Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Big Money (Almost Always) Talked in Seattle's 2015 Elections

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks at her election night party at Melrose Market in Seattle on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
City Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks at an election night party in Seattle last November. She received the most money in contributions of any council candidate. She also had the most contributors.

As Seattle made the transition to City Council districts for the 2015 election, it saw more races, more candidates and much more money than ever before.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has released its analysis.


With more than $460,000 in campaign contributions, socialist Kshama Sawant raised the most money in winning re-election in District 3. And she raised money from the most individual donors: over 3,500 of them.

Behind Sawant in the fundraising totals were at-large candidate Tim Burgess and Sawant’s opponent, Pamela Banks.

Overall, donors contributed $3.6 million on Seattle’s City Council races. A record number of donors – nearly 29 percent -- were not from Seattle.

District 5 candidate Debora Juarez spent the most of her own money on her campaign; she also raised the most money from outside Seattle at 55 percent. But she only outspent her closest opponent, Sandy Brown, by about $600.

The best-funded candidates won every City Council race except one: In District 1 in West Seattle, Lisa Herbold ultimately beat Shannon Braddock, although Braddock raised about $35,000 more.

The elections commission’s list of “Top 20 Contributors” is dominated by labor groups, especially the Service Employees International Union which occupies the top two spots.

Business donors are the second biggest group – they include developers, the Washington Restaurant Association and Vulcan.

Year started with KUOW: 2005