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With cargo bike full of tamales, Andres Salomon announces run for Seattle Mayor

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Anna helps serve tamales out of the family cargo bike.
Anna helps serve tamales out of the family cargo bike.

Andres Salomon was born in Ecuador and moved to the United States when he was three. His wife Anna moved to the U.S. as a refugee when she was five. They met at MIT and named their son Atom (which is a bad ass name).

Their family does not own a car. Instead, they get around using a cargo bike. And at his campaign announcement outside UW Station Wednesday, that cargo bike was full of homemade tamales.

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“We can say all we want about being a welcoming sanctuary city,” he said in response to a crowd question, “but unless our housing is affordable, unless you can get around safely without a car, we’re not really a welcoming city.”

He has been a dedicated volunteer leader of Northeast Seattle Greenways for years, working to advocate for safe streets. He has — to name just one example — been an unshakeable organizing force for a safer NE 65th Street for years, a project he helped convince the City Council to add to the budget for 2017. He has written guest posts for Seattle Bike Blog, and I have had the pleasure of watching him evolve as a grassroots activist over my years writing this blog. So, full disclosure, I can’t claim to be some kind of neutral voice about him.

His announcement focuses on his experience as an immigrant, the need for serious action to make it easier to build more housing affordably, a call to end homeless camps sweeps, to end youth incarceration, and to not spend money on an “exorbitant police stations that isolate them further from the communities they police.”

He is also a dedicated free and open source software developer who believes the city should invest in municipal Internet service and be dedicated to transparency and open data (“If you have an Android phone, it’s likely running code that I’ve written” due to his work on Linux, according to his campaign website).

He has not yet filed all his campaign paperwork, but he said it’s on the way. His campaign is definitely going to be highly dependent on volunteers. Unfortunately, the city’s publicly-financed democracy voucher system does not apply to this year’s mayoral race. So cold hard cash is going to be vital.

So far, there are few challengers to incumbent Mayor Ed Murray. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission website only lists Murray (with over $100,000 on hand), Mary Juanita Martin (Socialist Workers Party, $0 reported yet to SEEC) and dedicated public meeting disruption advocate Alex Tsimerman ($0 reported yet to SEEC).

Salomon’s challenge out the gate is to get media attention and present himself as a “serious” candidate. Typically, local politics watchers look at campaign funds to decide whether someone is “serious,” though perhaps Seattle is changing the value it places on campaign funds after voting for the democracy voucher system. We’ll see.

He also has never run for political office, so he will have a lot to learn about the theater of it all. He has grassroots organizing experience, but now he needs to translate that into major endorsements.

So far, most of the already-established local politics figures have opted to run for the open City Council seat Tim Burgess is vacating rather than challenge Mayor Murray. But there is a lot of frustration with Murray’s lack of action when facing any political friction. From affordable housing to safe streets to police reform to responding to homelessness, he has been a source of frustration to people engaged at the grassroots level.

And Murray still politically owns the controversial Hwy 99 downtown car tunnel he helped push through as a state legislator, which could easily encounter more problems before November (the boring machine is under Belltown now). I don’t understand why people so far seem convinced he has this election sewn up.

Is Andres the person to unseat Murray? He’s got a lot of work ahead of him, but he works very hard.

Since the Democrats got slaughtered across the nation (Presidential popular vote aside, they got creamed in vital state-level races, too), there has been a lot of talk about the need for more people to lace up their shoes and run for office. You can’t win if you don’t run. But it takes a lot of guts to put your life story out there like this. So kudos to Andres. I look forward to covering the race as it develops.

Here’s the sheet his campaign was handing out at the launch:

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21 responses to “With cargo bike full of tamales, Andres Salomon announces run for Seattle Mayor”

  1. ronp

    Good luck Andres! More candidates promoting safe streets, biking, walking, and transit is awesome!

  2. Kirk

    So far, Andres has my vote!

  3. Andres has my vote. I’m looking forward to the coverage of the race!

  4. Steven Lorenza

    Great, but I find his transportation bullet confusing. What “ridiculous costs” of a unionized department is he going to reduce to provide a new glut of capital money? Is SDOT wasting money on something that can be cut?

    Also I’m sorry but changing zoning isn’t a winning platform. Wish it was.

    1. Murianne

      According to his campaign websites, he seems to take issue with the city’s lack of transparency in transportation costs. I would be interested in a more transparent budget, especially as mass transit continues to grow with ST3.

      1. Steven Lorenza

        True. And I do think the repititive planning and outreach could be scaled back.

    2. Sonny M.

      On his website he compares “nation-wide” costs for improvements (pulled from a 2013 FHA report – he links it on his “Issues” page) to quoted improvement costs from the city. The report states that “Costs are assumed to include engineering, design, mobilization, and furnish and installation costs.” No mention of outreach efforts or public process, which Seattle values so much (perhaps to a fault, but that’s another conversation for another day). I’m not saying there probably isn’t room for improvement, but I don’t think he’s making an apples-to-apples comparison. And to imply that SDOT is artificially inflating project costs to, what, line their pockets? Give me a break…

  5. Erik

    Another candidate pushing the myth of affordable housing by government intervention. In a city like Seattle, the cheaper the housing (subsidies and rent control) the less available housing will become. There is unlimited demand for things other people pay for. As for his love affair with cargo bikes good for him and I laud him but for almost all of us that’s not an option. I prefer Amazon Prime. This guy is more of the same not anything new. Lets hope he’s just less clueless than Mayor Murray who is turning our city and bike lanes to a garbage dump for any and all handout wanting comers.

  6. Conrad

    Kudos to Andres for running. Please keep us appraised of ways to volunteer . Murray does not have this sewn up.

  7. Law Abider

    “I don’t understand why people so far seem convinced he has this election sown up.”

    One word: incumbency. Seattle voters are content with mayoral office holders, as long as they don’t try to do too much that gets noticed (McGinn) or have a major scandal (Nickels’ snowpocalypse and Schell’s WTO/Madri Gras). We apparently like a mayor that toes the line, doesn’t try anything too radical and mostly keeps out of the news. As long as the mayor is doing an OK job, we don’t want to see or hear what the mayor is doing. Murray fits that description to a ‘T’.

  8. (Another) Tom

    Good luck Andres!

    I’ll be watching with interest. Even if he is ultimately unsuccessful I hope this will push Murray towards actually fulfilling his safe streets rhetoric. I’m pretty much ambivalent on Murray. I generally like what he says but have been disappointed in actual progress on the pavement. I also understand (and so does he) that he won the office in large part due to “Bike McGinn.” Nothing gets folks more irrationally motivated than a perceived threat to their ‘god-given’ right to drive their car anywhere, anytime, and at any speed (tolls are right out.)

    1. asdf2

      That’s what I thinking. Even if he doesn’t win the election, if the campaign drawn attention to the need for safe streets and leads Murray to take additional action, it’s still a win for the city.

    2. Ben P

      I hope this puts some energy back in Mr. Murray.

  9. Would like to see Andres run as a Green Party candidate.

  10. Conrad

    I think incumbency will hurt Murray because most people are dissatisfied with him.

  11. William

    Great goals but what administrative experience does Mr. Salomon have that might lead one to have confidence that he will be a successful mayor.

    1. Erik

      He is all about bike lanes so Bike Blog folks will attribute anything and everything to him.

  12. Fish

    I have mixed feelings about Murray and I would definitely be willing to give another candidate a shot. Overall, I think Murray is a fine mayor that would be well suited for many cities. I just think he tries too hard to please everyone, but there’s never any follow through with his actions. I think Pronto and the 2nd ave bike lane is a prime example. He believes in the benefits of bike share and having a safe bike infrastructure, so he does a great job starting projects. But he never expanded Pronto and he has yet to connect 2nd ave to anything making it another “bike island” where it is unusable for most city residents. The reality is that if we want the best infrastructure we need a Rahm Emmanuel type of mayor. Not afraid of conflicts and truly passionate about riding. Mayor Murray is doing an okay job where there’e nothing to hate about him but nothing to love about him either. I think he’s better suited for state politics as a moderate than as mayor for a very liberal city.

  13. […] Mayor Ed Murray’s most prominent challenger for re-election was a safe-streets activist who distributed homemade tamales from his cargo bike at a campaign-launch event that no major news outlets […]

  14. […] Mayor Ed Murray’s most prominent challenger for re-election was a safe-streets activist who distributed homemade tamales from his cargo bike at a campaign-launch event that no major news outlets […]

  15. […] Mayor Ed Murray’s most prominent challenger for re-election was a safe-streets activist who distributed homemade tamales from his cargo bike at a campaign-launch event that no major news outlets […]

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