Seattle City Council candidate Joe Szwaja sent out an email this morning announcing that he has raised $20,121 thus far — $17,091 at his Kick-Off party alone. Considering his late entry into the race against incumbent Jean Godden, I suppose that’s not bad.
The Council is technically non-partisan, though we all know that all of the current council members are at least nominally Democrats. We also all know that Szwaja is a key member of the Washington State Green Party. Which leaves me a bit conflicted about this race.
On the one hand, ideologically, I align myself very closely with much of the Green philosophy. On the other hand, politically, I find both the local and national Green Parties to be misguided, self-destructive, vindictive… and strategically retarded.
On the one hand, while I like Godden personally, I’m having a hard time recalling what, if anything, she’s accomplished during her four years on the City Council. On the other hand, while I came away rather impressed the one time I had the opportunity to speak with Szwaja at length, um… this is apparently the guy who vetted Aaron Dixon. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
That said, my main criticism of the Greens has always been strategic: their eagerness to play the spoiler in high profile races for US Senate and President, while refusing to do the gritty, hard work necessary to actually build a party. Most of electoral politics is tedious, time consuming and far from glamorous. Sure, it might be more fun for a third party candidate to run for Congress or Senate, than, say, fire commissioner, but barring substantial electoral reforms like proportional representation or ranked-choice voting, such high profile candidacies are at best futile, and at worst, a dangerous distraction from the real candidates.
So I guess I should congratulate Szwaja for finally entering a race he has a snowball’s chance of winning. City Council is not exactly starting at the bottom — which is exactly where the Greens need to start if they’re ever going to build a base — but it is local, it is nominally non-partisan, and it is nominally winnable.
This is a race that’s worth watching.