My Cousin Ishii

A new mayoral candidate is making an issue of his distant relation to Bruce Harrell.

David Ishii, the newly announced mayoral candidate whom The Seattle Times described as an eccentric candidate with the ability to make the 2013 mayor's race more interesting, has been doing the publicity circuit lately.

"I'm quite the character," Ishii tells Seattle Weekly, much as he's told everyone else willing to listen.

However, one intriguing nugget Ishii dropped caught my attention. Dude says he's city councilman and mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell's cousin.

Later, talking to Harrell's campaign manager—his niece, Monisha Harrell—I found out I wasn't the only person to whom Ishii had made such a statement.

Thing is, he's kind of right. But he's mostly wrong.

Affiliating himself with the "Kape Krusaders Party," this self-described artist and poet (assertions backed up by his totally bizarre website,, which promotes an illustration-heavy, poetry-based platform centered on cleaning up drugs and racketeering in Seattle) tells SW, "I'm gonna win this thing." But, Ishii claims, winning Seattle's mayoral race will require him to beat a crowded field of more established and bankrolled contenders, including Harrell. His cousin.

"It's gonna be a family feud," says Ishii of squaring off against Harrell.

Later, Ishii tells me Thanksgiving this year might be particularly interesting.

Monisha Harrell has already been forced to research Ishii. She says the first time she heard about the possibility that Ishii was Harrell's cousin was when Ishii recently started talking about it, and the press started asking about it. "It's weird," she says. "He's the cousin of a cousin, on the opposite side of the family. He's not related by blood . . . We can't figure out why he keeps contacting the media and making this claim."

At this point, Monisha says the Harrell camp is just trying to "handle it as tastefully as possible" out of respect for Ishii's actual family. "We've got a big family organization . . . We're totally open to it," says the respectful but confused-sounding campaign manager. "It's just weird."

His disputed family ties aside, Ishii says he's trying to round up the 1,800 signatures he'll need to make the ballot. He says he's a simple man, like many of us, who can't afford the other option—a $1,800 filing fee, required before May 18. To illustrate his point, during our phone chat Ishii mentions that he's just returned from the food bank. Last week Ishii told the Times he lives in subsidized housing in West Seattle and receives federal disability payments.

But for better or worse, Ishii isn't lacking confidence. And he's got a strategy.

"I'm going to take it slow," says Ishii. "I don't want to peak too early."

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