Ballots have been mailed out. Ads are airing. Voters have tough decisions to make.
The region is less than two weeks away from the last day to cast votes in the general election that will decide a handful of political positions, in a critical time as the city wrestles with homelessness, public safety and pandemic recovery.
Ballots were sent to registered voters Oct. 13 and must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 2, or deposited in an official drop box by 8 p.m. Nov. 2.
Ballots can be returned by mail, at a ballot drop box or at an accessible voting site if you require assistance. Postage is not required.
If you are just tuning in to the election, read below for the five races to keep an eye on.
For more election coverage, visit seattletimes.com/tag/election-2021. Take the Seattle mayoral matchmaker quiz to see which mayoral candidate best aligns with your views, and check out the 2021 general election voters guide to learn what you need to know about the Nov. 2 election in the Seattle area.
Seattle mayor: M. Lorena González and Bruce Harrell
With Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan not seeking reelection, M. Lorena González and Bruce Harrell advanced to the general election from a crowded primary field. Both candidates have served recently on City Council and have overlapping and widespread records.
Before government, both candidates were practicing lawyers. Harrell practiced for a telecommunications company and nonprofits, and González practiced at law firms and spent a year as counsel to then-Mayor Ed Murray. In recent debates, the candidates have clashed on their approaches to zoning, homelessness, public safety and policing.
King County executive: Dow Constantine and Joe Nguyen
Three-term County Executive Dow Constantine is facing a challenger, state Sen. Joe Nguyen of West Seattle. While both candidates support temporary housing, increased transit service and higher taxes targeted at the wealthy, the race has centered on competence and experience.
The King County executive, in conjunction with the County Council, oversees a wide array of government functions, including most of the county’s buses and public transit, the jail system, public health, regional homelessness and the county sheriff. While it may garner less attention than the Seattle mayor’s office, the county executive controls a larger budget.
City attorney: Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy
After three-term incumbent Pete Holmes didn’t make it past the primary election, the race for city attorney has heated up. Davison is an attorney and arbitrator who disavowed the Democratic Party in 2020 and previously ran for lieutenant governor. Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender running on an abolitionist platform, which means a long-term goal of ending police and prison.
Thomas-Kennedy is endorsed over Davison by every Democratic district organization in Seattle, as well as by former Mayor Mike McGinn and some city council members. Davison is endorsed by 30 retired judges, including two former state Supreme Court justices.
The city attorney represents the city and its employees in civil lawsuits, both defending employees from allegations of wrongdoing and the city’s interests. The city attorney also prosecutes low-level offenses like traffic violations, DUIs and misdemeanors.
Seattle City Council member at large: Sara Nelson and Nikkita Oliver
Two Seattle City Council seats are up for grabs this year. Position 9 is opened with M. Lorena González running for mayor. Nikkita Oliver is an executive director of a nonprofit, anti-racism activist and lawyer. Sara Nelson co-founded Fremont Brewing and was an aide to former City Councilmember Richard Conlin. The two differ when it comes to issues concerning zoning restrictions, encampments and funding or defunding the police.
Metropolitan King County Council: Kathy Lambert and Sarah Perry
Five positions on the Metropolitan King County Council are up for election. The 20-year incumbent for District 3, Councilmember Kathy Lambert faces a challenger, Sarah Perry, a former executive at Seattle University and other local nonprofits. The district includes Woodinville, Redmond and Sammamish, where homelessness has quietly risen.
Lambert recently came under fire for a mailer her campaign sent out that featured a colleague and was widely condemned as racist. Lambert initially defended the mailer but eventually apologized — but not before she was stripped of her committee chairmanships.
Correction: The spelling of Seattle City Council candidate Sara Nelson’s first name has been corrected.
Seattle Times reporter David Gutman contributed reporting.