There was a time when drama, passion and rancor were words that would not have been associated with campaigns for the Seattle City Council. City elections were relatively polite affairs among contestants cut largely from the same cloth; serious, civic-minded centrists much enamored with process and consensus.

It’s a bit different in 2019. There’s a lot of heat, a lot of talk about radical change, plenty of suspicion about those who favor compromise over confrontation. And there is a deluge of campaign cash pouring in from special interests – labor unions, businesses and, especially, Amazon. The big money is a new thing, and it has intensified the debate by drawing a sharper line between candidates in the seven council districts. On one side are contenders backed by the Chamber of Commerce; on the other are controversial incumbents and anti-establishment newcomers.

The distinction may be less than it appears, however. The political spectrum in Seattle is narrow, stretching the short distance between Liberal Democrats and Democratic Socialists. The election may bring change in one direction or another, but Seattle is not about to become either Dallas or Havana.

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