist group, Washington Community Action Network and passed with 55 percent of the vote. RHAWA was a partner in running the “No” campaign against the ordinance and will evaluate its legal options.

The RHAWA PAC extended significant resources in the 2019 elections, leveraging private polling data, retaining public relations experts, and increasing our in-house advocacy work. We’re prepared to combat the push from rent control advocates this January, but doing so will demand a significant financial investment from RHAWA and our partners to ensure that positive, well-thought solutions which address our housing shortage’s root causes are enacted – and that rent control is not the answer.

Consistent, aggressive, and informed advocacy by RHAWA and its partners is our highest priority to ensure that we continue to be successfully combating the push for rent control, while also proactively delivering a legislative agenda which will offer comprehensive solutions to help residents keep up with rising housing costs, while creating a range of new housing to meet the needs of people of all income levels.

RHAWA needs the time, funding, and expertise of its members now more than ever. Please join our efforts by taking action and contributing to the RHAWA PAC.