The Seattle August primary election has turning out to be one of the more interesting mayoral elections in recent memory. There was slightly higher primary voter turnout, likely because of the 21 candidates vying for the mayoral slot being vacated by Ed Murray (not running for re-election because of allegations of sexual impropriety with minors decades ago) and a lot of energy in attracting young voters, largely from the Nikkita Oliver campaign.
But at this point the top two candidates have not yet been certified. Jennny Durkan leads with Cary Moon several hundred votes above Nikita Oliver, though it is not looking good for Oliver.
The SNC (along with Seattle Fair Growth, Vanishing Seattle, and the City Neighborhood Council) hosted two meetings (June, July) to allow extensive conversation with what it considered the top 6 likely mayoral candidates – a top tier that had been repeated in other forums much to the chagrin of the other 15 candidates. Video of our meetings with all the mayoral candidates can be seen here. And here is video of SNC interviews with Durkan, Moon and Oliver.
To the SNC and neighborhood activists, the issues for the primary and general election run broad and deep. The City is facing many big challenges, from a rapidly increasing homeless population because of stratospheric housing costs (despite being a year into a state of emergency), backlash against explosive growth (with more construction cranes than New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. combined), crippling traffic, on-going police accountability problems, and continuing displacement of long term and lower income residents.
Long ignored issues raised by neighborhoods, such as development impact fees, gentrification, rising property taxes, and neighborhood voice in the planning process, were on the lips of many, but not all, candidates.
Analysis of the primary results varies widely.
One of our panelists saw this election another negative turning point for the beleaguered neighborhoods, as candidates with an overt support for community voice did not fair well.
But political strategist and campaign consultant John Wyble feels that the an anti-establishment sentiment can be a factor moving forward, making Jenny Durkan (who is Ed Murray’s “stay the course” candidate and a steadfast supporter the HALA “Grand Bargain” to upzone large swaths of the city – which the SNC has strongly criticized) vulnerable.
Nikkita Oliver understood neighborhood concern over Murray and O’Brien’s “Grand Bargain” and unfettered growth throughout the city and its implications for displacement, which made her attractive to both some neighborhood activists and those at risk for displacement, and her transformational messaging resonated with younger voters. But she did not get her message out to the average voter and that clearly was not enough with the large field candidates.
Nonetheless, Oliver and her supporters can still be a factor in a “fundamental paradigm shift in the developer-friendly city policies that have helped create and exacerbate this [housing affordability] crisis.”
Another of our panelists posits it this way:
“If you like how things are going in Seattle – a booming economy and population, construction everywhere – vote Durkan. If you think Seattle needs a corrective to inadequate infrastructure investment, traffic gridlock, overflowing schools, a city government that shuts out the concerns of many of its residents, and policies whose affordability “solution” is simply to force any household that doesn’t have a six-figure income to leave town – vote Moon.”
Will there be an urbanist/neighborhoods coalition formed to beat Durkan? That is to say, is Moon a “true” urbanist (as opposed to the free-market and YIMBY ideologues) and be able to meld the concerns of the SNC (grassroots planning and neighborhood concerns over concurrency and quality of life) into her strategy to manage the city? And will this message resonate with marginalized communities and those most at risk of displacement?
To help us review the results of the election and give insight into these issues and how they affect the races, we are joined by a panel of journalists/analysts that have been following the election:
- Erica C. Barnett (C is for Crank)
- Geov Parrish (blogger, KEXP Week in Review)
- Venice Buhain (Seattle Globalist)
Our moderator will be Alex Pedersen (4 to Explore), former legislative aide to Tim Burgess (who is retiring his at-large Council position 8 seat resulting in an exciting race between housing advocate Jon Grant and labor organizer Teresa Mosqueda ).
Come join us for what should be an interesting post-mortem of the August 1st Primary, and provide insights into how the races will play out in the November 7 General Election, and the issues that matter most to voters will come to the fore.