How Much Does It Cost to Buy a City?

SeaTac is under attack by outside special-interest groups who want to buy and remake the city with their political beliefs. They misrepresent facts to align with their political agenda. They seek to undercut the success of the city and Council so that the challengers will appear more attractive. The challengers talk in generalities about building communities and helping small businesses but present no specific ideas and refuse to discuss what has occurred in the city over the past four years. They are creating a narrative that has no basis in reality!

What is most disturbing about the current election is the fact that all the challengers have virtually no financial support from within the city. These four challengers as of September 6, 2019, have mystically accumulated over $73,000 in donations. The chart below presents data downloaded from the Washington PDC as of September 6, 2019.

This chart shows the four challengers have raised $66,786 of outside money, which represents over 90% of the total. The gross money for the challengers comes from outside special-interests who wish to seize control of SeaTac. This kind of outside meddling demands an answer to the question: How much does it cost to buy a city?

The challengers running against the incumbents, have yet to explain what skills and talents they have that qualify them to run the city with a $40 million budget. None of them has previously worked in Public Service. The fact that none of the four challengers have attended any city advisory committees or otherwise involved with city events indicates they have no understanding nor experience in how the city works, much less how to govern. As with many politicians, they love to talk about change but fail to present a list of actions that would benefit the city and its residents.

These challengers are troubling for other reasons. Takele Gobena is a union representative, paid by a union. He has appeared at the Seattle City Council, claiming to be a driver for Uber, who made under three dollars an hour. Of course, there was a political issue at hand, since the unions want to unionize this type of services, so did he do this for the good of the public or the good of the union?

Senyate Negusse claims that the City unfairly sold the SeaTac center and mentions racist motivation to get rid of the minority community members. The truth is that the City is continuing a plan established over 13 years ago in 2006, committed with the State for Transit-Oriented Design (Light Rail).  The city purchased the property in 2009 for $12 million, and litigation by the owners against the prior council started soon after. The incumbent Council settled that litigation in 2017 and put the property out for public sale.

The special-interest groups submitted an offer for only part of the property and offered $4 million. The property was sold to the highest bidder as required by law, at a purchase price of $15 million. The tenants of the property received notification of the closing on March 1, 2018,  18 months before the actual closing. However, the day of the closing, many of the challengers appeared at a conference at the SeaTac Center accusing the city of only giving the tenants two days’ notice to move. That story is not the truth, and that is verifiable by documents available on the city’s website at https://www.seatacwa.gov/home/showdocument?id=25800

The most important truth about the SeaTac Center development is the actual benefit to the city and taxpayers, which none of the challengers has chosen to discuss. The development of this property will bring 683 units of workforce and market-rate housing to the city, providing residence for over 2400 people and also bring more new commercial space for small businesses such as coffee shops and restaurants. This property will now go back on the tax rolls generating revenue that will protect residential property owners from future property tax increases and will support the city’s successful growth plan. The development will create $140 million per year of new disposable income, which will be spent in the city and will support small business. Truthfully, if the outside special-interests party had managed to create and effect, this kind of development, they would have been hailed as heroes. It’s interesting how perspective changes based on partisan politics.

The city of SeaTac has grown its budget from $33 million to $40 million in four years, with no additional taxes. SeaTac now has a sustainable budget, with a fully funded contingency fund, and is putting over $500,000 annually into human services (one of the highest percentages in the County). SeaTac has not increased its city property tax in three years! (No other city in King County can make this statement). SeaTac has the lowest median income in the County and enjoys the lowest cost of living. The current Council has managed the city’s finances better than any prior SeaTac City Council. Today, the city is in its best fiscal position since incorporation!

The outside special-interests would like to gain control of the city of SeaTac because it has a $25 million surplus. This money is planned to fund future city projects. The incumbents have consistently rejected regionalization because the past has shown that King County does not provide human services equitably to benefit our city. These special-interests want all the cities to share and pay for the burdens of Seattle’s political decisions, and the incumbents believe that is not fair to our residents! The incumbents ran for office on the platform of “fiscal responsibility.” They have proven to be responsible, competent, and effective. They have served the city with integrity and in the best interests of all the city residents. None of the four challengers have presented a resume that would lead a voter to believe they have the experience necessary be a member of the City Council. Would the four challengers, supported by the outside special-interests, act in your best interests? Or would their campaign funded by outside money leave them in debt to the whims of outside forces?  The choice is simple, you can vote the results you’ve seen, or you can vote for the empty promises and false claims, from people who have been bought and paid for by special-interests outside the city. You decide,  How much does it cost to buy a city?

Choose wisely!  Vote to retain our incumbents!