Leaked Landlord Newsletter Bemoans $15 Wage, Declares Grant “Disaster for the industry.”

How worried is the landlord industry about having the former head of the Tenants Union on the Seattle City Council? Very worried. According to the Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHA), which is one of the most powerful landlord trade associations in our state:

“Mr. Burgess’ opponent, Jonathan Grant, worked most recently as Executive Director of the Tenants Union – a position he vacated to run for Council. Mr. Grant represents the worst option for Council not named Kshama Sawant.”

In the September edition of RHA’s “Update” newsletter it features two prominent articles outlining the industry’s opposition to a list of progressive city council candidates and an article entitled “Minimum Wage Hike Is Already Killing Jobs.” RHA strenuously opposed the paid sick and safe leave ordinance and $15 minimum wage increase. Now they are mobilizing to oppose any candidates who would push a pro-tenant agenda.

The RHA article indicates two races of particular concern, District 1 candidate Lisa Herbold and Position 8 candidate Jon Grant. Why are downtown developers, landlord trade associations, and other corporate interests up in arms? According to the article:

“Between these two races, wins by Ms. Herbold and Mr. Grant would represent a disaster for the industry. Those two, combined with Kshama Sawant favored in her race against Pamela Banks in District 3, would create a strong tenant-centric bloc on the Council, and would guarantee immediate moves to further strengthen tenant rights by expanding the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, further increasing notice for rent increases, and restricting rental owners’ ability to screen applicants.”

RHA has made maxed out contributions to Council President Tim Burgess, joining the Chamber of Commerce, CEO’s, and downtown developers in pouring over a half million dollars to re-elect their candidate of choice. The Chamber of Commerce alone contributed $150,000 for its own Pro-Burgess Independent Expenditure group “United for Tim”.

RHA has been holding fundraisers for Tim Burgess, and is mobilizing its members: “RHA members are strongly encouraged to consider supporting Ms. Braddock, Mr. Burgess, and Ms. Banks’ campaigns.” This is not the first corporate-backed Independent Expenditure (IE) group to go up against Grant. Recently the “Seattle Needs Ethical Leaders” IE went down in flames after Grant exposed an attempted shakedown by Triad Development. Triad executives have abandoned their efforts there and instead are now throwing all their money to other real estate independent expenditure groups, with Triad executive John Goodman and his executive team at Goodman Real Estate maxing out direct contributions to Tim Burgess to the tune of $3,500. Grant has called on Burgess to refund Triad/Goodman contributions given their direct hand in economically evicting low-income families in Seattle. This request has been ignored.

Grant has put forward a broad, sweeping platform to expand tenants’ rights and will continue to push for greater economic relief for renters if elected.


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