As our region emerges in stutter-steps from the pandemic, local leadership has never been more important. A case in point are the races for Seattle mayor, city attorney and city council. In each race there are clear choices. What candidates say now, have said and how they try to obfuscate their past actions matters greatly.

So, voters, fish your ballot out of your mail pile and bone up to ensure strong leaders are leading our region’s cities, counties, schools, port district and other local jurisdictions.

The Seattle Times editorial board has been interviewing dozens of candidates since May in several races, quizzing them on their qualifications and what they hope to accomplish if elected, or returned to office. Here is Editorial Page Editor Kate Riley’s column on some of the editorial board’s considerations.

Below are some of our recommendations for Seattle mayor, city attorney and city council, Metropolitan King County Council and executive, Bellevue City Council and school board candidates. And be sure to read the election coverage by the The Times news staff.

Agree or disagree, please vote, and deliver your ballot by mail or drop box early.


Dow Constantine, Executive

The pandemic tested leaders at every level of government. Constantine showed he can be nimble, overseeing sudden policy pivots for county transportation, jail, parks, homeless shelters and numerous other areas. With that ordeal now fading, the county needs visionary work to address other crises. Read full endorsement →

Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 1: Rod Dembowski

A steady voice for progress, incumbent Dembowski has a strong record on the environment, criminal justice reform and mental health. Read full endorsement →

Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 3: Sarah Perry

Voters should not reward Metropolitan King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s decision to greenlight offensive and inaccurate campaign literature. Perry will have to work hard to build expertise on issues, like waste management and rural roads, that rarely come up on the campaign trail. Voters should give her the chance. Read full endorsement →

Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 5: Dave Upthegrove

The incumbent brings a thoughtful, balanced and inclusive approach to representing the most diverse district in the county. Read full endorsement →

Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 7: Pete von Reichbauer

Von Reichbauer’s skill at sniffing out resources and knack for coalition-building have been consistent assets for his district, whether it’s protecting natural resources, building necessary infrastructure or recreational facilities. Read full endorsement →

Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 9: Reagan Dunn

Dunn’s independence, effectiveness and experience will be even more valuable as the county redoubles its efforts to fight homelessness, and increase transparency and eliminate inequities in law enforcement and criminal justice. Read full endorsement →


Commissioner Position No. 1: Ryan Calkins

Incumbent Calkins supports actions that generate economic activity and living-wage jobs, while minimizing negative environmental effects on neighboring communities and beyond. He said his proudest achievement as a commissioner has been spearheading the opening of the region’s first Maritime High School, which guides students interested in maritime careers. Read full endorsement →

Commissioner Position No. 3: Stephanie Bowman

Port Commissioner Bowman has a proven track record of leadership and supporting creative solutions to keep port operations not only viable but competitive and able to provide good-paying jobs while reducing the environmental impact to neighboring communities. Read full endorsement→

Commissioner Position No. 4: Peter Steinbrueck

As the pandemic took hold last year, Steinbrueck led the port’s response as commission president. He also launched a Commission Task Force on Policing and Civil Rights after the killing of George Floyd, and led on equity and environmental protection efforts. Read full endorsement →


Mayor: Bruce Harrell

As a former three-term council member and interim mayor, Harrell understands well how City Hall power functions and how to assemble coalitions to back crucial, collaborative changes. Harrell’s proven consensus-building ability isn’t just a comfort. It’s a necessity in Seattle’s fractured leadership. Read full endorsement →

City Attorney: Ann Davison

Davison’s vision is to help restore a lawful city with real compassion, not exacerbating the plights of people struggling with poverty, mental-health or substance-use disorders. Read full endorsement →


Council Position No. 8: No recommendation

Seattle voters deserve better choices for city council than will appear on the ballot for the citywide position 8. The Times cannot recommend reelecting Teresa Mosqueda or either of her opponents. Read full endorsement →

Council Position No. 9: Sara Nelson

Nelson knows how to craft municipal policy from nearly a decade working on the staff of former City Councilmember Richard Conlin. And she proved during the pandemic how strongly she values workers at her business, Fremont Brewing. Read full endorsement →


Director District No. 4: Laura Marie Rivera

Rivera understands that Seattle Public Schools students have diverse post-graduation aspirations, and that it’s the district’s job to help prepare them for those futures. She is focused on the real-world impacts of board decisions on students and their families — a refreshing change. Read full endorsement →

Director District No. 5: Michelle Sarju

Sarju knows firsthand the school district’s strengths, shortcomings and quirks, having sent three Black children and several foster children to Seattle Public Schools. Her experience will be invaluable as the district tackles goals of an equitable education for all students. Read full endorsement →

Director District No. 7: Brandon Hersey

As board vice president and chairman of the board’s audit and finance committee, Hersey is well positioned to lead changes to address funding inequities that have historically shortchanged his South Seattle district. As a Black man, his voice is needed in vital efforts to eliminate educational disparities. Read full endorsement →


Council Position No. 2: Dexter Borbe

Borbe lacks government experience, but that is not unusual in a city-council race. He makes up for it with a solid professional résumé. He owns a small home health care business, is a former renewable energy executive and even worked for a time at Amazon. He will bring management skills and strategic thinking to the council. Read full endorsement →

Council Position No. 4: Jared Nieuwenhuis

Deputy mayor Nieuwenhuis has a demonstrated record of collaborative leadership and commitment to steering Bellevue in the right direction. Read full endorsement →

Council Position No. 6: Lynne Robinson

As mayor, the small business owner and health professional helped lead Bellevue through the challenge of a pandemic, including overcoming a budget shortfall. She is committed to equity and environmental sustainability. Read full endorsement →


Director District No. 3: Joyce Shui

Shui is an attorney, mother of four and founder of The Purple School bilingual education programs for infants and young children. She has a nuanced understanding of the factors leading to last year’s breakdown between the board, labor, parents and district leadership. Read full endorsement →

Director District No. 5: Jane Aras

Aras is a thoughtful listener with a deep concern for students’ social and emotional well-being. She will bring a calming presence to a fractured school community that remains tense and mistrustful after last year’s public power struggle between the teachers’ union, parents, district leadership and members of the school board. Read full endorsement →


Charter Amendment No. 1: Yes; Charter Amendment No. 2: Yes

Requiring ballot approval for even simple changes to the county charter serves as a reminder of the charter’s essential role in shaping King County’s far-reaching government. Read full endorsement →


Advisory Vote No. 36: Maintain; Advisory Vote No. 37: Repeal; Advisory Vote No. 38: Maintain

Voters should signal their displeasure with the Washington Legislature’s hastily enacted capital-gains tax by encouraging lawmakers to repeal Advisory Vote No. 37. However, maintain Advisory Vote No. 36 to create call-center hubs connecting people with lifesaving crisis-intervention services and No. 38, which closes a tax loophole for large companies that essentially purchase insurance policies from themselves. Read full endorsement →