We’ve wrapped up our live updates for the night. Check back at seattletimes.com this week for further results and analysis. Thanks for reading!
10:21 p.m. Major take-aways from Tuesday’s primary election:
- Three Seattle City Council incumbents led their primary challengers, but none were taking over 50% of the vote in Tuesday night’s returns. Kshama Sawant had the lowest incumbent vote share, at 33%. That could change in coming days as more votes are counted.
- Longtime King County Councilman and civil rights leader Larry Gossett trailed challenger, 32-year-old attorney Girmay Zahilay, 39% to 52%, foreshadowing a tough reelection fight for the 26-year incumbent.
- Voters were handing overwhelming approval to an $810 million King County parks levy and a $219 million Seattle library levy.
- A new statewide voter registration system passed a stress test. The VoteWA system had a rocky rollout earlier this year, but Tuesday night “everything went according to plan,” local elections officials said.
9:30 p.m. Facing headwinds, Sawant vows to fight ‘the billionaire class’
After a potentially vulnerable showing in the primary, Kshama Sawant called her reelection battle “a straight up battle between the working class and the billionaire class.”
The floor shook with foot stomps from supporters at her election-night gathering as Sawant, a Socalist Alternative member, said “the for-profit housing market has failed us” and called for “bold public policy,” including local rent control and affordable housing funded by a tax on Amazon.
“We seen the abject failure of the Democratic establishment of the city, which is as tied to big business as it’s ever been,” she said.
Sawant’s critics said her 33% showing in Tuesday’s returns reveal her to be vulnerable, although she could pick up vote-share in the coming days.
Her top challenger, Egan Orion, a business-backed candidate who got 24% of the primary vote, said “the results don’t look very good for the incumbent at all.”
In June, Orion was among a slate of city council candidates who won the backing of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE).
In a news release Tuesday night, the chamber said the election results in several council races “show Seattle voters are ready for change.” CASE-endorsed candidates appeared poised to advance to the general election in all seven council races.
“We now have the opportunity to elect people who can rebuild trust, get back to the basics of local government, and represent the districts they serve,” said Marilyn Strickland, the chamber’s president and CEO, in a statement.
Correction: this post initially misidentified the name of the Seattle chamber’s political action committee, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy.
8:52 p.m. Alex Pedersen and Tammy Morales open big leads in Seattle council open seat races
In the crowded contests for four Seattle City Council open seats, Alex Pedersen and Tammy Morales outpaced the field.
Pedersen led the pack in District 4 (Northeast Seattle), with 45%, followed by Shaun Scott with 19%. Cathy Tuttle and Emily Myers trailed with 13% and 11%, respectively.
Morales had a similarly strong showing in District 2 (Southeast Seattle, Georgetown), with 45% of Tuesday’s vote. She was followed by Mark Solomon with 25%, and Ari Hoffman with 14%.
Her supporters cheered the result at Bang Bang Kitchen Tuesday night. “I feel great,” Morales said, after celebrating the initial count. “This exceeded our predictions for the race.”
Two other open-seat races were tighter.
In District 6 (Northwest Seattle), Dan Strauss was ahead with 31% of the vote, followed by Heidi Wills with 23%. Sergio Garcia and Jay Fathi trailed with 15% and 14%, respectively.
And in District 7 (Pioneer Square to Magnolia), Andrew Lewis led with 29%, followed by Jim Pugel with 26%. Daniela Lipscomb-Eng was next with 10%.
8:30 p.m. King County Councilmember Larry Gossett trails challenger Girmay Zahilay
Zahilay had 52% of the votes counted Tuesday, to Gossett’s 39%. They appeared headed to a November matchup. Gossett has not faced a close election in more than two decades on the council.
Gossett, having just ordered apple juice at his primary night party at Raconteur in Seward Park, said the results were “kind of surprising, but not totally.”
“It means a very difficult time mobilizing people to turn out for the finals, but I’m a fighter so that is what I will work hard on doing,” he said.
Gossett said he didn’t think he and Zahilay, a 32-year-old attorney, differed too greatly on issues like mass incarceration, affordable housing and transportation. He attributed the results to his opponent’s youthfulness and fundraising advantage.
8:20 p.m. Seattle library levy well ahead
A new seven-year, $219 million library levy is passing with 73% of the vote in early returns.
Most of the money would be used to maintain services already being provided, with costs driven up by inflation.
The rest of the money would allow the Delridge, Green Lake, NewHolly and Wallingford branches to open on Fridays and extend hours at the High Point, International District/Chinatown and South Park branches. It would also keep all 27 neighborhood branches open longer at night.
The levy would fund seismic renovations at the Columbia City, Green Lake and University branches, more “play and learn” programs for children and other efforts.
SPL would also eliminate fines for overdue items. Library systems across the country have scrapped overdue fines in recent years, based on the idea that fines can stop people from using libraries — particularly poor people. SPL patrons in less-wealthy neighborhoods owe more, on average.
The new levy would collect about 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in 2020, or about $85 for a $700,000 home.
—Heidi Groover, Seattle Times staff reporter
8:15 p.m. Initial results: Seattle Council incumbents lead
Tuesday vote results show three Seattle City Councilmembers leading all their challengers, but none were reaching the 50% mark.
- In West Seattle’s District 1, Lisa Herbold had 48% of the vote, with her nearest challenger, Philip Tavel, at 34%.
- Debora Juarez led in North Seattle’s District 5, with 42% of the vote. Ann Davison Sattler led a pack of five challengers with 28%.
- Kshama Sawant had the lowest showing among incumbents, with 33%. Egan Orion led among her five challengers, taking 24% of the vote.
7:20 p.m. Can Kshama Sawant’s volunteer army carry her to reelection?
One of the biggest questions in Tuesday’s primary will be the showing of three Seattle City Council incumbents on the ballot — particularly Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative member who has been a lightning rod for critics who say the council majority has veered too sharply to the left.
Sawant won an underdog campaign in 2013, defeating longtime councilman Richard Conlin, in a come-from-behind win built off a grassroots volunteer campaign. This year, she faces five challengers, some with backing from business PACs.
At Sawant’s election-night gathering at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, where “Tax the Rich” signs adorned the walls, Sawant’s supporters say they’ve worked hard to secure her reelection. Emerson Johnson, the emcee for the night, said the campaign knocked on more than 90,000 doors. “I’m sure there are people here because one of our door knockers came to their door,” Johnson said to the 100 plus people at the party by the early evening.
Nikkita Oliver, the attorney and activist who ran for mayor in 2017, fired up the crowd, saying she supports Sawant because she is uncompromising in her politics and accountable to communities of color. “I support Kshama because she amplifies our voices,” she said.
6 p.m. King County projects 36% turnout
King County Elections is predicting 36% turnout, says spokeswoman Halei Watkins. It’s likely to be higher in the city of Seattle, possible around the 45% range.
“Seattle tends to trend a bit higher than the rest of the county, particularly with the vast interest in the council elections,” Watkins says.
King County expects to count between 250,000 to 270,000 ballots tonight, with results due shortly after 8 p.m. That should be more than half the total ballots cast in the primary, according to Watkins.
Even with free postage for ballots, drop boxes are proving the most popular means of voting. The county estimates it received 100,000 ballots today just from drop boxes, with about half that many arriving via the mail.
Watkins said the elections office has not received reports of any major problems. “Everything is going smoothly at our vote HQ. We think that all of the VoteWA issues have been ironed out at this point,” she said, referring to a new state voter-registration system that got off to a rocky start.
5:30 p.m. New ‘vote centers’ fix ballot problems
FEDERAL WAY — When she tried to vote last year, Melissa Pederson learned that the signature on her ballot didn’t match the one in King County Election Department’s files. The problem, she said, ultimately cost Pederson her vote.
On Tuesday, the last day of the primary period, Pederson dropped by the new regional vote center set up in the Federal Way 320th Library to get the signature issue fixed. “Love it,” said Pederson, a 39-year-old school counselor, as she walked out after casting her vote.
As Washington rounded out its first election period with same-day registration, Pederson and others swung by a corner meeting room in the library to sign up to vote or fix problems with their registration status.
The regional vote centers are part of Washington’s new same-day registration law.
The new law allows people to register or update their existing status up through 8 p.m. Tuesday. It requires cities of more than 100,000 people to have regional vote centers during president-election years.
But King County decided to open several regional voting centers this year to test them out.
Other citizens stopped by the library Tuesday to register for the first time, or because they had just moved here.
Lise Hunt, 52, said she moved to Maple Valley last month from Colorado. Hunt said she has studied the issues in her new town. But on Tuesday, she “hadn’t studied the people yet” and was taking her new ballot home before marking it up and turning it in.
King County’s regional vote centers are open through 8 p.m. Tuesday. In addition to the Federal Way location, they’re located at:
- Bellevue Regional Library
- Kenmore City Hall
- King County Elections Headquarters in Renton
- Elections Annex in Seattle’s King County Administration Building
— Joseph O’Sullivan, Seattle Times staff reporter
What you need to know:
- This election is a key test of whether Washington’s new same-day voter registration system is up to the task. In testing earlier this year, the new $9.5 million system called VoteWA was plagued by problems in King County and some other large jurisdictions.
- The primary will winnow the field for the top two candidates to advance to the Nov. 5 general election. At stake are city council races in Seattle, Bellevue and a slew of suburban cities, four Seattle School Board seats and two Port of Seattle commission positions. Also on the ballot is an $810 million King County parks levy and a $219 million Seattle library levy that would expand library hours and eliminate overdue fines.
- Turnout is relatively low so far. As of Tuesday evening, about 25% of King County’s active registered voters had returned their ballots. Turnout in Seattle is running at 29%.
- In Seattle, 55 candidates are vying to advance to the general election in seven City Council districts. Four incumbents bailed rather than face reelection, but Tuesday night will be a test for three sitting council members: Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold, and Debra Juarez. Learn more about the council candidates and their policy positions by visiting The Seattle Times voter guide.