In Seattle’s at-large City Council Position 8 race, voters are deprived of a meaningful choice for an important job. Incumbent Teresa Mosqueda is consistently one of the farthest-left voices on a council that needs moderation. She faces competition from a political newcomer with a thin record of community engagement.
The Times cannot recommend either of these candidates.
A citywide position with a $129,188 salary should have drawn stronger competition, even though the challenge would be steep. Mosqueda, a talented campaigner, won in 2017 with nearly 60% of the vote. Also, serving on this council presents the prospect of facing a strident liberal majority that rallies supporters to push back hard against dissent, to the point that bullying protests have shown up at council members’ homes. If only some of the well-qualified mayoral candidates in an overstuffed field had gotten into this race instead.
Mosqueda is a formidable politician with strong civic qualifications and city knowledge. She puts on a good show of patiently listening and of explaining her actions in the best possible light. But this belies four years of often wrongheaded decisions that jolted Seattle onto the wrong course. The council majority has embraced ideology over substance, pilloried city businesses and undermined public safety. Mosqueda has often been in the center of the fray, leading drives to dismantle the city’s Navigation Team for homeless encampments and slash the police budget by 50%.
In 2019, Mosqueda flew to New York to help spoil the chances of Amazon’s expansion in Queens. She fought for the business-punishing head tax and against its repeal. Then she penned a revision, “JumpStart Seattle,” which the council passed in a 7-2 vote a year ago. It punishes businesses for daring to pay Seattleites well. The money is supposed to pay for housing and other city development. But Mosqueda opposed using it to fund the Compassion Seattle proposal that would have mandated new housing and helpful services for people experiencing homelessness.
She’s now proposing to undercut single-family zoning by swapping out the category title for “neighborhood residential.” That change may look mild, but the generic label can cover a practically boundless range of development.
To her credit, Mosqueda has a reputation for listening to the business interests antagonized by other far-left council members. She pushed to provide pandemic emergency resources to residents, small businesses and child-care sites. Before joining the council, she helped write the successful initiative for a higher state minimum wage, which this editorial page supported. She speaks up for port commerce, which happens to rely on union jobs. Mosqueda has enviable political skills, but this list of positives is too short to merit reelection when the count of wrongheaded moves is so long.
Mosqueda’s opponent in the general election, engineer Kenneth Wilson, deserves credit for being straightforward about the societal and infrastructure problems Seattle must better address. Wilson is right that Seattle needs its council to be more focused on problem-solving, but he lacks the civic experience or policy knowledge that would make him a well-qualified candidate.
Seattle deserves better. Mosqueda ought to try delivering it more often.