Analysis by Jack Mayne
For the past few years, Burienâ€™s City Council elections have been a bit more contentious with two sides (or more at times) struggling to control the cityâ€™s government.
During the 20-plus years of the cityâ€™s existence, Council elections consisted of just enough money to pay filing fees, buy a few yard signs and maybe an ad or two in local media. Campaign expenses were usually around a thousand bucks, often less, and with donations from just a few friends and family.
There is something new this year, though, money, lots of it, and apparently mostly spent in just two cities, Burien and SeaTac â€“ a Tukwila candidate did get a small amount. Most of the money comes from large, election savvy unions, but the Public Disclosure Commission records are often out of date and sometimes have gaps later filled in. The PDC is well known to be under staffed and under financed although most observers feel the staff does its work the best it can under its obstacles.
Pay the bills
The political action committee that is supporting Burien candidates Austin Bell, Holli Giffin and Jon Scherer apparently does not give the money directly to the candidates, but instead pays many of their bills.
The fourth candidate is local shop owner Darla Green who said she is entirely funded by Burien money, either her own money or donations from Burien residents. She emphasized that “no Seattle money” is used in her election bid.
Reelection seekers, Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Councilmember Bob Edgar told the PDC they would raise â€œno more than $5,000 plus filing fees.â€
One example of this process is the Oct. 21 â€œElectioneering Communicationsâ€ report by the South King County Working Families PAC, which shows it spent $14,013.41 so far in the campaign for Bell, Giffin and Scherer campaign costs. The committee for SeaTac candidates paid similar costs. And not all of the costs of this election campaign are fully reported to the PDC, or if they are, the numbers are not listed by the state agency yet.
The Public Disclosure Commission lists one payment, for example, of $4,474 that covered printing and mailing for Bell, Giffin and Scherer. The money is then charged to the various unions that finance the political action committee supporting candidates in Burien and SeaTac.
The South King County Working Families PAC has raised from its union partners and others $73,000, it told the disclosure commission, and had spent by last week $65,515 and listed a â€œdebtâ€ of $1,500.
Among the unions participating in the South King County Working Families Political Action Committee include locals of the Service Employee International Union, Teamsters Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, Unite Here Local 8 and the Sustainable Futures Political Action Committee controlled by State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien,
The Service Employees union, the SEIU, is one of the largest unions participating in election campaign in the state and probably in the nation. Search of the union in the Public Disclosure Website show page after page of activity.