Gary Brose, the 65-year-old Republican candidate for Seattle mayor laughs at the recent Fox News host assertion that Seattle is a socialist hellhole. “They’re trying for ratings there, I think.”
But the small businessman who runs four courier services knows what he’s up against. Seattle hasn’t had a Republican mayor in 47 years. There’s a Socialist Alternative Party member on the City Council, but no Republicans.
“I've always wanted to do something virtually impossible,” he says. “This is pretty close.”
Seattle elections are officially non-partisan, but Gary Brose openly identifies himself a moderate Republican. He says it wasn't until three to four years ago that he could admit that to himself. And when he says that at a Seattle candidate forum, what happens?
“Whatever smiles there were dissipate and melt away," he says. “They set their heart in steel.”
Brose call himself a fiscal conservative. He says with a $6.5 billion budget, there are many places to look for efficiencies. He says he doesn’t necessarily believe the city budget is too big, but he’s sure he could find ways to cut out waste and reallocate money to pressing needs, like homelessness and traffic.
“I've got plenty of other faults,” he says, “but I'm good with numbers."
Does anything in Brose’s fiscal conservative message resonate? Brose says Seattleites on a fixed income and people who are not getting a raise take notice when he talks about rising property taxes.
In coming years, others may also pay more attention. Seattle’s Municipal League recently released a study showing that in the past 50 years, the city's general fund spending has grown more than 250 percent, adjusting for inflation.
The city has taken on a range of new spending responsibilities relying on increased revenue from sales and property taxes, voter-approved levies and on federal funds. But that revenue could dry up in the next recession. President Trump promises to cut funding to sanctuary cities like Seattle. The Municipal League cautions that without a change, Seattle could be in store for fiscal crises.
But all that’s in the future. Brose is aware that in the sunny days of summer, it’s hard to get voters to think about the coming winter.
“I'm thinking positive,” he says. “I’m looking for a little uprising and to go on to the general election."
Gary Brose is one of 21 candidates for mayor. Ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 1. The top two candidates will go on the general election in November.