Man arrested for arson during CHOP enters race for Seattle city council seat

Mar 15, 2023, 3:19 PM | Updated: Mar 16, 2023, 10:55 am
The Seattle City Council chambers. (Seattle City Council, Flickr)
(Seattle City Council, Flickr)

Isaiah Willoughby, a man who was charged with arson after setting fire to a police precinct during the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), is officially running for the 2nd District seat on Seattle’s city council.

“I am committed to educating the youth to lead and to serve the community, enlightening the minds, developing the region, touching the heart, and aspiring the soul,” Willoughby said on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “The name of my campaign is multiculturalism democracy because, in our legislative branch, there’s no representation of my ethnic diversity.”

Willoughby pleaded guilty to pouring gasoline on debris next to the precinct and lighting it on fire on June 12, 2020, damaging the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) East precinct.

Cherry trees in front of Pike Place Market are gone

He was sentenced to two years in prison on Oct. 5, 2021, according to The Post Millennial, but was released March 2022.

“Why would we want to give someone power by putting them on the council if they’re an arsonist?” Jason Rantz asked Willoughby on his show.

“Once I found out that police brutality was going through multiple miscarriages from Tacoma and Seattle, then I committed a crime in the upheap of the moment,” Willoughby responded. “But my crime does not define who I will be in the future, or my narrative, or the legislative policies I can implement in Seattle for the greater good of my people.”

Willoughby claimed the loss of Manny Ellis — the 33-year-old Black man who died while being restrained by Tacoma police on March 3, 2020 — set off his actions at CHOP.

“I was the last person to see Manny Ellis leave the house before he walked into the store that night. I was not involved in any protests at all during 2020 until June, when I was watching the news, and I saw Manny Ellis’s untimely death on the news,” Willoughby said. “And I happened to live in the same house. He was right next to me, his room. So when that happened, I joined the protests when I saw how he was murdered by police brutality.”

District 2 is currently represented by Tammy Morales, who announced last month that she will be running again. However, she would be only one of a few incumbents reelected if she won, as a mass exodus from the city council is underway, with Lisa Herbold (District 1), Kshama Sawant (District 3), Alex Pedersen (District 4), and Debora Juarez (District 5), have all announced they are not seeking another term. Additionally, Teresa Mosqueda (citywide seat) would vacate her position on the council if she wins her bid to join the King County Council.

Willoughby stated, while he believes the incumbent representative Tammy Morales has done a “fine job,” his campaign for District 2 is based on a lack of minority representation on the council.

“I am running for my local municipality,” Willoughby said. “Where I’m from represents my experience in my own district as I was raised in that community.”

District 2 is home to South Seattle, encompassing the Beacon Hill, Chinatown, and Georgetown neighborhoods.

“You’re saying, as a black man, you’re not necessarily represented on the council?” Rantz asked.

More from Jason Rantz: No whites, Jews allowed at Seattle school Multicultural Week event

“Correct,” Willoughby responded. “We would just like to have a voice that represents legislative procedures that represent our community. I would represent every ethnic diversity, or every religion, or culture, or all kinds of beliefs or practices, but I would like to have our views heard in the policies going on in Seattle.

“I am from Seattle. I’ve lived in District 2 since 1991,” Willoughby continued. “I went to Franklin High School. I played soccer for Rainier Beach Sports. I mean, that is my home base. That is my district.”

Joining the Seattle city council race for District 2’s seat alongside Morales and Willoughby is Dawn Lucas, a resident who’s frustrated with homelessness and crime in her neighborhood, according to Crosscut.

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

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Man arrested for arson during CHOP enters race for Seattle city council seat