Here is the promised footnoted version, with a little prologue.
I do recognize that some of my readers will be angry that I chose to be “negative” by criticizing my opponent. Negativity does in fact stink, and we need less of it!
Alas, when a politician engages in particularly egregious behavior and has nearly a quarter million in outside corporate and developer money actively distorting reality, I think it is even more important to make sure the truth is heard. In fact, it has emerged in recent days that the Democratic Party of King County (which provides data support to all qualifying Democratic party campaigns, including both mine and Rivera’s) publicly reprimanded Rivera for adopting MAGA tactics, including “gaslighting and outright fabrications” about me. 1
So, for those who are angry about the negativity–I do understand, but respectfully suggest this is one of those times that making sure the truth is heard is the priority. I do hope when it comes to “negativity,” you hold my opponent to the same standard–who sent out negative postcards about me before I sent out anything and has actively lied about my platform in forums (part of why the Democratic party reprimanded her).
I’m Ron Davis and I’m running to represent you on City Council. I’m picking up the conversation from the letters I sent you in July. Many of you said you liked these long-form, substantive letters, so I’m writing again. As you may remember, I’m running to make sure Seattle is an affordable, safe, thriving place where people from any background can start a career, raise a family, and age happily at home.
I am a former startup CEO, and a graduate of Harvard Law School. In my recent professional work, I help other startup CEOs take new enterprise products to market. My wife is an amazing family doctor, and we are raising our two young boys, who go to Bryant and Eckstein. Since earning awards in law school related to public policy and economics, I’ve worked to bring good policy into local politics. I’ve most recently served on the boards of the University YMCA, Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, Seattle Subway, and Futurewise, where we passed the climate bill in Olympia this year.
As the policy nerd in this race who has a plan for everything and a history of delivering, I’ve outlined the concrete steps we need to take to make this city affordable, economically thriving, beautiful, and safe on www.seattle4ron.com. If we execute diligently, we will ensure we have housing that is affordable at all levels of income, in safe, conveniently navigated, beautiful, leafy neighborhoods we love to live in, and that are accessible to people with disabilities. As one of the richest cities in the history of human civilization, there is no excuse for the fact that we leave thousands of people on our streets, that we have dismantled our mental health system, and that we are failing to deliver basic recovery services for our neighbors caught in addiction. And as one of the most educated cities in the world, we have no excuse for our continued failure to follow evidence-based best practices. Let’s get to work!
Ideally, this letter would discuss the details of how to accomplish that. (To see a clean comparison of me and my opponent, I encourage you to watch us answer questions in forums. www.youtube.com/@Seattle4Ron/videos.) But my opponent and the “University Neighbors” PAC that is supporting her–mostly big Trump donors, developers and lobbyists who don’t even live2 here–have mounted a disinformation campaign that distorts reality and makes it harder for voters to make an informed decision. So I will address these repeated falsehoods with the facts.
First, Rivera misrepresents her experience at City Hall. She says her time at the city, “working to lift people up,” is a reason to vote for her. But at Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture, 26 of her 40 former employees signed a letter to the Mayor saying she created a toxic work environment, hindered staff’s ability to do its work, and shouldn’t be trusted with taxpayer money.3 When asked to release the letter; Rivera refused.4 She has since resigned.
(Allied Arts, which represents the community she was supposed to serve through the Office of Arts and Culture, recently endorsed my campaign)
Rivera has not been forthright about conflicts of interest. She frequently mentions her endorsements by Bob Ferguson and Bruce Harrell but never brings up her and her husband’s financial relationship with them.5 In fact, Rivera fought to get out of the financial disclosure requirements that every candidate has to meet.6 (Since I wrote this letter, it has emerged that Rivera appears to have failed to disclose payments from politicians to her husband’s company.7 This was referenced in the statement from the King County Democrats I mentioned earlier.8 I do not mean to imply some grand conspiracy with this (as Rivera has done with me on a clerical error on our mailers). Only that it matches the pattern of resistance to financial transparency.)
Rivera repeatedly makes statements that are easily documented to be false. When I identified that MAGA donors were funding the PAC supporting her campaign, she said it was “dishonest” and “outrageous,” but their identity is public record.9 She repeatedly asserts that I want to “subsidize drug dealers” simply because I agree with the Harrell administration's policy that we should divert addicted street-level dealers into recovery services.10 In a forum she claimed I previously supported defunding the police. This is also false; I never supported defunding,11 and the record is on tape. In a recent press release, she claimed I sent “illegal mailers,” a gross misrepresentation of a minor clerical error–five words of text missing from my disclosure.12 I’ve chosen to start a fact-checking website, with documentation, to keep up with her disinformation campaign. www.seattle4ron.com/factcheck
Finally, she is backed by a small group of elites that do not share Seattle’s values. Some MAGA donors and big developers formed one of those “PACs” that can spend unlimited money on her behalf. Their ringleaders have given nearly $100k to Trump and Republicans in the last few years, much after the January 6th insurrection.13 The PAC spent $80k to buy the primary for Rivera out from under Ken Wilson (who had real neighborhood support) because these power brokers know they can count on her to hold their corporate taxes down, while the rest of us pick up the tab with property taxes.
In the end, the MAGA PAC and Rivera stand together in their quest to protect our upside down tax code.14 (In Seattle, a retail worker pays ~17% of their income in state and local taxes, but an executive making $1M a year pays ~2%. Giant corporations have it even easier.)
Because of the slowdown in the real estate market, tax revenue is declining and we face a $200M budget deficit next year. We either have to raise taxes on the richest among us, or gut basic services. When we are asked about this, Rivera repeatedly says “we should look at the budget.”15 At the time of this writing, not once has she identified a line item that she would cut when pressed in multiple interviews and forums. After two years on Jenny Durkan’s staff and six months of campaigning, how much more time is she going to need to “look at the budget” to conjure up $200 million in savings? How long to find relief for seniors on fixed incomes? She recently hinted on a radio show that she might be open to further cutting taxes for big corporations. The only way to follow her plan is to decimate basic services, like road repair, public safety, homeless shelter staff, or drug treatment. My plan is to make it so the richest and corporations pay their fair share and we get the city back on track.
This city needs serious leadership. I am not perfect, but I am a high performer with a history of treating colleagues with respect, being honest with voters about tradeoffs, and whose values align with our community. I hope you’ll consider that when you vote. I am sorry to have to use this letter to combat disinformation, but alas, this is the time we live in.
A copy of the statement was released by King County Democrats on twitter at: https://twitter.com/kcdems/status/1712648175725773244 ↩
For a list of donors at the time of this writing to the PAC see https://web6.seattle.gov/ethics/elections/poplist_v2.aspx?cid=909&listtype=contributors. Note the top institutional donor the “Affordable Housing Council” is the advocacy arm of the Master Builders Association. They played a key role in the recent tree legislation that has generated so much anger in our district. https://washingtonstatestandard.com/2023/07/19/how-developers-helped-shape-seattles-controversial-tree-protection-ordinance/. See a discussion of these donors here https://www.thestranger.com/elections-2023/2023/07/28/79096219/more-than-150000-of-trumper-and-big-business-money-hits-city-council-races, including a previous discussion of George Petrie’s support of Trump after the January 6th insurrection: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/trumps-stolen-election-racket-is-working-extremely-well-even-here-in-washington-state/ ↩
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/davis-rivera-compete-to-represent-seattles-district-4-on-city-council/; https://www.thestranger.com/news/2023/07/03/79062517/twenty-six-city-workers-told-the-mayor-that-city-council-candidate-maritza-rivera-was-a-bad-boss ↩
At our June 20th interview of the District 4 candidates with the Election Control Board of The Stranger. ↩
https://www.pdc.wa.gov/political-disclosure-reporting-data/browse-search-data/expenditures?recipient_name=KMM In this disclosure period, Bruce Harrell’s campaign paid $61k to KMM Strategies (Rivera’s Husband’s Political Consulting Company),and Ferguson over $23k just last June. It’s well known that Ferguson has worked with Rivera’s husband for a long time. That’s okay, but Rivera should disclose it. ↩
May Meeting of Seattle Ethics and Elections: https://www.seattlechannel.org/ethics?videoid=x148672 - note that the discussion starts roughly around 1:15. Rivera joins at 1:18. Discussion gets more to the point around 1:26/27, and more pointed at 1:36. Her definition of a "hardship" appears to be that she really doesn't want to disclose, even though all candidates have to. Discussion ends around 1:39; July Meeting, from opening to minute 25. https://www.seattlechannel.org/ethics?videoid=x149575 - It emerges that Rivera did not make efforts to get the information, despite the request for her to demonstrate any form of hardship, and can't find a single reason it is a burden for her to do so. Commissioners speak frankly about this, and the commission denies her request. ↩
https://www.pdc.wa.gov/political-disclosure-reporting-data/browse-search-data/candidates/688930/expenditures - I do not have full knowledge of the extent of missing payments, but the complaint was shared with me and it identifies that the payments at the web address above, at least, were not included. ↩
A copy of the statement was released by King County Democrats on twitter at: https://twitter.com/kcdems/status/1712648175725773244. ↩
See footnote 2 for a list of donors and a discussion of their affiliations. ↩
For screenshots of her emails, as well as screenshots of the tweet she has used to generate the misinformation, as well as the rest of the tweet thread (which provided more context on my position at the time), please see https://seattle4ron.com/factcheck/ - “Lie #2” - if you are interested in my actual drug policy, see https://seattle4ron.com/policies/drugs/ ↩
This was at the “Age Friendly Seattle Forum” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqdVXt1q5W0&ab_channel=AgingKingCounty. For the transcript of the relevant portions, and discussion of my history of never having supported defunding the police, see https://seattle4ron.com/factcheck/ “Lie #1” ↩
See SEEC discussion from 2:40-4:15 - https://www.seattlechannel.org/ethics?videoid=x151428. I readily admit we made a clerical mistake on our mailers, but “illegal mailers” is misinforming. Our mailer was supposed to say “Paid for by Ron Davis for Seattle” and include our campaign address. It said it was from Ron Davis and included our address. We got it wrong–it should have included the five words “Paid for by” and “For Seattle.” We owned the mistake, and when we worked with the commissioners in prep, they were clear it was a clerical mistake. So we cooperated, took responsibility, settled with them on a minor fine and paid promptly. The fact that it has emerged (see above) that Rivera left large payments to her husband off her financial disclosures is far more serious–but I didn’t send out gleeful emails about “cover-ups” - because we don’t need more of that toxicity on council. ↩
https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?cand=&cycle=&employ=&jurisdiction=&name=John+Goodman&occupation=&order=desc&page=1&sort=D&state=WA&type=&zip= - and https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=Petrie%2C+George&order=desc&sort=N and https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/trumps-stolen-election-racket-is-working-extremely-well-even-here-in-washington-state/ ↩
For example, the real estate lobby and biggest corporations are actually advocating further cuts to our only progressive tax - https://www.geekwire.com/2023/seattle-business-leaders-want-city-to-suspend-jumpstart-and-bo-tax-to-revive-downtown/ - which means an even larger deficit, possibly a half billion dollars. The real estate lobby has been addressed, but one of the earliest donors to the University Neighbors Committee is David Zapolsky, ttps://web6.seattle.gov/ethics/elections/poplist_v2.aspx?cid=909&listtype=contributors Amazon’s top lobbyist, who also wields immense power at the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Seattle Association, the organizations trying to cut this tax. Interestingly, in her interview at Hacks and Wonks, Rivera implied she may be open to cutting or diverting this tax. This would take us well beyond decimating services and shuttering entire departments. ↩
Listen to a discussion where she is questioned on this by a political expert at https://spotify.link/0ROSRLbpLDb - or watch our forum at Roosevelt High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1117&v=TRhYa1a6wys&feature=youtu.be. She has occasionally lied and claimed she never said this in front of different audiences (see, for instance, https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=273454818944782) ↩