In the two hottest races for the Seattle City Council, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess defeated their opponents, Venus Velázquez and...
In the two hottest races for the Seattle City Council, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess defeated their opponents, Venus Velázquez and incumbent David Della, Tuesday night.
Other incumbents Jean Godden and Sally Clark won easily. Tom Rasmussen ran unopposed for Position 5.
“I think that the voters are looking for strong, positive leadership,” said Harrell, who ran against Velázquez. Velázquez, a public-affairs consultant, declined to comment to the public on Tuesday and avoided the media during her election-night party downtown. After early returns showed her well behind her opponent, she curtly told reporters: “I am not talking to you tonight.”
Before she was arrested last month on suspicion of drunken-driving, Velázquez had been favored to replace Peter Steinbrueck in Position 3 on the council. The popular Steinbrueck had endorsed her, and she won 44 percent of the primary vote to Harrell’s 28 percent.
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Velázquez, 41, has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
Her candidacy became identified mostly with her arrest, and less with the campaign message — that she would bring a unique perspective as a mother with young children in public schools.
Harrell, 49, did not make Velázquez’s arrest a campaign issue. He continued to say he wanted to bring his skills as a private-practice attorney to the council.
“I’m sure it played a role in voters’ minds in terms of judgment and the story behind the driving,” Harrell said about her DUI charge.
Burgess beat Della by a large margin.
“Obviously, I’m delighted,” Burgess said. “I’m very pleased that the voters of Seattle have expressed their trust and confidence in my ability to provide leadership.
Della said: “I think we worked hard and had a solid plan. I’m proud of my accomplishments on the City Council. The voters spoke and I’ll accept it.”
The race for Position 7 was one of the nastiest campaigns of the season and Burgess set a record for fundraising in a Seattle City Council race.
Della, who served one term, accused Burgess of being a right-wing candidate whose beliefs were out of step with liberal Seattle. Burgess criticized Della as lacking leadership.
During campaign appearances, in fliers and on a Web site, Della hammered away at the fact that Burgess’ ad agency had done work for a conservative Christian group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. Concerned Women for America is no longer a client of the ad firm, and Burgess said he had opted out of working on the account, and is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.
Burgess said Della’s record as a parks-committee chairman and as a leader on energy issues was dismal, and promised to be an environmental leader if elected.
“Mr. Della tried the politics of personal destruction and the voters of Seattle saw through it,” Burgess said.
One-term incumbent Godden, 76, easily beat high-school teacher and former Madison, Wis., City Council member Joe Szwaja, 51, for Position 1.
Clark, 41, finished well ahead of concessionaire-owner Judy Fenton, 51, for Position 9. Clark, a former city neighborhood planner and council legislative aide, was first appointed to fill a position on the council in 2006 when Jim Compton left at midterm. She was re-elected to serve a one-year term this year.
Clark said she wanted to continue the work she has started with the city’s neighborhoods.
Staff reporter Jonathan Martin and Cailin Magruder contributed to this report.
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.