Seattle City Council candidate Pamela Banks smacked her opponent with a mailer this week saying Councilmember Kshama Sawant ignores her constituents. But the people pictured in the ad aren’t Sawant’s constituents. They’re stock photo models.
Seattle City Council candidate Pamela Banks smacked her opponent with a tough attack ad this week, saying Councilmember Kshama Sawant ignores her constituents.
Then Sawant struck back Friday, noting the five people pictured on the mailer paid for by the Banks’ campaign aren’t actual constituents. They’re stock-photo models.
It’s just the latest spat in a District 3 race that’s getting downright rough as the candidates head into the homestretch before Tuesday’s election.
Banks, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, is vying with Sawant to represent Capitol Hill, the Central District, Montlake and Madison Park.
She’s said she decided to run for the seat after trying and failing to schedule a meeting with Sawant last year to talk about a jobs program.
Sawant has slammed Banks for taking campaign contributions from large corporations and wealthy people.
The mailer in question leads with the accusation “Kshama Sawant won’t meet with the people she represents,” and quotes two Seattle people bashing the socialist.
“Kshama Sawant ignored us when we tried to get a meeting,” says a statement attributed to Bob Armstead with the National Association of Minority Contractors.
Stephanie Tschida, former chair of the East Precinct Advisory Committee, says on the mailer: “Residents like me are working every day to reduce gun violence, but Kshama Sawant doesn’t think addressing this issue is a good use of her time.”
Neither Armstead nor Tschida is pictured on the ad, however.
Instead, one photo is listed on a stock-photo website with the title “Serious Young Man Blank Expression Mug Shot Portrait.” Another bears the title “Asian Man Mug Shot.”
Sawant said in a statement: “This whole campaign my opponent has harped on this idea that I won’t meet with my constituents. That’s news to me and the thousands of people I’ve talked within my district.”
She added: “It’s funny but after eight months of campaigning, she apparently found it impossible to locate five actual Seattleites to make her case. Apparently she thought it expedient to buy photos of fake constituents just like her donors are used to buying elections.”
Banks’ campaign responded to the slam Friday by accusing the council member’s backers of bad behavior.
“We made a decision to use representative imagery based on some unpleasant interactions others on our ads have experienced with Sawant supporters,” said Banks’ campaign manager, Joanna Paul.
Paul said: “Instead of looking at the very real quotes from very real people and asking themselves: ‘When did we fail to meet with these people working in our community to make it safer and to create good jobs for underrepresented businesses?,’ They engage in petty political attacks. We deserve leaders who will focus on the real needs of District 3, not symbolism.”
Another ad his week from the Banks campaign has a similar message to the mailer criticized Friday. But rather than stock images, it features a large photo of the Rev. Harriett Walden, the founder of Mothers for Police Accountability and co-chair of Seattle’s Community Police Commission. The mailer also includes a quote from Walden.
“We face serious public-safety issues in District 3. But Kshama Sawant is a no-show in the community,” her statement says. “Kshama spends a lot of time outside the district, outside the city. She isn’t there when we have a crisis.”
Some Sawant supporters issued statements Friday pushing back.
“We’ve found Kshama Sawant to be the most accessible City Council member and most powerful advocate for LGBTQ issues,” said Debbie Carlsen, executive director of LGBTQ Allyship, speaking in her personal capacity.
There are positive mailers promoting Banks as a candidate that feature photos of Seattle people and quotes from them.
“Pamela fought for equal pay as a city union member, civil rights as a community and Urban League leader, and equality for LGBT people,” says a statement on one mailer attributed to Aaron Vetter, identified as a Capitol Hill resident and LGBT advocate.