Still haven’t filled out your ballot? Need information fast? Review our coverage of key races in Seattle, the Eastside and Snohomish County.
Whether you’re a newcomer or a native, your vote will affect the region’s future. High-stakes contests are on the ballot, including who will become the next mayor of Seattle; an Eastside state Senate race that could determine the balance of power in Olympia; a King County measure to raise your taxes to pay for services for veterans, vulnerable populations, and seniors.
If you still need to read up on those races and others, we’re here to help. Take a few minutes to check out key stories from this season’s political coverage from more than a dozen Seattle Times journalists.
Use the links below for races that matter to you most. Remember, ballots must be postmarked or dropped in official election-office dropboxes by Nov. 7.
Seattle Mayor | Seattle City Council | Seattle City Attorney | Seattle School Board | 45th Legislative District | Port of Seattle | Proposition 1: King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy | King County Sheriff | King County Council | Bellevue City Council | Snohomish County Council | Voter & Ballot Information
Last year, political pundits believed Ed Murray would easily win reelection to a second term as Seattle mayor. But sex-abuse allegations prompted Murray to resign.
His departure led to a crowded August primary that included 21 candidates vying to lead the Northwest’s largest city. When the dust settled, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and urban planner Cary Moon were left standing.
The race between the two has at times been heated. The pair had a war of words over their wealth and Moon rejected the hypothetical of working in a Durkan administration.
Read more about the Seattle mayoral race:
Seattle’s millionaire mayoral candidates say they know what it’s like to struggle
Seattle City Council
The candidates running for Seattle City Council Position 8 are wrestling over the future of the American left.
And in Position 9, a second term incumbent is defending her seat from a South Seattle neighborhood activist.
Position 8: Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant advanced to the November election in a hotly contested primary that focused on police reform, testing out Seattle’s first-in-the-nation “democracy vouchers,” and a battle between labor and small business.
The rival candidates for Position 8 — a citywide seat vacated by Tim Burgess — hold similar positions on most issues. The two even teamed up last year on an effort to raise the statewide minimum wage, for example, with Mosqueda leading the bid and Grant working for her as an organizer.
But their race has grown increasingly fierce in the run-up to the Nov. 7 election, with the candidates clashing over Seattle’s housing challenges and their supporters debating the significance of race, gender, wealth and campaign donations.
Position 9: They list many of the same priorities, but beyond that, incumbent M. Lorena González and challenger Pat Murakami agree on little else as they battle for the Seattle City Council’s at-large Position 9 seat.
González, a civil-rights attorney and former legal adviser to ex-Mayor Ed Murray, was overwhelmingly elected in 2015 to serve a two-year term after voters approved a new council model with seven district representatives and two citywide ones. She has since approached her at-large position — on the ballot again this year to align with the four-year election cycle of mayor and city attorney — from a top-down, big-picture perspective.
Her opponent is Murakami, a longtime South Seattle activist and businesswoman, has earned her civic-engagement chops at the neighborhood level, leading community groups and championing local causes that, at times, have broader city impact.
Read more on the Seattle City Council races:
Seattle City Attorney
The contest for Seattle city attorney has become cantankerous and personal.
Where challenger Scott Lindsay sees a broken, dysfunctional criminal-justice system, incumbent Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes sees a high-performing office that’s taking on cutting-edge legal battles and winning.
Lindsay, the former public-safety adviser to ex-Mayor Ed Murray, said Holmes lacks the vision to work with the city’s municipal court, police department, City Council and mayor to construct new harm-reduction strategies to improve public safety while addressing the connected issues of homelessness, addiction and property crime.
Seattle School Board
Newly-elected Seattle School Board members will lead a district that has a budget shortfall, a superintendent whose contract is ending and a student population with one of the nation’s worst racial disparities in achievement.
Six candidates are campaigning for three open seats on the seven-member board.
District 4: In the race to represent Belltown, Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard, longtime parent activist Eden Mack is running against Herbert Camet Jr., who has worked as a teacher and principal.
Mack is a volunteer advocate who has served as the legislative chair for the Seattle Council PTSA and says to do the job “you need to have the ability to work effectively with other people with civility and respect, even when you don’t agree.”
Camet, who has worked in schools in the United States, the Middle East and Asia, has criticized Mack’s contributions and endorsements and described her as a corrupt candidate and fraud.
District 5: In the district that includes downtown, the Central District, Chinatown International District and a part of Capitol Hill, the two men vying for the post — Zachary Pullin DeWolf and Omar Vasquez — are in their 30s and have no children.
DeWolf says he has dedicated his life to public service, including his involvement with organizations like the Pride Foundation, Seattle Housing Authority and Peace Corps. He hopes to be an advocate for vulnerable students, including those who are homeless.
Vasquez, who has teaching experience, says his business and tax-law credentials give him a keen ability to understand complex documents and financial issues for the district.
District 7: Only one race has an incumbent: Betty Patu is running for a third term in Southeast Seattle’s District 7 against Seattle newcomer Chelsea Byers.
If elected, Patu would be the only board member with more than two years of experience, which she says would be an asset. In her eight years on the board, she says she is most proud of when the board established the Racial Equity Policy in 2012, launched the African American Male Initiative and changed school start times to better align with students’ sleep schedules.
Byers said the board needs to come up with more innovative ways to close the achievement gap and the way to do that is through new board members with different ideas. Byers pointed to her experience in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields as a strength she would bring to the board.
Read more about the Seattle School Board races:
45th Legislative District
The contest between Democrat Manka Dhingra and Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund in the Eastside’s 45th District will likely determine whether a GOP coalition keeps its one-vote edge in the state Senate — or whether Democrats claim both chambers in the Legislature as well as the governor’s office.
Those stakes have drawn the kind of money and attention that usually elect people to Congress, not to a part-time state Legislature that pays $47,776 a year. The two candidates and the independent political spending groups have so far raised or spent more than $8.5 million.
Read more about the 45th District race:
Port of Seattle Commission
Six candidates are running for three spots and the job of overseeing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, local port and cruise-ship terminals, and other properties, such as conference centers and marinas.
King County voters will have to decide whether to change leadership at the Port, which has overseen growth in its business but also public-trust controversies, including the departure of the former CEO who gave himself a secret pay raise.
Here’s a look at who’s running.
Position 1: This Port of Seattle race pits longtime board member John Creighton against Ryan Calkins, a former small-business owner whose company was long a customer at the Port.
Among the differences between Creighton and Calkins are how to handle Chris Hansen’s proposal for an NBA arena in Sodo; the best way to plan for future growth at booming Sea-Tac; and how to levy Port taxes on local property owners.
Position 3: Board member Stephanie Bowman is running for re-election against Ahmed Abdi, a progressive who fought for minimum-wage increases.
Bowman serves as the executive director of the nonprofit Washington Asset Building Coalition, which serves economically disadvantaged residents. Bowman says her biggest accomplishment was co-leading the effort to merge the ports of Seattle and Tacoma earlier this decade. A former Port of Tacoma employee, she said the effort has reduced competition between the two ports.
Abdi, outreach manager for the Fair Work Center, is a refugee from Somalia and Kenya who came to the United States in 2009. After working for $9 an hour at a chicken plant in Kansas City, he moved to the Seattle area, went to college and helped fight for the $15 minimum wage in SeaTac. He now sits on the board of the Seattle Housing Authority.
Position 4: Renton city official Preeti Shridhar and former Seattle Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck will battle it out in the Nov. 7 election for the sole open seat on the Port of Seattle Commission.
The contest, to replace departing commission President Tom Albro, features two candidates with backgrounds in local city government who are keen on creating jobs and protecting the environment. But here’s where Shridhar and Steinbrueck differ on key issues.
Read more about Port of Seattle races:
King County Sheriff
It’s one of nastiest political races in King County in years.
Sharp words have defined the Nov. 7, nonpartisan race between incumbent Sheriff John Urquhart and Major Mitzi Johanknecht. Both are vying to lead the King County Sheriff’s 1,100 employees and oversee service to unincorporated King County, Metro and Sound Transit agencies, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, King County International Airport/Boeing Field and 10 cities and two towns.
Urquhart, 69, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for nearly 30 years, many as its media spokesman, became sheriff after a special election for the open seat in 2012. He faced no challengers in the regular election for the seat in 2013, winning a four-year term. He’s currently under a cloud of controversy with Election Day nearing: an ex-deputy says Urquhart made an unwanted sexual advances, and a woman who has accused Urquhart of raping her years ago just got a temporary protection order against him. Urquhart denies the sexual-assault allegations.
Johanknecht, 58, joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1985. She became a captain in 1998 and has spent time in supervisory roles in field operations, patrol operations, technical services and special-operations divisions. She has led two precincts and was the first full-time female deputy to lead TAC-30, the Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team, a position to which she was appointed by Urquhart.
Both have deep roots in the Seattle area, including schooling at the University of Washington. Urquhart lives on Mercer Island with his wife; Johanknecht in West Seattle with her wife.
Most Read Stories
- Seattle’s income tax on the wealthy is illegal, judge rules
- Analysis: Five reasons the Seahawks waived Dwight Freeney WATCH
- Retired Alabama cop on Roy Moore: ‘We were also told to ... make sure that he didn’t hang around the cheerleaders’
- Jobs that pay without a B.A.: the most lucrative fields in Washington state
- A Washington syrah was named second best wine in the world
King County Council
The incumbents have the overwhelming campaign money and the name familiarity in the races for King County executive and two County Council seats. One challenger is in it to bring attention to a single issue; the two others hope their doorbelling will pay off.
Incumbent King County Executive Dow Constantine lists his campaign balance at $1.6 million, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
His opponent is Bill Hirt, 78, a retired Boeing engineer. His campaign balance is $0.
“I take no contributions. The only money I’ve spent is the filing fee ($2,258.71 for that particular office),” Hirt says. “I have no desire to win.”
It’s a similar scenario in two Metropolitan King County Council races, where incumbents Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert are competing against underfunded challengers Denice Carnahan and John Murphy.
Bellevue City Council
For the last year, Bellevue City Council hearings have been colorful and sometimes unruly spectacles — citizens talking back to City Council members, breaking rules of order, opponents of an issue wearing purple, supporters wearing red.
The issue animating Bellevue politics is a proposed 100-bed emergency homeless shelter — the first permanent men’s shelter on the Eastside — in the Eastgate neighborhood. Other key issues for Bellevue City Council include affordable housing, education, and transportation.
Proposition 1: King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy
King County Proposition 1 is a renewal of a 2005 levy that will help veterans, vulnerable populations and, for the first time, seniors. Proposition 1, though, is double the size of the previous measure, at roughly $354 million over six years.
Voters are being asked to approve a 10-cent property tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value, instead of the previous 5-cent levy. That’s about $28 more per year for a $450,000 median-priced home, according to the Yes for Vets and Human Services campaign.
There has been no organized opposition to the levy renewal, though at least two King County councilmembers — who ultimately agreed to put the proposal on the ballot — raised concerns that voters have tax fatigue.
History: First passed in 2005 and renewed in 2011. The current levy expires Dec. 31.
Cost: 10-cent property tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value, double the current amount.
How much will the levy generate: Roughly $354 million over six years.
What it does: Connects veterans, seniors and vulnerable populations, including the homeless, to an array of services, including help finding housing.
What’s new: If passed, the new levy will include funding for seniors.
Snohomish County Council
Three of the five Snohomish County Council positions are on the Nov. 7 ballot. And if there is one thing all candidates can agree on, it is that growth, and all its side effects, are being felt from the King County line to the Skagit County line, from Puget Sound to the Cascades.
All the candidates this November want to help the county deal with creating infrastructure to match growth and development. How exactly that happens is where the differences arise. Read our rundown of the District 1, District 4 and District 5 races.
More on the Snohomish County Council races:
Voter & Ballot Information
Need to register to vote? Lose your ballot? Looking for a dropbox? We’ve got answers.
If you’re hoping to register to vote online or by mail, you’re out of luck, the deadline has passed. But if you hurry to your county elections department by Monday, you can register in person. King County voters can register at the county’s election offices in Seattle and Renton. Snohomish County voters can register at the Auditor’s Office in Everett.
Completed ballots can be mailed with a first-class stamps and should be mailed and postmarked by Election Day. For last-minute procrastinators, King County voters can drop off their ballots at more than 50 locations mapped here. Snohomish County voters can drop off their ballots at these sites.