Seattle City Council position 9 candidates Lorena Gonzalez and Bill Bradburd. 
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Seattle City Council position 9 candidates Lorena Gonzalez and Bill Bradburd.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The Dream Of The '90s Is Alive In This Seattle Council Race


That was the feeling inside the tiny booth off the studio during a recent Seattle City Council candidate debate.

Lorena González and Bill Bradburd are vying for Position 9, one of the two at-large seats. Bradburd got 15 percent of the vote in the August primary, and he doesn’t expect to win. So he’s using his platform to challenge González, although that might be putting it politely.

At one point, Bradburd suggested that González is among a cabal of “unfettered capitalists” running for Seattle City Council.

KUOW host Bill Radke: “Are you saying your opponent, Lorena González, is an unfettered capitalist?”


Bradburd: “Well, I think that’s a more complicated question.”

Radke: “That was your phrase, right? ‘Unfettered capitalist.’”

Bradburd: “That is basically the neoliberal ideology.”

Radke: “Would you put Lorena González in that category?”

Bradburd: “I don’t know Lorena, whether she understands it ... She speaks largely in platitudes.”


González was visibly annoyed.

“It’s unfortunate you think I lack the intelligence to understand the concept of neoliberalism,” she said. “I will say very clearly that I am not a neoliberal. It would be very difficult for somebody who grew up in incredible poverty as a result of institutional racism to be an unfettered capitalist.”

(Neoliberalism: Think Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.)

González and Bradburd moved to Seattle around the same time, in the early 2000s. Bradburd had been coming up to Seattle from San Francisco, doing consultant work. He says he worked in high tech.

González touts herself as a former civil rights attorney. She worked as an advisor for Mayor Ed Murray for 11 months and has spent the last nine months campaigning. She has the support of 20 labor unions and the mayor.


Bradburd has the support of a handful of Democrat leaders. He calls himself an artist, musician and community activist who has focused on neighborhood zoning.

Despite his digs, the two don’t seem too far apart on the big issues.

González said, “We need to get to work on making sure that our city doesn’t become a place where the rich and wealthy can play and live.”

And Bradburd said, “The city has lost control of growth.”

He said that the high-paid tech workers moving to the city have caused displacement. In the control room, González’s campaign manager sighed a little.


“You know the show ‘Portlandia?’” she said. “The dream of the '90s is still alive for a certain subsection in Seattle.”

Writer’s note: Following the publication of this story, Bill Bradburd called us up. He doesn’t believe in the dream of the ‘90s, he said.

“If the effect of growth is the displacement of the people who live here, that’s a problem,” he said. “That’s why we need to take back Seattle. We’ve lost the interest of the people to the developers.”

Listen to the full debate hosted by KUOW's Bill Radke: