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'People for Seattle' group wants to sway Seattle City Council elections

A group called "People for Seattle" has formed with the goal of changing the culture of the Seattle City Council.

 A group of prominent former elected leaders and business owners has formed a political action committee with the sole purpose of altering the Seattle City Council elections this fall.

They call themselves "People for Seattle" and their goal is to change the culture of the Seattle City Council. 

They've already raised big money to support like-minded candidates: $120,000 in just two weeks. 

"People for Seattle" confirmed their plan during an interview with KING 5 on Tuesday. The group plans on making a formal introduction on Wednesday. 

"If you go down there to testify, you know city council is more like a circus  than a governing body," said Taylor Hoang, who owns several restaurants in Seattle. Hoang is one of the group's leaders, along with Tim Burgess, who was a longtime member of the Seattle City Council and briefly Seattle mayor

"I think what we see a lot of today is responding to very self-interested group, lots of grandstanding in front of the TV cameras," Burgess said. He served with some of the people running for re-election.

Hoang and Burgess say they've raised $120,000 in just over two weeks to help "progressive, pragmatic leaders" to be elected to the council. They both say they don't see that kind of leadership now, but declined to mention specific candidates their group will support.  They plan on filing formal fundraising documents by the end of the week.

Hoang said she's concerned about public safety and homelessness, in particular, but the group has varied interests. "People for Seattle" believes frustration with the council can be seen in public polling.  

"Our current city council members haven't done much to tame that or to govern in a way that is inclusive, and people feel that," Hoang said.

Seven of nine council seats are up for grabs this year, with the primary election slated for August. Only three incumbents, Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold, and Debora Juarez, are seeking re-election.

Burgess said there are no corporate donations, and all of the fundraising has been from private individuals. The largest donation, he says, is $5,000.  

It is not without precedent for a group of private individuals to try and alter a city council election. Back in the 1960s, a group calling itself "Choose an Effective City Council," or CHECC, formed to back and endorse multiple candidates. That campaign was successful, forming a CHECC-related majority until the fall of 1978, according to historylink.org.