ELECTION 2021: Brianna Thomas running for City Council’s citywide Position 9

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The first West Seattleite to declare she’s running for City Council citywide Position 9 has campaigned for a council spot before.

Back in 2015, Brianna Thomas finished fourth in a field of nine during the first-ever District 1 primary election.

At the time, she had a resumé of political and community organizing. Since then, she’s learned about City Council work from the inside, as chief of staff for Council President Lorena González, whose run for mayor is opening the position Thomas is seeking.

We talked with Thomas by phone at midday today, a few hours after her campaign was announced.

What has five years of work at City Hall changed about her, since the last run? Thomas replied that she started with “a little naivete and a lot of enthusiasm” and while she has lost the former, she still has the latter. And she has come to know a lot about public service, dealing with responsibilities from negotiating policy to “listening to people rant and rave” while working on constituents’ issues.

How has she sought to change things from the inside? Thomas says she has tried to lead with a more collaborative, team-oriented approach. Her appreciation for teamwork also came through when we asked what she is proudest of: The interns she has mentored, she replied, and watching what they achieve as they go out into the world.

What would she bring to the council that it doesn’t have now? Her first reply: Lived experience as a Black person, Thomas replied. Especially during the upheaval of last year, she observes, the council’s lack of the Black perspective was glaring. As for other attributes she would bring, she mentioned the technical knowledge she’s amassed during her work as Council staff (no learning curve).

What would she have done differently – something she doesn’t support, that the current council has approved? The electric-scooter program, she said, seeing them as an impediment to pedestrian accessibility.

Speaking of transportation, Thomas told us in 2015 that she didn’t own a car, and says that’s still the case. “I am a HUGE user of the (Metro) C-Line.” She also is still a renter. Housing policy is something she hopes to work on, in an environmental-sustainability framework – policies that would continue making a difference “10, 20, 30 years from now.”

And before our short interview ended, we asked about another high-profile issue – public safety. “Investing in community-based solutions” is vital, Thomas said. What about bridging the gap until such solutions are up and running? Some already are, she said, through the City Attorney’s Office, for example. Choose 180, for example, was mentioned by City Attorney Pete Holmes during his recent West Seattle Crime Prevention Council appearance; Thomas said it’s recently expanded to work with youth 18 to 24 as well as younger.

Our last question: What do you hope to be talking about on the campaign trail, even if not asked? “How we’re going to be kind to each other again,” she declared. Negativity has flourished in the past year or so, but she hopes everyone will remember “this is a beautiful place to live.”

Thomas is one of seven candidates who have registered campaigns for Position 9 with the city, second of those candidates to send us an announcement. The field won’t be finalized until May; voting will start in July for the August primary election, which will send two candidates to the November general.

28 Replies to "ELECTION 2021: Brianna Thomas running for City Council's citywide Position 9"

  • Duffy February 26, 2021 (5:51 am)

    Hard pass.

  • Fooledmeonce February 26, 2021 (6:06 am)

    Hard pass. 

  • Mark Schletty February 26, 2021 (8:38 am)

    Oh great. Worst candidate yet.

  • AMD February 26, 2021 (9:27 am)

    I like her enthusiasm and it sounds likely we’ll align on issues, but I’m a little concerned about her lack of experience, and look forward to hearing specifics of how her years working with Gonzalez shaped her as a candidate and prepared her for the position, as well as more specifics on issues like transportation and our outdated zoning laws.  Still too early to say yea or nay to most of the candidates in general (as is evident by the Seattle Times story this morning on the District 8 candidate McQuaid).  But looking forward to hearing more from this one!

    • WSB February 26, 2021 (9:58 am)

      We have already covered him (twice, in fact). But in general, it’s way early in the race and we and others will certainly have more substantive coverage when the primary gets closer, particularly after the final filings in May solidify the field (we made the mistake of an early forum six years ago, when we had four participants, only two of whom were among the nine who actually filed three months later). – TR

      *Update: Now that I’ve taken my daily look at the Times home page, I suspect you weren’t referring to the “he and Thomas are running” story but rather the new story about his assault case.

    • Tiffany February 26, 2021 (11:12 am)

      There is almost no one that has her level of experience. The fact that you assume otherwise is deeply telling. 

  • Dylan February 26, 2021 (9:40 am)

    Go Brianna!

  • Rico February 26, 2021 (9:47 am)

    Please, no.   

  • Mr J February 26, 2021 (9:48 am)

    Wow, so quick to judge a person off a quick interview. Keep it classy. I’m happy see more voices entering the city-wide position. 

  • Rick Cook February 26, 2021 (9:50 am)

    Hard pass.

  • anonyme February 26, 2021 (10:00 am)

    Enough with candidates who think that their primary job is social activism.  Apart from being a Gonzalez protege, apart from characterizing the concerns of constituents as “ranting and raving”, Ms. Thomas supports the policies of Pete Holmes – a nail in her coffin, IMO.  Another hard pass.

  • Smile more, talk less February 26, 2021 (10:12 am)

    Wow!  “Hard pass” on someone who wants people to be kind to each other? Get out in the sunshine my friends and try some smiling.  : )

  • WS Millennial February 26, 2021 (10:17 am)

    She has my vote only if she continues to keep Seattle exactly the way it is!  I want more taxes, less uniformed police officers, and lower quality of living! If she is anything like her boss and mentor I think she will be able to deliver….! God help us all! 

  • jsparra February 26, 2021 (10:19 am)

    Harder pass

  • Heartless? February 26, 2021 (10:43 am)

    Too close to Gonzalez; NOT what we need. Drain the swamp!

  • Pete February 26, 2021 (11:09 am)

    Something to think about……three of our present council members are former staffers to prior city council members. So will it be more of the same thinking or will one of them finally come up with some real leadership traits?

  • Brenda February 26, 2021 (11:41 am)

    Hard Pass!!!  

  • AlkiWendy February 26, 2021 (11:59 am)

    Hard Pass!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Marcee Stone-Vekich February 26, 2021 (12:15 pm)

    I’m all in for Brianna and have already contributed to her campaign! Representation matters and she’ll be an exemplary and relentless council member. 

  • Texas Tom February 26, 2021 (12:26 pm)

    Another police defunder?  How about no.

  • Jon Wright February 26, 2021 (1:31 pm)

    Has there ever been a local election where the prevailing opinion of commenters here didn’t reflect the OPPOSITE of how the vote turned out? Based on that trend, all the “hard pass” posts would seem to indicate how viable a candidate Ms. Thomas is!

  • Will S. February 26, 2021 (2:24 pm)

    Does Ms. Thomas have any record of community involvement, outside of political campaigning?

  • 61stMama February 26, 2021 (9:40 pm)

    In 2019, I called CM Gonzalez’s office when she was serving as chair of the public safety committee. Brianna Thomas answered the phone. I asked if Gonzalez would be making any public statements about safety around the Third Ave entrance to the county courthouse, which had been closed due to increased/ongoing assaults in the area. Judges and county council members had spoken out on the issue, as well as various staff who work in the building. I have a friend who works right by there and my mother-in-law was about to serve on jury duty. Long story short, Brianna was super dismissive and told me Gonzalez would not be making any statements about public safety on Third Ave. She said my concerns were “hyperbolic.” She said that she personally walks on Third Ave every day and had never been bothered. It was a dispiriting phone call. Totally unhelpful.If anyone is looking for a candidate who will work collaboratively as a city-wide leader on public safety, look elsewhere.

    • Truth February 27, 2021 (9:34 am)

      Similar experience. Super focused on the issues that mean a lot to her and I can’t say she doesn’t have energy on those issues.  Her issues don’t represent all of Seattle that she would represent.  When it’s was outside of her core focus she was dismissive and in some cases divisive.  Activists make good activists. They rarely make good legislators.  

  • Thank you February 26, 2021 (10:22 pm)

    Best of luck, Brianna. Thank you for stepping up to offer your experience, enthusiasm, kindness, and black perspective, while running for a job that may feel thankless and highly criticized at times. Appreciate how you answered the last question, more kindness is definitely needed, look forward to hearing more from your campaign. :)

  • Derek February 27, 2021 (12:50 am)

    I like her.  Great interview. Has my vote. 

  • Steve March 10, 2021 (9:39 am)

    No answers to our biggest problems:  homelessness, open drug use, huge increase in crime, schools not open for our kids.  We need to take difficult action to solve these problems, so that we have a vibrant and livable city again.  I love Seattle so much and I don’t think this Brianna gets what makes a City wonderful for all of us.  Instead, she seems narrowly focused on idealogical positions, but that isn’t what city government is about.  It’s about basic services and creating an open, safe environment to allow anyone to come here and make a living or enjoy the awesome activities (culture, arts, food, beer, music, sports, etc) that the City offers. I am voting for Sara Nelson for sure.  She gets it.

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