Documentary filmmaker Chris Rufo to challenge Councilman Mike O’Brien in 2019 – My Ballard Skip to main content

Documentary filmmaker Chris Rufo to challenge Councilman Mike O’Brien in 2019

Longstanding City Councilman Mike O’Brien will have a challenger in next year’s election.

His name is Chris Rufo, and he’s looking to take O’Brien’s seat in Seattle City Council’s District 6, which includes Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Greenwood and Phinney Ridge.

Rufo, originally from California, is a documentary filmmaker, and spent 10 years directing documentaries for PBS and Netflix around the world. “I’ve also filmed in America’s poorest communities, learning how bad public policies can put a city into decline,” he says on his campaign fundraiser website.

“Unfortunately, here in Seattle, the ideologues on our city council are putting in place some of those same disastrous policies,” Rufo says. One of his films is America Lost, which “explores the collapse of family, economic, and community life in three of America’s ‘forgotten cities'” — Stockton, California; Youngstown, Ohio; and Memphis, Tennessee. 

Rufo filed his intent to run with the Ethics and Elections Commission in mid-September, and deposited $10,000 to secure his candidacy for the November 2019 election. He’s also launched a fundraiser on Crowdpac to raise money for his campaign.

Rufo is a member of the Opportunity for All Coalition and a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city of Seattle’s municipal income tax. He’s openly against government overspending, which he explains in great detail in an op-ed he wrote for the Seattle Times in March.

“At the end of the day, most politician’s objectives are about accumulating more revenue for government to control, not solving any of our real problems with cost-effective and high-impact policies and programs,” Rufo wrote.

Councilman O’Brien has held his position in city council since 2010. My Ballard was unable to speak with O’Brien directly about his campaign plans, but KIRO 7 contacted him for comment regarding his policies around homelessness earlier this week:

“I’m not going to comment today, but obviously there is lots on my record on these issues,” O’Brien told KIRO from his campaign email. “I will likely not be starting up my campaign until after the first of the year, but feel free to contact me here for any campaign related questions.”

For those who want to meet Rufo and learn more about his candidacy, he’s hosting a campaign launch party on Sunday, October 28 from 2 to 4pm at the Phinney Center Community Hall (6532 Phinney Ave N). There’s only space for the first 100 who RSVP.

If you can’t make it to that, he’s also hosting a presentation titled “Homelessness in Seattle: Policy Discussion” on Thursday, October 11, from 4:30 to 6:30pm at the Discovery Institute (208 Columbia St).


79 thoughts to “Documentary filmmaker Chris Rufo to challenge Councilman Mike O’Brien in 2019”

          1. Sound a bit hostile. Don’t get mad at me because your roasted yourself yet again. Be sure to save that thread. It was really funny!

          2. Well, stupid, I think your failure to contact the police makes you an accessory. Whose side are you on, anyway, moron? Call the cops quick! Call!

            Call, stupid.

          3. They say narcissism can’t really be treated, and borderline personality disorder – so common among so-called “activists” – is barely treatable and requires long years of therapy and meds. Best of luck!

          4. And here we are again, with the incomprehensible nonsense. I have no idea why you’re posting this random grab bag of irrelevant factoids.

            Is “roasted” your new word? I noticed you’ve been posting it repeatedly this week. Congratulations on your growing vocabulary. You’re using it wrong, though.

          5. Ouch. I’ll take that one to heart, Oh Great Champion of Junkie Hobo Blight.
            Eat some quinoa. Sounds like you need fiber.

  1. Huh. This candidate sounds like a sensible alternative to O’Brien.
    I’m sure the Stranger Brigade will brand him as some kind of “Fascist Trumper” for trying to introduce fiscal restraint and criticizing the obscene, excessive gas, sales and “sin” taxes which disproportionately affect the poorer workers humping to work and back to make all the latte liberals a little richer each day.

    That said, O’Brien’s reputation is sicker than a Puget Sound Orca at this point.

      1. Well, we teach them right now that there are 500 genders, and that everyone is the same but some are more equal and deserve preferential treatment for college admission and hiring practices. Lots of “original sin” and dogma to go around on the liberal side, too.

        Let’s not even get into the religious-like fervor and magical thinking the liberals have regarding the heroin problem. Somehow spending millions of dollars on the dregs of society will not only make them sober (90% relapse rate, what?) but then after cleaning up they will get jobs and become coders or entrepreneurs(!) because it worked once in Portugal. I guess it’s difficult to navigate issues when someone is simultaneously an ethical vegan yet an abortion supporter.

        Marxists and Christian Fundamentalists have a lot in common, really. Marxism is really just the Christian project sans God, hence all the die hard blue hair dye and loony diets and weird feminist anti-sex stuff. Same thing, just updated. Liberals are all about “saving the planet” and being pacifist and forcing their nonbeliever neighbors to suffer the effects (and pay for) their big virtue guilt projects. Sound familiar?

  2. The Discovery Institute is a right-wing bastion of anti-evolution creationist pseudo-science. I wonder why they are supporting this candidate?

    1. Funny part about sensible taxation and spending is that it attracts all kinds of supporters.
      You know, kind of like how Mormons, Jews and Atheists can all agree the sky is blue and water is wet? Also, if you take all your marching orders from Dan Savage/Lindy West your “leaders” will continue to be frivolous, corrupt Twitter crusaders who think they are still getting bullied in a 1980’s high school movie.

      1. Mr. Sockpuppet, what you’ve just posted is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having read it.

        I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    2. Yeah, not so sure the liberals like highly evolved people, either. In fact, looks like many parts of the city are returning to some kind of Stone(d) Age.
      What specimens do we have in our parks today:
      Homo Methicus?
      Homo Overdosus?

    3. Probably because he writes for The Federalist and National Review. He’d like to roll back our entire health care system and privatize the whole thing. He won a fellowship in 2017 from the Claremont Institute, right beside the infamous James O’Keefe. He’s a hard right conservative, and he’s going to try and hide that fact for the entire campaign. This is not the challenger O’Brien needs.

      1. He’s also co-authored articles in “Crosscut,” one of the house organs of Seattle’s doctrinaire ‘progressive’ crowd. Co-authors have included Katie Wilson of the ‘Transit Riders’ Union’ and Dow Constantine, whose name rings a bell for some reason.

        So maybe he’s not the hard right stealth candidate you’re making him out to be.

        1. Ask him if reading Atlas Shrugged when he was 14 changed his life. Guy’s a discount Paul Ryan showed up in the wrong city years after Paul Ryan was done.

    1. Yes, it’s a slight departure from all the ruthless venture capitalists and failed actors/artists cum activists masquerading as “liberal humanitarians” among the current “Seattle Intelligentsia”

    1. LOL Dori’s phone-a-friend? You’ve got to be kidding me. Her fellow travelers are David Preston and the other proto-Trumpian loons at Safe Seattle, Neighborhood Safety Alliance and all the other pigs she’s rolled in the mud with. Neither her nor this new goofball are going to beat O’Brien.

      Which is not to say he’s anything like unbeatable. He’d go down like Stormy Daniels if someone with similar politics but an entirely more retail politics style came along. Someone who said “What we are doing to solve homelessness and affordability hasn’t worked and we need to be honest about some of the people we are dealing with” and/or “We need to support the police and make sure they support us” etc. Way less True Believer and way more Pothole Filler. Run someone just a hair more centrist and O’Brien is No’Brien.

  3. Hey, Christopher Rufo here. Thanks for the coverage, My Ballard. It’s time for a change in District 6. We need to protect the blue-collar jobs in the Ballard shipyard and clean up the parks and public spaces so they’re safe for kids again.

    If any of you would like more information on my campaign, please follow it on Facebook at http://www.facebook.Com/chrisforseattle. I’ll be hosting a campaign party on 10/28 and you’re all invited.

      1. Safer? Chis is a pretty well educated researcher. He doesn’t buy into the myth that crime is increasing. I suppose he could have some ideas for how our historically low crime rate could somehow go even lower, but that would be quite a feat. He doesn’t seem like the kind to make overblown campaign promises.

        1. Elenchos, I am not making any claims about the crime rate. I’m just responding to his post directly above, where he states he hopes to make public spaces safe for kids. I’m wondering what that means specifically. It’s a great slogan, but it means totally different things to different people, which is why we need to know what it means to him.

          1. You can’t really have an intelligent conversation at MyBallard. They allow trolls like this guy below to impersonate anybody for yuks. “e!enchos” with an exclamation point for an l. Only the mind of a 11 year old would think of this kind of stuff.

            It’s a good question. With crime at a fraction of what it was in the 80s and 90s, having fallen to the current level in about 2005-2010 and not changing much since, is public safety a priority? What is the argument for pouring more resources into police under those circumstances, in comparison to education, parks, social services, and the big one, housing.

            I’d personally like any place with any crime to be safer, but with crime already so low, you’re talking about going past a point of diminishing returns.

            All good questions for a city council candidate to answer.

      2. My priority is to protect the blue-collar jobs in the Ballard Shipyard. It’s more important than ever that we support family-wage jobs in the industrial sector. We have many talented workers and great companies that have been operating for decades. The bike lane should accommodate the shipyard, not the other way around.

        1. This is what I found so unconvincing about Catherine Weatbrook. On the one hand she claimed she’d coddle and kowtow to the maritime companies, because those jobs are somehow special and sacred, and their profits have nothing to do with greed. Heaven forbid.

          But on the other hand, she was going to stand up to developers and (certain) property owners because the jobs in that industry are not sacred, for some reason, and their profits are all about greed. You can’t ask fishing or oil drilling or shipping to forgo profits for the sake of the environment, but you can ask developers to forgo profits for the sake of some nebulous “neighborhood character” concept. The environment, in other words.

          It suggests a lack of principle to me. How can you stand your ground and ignore rich companies that hold jobs hostage for certain industries, yet for other industries you’re pliant to their wishes? This romantic idea of salty seafarers and their noble calling being better than the guys who build apartment buildings is not much of a principle and doesn’t suggest leadership or character. It sounds fickle.

          1. OK, Elenchos. You keep on advocating for the tech bros and their obscenely overpriced and underused bike lanes. THEY are the ones holding this city hostage, if you like the smell of your own bullshit. I’ll gladly support the “salty seafarers” over your 78% male and “privileged” brogrammers riding bikes that cost more than my car any day.

          2. Seriously? Dude, your car is a piece of shit. I’m thinking — being as charitable as I can — that everyone you see is riding a Bianchi Urban Carbon ($15.5k) and that puts you in, what? A Hyundai Accent? Kia Rio? Damn. Life is NOT fair, is it?

            Also, what’s your problem with programmers? Bro or otherwise? You literally spend every waking minute right here using the gift the brogrammrs gave you. Without the internet, what would you even be doing right now? Not driving your piece of shit car, I guess.


          3. When you talk about “holding the city hostage”, what you mean is, “representing the majority of the electorate”. If things like road diets or expanded bike networks or protected bike lanes were not what the voters wanted, then the candidates who opposed those things wouldn’t get mercilesslessy stomped at the polls. For a “war on cars” candidate to have even survived the last Mayoral primary, they’d have had to over come FIVE bike friendly candidates.

            The “bike lobby” is the majority. Instead of yelling at me about it, go win an election. Win one city council seat. One. Then come tell me about being held hostage. The fact is, you guys are UNPOPULAR and that’s your doing, not mine.

          4. Ah, no. The bike lobby represents 3% of commuters. And despite the hundreds of millions we’ve thrown at building bike lanes, that percentage is actually SHRINKING. And which mayoral candidate was all agog over adding more bike lanes? Hint: It wasn’t jenny Durkan. It was your YIMBY and vagrant enabling hero Carrie Moon.

          5. Huh. And yet this shrinking sliver of the city has the power to hold the 97% who love their cars hostage. Magic!

            It’s hard to imagine you actually believe this, but Umberto Eco’s illumination of fascist thought explains: “one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation”. And “by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.“

            Held hostage by 3% on bikes. Whole empires have been built by finding enough rubes who can believe a tiny minority is rich and connected to the levers of power, yet also degenerate and lazy and foolish.

            I find it a lot simpler to believe we build bike lanes because we want bike lanes. Occam’s Razor.

    1. Seattle has the most regressive tax structure in Washington, the most regressively taxed state in the country. MyNorthwest put it this way: “a Seattle household making $25,000 per year pays 17 percent of its income in state and local taxes. Meanwhile, a household earning $250,000 pays just 4.4 percent.” SEVENTEEN PERCENT! Does 17% of your family’s income go to state and local taxes? You’re closer to that sweet 4.4% club, aren’t you?

      Don’t be a selfish dick, Chris. Pay some income tax. Give people making less a break for once.

      Here’s a fact I don’t think you’ve considered: life is not fair. It means that just because someone is rich, it doesn’t mean they’re not lazy, stupid, or dishonest. Lots of screwups are born rich, or get rich because they’re lucky, or they cheat. Just because someone is poor, it doesn’t mean they ever did anything wrong, or there’s anything wrong with them. If you’re going around assuming that every poor person you meet is doing it wrong, then you think life is fair.

      Life is NOT fair, Chris. You have to learn that.

        1. Totes is the other new word you learned this week, socky mcsockmaster. Totes and roasted. Big vocabulary week for you.

          You’re not fooling anybody.

      1. Hey, elenchos, can I tell you a little bitty secret?

        It would be a lot easier to convince people to pay more taxes IF THE CITY EXERCISED ANY FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY and hadn’t also invited every scumbag junkie west of the Rockies to move here and camp so they can buy legal weed and (semi legal) cheap, high quality HEROIN. Every day the news has another bizarro story about the City Council figuring out ways to burn more piles of taxpayer cash. Fix that, and you might have a shot at getting everyone to consider and income tax. Oh, and mad dogging random people who are tired of fearing for their safety as bus stops etc isn’t a good look. Put a leash on it.

        1. OK, without addressing the factuality of your claims directly, let me ask you this:

          How do you expect to address these issues with your obnoxious behavior? The perpetual switching from “Urban Decay” to “Cyclist” to “Locally Sourced” etc etc. The impersonation. The constant hijacking of ordinary threads about youth basketball and coffee shops.

          Your behavior makes everyone who cares about fiscal responsibility look like a creep, with serious mental problems. If you want to be taken seriously, pick one screen name and stick to it. Stop lying about the crime rate. Stop lying about everything. Discuss this supposed heroin thing in a factual way and perhaps you’d make some headway.

          Regarding Council Member O’Brien, which city ordinance do you put at O’Brien’s feet that “invited” all the junkies to Seattle? You don’t still think Council Member O’Brien issues “stand down” orders to the SPD, right? We got past that crazy idea. The council passes ordinances.

          Which ordinance do you have a problem with?

          1. Ooooh Alex, Ill take legalizing camping in public parks for $1,000, please.

          2. OK. Great. Which ordinance are you referring to?

            All I can find is a 2017 draft by O’Brien to ease rules for car camping — but it hasn’t passed! Which suggests O’Brien does not in fact run the whole city? He’s not the mayor and only has one vote on the 9 member council. He needs support from the rest of the elected officials if he wants do to something, and doesn’t necessarily get it. He didn’t, in this case.

            Are you talking about Murray’s sweeps policy? Or Durkan’s? I can’t figure out the timeline of that. You seem to think addicts were “invited” here several years ago, but the sweeps policies date to 2016 and 2017. You’ve been yelling about crime and junkies for at least 7 years, if not 10 (predating O’Brien altogether).

            What O’Brien ordinance invited all the heroin addicts here? What year did it pass? Who voted for it?

      2. “If things like (a regressive tax structure) were not what the voters wanted, then the candidates who opposed those things wouldn’t get mercilesslessy stomped at the polls.”

        1. Seattle doesn’t have local control over its tax options. The state has mandated that they have to rely solely on regressive sales, and property taxes. Is there a single Seattle elected official from the Mayor to the City Attorney who doesn’t favor a progressive income tax? Washington is a big state with a lot of rural people who believe in trickle down economics, or the life-is-fair theory that you can’t “punish” the rich with a higher marginal tax rate. But now we might have turned the corner in Olympia. Stay tuned.

          I can’t figure out why a guy whose car costs less than a bike wants to keep paying almost 10% sales tax and property taxes just as high. On top of gas tax and your Federal taxes. Why? Let the rich pay a little state income tax, like they do in most other states. Get yourself a little relief from this regressive burden.

          But you take to the streets to protect Jeff Bezos’s riches. You don’t even like Amazon!?! You hate Amazon “brogrammers” yet you stand in the rain gathering signatures so the brogrammers — who buy $15,000 bicycles apparently? — don’t have a few hundred dollars a year more taxes. I never said your thinking makes a lick of sense.

    2. We need to protect the blue-collar jobs in the Ballard shipyard…

      Great! So you support trade unions, increasing worker rights, safety nets, universal healthcare, etc! I don’t think your Discovery Institute benefactors will like that though :(

    1. The Geeky Swedes need to stop allowing anonymous randos to post new comments under arbitrary names as “Guest”. Allow only registered accounts from confirmed email addresses. And shut down the accounts with a history of off-topic, inflammatory trolling. That’s a start.

        1. Tell me: who puts off-topic “junkie” crap at the top of every new blog post? Do I ever do that? Never. If you want a clean and productive comment thread, that’s all on you. Try it and see what happens. Stay on topic and keep it civil, and then if I’m the one who drags it down into the gutter, you’d have a point.

          1. Have you ever thought of not replying to every single thing I post? I’d have less to say.

  4. I like his stance on regressive taxes but worry that he has no definition of middle class yet uses the term. Better speak of working class. The top 10% are NOT middle class.

  5. Mr Rufo appears to be just other rich boy/burbite interloper who wants to tell others how to be as entitled as he and his ilk. I find nothing in his work other than white guilt and excuses and not a single suggestion or answer for anything. Seattle has plenty of his type both in elected office and the business world. They accomplish nothing other than to make themselves feel very righteous.

      1. No doubt it does and regrets and sorrow over their wasted youth power most of the old drunken Scandinavians. Ballard has become an embarrassment.

  6. Rufo is a fellow with the ‘Discovery Institute’ which promotes intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Put in their own words, “The Institute is … dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and … the theistic foundations of the West”. We cannot let this bullshit find a deeper root in Seattle even if the alternative is useless O Brien.

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