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Saturday, July 28, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Schell to face 11 challengers for mayor's job

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Seattle Mayor Paul Schell faces what could be the most contentious race for an incumbent in recent history, as the filing period for candidates ended yesterday with a mayoral field full of challengers, including the man accused of hitting Schell with a bullhorn.

Schell faces challenges from City Attorney Mark Sidran, Metropolitan King County Councilman Greg Nickels, former City Councilman Charlie Chong and eight others. If Schell lost, he would become the first incumbent Seattle mayor unseated since Allan Pomeroy in 1956.

Omari Tahir-Garrett, charged with second-degree assault after Schell was struck with a megaphone at a Central Area event July 7, filed as a candidate despite sitting in a King County Jail cell. A relative of Garrett's obtained his signature, had it notarized, and paid the $1,266 filing fee in cash, said Julie Anne Kempf, superintendent of elections for the county.

"We didn't even realize you could file from jail," said Karen Besserman, spokeswoman for the Schell campaign. "It's going to be an interesting election season."

Garrett, whose legal name is James Garrett, is charged with second-degree assault in attack on Schell. He has been ordered by a judge to steer clear of Schell, but can legally attend candidate forums if he is released from jail.

In the races for Seattle City Council, all four incumbents will have competition, but only three have challengers in the Sept. 18 primary. The top two vote-getters in each slot in these nonpartisan races advance to the general election Nov. 6.

City Councilman Richard Conlin is in a five-way race, with the chief challenge coming from Michael Preston, who is leaving the Seattle School Board after 20 years. College student Dakotta Alex, attorney James Egan and Jay Sauceda also are running for that seat.

The monorail is a big issue in the effort to unseat Richard McIver. Heath Merriwether, a community activist, and Grant Cogswell, a freelance writer, both say McIver doesn't represent the city's pro-monorail constituency. Stan Lippmann and Jerome Wilson also are running.

Curt Firestone, founder of Seattle's Progressive Coalition and unsuccessful in a council run two years ago, will try to keep Jan Drago from winning a third term, as will neighborhood activist Susan Harmon.

There were no last-minute surprises in filings for King County offices.

County Executive Ron Sims, a Democrat seeking his second full four-year term, has two Republican foes: Kirkland City Councilman Santos Contreras, who has the GOP establishment's backing, and Alan Lobdell of Covington.

Two incumbent County Council members face primary challenges. In South King County's 13th District, Les Thomas, R-Kent, will be opposed by state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn. The winner in September will take on state Sen. Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, in November in a contest that could determine which party controls the council next year.

In the 5th District, attorney Mark Wheeler filed against incumbent Dwight Pelz. Both are Seattle Democrats running in an overwhelmingly Democratic district.

The primary also will eliminate one of two Republicans — Lake Forest Park City Councilman Ed Sterner or Bothell parks board member Kelly Snyder — running to succeed 1st District Councilwoman Maggi Fimia, D-Shoreline, who is not seeking re-election. State Rep. Carolyn Edmonds of Shoreline is the only Democratic candidate.

In Snohomish County, state Rep. John Koster of Arlington, a Republican who lost a U.S. House race last fall to Democrat Rick Larsen, filed for County Council against District 1 incumbent Democrat Mike Ashley, who also will face a primary challenge from Marysville pressman Chris Laird, a Democrat.

Three people filed for the Snohomish County Council seat vacated by Democrat Barbara Cothern of Thrasher's Corner in District 4, while incumbent David Somers of Monroe, a Democrat in District 5, faces a fight from three Republicans and a Libertarian.

Two cousins — labor organizer and WTO protester Sally Soriano and Western Pioneer Shipping Services President and CEO Larry Soriano — are among the four candidates running for the Seattle School Board seat being vacated by Don Nielsen. Also running for the position are PTSA leader Pat Griffith and Dick Lilly, former Seattle Times reporter and departing spokesman for Mayor Paul Schell.

Six candidates filed for the School Board seat held by Preston: auto-detailing business owner David Barfield, Mary Bass, high-tech executive Juan Cotto, Dana Twight, social worker Tyson Vo and Patrinell Wright.

School Board member Jan Kumasaka faces challenges from a newly retired teacher, Garry Breitstein, and a parent, Charlie Mas.

Apathy is the theme in several suburbs on the Eastside, where only 42 of 76 open mayoral and city council seats are contested. In Woodinville, there are no races, and in Sammamish, four of seven incumbents are unopposed.

In Bellevue, the state's fifth-largest city, only Connie Marshall, the City Council's main representative on transportation issues, faces a challenge from Robert DeVinck.

But in the lakefront community of Medina, under strain from mansion construction and a potential Highway 520 widening, 11 people are running for four seats.

In Kirkland, three City Council members face opposition. One of those is Joan McBride, who is being challenged by Robert Style, who lost to her in 1997.

Seattle Times staff reporters Eric Pryne, Beth Kaiman, Keith Ervin, Mike Lindblom, Catharine Tarpley and Sherry Grindeland contributed to this report.

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