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Beto Yarce
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Jason Rantz


Rantz: Sawant challenger doesn’t live in district, but still cares more

(Courtesy of Beto Yarce campaign)

Beto Yarce announced his challenge to Kshama Sawant for City Council and there’s already some mild controversy. He doesn’t really live in the district, even if he has historical ties to Capitol Hill.

RELATED: Sawant officially has challenger for City Council seat

Yarce and his husband actually live in Mill Creek. In October, Yarce entered into a short term, month-to-month rental in Capitol Hill and is currently registered to vote in District 3.

According to his campaign statement:

District 3 has been my home for 12 years. I lived on Capitol Hill when I first arrived in Seattle, and remained there until my partner and I relocated to Mill Creek to be closer to his job. For those 4 years, I have worked and served here in District 3, growing the non-profit I manage, serving on Boards, and volunteering in the community. Our plan has always been to move back home and we are in the process of doing that now.

Yarce is the first serious challenger to Sawant, who, as I have been reporting for months, may not run for re-election. She’s currently choosing whether or not she’ll take a job with the national Socialist group.

Convenient relocation?

The decision to announce in a district he doesn’t have current stable ties to may have you wonder if he’s only running in the district because Sawant has lost much of her stable activist support. Union members, in the last year, have started to turn on Sawant after she became the face of the job-killing Amazon tax and her crusade against a new police contract, which benefited the union members in the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild.

But I think it’s a mistake to use this against him.

Rent is high in the district of his supposed-choosing, and there’s no doubt he’ll use that fact to deflect from criticism that he doesn’t live in the district. Despite being a technical outsider, Yarce clearly has genuine interest in the neighborhood he wants to represent. In fact, I’d argue he’s more focused on issues of the district than Sawant is, who frequently tackles bigger picture issues to forward the national Socialist movement.

During his campaign kick off, Yarce noted that Sawant “…needs to focus on the needs of her district.” This will be one of his key attacks on Sawant.

And there’s no reason to believe this line of criticism will hurt Yarce.

Progressive hero Pramila Jayapal didn’t live in her district when she ran the first time, and she cruised to victory (she has since moved to the district.) Same goes for Sarah Smith, the Socialist challenger to Rep. Adam Smith; she didn’t live in the district she ran for. On the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Smith used the housing affordability talking point to her advantage, even if she ended up losing — but not because of this issue.

While I’ll likely disagree with him on policy, since we appear miles away ideologically, don’t count on me calling him out for where he currently resides.

UPDATE: I added a correction. Earlier I wrote that Jayapal doesn’t currently live in the district (based on a WaPo report), but her office explained that she has moved into the district after her first election.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday mornings from 6-9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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