A new television ad supporting Jenny Durkan for Seattle mayor and slamming her opponent, Cary Moon, zeros in on the city’s homelessness crisis.
Supporters of mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan are spending more than a half-million dollars to blanket Seattle screens in the last two weeks before the Nov. 7 election, starting with a 30-second commercial that knocks her opponent, Cary Moon.
The ad by People for Jenny Durkan — an independent-expenditure committee that cannot legally coordinate with Durkan’s campaign — zeros in on the city’s homelessness crisis, trying to draw a distinction between “two very different candidates.”
And it promises that Durkan will “hold developers accountable.” The committee’s top contributors include the political arms of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
People for Jenny Durkan reported on Oct. 19 spending about $494,500 on broadcast- and cable-TV advertising and about $75,500 on digital advertising, much more than the candidates themselves are laying out.
2017 Seattle mayoral race
- Jenny Durkan defeats Cary Moon to become Seattle’s first woman mayor since the 1920s
- Seattle's next mayor, Jenny Durkan, names full transition team, deputy mayors
- Seattle’s millionaire mayoral candidates say they know what it’s like to struggle
- Beyond tent-camp ‘sweeps,’ big questions await next Seattle mayor
- Seattle mayoral candidates both say the future holds fewer cars. Here’s how they would ease the crunch
- Cary Moon: Urbanist, waterfront activist touts vision for city, faces questions about résumé, accomplishments
- Jenny Durkan: Former U.S. attorney brings experience, high-powered allies, but also draws scrutiny
- Seattle’s first — and only — female mayor was elected in 1926
The ad blitz comes as Moon’s campaign is in the red, struggling to attract donors. As of Tuesday, the campaign had reported about $323,000 in contributions from 794 contributors, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC).
More than half that money — about $176,500 — has come from Moon herself.
With past expenses and placed orders accounted for, Moon’s campaign is more than $60,000 in debt, according to a state Public Disclosure Commission summary. That raises the possibility the candidate will have to write additional personal checks to cover the debt after the election.
By comparison, Durkan’s campaign has raised about $865,000 from more than 3,600 contributors.
The new ad funded by the independent People for Jenny Durkan committee opens with a video of apartment buildings. A voice-over says Moon would “scrap the plan requiring developers to build affordable housing.” Showing photos of tents in the rain, the ad says the candidate would “allow homeless camping to spread.”
To support those statements, the commercial shows quotes snipped selectively from recent news stories.
The ad first quotes Moon as saying she would “restart the process on housing,” attributing that to a Seattle Weekly story.
The story discussed remarks Moon had made at a neighborhood forum about the process that led to former Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, which includes taller buildings in some neighborhoods and new requirements that developers help create low-income housing.
During the forum, Moon described the closed-door negotiations by a Murray-appointed panel as “way too insular and top down” and said the city should have started by talking to residents about how they want to add density.
“Work with neighborhoods to figure out what is the right way to grow that preserves your culture and the character of your neighborhood that you care about,” she said.
“That’s what we should have done, and I would restart that process at this point and have a new discussion based on those constructive approaches.”
After Durkan mentioned the “restart” comment at a subsequent debate, Moon said the city should move ahead with the taller building heights and the new developer requirements but should also consult more with residents about the details.
The People for Jenny Durkan commercial then quotes Moon on homeless camping saying, “I would let them stay in parks,” citing a Seattle Post-Intelligencer story.
That story covered another debate, in which Moon said, “People who are not doing any harm to their communities and their neighbors, who are not breaking any laws except for being homeless and being poor, yes, I would let them stay in parks until we have a place for them.”
Her position is that the city generally shouldn’t evict campers unless it can offer them shelter or housing that meets their needs.
The commercial then pivots to Durkan and her “plan for the homeless,” showing her talking to construction workers.
The voice-over says she would “create hundreds of new beds” for homeless people and would “hold developers accountable to build thousands of new affordable units.”
Durkan has proposed opening up to 700 additional, short-term shelter beds across the city in spaces such as community centers or churches. Though she hasn’t said how she would pay for the beds specifically, Durkan has identified potential ways to raise money for housing overall, such as a new landlord fee, her campaign said.
In a statement, Durkan spokeswoman Stephanie Formas said, “Jenny is the only candidate in the race who is running a grass-roots campaign with volunteers knocking on doors, calling voters and funding her campaign with over 3,600 individual donors.”
In addition to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and the Chamber’s political arms, whose major donors include Amazon, Vulcan and Comcast, People for Jenny Durkan’s top contributors include the political arms of the Seattle Hotel Association, SEIU Local 775 and the Seattle Fire Fighters Union.
A pro-Moon independent-expenditure committee with 10 individual donors, People for Moon, has spent $25,000 on digital advertising.