Seattle voters, check your mailbox. The future of the city awaits your attention.
The mail-in or drop-off ballots now arriving include races for mayor, city attorney, and two at-large city council seats to be decided on Nov. 2.
Politics is a contact sport, and campaigns tend to divide communities as tempers boil. But a poll released late last month by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce indicates that on some key issues, we’re closer to consensus than we may think.
To be sure, the Chamber is not a disinterested third party. Although the organization is not endorsing candidates this year, it has been deeply involved in local elections for decades.
Its poll, called The Index, is designed to be the first in a series. It attempts to measure quality of life concerns, and ways to move forward. It did not ask about specific candidates.
By attempting to reach all registered voters instead of likely voters, the Chamber’s pollster, EMC Research, hoped to cast a wider net. It found that renters and homeowners — once thought politically polar opposites — are almost equally concerned about the future of the region.
Homelessness far outranks every other issue, and a massive 87% of participants don’t believe the city council has a realistic plan. Overwhelming majorities believe downtown Seattle is essential to the region’s economy and that public safety problems there need to be solved.
Respondents were roughly evenly split over shifting police funding to community programs. A huge percentage believe City Hall is incapable of effectively managing law enforcement reform without endangering public safety.
Over 60% would support new progressive taxes. More than 60% don’t trust the city council to wisely spend new revenues.
“Changing regulations to support more density in single family housing zones by allowing duplexes and triplexes” received a slim majority of support from homeowners, and even greater percentages from renters.
In the big picture, there is reason to hope that we are not irreparably divided. The Index suggests basic consensus on how we are feeling, what issue concerns us most, how we should pay for changes, and what changes we should make.
What the survey respondents really want to see is a new style of leadership and a new direction at City Hall.
The candidates who received The Times’ editorial board endorsements — Bruce Harrell for mayor, Sara Nelson for City Council Position 9 and Ann Davison for Seattle City Attorney — have demonstrated the ability to listen to a wide variety of perspectives, find common ground and drive positive change.
Their policies and temperaments put them in the best position to take advantage of sentiments revealed in the poll numbers.
You have the power to decide. It’s in that pile of mail.