response to John Nichols blog today
In recent years, community resistance to corporate and resource extraction interests has increased, making room for more progressive voices. Four years ago, the election of Mike McGinn, Sierra Club activist, to defeat an established, progressive Democratic mayor, revealed dissatisfaction with the aggressive banking strategy of Washington Mutual/Chase and its effect on establishment real estate development in Seattle. Other radical candidates appeared over the last 20 years to challenge city council coziness with development in the city's core and neglect of vital community interests, including neighborhoods, youth programs, schools, parks and the environment. Real estate interests here, as in many US cities, dominate land use planning. Saving county farmland in favor of urban high rise was a choice made years ago, but it hasn't automatically engendered affordable housing nor community commons. Kshama Sawant and activists ran an exemplary grass roots campaign for city council, resonant with massive voter turnout in my neighborhood for one. On election day, trucks arrived in Ballard to empty the ballot return box near the library. This campaign evoked a vision of the Seattle so many want with fairness, green approaches, artist and intellectual pursuits and compassion, not a cruise ship destination with chain stores, inadequately funded by tourist taxes.