Afternoon Crank: Council Candidates Include 15 Millionaires; Durkan’s Office Responds to Story on Workplace Conduct

1. The candidates for Seattle City Council this year include at least 15 millionaires and one near-millionaire. According to the candidates’ financial disclosure reports, provided by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, the wealthiest candidate in any race is District 4 (Northeast Seattle) candidate Cathy Tuttle, who has a net worth of $7.26 million. Tuttle is followed by District 6 (northwest Seattle) candidate Jay Fathi ($5.5 million); District 7 (downtown, Magnolia, Queen Anne) candidate Don Harper ($3.8 million), District 6 candidate Jon Lisbin ($3.5 million) and District 2 (Southeast Seattle) candidate Tammy Morales ($2.6 million). The amount each homeowning candidate is worth does not include the total appraised value of their home; rather, like all calculations of net worth, it includes the portion of their home that they have paid off and own outright. If a candidate owns a million-dollar home but has only paid off one-fifth of its value, the portion of that home that would show up in the candidate’s net wealth would be $200,000.

The other millionaires and multimillionaires running for city council this year, in order, are:

• District 5 incumbent Debora Juarez ($2.02 million)

• District 5 challenger George Liu ($1.86 million)

• District 3 challenger Pat Murakami ($1.75 million)

• District 7 candidate Daniela Eng ($1.5 million)

• District 6 candidate Heidi Wills ($1.25 million)

• District 5 challenger Ann Davison Sattler ($1.2 million)

• District 7 candidate Michael George ($1.1 million)

• District 2 candidate Mark Solomon ($1.1 million)

• District 7 candidate Naveed Jamali ($1.07 million)

• District 6 candidate Kate Martin ($1 million)

Alex Pedersen, running in District 4, is the near-millionaire, with $944,000 in net wealth.

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Districts 6 and 7 tied for the most millionaires running, with four in each district so far; District 1 (West Seattle) was the only district where no candidate has a net worth above $1 million.

Twenty-two of the 53 candidates whose financial disclosures I’ve received so far own their homes, including several who own their houses outright (Liu, Solomon, Tuttle, and Lisbin) and several who own second homes or properties in addition to their primary house (Fathi, Lisbin, Murakami, Juarez). Overall, the homeowning candidates’ average net worth of $1.85 million is more than twice that of the typical Seattle-area homeowner and more than four times the $399,000 median net worth in Seattle, as reported earlier this year by the Seattle Times’ Gene Balk. The renters who are running, moreover, are wealthier, on average, than the median renter in the city, with an average net worth of about $115,000, compared to the median $36,000. Only two of the non-property owners who are running for council reported negative wealth (i.e. debt that outweighs their savings).

Districts 6 and 7 tied for the most millionaires running, with four in each district so far; District 1 (West Seattle) was the only district where no candidate so far has a net worth above $1 million.

Keep in mind that these are averages compared to medians, so the comparison is not exactly apples to apples; the spread among homeowners ranges from $300,000 (Brendan Kolding, District 1) to Tuttle’s $7.2 million, and among renters, from negative $7,500 (Joey Massa, District 6) to $765,811 (Jesse Greene, District 1).

The two non-millionaire incumbents seeking reelection are District 1 council member Lisa Herbold (net worth: $527,000) and District 3 council member Kshama Sawant (net worth $470,000). I’ll update this post when I receive the remaining handful of outstanding financial disclosure reports from the city.

“We also know that workplaces are human endeavors, and there is no office that is free of workplace issues. The work we’ve done is critical to create a culture and a system that promotes respect, empowers employees to be able to raise or discuss concerns and then appropriately address issues that may arise.”

2. On Wednesday, Crosscut’s David Kroman had an exclusive story about two former staffers for Mayor Jenny Durkan who allege that she mistreated them. One alleged that Durkan grabbed her face and turned her head during an argument; the other accused the mayor of creating a hostile work environment and racial discrimination.

Early that same morning,  Durkan’s chief of staff, Stephanie Formas, sent an email to all cabinet-level staffers responding to the allegations in the story. The email enumerates the mayor’s accomplishments “including surviving the largest snow storm in 50 years, expanded preschool, free college, climate initiatives, gun safety, a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and much more,” and talks about the diversity of the mayor’s staff and the creation of an Anti-Harassment Interdepartmental Team. “With your leadership on this issue, we’ve worked to make significant changes to create a positive workplace across the City. We also know that workplaces are human endeavors, and there is no office that is free of workplace issues. The work we’ve done is critical to create a culture and a system that promotes respect, empowers employees to be able to raise or discuss concerns and then appropriately address issues that may arise.”

Formas’ email mentions the allegations themselves only briefly, noting that “senior leadership in the Mayor’s Office worked with Seattle Department of Human Resources to listen to the employees and work to reach a respectful and fair resolution that aligned with the employees’ desired outcomes” and referring them to Durkan’s official statement.

5 thoughts on “Afternoon Crank: Council Candidates Include 15 Millionaires; Durkan’s Office Responds to Story on Workplace Conduct”

  1. The calculation you have used to determine net worth is totally flawed. I typically respect your reporting but this is Bush League. You cannot count Equity that one holds in a real estate holding as net worth it’s the amount of debt still owed is larger than the amount of equity. This puts the holder of the real estate asset in the red, not in the black.

    “Net worth is the value of all assets, minus the total of all liabilities. Put another way, net worth is what is owned minus what is owed. This net worth calculator helps determine your net worth. It also estimates how net worth could grow or decline over the next 10 years.”

    1. Actually, you’re doing your calculation exactly backward. The way I described it is the correct way to calculate net worth. A standard net-worth calculator, for example, would take a million-dollar house and subtract the amount you still owed (say, $500,000 if it was half paid off) and come up with a net worth to the owner of that house of $500,000.

      This is a very standard calculation and is in fact the one the state and city (not me, as I did not create these candidates’ financial disclosure statements) uses. Here is an easy explainer, in case it’s still not clear: https://www.fool.com/investing/how-to-calculate-my-net-worth.aspx

  2. This coverage + recent golf course details are *perfect* examples of why I am a Patreon supporter. FIRST bring data to the table and THEN start the conversation re: implications of said data. 🙂

    If only more people in our society (and certainly in SEA) would be willing to take this approach, I feel like we would do a lot less shouting past each other. (sigh) So many have retracted to online name-calling and short, sarcastic memes that are easy for misinterpretation, overly dismissive, and just as frequently, poorly informed…

    re: this topic: candidate wealth is certainly helpful to understand for context – and is a consideration since I believe we should have diversity of life experiences + opinions on SCC.

    However, it is not necessarily a demerit or disqualifying factor. The more important question is to WHOM do candidates (and/or pols) turn when it times to gather their data and *especially* when it comes time to making decisions and advocating for policy ….

    One of my (recent) favorite tweets on the topic:
    https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1047590382727561218?s=20

    Thank you for your work. =)

  3. Remember that scene in Austin Powers when Dr Evil takes some poor country hostage (or threatens to blow it up etc) unless they pay the unfathomable amount of [pinky to lips] one MILLION dollars? This feels like that. Most professional adults later in their careers (who can legitimately make a bid for city council) bought homes years ago and are sitting on retirement savings of at least that much. Sure, one million bucks is a lot more than many people have, but it’s not anywhere near the top one percent, especially in Seattle!

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