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Competitive race to replace Councilmember Tim Burgess

Sara Nelson, a first-time candidate, spent ten years working at city hall under former Councilmember Richard Conlin.

Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson (Credit: KING)

Eight candidates have filed in the race to replace retiring Seattle Councilmember Tim Burgess, who currently holds the at large position 8 seat.

The front runners include labor labor leader Teresa Mosqueda, political director for the Washington State Labor Council, former council candidate and housing activist Jon Grant and Fremont Brewing co-founder Sara Nelson.

Nelson, a first-time candidate, spent ten years working at city hall under former Councilmember Richard Conlin, who was defeated in 2013 by Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

“What distinguishes me is my experience in government and my perspective as a small business owner, and that’s important because small businesses are the fabric of our neighborhoods,” Nelson said. “We create jobs and support the economy, and it’s important that council supports small business and helps us thrive.”

Nelson, who has has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UW, says she would also like to see more green business incentives, as well as think of new ways to manage but welcome city growth.

“We’re changing, and I think change is good. We just have to do it well, and maintain the quality of life that Seattle already has,” said Nelson. “To me, that means, let’s take of basic services first, parks, community centers, public safety. Those things may not be sexy, but they’re important to city government, and we need to make sure we’re spending limited tax dollars well, and then creating an environment where there’s opportunity for all.”

With just weeks to go until the mid-May filing deadline, the other candidates in the race have already begun racking up endorsements and donations.

Mosqueda, a public health and worker advocate, has accrued support from more than two dozen local unions, as well as state lawmakers and current council members Sally Bagshaw, Lorena Gonzalez and Rob Johnson.

Mosqueda says her priorities revolve around protecting working families, seniors and the most vulnerable.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes over the past few years. I see people coming to our city because of our progressive roots, people coming because of the prosperity that’s been created in our city. But, when I look around the city, I don’t see shared prosperity; I don’t see a Seattle where everyone can afford to live. I want to see a Seattle where people who work here can afford to live here.”

Jon Grant, endorsed this week by Councilmember Kshama Sawant and the Socialist Alternative Party currently leads in money. He's raised more than $124,000 in campaign contributions, much of it--$109,525-- in the form of democracy vouchers, the city's new public campaign finance program.

"For us, we are prioritizing small donations from working people," Grant said at a news conference with Sawant this week. "The community owns this campaign."

“I think this is a real huge opportunity that we can actually turn the tide in Seattle to make it an affordable place for everyone to live,” he also said.

Teresa Mosqueda, who's also participating in the democracy voucher program has raised more than $122,000; $58,750 of which is from democracy vouchers.

A spokesman for Nelson says she does not plan to run using democracy vouchers. She has raised $8,725, as of the last filing deadline.

Related: More on the new democracy voucher program

Related: Track the money here

Related: Track the Democracy Vouchers

The position eight council race is one of two at-large seats up for re-election this season.

Related: How the race between Jon Grant and Tim Burgess made headlines last election cycle

The at-large races attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in both individual donations and outside spending, during the last election cycle in 2015.

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) and the Union-backed Political Action Committees emerged as some of the key funders of independent spending that year.

The first test for the new batch of candidates this year will be the August primary which will narrow the field to two candidates. Other candidates include local NAACP leader Sheley Secrest, Dr. Hisam Goueli, and civil rights advocate Charlene Strong.

KING 5 will be conducting extended interviews with the frontrunners in the race in the coming weeks.

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