A hotly contested debate over Seattle’s and the region’s direction on the homelessness crisis, policing and housing costs began to be decided Tuesday, as votes were counted for the Nov. 2 general election.

Initial results rolled in just after 8 p.m. Vote counting will continue for days. Check below for the latest updates.

It looks like a tough night for Seattle progressives as centrist and business-backed candidates in three marquee city races surged to big Election Night leads.

In the race for Seattle mayor, former City Council President Bruce Harrell was taking 65% of the vote over current council President M. Lorena González.

Republican Ann Davison was leading with 58% of the vote in the race for city attorney versus police abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy.

And in a high-profile race for Seattle City Council, brewery owner and former City Council aide Sara Nelson led with about 60% in a matchup with Nikkita Oliver, a nonprofit leader, attorney and anti-racism activist.

Later ballots usually trend more liberal, but the Election Night leads appeared commanding.

In other races, King County Executive Dow Constantine, seeking a fourth term, held a wide lead with 57% of the vote against his challenger and fellow Democrat, State Sen. Joe Nguyen.

Meanwhile, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, a Republican, trailed Democratic challenger Sarah Perry, while four other county councilmembers were cruising to wins.

Youngkin wins Virginia governor’s race, jolting Democrats

RICHMOND, Va. — Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race early Wednesday, tapping into culture war fights over schools and race to unite former President Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican to win statewide office here in 12 years.

The 54-year-old Youngkin’s defeat of Democrat Terry McAuliffe marked a sharp turnabout in a state that has shifted to the left over the past decade and was captured by President Joe Biden last year by a 10-point margin. It is certain to add to the Democrats’ anxiety about their grip on political power heading into next year’s midterms, when the party’s thin majority in Congress could be erased.

Read more.

— Will Weissert and Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press
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Watch: Seattle mayoral candidates' speeches after Tuesday's ballot counts

The two candidates in Seattle's mayor's race addressed their supporters, following Tuesday night's ballot counts that gave Bruce Harrell a commanding lead over M. Lorena González.

Joined by former Mayor Norm Rice, a celebratory Harrell declared: "We've got to bring Seattle back together." The candidate, who criticized efforts to defund the police, said the city must work to "end racism and unfairness by our police department but all communities want to be safe — that's a unifying element."

González, surrounded by cheering supporters, cautioned that many votes remain to be counted later in the week. "This campaign has always been about finding a way to do the hard work. To create city where every single one of us has a seat at the table," she said.

—Erika Schultz and Ramon Dompor

Election results for Eastside races for mayor and city council

Mercer Island City Councilmember Lisa Anderl had a lead over Kate Akyuz in the race for Position 6, with 55% of the vote in Tuesday’s vote count. Akyuz switched council positions to run against Akyuz.

Incumbent Salim Nice and Ted Weinberg were leading in the races for City Council positions 2 and 4, respectively. Nice had 58% and Weinberg had 55%.

In Bothell, Han Tran had 54% over Jeanne Zornes for the Position 1 seat. Challenger Jenne Alderks had 55% over incumbent Rosemary McAuliffe for Position 3. For Position 5, Ben Mahnkey had 52% and Matt Kuehn had 48%. Rami Al-Kabra had 51% against Beca Nistrian for Position 7.

Issaquah had one contested race: Russell Joe had 63% against Rose Zibrat in the Position 5 council contest.

Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet was ahead of Matthew Goelzer for Position 3 on the City Council, with 74%. Incumbent Neal Black had 73% over Cherese Bourgoin for Position 5.

In Redmond, Position 2 council incumbent Steve Fields had 60% against Janet Richards. Melissa Stuart had 61% and Dennis Ellis had 39% in the race for the Position 4 seat. Council Vice President Jeralee Anderson had the lead over challenger Tara Van Niman, with 67%

For Sammamish City Council Position 1, Amy Lam had 50.43% and Josh Amato had 49.39% Tuesday’s count. Mayor Karen Moran was leading over challenger Nazir Harb Michel for Position 3 with 78%. Kali Clark had 51% and Rich Benack had 48% for Position 5. Karen Howe had 50.48% and Melanie Kelsey had 49.32% for the Position 7.

—Paige Cornwell

Washington voters rejecting new 7% tax on capital gains in nonbinding advisory measure

OLYMPIA — Washington voters were rejecting a state advisory measure to adopt a new 7% tax on capital gains above $250,000 in Tuesday night’s election results.

Washington’s advisory votes are nonbinding and do nothing to change existing law, but allow voters to sound off on tax bills passed by the Legislature.

The advisory vote on the new tax was trailing by 24 percentage points.

Advisory vote No. 37 concerns the new tax of capital gains on the sale of assets — like bonds and stocks — above $250,000. The tax — which faces a lawsuit and vehement opposition among Republicans — is a long-sought priority for Democrats. It is scheduled to take effect for tax returns filed in 2023.

Passed this spring as Senate Bill 5096, the law exempts assets like sales of retirement accounts, real estate, livestock, some agricultural property and timber. Also exempted are sales of sole-proprietor businesses that have a gross revenue up to $6 million, as well as some auto dealerships.

Advisory vote No. 36, which concerns a tax on telephone lines, was trailing by nearly 10 percentage points.

That measure stems from House Bill 1477 to implement the national 988 call system for suicide prevention response and behavioral health crises.

Advisory vote No. 38, which concerns a tax on captive insurance companies amounting to 2% of premiums from owners and affiliates, was trailing by 15 percentage points.

That law comes from Senate Bill 5315, which passed the Legislature almost unanimously.

Tuesday night’s results were the first batch; more ballots will be tallied in the coming days.

Staff reporter Dahlia Bazzaz contributed to this report.

—Joseph O'Sullivan
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Vivian Song Maritz, Michelle Sarju, Brandon Hersey lead in Seattle School Board election

Vivian Song Maritz, Michelle Sarju, and incumbent Brandon Hersey were leading Tuesday in the races for three seats on the Seattle School Board, the state’s largest school district. 

Song Maritz had nearly 68% of the vote, Sarju had 82%, and Hersey was in the lead by about 91%.

The three winners will inherit long-standing transportation, transparency and communications issues. The school year started off with late bus routes — sometimes up to 60 routes a day — and recently the district had to cut more than 100 routes in an effort to avoid the buses’ running late.

Read more.

—Monica Velez

Election results for Bellevue City Council and School Board races

Longtime Bellevue City Council incumbent Conrad Lee had 56% of the vote in Tuesday night’s election returns to lead challenger Dexter Borbe in the Position 2 race. For Position 4, Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis was ahead of Ruth Lipscomb, with 58% of the vote count.

Mayor Lynne Robinson had 70% of the vote in her race against Dr. Gina Johnson for the Position 6 seat. In Bellevue, city council members choose a mayor and deputy mayor among themselves every two years.

Lee first elected in 1994, is the City Council’s longest-serving member. He was chosen by councilmembers to be deputy mayor in 2010 and mayor in 2012. Borbe owns and operates Interim HealthCare, a home health care and nurse staffing agency.

In the two races for Bellevue School Board, Joyce Shui and Jane Aras were leading in the open-seat contests for Position 3 and Position 5, respectively. The winners will join three other members on the board of directors, each representing a geographic district.

Shui had 67% of the vote over Faye Yang for the Positon 3 seat. Shui is a senior director at SAP, a computer-software company, and has a legal practice focused on software and technology licensing commercial transactions, and software agreements. Yang is a registered dietitian and health care professional.

—Paige Cornwell

Amendments to King County charter look to easily pass

Two low-stakes amendments to the King County charter, essentially the county’s constitution, appeared headed toward easy passage Tuesday night.

Charter Amendment 1 was being approved by 77% of voters in Tuesday’s returns, while Charter Amendment 2 was being approved by 88%. A simple majority is required for passage.

Charter Amendment 1 makes several changes — some symbolic, one grammatical — to the charter’s preamble.

It would change the stated purpose of the charter to include forming a more “equitable” government “for all” and promoting “a superior quality of life.” It also would change the word “insure” to “ensure,” in a sentence about the county’s responsibility for accountable governance. Both words are technically correct, but, according to Merriam-Webster, “insure” is more frequently used with financial matters, while “ensure” is used more broadly.

Charter Amendment 2 would amend timelines and dates for filing initiatives, referendums and ballot measures so that the dates in the charter comply with state law. The timelines currently in the charter conflict with state law, because the law has been changed since the charter was adopted.

Passage of both amendments were recommended by the county’s once-a-decade Charter Review Commission.

—David Gutman
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Calkins, Bowman and Steinbrueck hold leads in elections for Port of Seattle Commissioner, but two races still tight

Two of three races remain close in the contests for Port of Seattle Commissioner.

As of Tuesday night, Ryan Calkins led in the race for Position No. 1 with 73.04 % of the vote, against Norman Sigler.

Stephanie Bowman led in the race for Position No. 3 with 50.72% of the vote, against Hamdi Mohamed and Peter Steinbrueck held a slim 1,537 vote lead in the race for Position No. 4 with 49.98 % of the vote, against Toshiko Grace Hasegawa.

Ballots will continue to be counted throughout the week.

All candidates ran on environmental agendas, emphasizing the need for shoreside resources to power berthed vessels with electricity.

They also shared common objectives, which included addressing cargo ship congestion, creating opportunities for underserved communities and improving diversity and inclusion at the Port. Their ideas differed on how to attain each of these goals.

—Akash Pasricha

Bruce Harrell takes commanding lead over M. Lorena Gonzalez in Seattle mayor's race

Bruce Harrell held a commanding lead of almost 30 percentage points over M. Lorena González in Seattle’s mayoral election Tuesday night. Harrell had 65% of the votes that had been tallied in the highly-anticipated head-to-head matchup between familiar figures.

The gap between Harrell, a moderate former City Council president, and González, a progressive currently serving as council president, could change as more votes — as many as half the expected total, according to election officials  — are counted in the coming days.

In Seattle races, ballots that arrive and are tallied later tend to favor left-lane candidates. In their crowded Aug. 3 primary, Harrell’s nine point lead over González on election night narrowed to less than two points by the time all of the votes were tabulated.

Read more.

—Daniel Beekman

Republican Ann Davison leads police abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in Seattle city attorney race

Republican Ann Davison held a strong 17 percentage point lead in the race for Seattle City Attorney, with early returns showing voters rejecting the brash language of her opponent, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in favor of Davison’s more moderate law-and-order stance.

Early returns released as the polls closed in King County showed Davison leading 58% to 41%.

Seattle city attorney candidates Ann Davison, left, and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy.

No race in Tuesday’s election was more fraught with the potential for unpredictable consequences than the race for the city’s official lawyer, who traditionally has prosecuted minor crimes and provided legal advice and defense for the city and its employees, including those in law enforcement.

At one end stood Thomas-Kennedy, a former public defender and abolitionist who during the racial unrest that swept the city in the summer of 2020 tweeted about her “rabid hatred of the police” — whom she has called “thugs” and “scum” — and pronounced property destruction during times of protest is a “moral imperative.”

At the other end was Seattle attorney and arbitrator Davison, whose perceived transgression for some in liberal Seattle was seen as being as bad, if not worse, than anything her opponent said on social media: She declared herself a Republican in 2020, while President Donald Trump was in the White House.

Neither has held public office before. This was the 46-year-old Thomas-Kennedy’s first run at public office. Davison, 53, has twice unsuccessfully run for office, running as a Democrat for city council in 2019 and as a Republican for lieutenant governor in 2020.

Regardless, the victor will be the first woman to serve as city attorney, dating back to 1875.

Seattle Times reporters Elise Takahama and Scott Greenstone contributed to this report.

—Mike Carter
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Sara Nelson and Teresa Mosqueda leading in Seattle City Council races

In the high-profile race for Seattle City Council’s Position 9, Sara Nelson was leading Nikkita Oliver Tuesday night by almost 21 percentage points. Nelson had just over 60% of votes counted.

Meanwhile, in the less-watched Position 8 race, Teresa Mosqueda was ahead of Kenneth Wilson by only 5 percentage points. Mosqueda had 52%.

Council President M. Lorena González left the citywide Position 9 seat open when she decided to run for mayor. The contest presented something of an existential choice for voters. Oliver and Nelson called for different kinds of change at a time when Seattle is trying to recover from the pandemic, respond to demands for racial justice and find solutions to increases in homelessness and violent crime.

Read more.

—Nina Shapiro

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert trailing in reelection bid

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s two decades on the council could be coming to a close, as she trailed challenger Sarah Perry 44.5% to 55.1% Tuesday night.

All four of the other council incumbents up for reelection — Rod Dembowski, Reagan Dunn, Dave Upthegrove and Pete von Reichbauer — led their challengers Tuesday night.

Candidates for King County Council District 3: Kathy Lambert, left, and Sarah Perry.  (Courtesy of the campaigns)

The early results portend a slight shift to the left for the nonpartisan County Council: Lambert was one of three members of the conservative minority on the nine-member council. If Tuesday night’s results hold, the council could switch from a 6-3 liberal majority to a 7-2 liberal majority.

—Joseph O'Sullivan and David Gutman

King County Executive Dow Constantine leading in votes, seeks to win 4th term

King County Executive Dow Constantine was in position to win a fourth term Tuesday night, a feat that would make him the county’s longest-serving executive in more than half a century.

Constantine led first-term state Sen. Joe Nguyen 57% to 42% in Tuesday night tallies.

As the county’s largest city has pinballed between mayors in recent years — no one has served a second term as Seattle mayor since 2006 — Constantine has been a consistent presence running the state’s largest county.

A victory would set him up to lead King County for 16 years, the longest tenure since the county adopted its current system of governance. It would also provide him a platform to potentially run for governor in 2024, something he looked at doing in 2020 and has declined to rule out for the future.

Nguyen, a Democrat, based his campaign on the charge that Constantine, also a Democrat, hasn’t acted with the urgency that the times demand.

Read more.

—David Gutman
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Campaign consultant for Seattle mayor candidate Bruce Harrell: `surge at the end'

In Belltown, Harrell and several dozen supporters gathered about an hour before the drop off boxes closed.

Campaign consultant Christian Sinderman said that Harrell and campaign staff spent the day making a last minute push to connect with voters ahead of last minute ballots. 

“It’s been one of those weird Seattle elections where you've been watching people vote for three weeks, you send the last best match of text messages, Bruce was back in a grocery store today shaking hands, you make a few last phone calls, but then you just wait,” Sinderman said in the last hour of voting.

“But the turnout is following in pretty typical Seattle patterns,” Sinderman said. “It’s been kind of a trickle and then a surge at the end.”

—Daniel Beekman

Abolitionist candidate in Seattle city attorney race: `Unreal' to get to this point

In a short address to staff and volunteers at Taco City Taqueria, Seattle city attorney candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy said it felt “unreal” to get to this point.

“I know that there’s just so many people who have worked so hard to get me here, and not only that but people who have worked before me, to explain to people what abolition really is,” Thomas-Kennedy said.

Taco City Taqueria proved to be a popular spot for election night parties. Both Thomas-Kennedy and Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda planned parties at the South Seattle taqueria, one after the other.

The party for Mosqueda — an incumbent favored to win against first-time candidate Kenneth Wilson — was big and upbeat, spilling onto the sidewalk with balloons and upbeat funk. It ended officially at 7 p.m. to be replaced by Thomas-Kennedy’s, which was smaller — mostly family, staff and volunteers — and inside.

The self-proclaimed abolitionist candidate, Thomas-Kennedy is preparing for the possibility that first-night totals could show her behind her opponent, Ann Davison, who’s been favored in polls. In the past, leftist candidates tend to gain ground on their opponents because left-leaning, younger voters tend to vote later than older, generally moderate voters.

Davison has arrived at her campaign event in North Seattle with her two kids and said in a short address to the media that she’s focused on thanking her supporters tonight.

“It’s so meaningful to me to have support from everyday people, because that’s where I put myself,” she said.

—Scott Greenstone

Seattle might elect a Republican for the first time in decades. Who was the last?

If Ann Davison wins the hard-fought, divisive race for Seattle city attorney against rival Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, she'll be the first Republican elected in Seattle in more than three decades.

The last Republican elected official here was Paul Kraabel, who served on the Seattle City Council from 1975 until 1991. (He also was appointed to fill a vacant council seat for a few months in 1996.)

Kraabel, who died in 2016 at 83, was a former Boeing engineer and state legislator known for his passion for civil rights, transportation planning and houseboats.

That was a different time when the gap between the major parties was not as wide as today.

Kraabel recalled his time on the council as "delightfully nonpartisan" in a 2005 interview, adding: “It’s easier to say, ‘He’s a Republican, vote no’ — then, you don’t have to think. But it doesn’t make for healthy politics.”

Davison publicly disavowed the Democratic Party and ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor in 2020. She has downplayed her partisan affiliation in running for city attorney, noting the office is nonpartisan.

Democratic organizations in Seattle have been unanimous in supporting Thomas-Kennedy, who is running on an abolitionist platform of eventually halting most prosecutions. But some notable Democrats, including former Govs. Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke, have broken ranks to endorse Davison.

The last Republican elected as city attorney was Douglas Jewett, who served from 1978 to 1989, when he ran unsuccessfully for Seattle mayor, losing to Norm Rice.

Seattle's council seats, like the city attorney and mayor's office, are officially nonpartisan. But Democrats have reigned supreme for many years, as the city's voters have grown more liberal. The only exception to Democratic hegemony has been Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party.

Either Thomas-Kennedy or Davison would be the first woman to serve as Seattle city attorney.

—Jim Brunner
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Seattle council candidate Sara Nelson arrives at election party

The glamour of big-city politicking eluded Seattle City Council candidate Sara Nelson as she arrived at Pier 57, and set her own campaign signs out to guide supporters to her party.

About 20 supporters have made it early to the top deck of Fisherman's Restaurant, where the wood-paneled walls part for a window into the hub of the Great Wheel. The 76ers-Blazers game was on TV.

Campaign staff in the corner studied a map of voter turnouts.

“We’re definitely seeing good turnout in places we’re counting on, to some degree,” said campaign manager Nathan Winch. Places with seniors are considered strongholds, while “battleground” areas include Lake City, Sand Point, Madrona and South Lake Union, that Winch said could be close in the citywide Position 9 race against more left-leaning opponent Nikkita Oliver.

—Mike Lindblom

Dow Constantine checked for COVID vaccine proof at his own campaign event

King County Executive Dow Constantine has arrived for his Election Night party at Tinte Cellars in Georgetown. He's facing a challenge from a fellow Democrat, state Sen. Joe Nguyen. “I am really eager for this next hour to be over with!” he said — and produced his COVID-19 vaccination card for the host.

Yes, they are checking everyone. That means everyone. (Lynda Mapes / The Seattle Times)

A new King County rule that took effect last week requires patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to dine inside bars and restaurants, to work out in gyms and to enjoy indoor entertainment venues such as theaters and museums. The rule also applies to conferences and conventions, and any large outdoor gatherings with more than 500 people — though children under age 12, who just became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday, are exempt.

The spread at Dow’s party was all vegetarian, mostly vegan, from mushroom skewers to tofu creations. Prompting, “Hey where’s the meat!” from one supporter and, “No dead animals for the campaign!” from Constantine.

Will it be an unprecedented fourth term for a King County Executive? Dow was sweating the last hour of the campaign. “There is nothing more you can do at this point,” Constantine said. “Just wait.

“There are no more doorbells to ring.”

—Lynda Mapes and Times archives

Mercer Island leads county in voter turnout

Mercer Island has the highest voter turnout of any King County city, according to the county’s election ballot tracker.

Of the city’s 18,709 registered voters, 40% have returned their ballots as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Mercer Island has five local elections — three City Council races and two School Board races.

Mercer Island incumbent Salim Nice is running against Daniel Becker in the Position 2 race. Michael D. Curry and Ted Weinberg are running for the Position 4 seat being vacated by Lisa Anderl. Anderl is running against Kate Akyuz for Position 6. In the School Board races, Position 2 incumbent Brian Giannini Upton is running against Dan Glowitz, and Position 4 incumbent Deborah Lurie is running against Lacey Aaker.

The second highest turnout belongs to the Town of Yarrow Point, where 364 out of 914 registered voters have returned their ballots. Yarrow Point has a mayoral race and three City Council races. Mayor Dicker Cahill is running against challenger Katy Harris. Stephan Lagerholm is running unopposed for Position 1. Steve Fleming and Charles Porter are running for Position 3, and Kathy Smith and Avi Belur are running for Position 5.

—Paige Cornwell
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Nikkita Oliver's City Council campaign offers free masks, gloves, meals at election party

At a rainy afternoon event for Nikkita Oliver's City Council campaign at Washington Hall in the Central District, 49-year-old Keisha Garner picked up free masks, gloves and a meal from volunteers who had turned the building and its parking lot into stations for ballot printing, live music, free haircuts, massages and more.

Garner, who lives in the Central District, was familiar with Oliver’s campaign from the work the City Council candidate does in her community, she said. Having Oliver elected to office would mean having an advocate for her community in a position of power.

City Council candidate Nikkita Oliver darts across the rainy parking lot of their election day campaign event at Washington Hall in the Central District. (Sydney Brownstone / The Seattle Times)

“It would mean a lot, because when you get candidates who sponsor the community, it speaks loud,” Garner said.

Travonna Thompson-Wiley, a leader with the Black Action Coalition, the group organizing much of the donations and mutual aid activities at the event, said she was supporting Oliver because of Oliver’s track record of community activism, and because she believed Oliver would amplify Black voices.

Oliver wouldn’t be a spokesperson for the community, Thompson-Wiley clarified. But Thompson-Wiley looks to people like former King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, who supported her relatives during the crack epidemic and worked with Seattle’s Black Panther Party, as a model of how activists can bring their ideals into office.

“And I think Nikkita can take it even a step further,” Thompson-Wiley said, “because Nikkita has a little bit of that new-school flair.”

—Sydney Brownstone

With Seattle's history of late-ballot swings, how much will we know on Election Night?

After all the build up, mud slinging and predictions, election night in Seattle frequently leaves politics watchers on edge.

Any marginally close race simply cannot be called due to the mass of uncounted mail-in ballots. A swing of 10 or even 12 percentage points is possible in the week ahead. No wonder we're the nation's most anxious city.

Case in point: two years ago, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant trailed on election night, with just 46% of the vote.

Her challenger, Egan Orion, projected confidence at his ballot watching party. Holding a celebratory whiskey, Orion said he was "90% certain" he'd prevail.

But by the end of the week, Sawant declared victory, as later-counted ballots swung decisively her way. She won with nearly 52% of the vote.

Seattle City Council Incumbent Kshama Sawant, who was behind in her District 3 race on election night in 2019, days later declared victory over challenger Egan Orion. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Other Seattle races, including Sawant's first win in 2013, have followed a similar pattern. Older, more moderate-to-conservative voters tend to get their ballots in early, while younger voters vote later.

Keep that in mind as the 2021 returns come in tonight. The more liberal or progressive candidates, such as mayoral contender M. Lorena González, could be substantially in the hole, but climb to wins in later vote counts. Same goes for City Attorney contender Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Council candidate Nikkita Oliver.

The more moderate-to-conservative (by Seattle standards) candidates — Bruce Harrell for mayor, Ann Davison for City Attorney and Sara Nelson for City Council — will be looking for massive leads on election night to absorb the late liberal surges.

We may know the outcomes of some marquee races after votes drop around 8 p.m. tonight. But the full picture may not be known until Thursday or Friday.

—Jim Brunner

Environmental justice, COVID pandemic top of mind for North Seattle voters

Barbara Alfeo made her way to a ballot drop box near the North Seattle College on Tuesday as she does every year. 

On the way there from her Licton Springs neighborhood, Alfeo, 35, took the time to explain to her two children in the back seat how the vote was initially only given to white men and the importance of exercising the right to vote today.

Barbara Alfeo made her way to a ballot drop box near the North Seattle College on Tuesday with her two kids. She said voting and getting leaders to care about environmental justice is where real change begins. (Daisy Zavala / The Seattle Times)

While many issues need to be addressed, Alfeo said, her focus is on environmental justice, food security and resources for people experiencing homelessness.

For Alfeo, voting is perhaps the most impactful thing an environmentalist can do. 

“Giving up plastic is great and super important,” she said, adding that voting and getting leaders to care about environmental justice is where real change begins. 

John Massman, 54, walked through the rain on Tuesday to exercise his “civic duty” and drop off his ballot in the same box.

“It was drilled into me by my parents that your biggest single opportunity as a citizen to influence government is to cast your ballot,” he said.

A lot of the mayoral race has focused on homelessness, Massman said.

“While this is important, the number of people that we have buried due to COVID dwarfs that problem,” he said.

Massman works as a COVID-19 data scientist for a local hospital and said his work in modeling COVID-19 data has amplified the magnitude of the issue.

He said he hopes city leaders will prioritize efforts to address COVID-19 and adopt a sensible approach.

In Greenlake, voters talked of homelessness, policing and social services.

Mark Velarde, 41, said he wants to see permanent solutions to house people experiencing homelessness. He said the idea of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is unrealistic and does not address underlying causes. 

Preston Briggs, 66, of Ravenna, said he wants the police budget reallocated and the city to spend less on armored cars. “I don’t want to see protesters beaten in the streets anymore.”

Kristina Malzbender, 28, of Phinney Ridge, wants changes to the city’s approach to homelessness and more funding for social services and permanent housing.

Ray Dittamore, of Ravenna, said this election is about civility. “How do we treat people who are homeless in this city?”

—Daisy Zavala and Michelle Baruchman
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'We can’t afford to stay in the same place': Voter hopes other renters drop off ballots

Maggie Klee cast her vote Tuesday at Lumen Field. She said she is voting because she wants to see the interests of renters better represented by Seattle’s next mayor and City Council. (Anna Patrick)

Maggie Klee voted Tuesday at Lumen Field. She said she was voting in this election because she wants to see the interests of renters better represented by Seattle’s next mayor and City Council.

“Affordable housing is a big one,” Klee said. “I can’t afford to live here, and yet I do the things that keep this city running, me and other renters I know.”

Klee is an artist who works in digital and paint illustrations. She also cleans houses to afford a life in Seattle. Nearly every year she’s had to move to a new place, she said, “because we can’t afford to stay in the same place.”

“I’d love the security of a house. I would love knowing that my landlord can’t jerk me around because they have,” Klee said.

It’s a problem, Klee added, when the majority of Seattle’s elected representatives are home and car owners.

“It’s a very different city when you don’t have the option of a car, and we don’t see that represented on City Council.”

Klee said she’s voting for M. Lorena González to be Seattle’s next mayor, and she hopes that more renters, like her, show up to cast their vote today.   

—Anna Patrick

Fremont voters on how they want to see homelessness addressed

Bob Bowman, 75, lives in Fremont and dropped off his ballot Tuesday at a drop box near Gas Works Park. (Michelle Baruchman / The Seattle Times)

Bob Bowman, 75, lives in Fremont and dropped off his ballot Tuesday at a drop box near Gas Works Park. He said he wants to see a compassionate response to addressing homelessness while also preserving space for people to recreate in parks around the city.

Sarah Miller, 29, lives in Fremont and said she wants to see a future Seattle that is equitable and takes pragmatic approaches to the city’s biggest issues. (Michelle Baruchman / The Seattle Times)

Sarah Miller, 29, dropped off her ballot at the same drop box. She said she wants a future Seattle that is equitable and takes pragmatic approaches to the city’s biggest issues. She wants mental health addressed as part of the homelessness crisis and funding devoted to the most promising solutions. She also wants more thought behind economic recovery for small businesses.

—Michelle Baruchman

False claims, new rules: Election Day arrives in the US

Sean Luke, right, and his sons Giacomo Luke, left, and Matteo Luke, casts his ballot on Election Day at City Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in Alexandria, Va. Voters are deciding between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin for Governor. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

ATLANTA (AP) — Elections Tuesday were testing new voting restrictions in some Republican-controlled states as officials got a chance to counter a year’s worth of misinformation about voting security.

Officials said demonstrating secure, consistent and fair practices could help reassure those who still have doubts about last year’s presidential election as they begin preparations for next year’s midterms.

“It is a great dress rehearsal for 2022,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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Homelessness crisis on minds of voters at Ballard ballot drop box

On a soggy Tuesday outside the Ballard library, a steady stream of voters stuffed King County's busiest ballot drop box during the noon lunch hour against the backdrop of a tent encampment across the street.

Dah-ve Bell, 33, and Remy Coronado, 26, were among those to cast their ballots and cite Seattle's homelessness crisis as the driving issue for their choices in what each described as this election's most important race: Seattle mayor.

But each also came to different conclusions.

"I voted for who I thought would offer immediate solutions to address and mitigate homelessness," Bell said. "I voted for Harrell. I liked his platform, at least from what I saw in the campaign literature."

"I went with Lorena González," said Coronado, a Phinney Ridge resident, who separately dropped off ballots a few minutes later. "I just felt like she actually cares about people and has a plan to put more money into housing. I trust her more."

Coronado's values align more with González on issues of police reform and budget cuts.

Bell, who said she lives just a half-block away at the Ballard on the Park apartments next to the encampment in Ballard Commons, said an unsheltered person in the camp recently tried to break in to her lower-level apartment unit.

"I think he'll focus more on safety," Bell said of Harrell.

A city crew cleaned up the charred remnants of a tent fire Tuesday at an encampment in Ballard Commons Park. (Lewis Kamb / The Seattle Times)

Meanwhile, across the street at the Ballard Commons, a city work crew cleaned up the charred remnants of a Tuesday morning fire that apparently ignited inside a tent, destroying it. No one was hurt, one crew member said, though city crews have responded to at least two deaths at the park in the past month.

"But maybe things will change after the election," the crew member smiled, adding: "Yeah, right."

—Lewis Kamb

UW student excited to support 'someone still in the game'

Miguel Ramos, 23, works part time at a café and is studying computer science and illustration at the University of Washington. He voted Tuesday at Lumen Field Event Center. (Anna Patrick / The Seattle Times)

Miguel Ramos showed up to Lumen Field Event Center on Tuesday, excited to support someone who stood alongside him during last summer’s protests for racial justice and police reform.

“It’s good to see somebody stuck with it,” Ramos said of Nikkita Oliver.

Oliver, who is running for Seattle City Council position 9, was often at protests that Ramos attended in the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, he said.

“Just seeing Nikkita’s posters go up,” he added, “it’s good to see someone still in the game.”

Ramos, 23, works part time at a café and is studying computer science and illustration at the University of Washington.  

Ramos wasn't really politically inclined before last summer, he said. But after being shot at with rubber bullets by Seattle police, he’s paying attention to what candidates have to say about police reform and improving social programs, even if that means higher taxes, he said.

—Anna Patrick

NYC mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa was barred from bringing cat to polling site. Then his ballot jammed.

New York City Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa pets one of his cats as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his apartment, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Election officials did not let Republican New York City mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa bring his cat, Gizmo, into the polling site.

Sliwa showed up to his Upper West Side polling site carrying Gizmo in a red blanket. Gizmo, who appears to be an American shorthair cat, seemed calm as Sliwa spoke to the media before heading into the polling site to cast a vote for himself.

Minutes after he was barred from bringing in the cat, Sliwa tweeted a photo of a “No pets in poll site” sign in his voting location.

“Is this at every poll site? Or just ours?” he asked the city’s Board of Elections. “Interesting …”

According to New York Times reporter Emma Fitzsimmons, who was at the polling site, election officials also asked Sliwa to remove his red jacket – which was emblazoned with his campaign logo – but he refused.

Sliwa encountered more drama in the site. His ballot got jammed in the scanning machine. He told reporters it was a sign of the chaos within the BOE, which gained notoriety earlier this year for its catastrophic handling of the Democratic mayoral primary.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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Voters talk about issues on their minds as they drop off ballots

Deborah Niedermeyer, 67, who lives in Wallingford, said she supports increasing density in neighborhoods and eliminating single-family housing. (Michelle Baruchman / The Seattle Times)

Deborah Niedermeyer, 67, who lives in Wallingford, dropped her ballot off Tuesday morning at a drop box near Gas Works Park.

She said she supports increasing density in neighborhoods and eliminating single-family housing. She also said she wants to see more realistic solutions to addressing homelessness so that people can feel safe walking in parks.

Scott Wetzel, 64, said homelessness — and how to best address it — was the biggest issue on his mind as he voted this year. (Michelle Baruchman / The Seattle Times)

Scott Wetzel, 64, dropped off his ballot at the same drop box. He said homelessness — and how to best address it — was the biggest issue on his mind as he voted this year.

“It didn’t use to be this way. I’m at a loss to understand how this could have happened so quickly.”

He said he’s sympathetic to those experiencing homelessness and wants to see solutions.

—Michelle Baruchman

Voters face stark choice in the race for city attorney

As Seattle voters consider who should be their next city attorney, they face a choice between two candidates, each of whom is dragging political baggage that might have sunk them in another election year.

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, a former public defender, tweeted support last year for property destruction, describing “rabid hatred” of police and calling them “crybabies” and “serial killers,” and adding she hates the United States and fantasizes about secession.

Ann Davison, an attorney and arbitrator, disavowed the Democratic Party in 2020, spending most of the year running for lieutenant governor as a Seattle-bashing Republican — and recording a video for a national pro-Donald Trump “#WalkAway” campaign of ex-Democrats.

Read the full story here.

—Jim Brunner

Endorsements stack up as Seattle voters weigh candidates for mayor, city attorney and City Council

Try this riddle: What do U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Sailors Union of the Pacific and five former Seattle mayors have in common?

Answer: They’ve each endorsed candidates in Seattle’s Nov. 2 election.

Dozens of other politicians, labor unions, businesses, advocacy groups, media outlets and community leaders have also weighed in, hoping to sway the outcomes of races for mayor, city attorney and City Council.

Touted on campaign mailers, television spots, yard signs and websites, endorsements can reassure voters — or make them think twice. 

Read the full story here.

—Daniel Beekman
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Voters trickle in at NewHolly Neighborhood Campus drop box in Beacon Hill

King County election drivers Paula Eisenrich, left, and Robb Brennecke fill a plastic ballot bin with sealed ballots shortly after 9 a.m. at the NewHolly Neighborhood Campus dropbox in Beacon Hill. This was their third stop on a day that will last until 11 p.m. They said they’ll be watching the weather because they need to make sure ballots don’t get soaked. “We move very quickly,” Brennecke said. (Jenn Smith / The Seattle Times)

Voters arrived here and there at the NewHolly Neighborhood Campus drop box in Beacon Hill on Tuesday morning.

John Zosak arrived on foot to drop off his ballot. The topic on his mind: single-family zoning. He's against it.

In the current Seattle housing crisis, the 34-year-old voter says, "I think zoning is exclusionary the way it's practiced today." 

Zosak has lived in the area for seven years. He previously lived in Pennsylvania, where there's much more housing density and multifamily units built near public transit. He says that in Beacon Hill, where light rail slices through the center of the neighborhood, there are still many single-family homes along the tracks. He hopes more affordable, multi-family housing becomes an option. 

He said he's "not optimistic" that this will be the election that radically shifts housing practices. "But I still think it's my duty to go vote and encourage my friends to do the same," he said.

—Jenn Smith

GOP push to politicize school board races gets election test

FILE – American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten speaks to students at the New River Middle School, on Sept. 2, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. School board races, once sleepy and localized, have become the new front in a culture war raging across the nation as resentments over COVID-19 restrictions and anti-racism curriculum reach a boiling point. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — School board races, once sleepy and localized, have become the new front in a culture war raging across the nation as resentments over COVID-19 restrictions and anti-racism curriculum reach a boiling point.

On Tuesday, voters weigh in on dozens of races that have been dominated by debates over masks, vaccines, race and history. The outcomes will decide not just districts’ policies but also whether the education fight has staying power as part of the national discourse and becomes a rallying issue for Republicans in the 2022 midterms.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

How would mayoral candidates Bruce Harrell and M. Lorena González tackle homelessness in Seattle?

Voters want real change and they’re tired of the status quo — at least, that’s what candidates and campaigns kept saying earlier this year in crowded local primaries for mayoral, city and county races.

For years, polls have shown homelessness is the number one issue to Seattle voters, and this year was expected to be no different as the pandemic increased visible homelessness and exposed fundamental flaws in the response system.

But the two people on the November ballot for Seattle’s mayoral race both spent years in City Hall as council members, were unable to make a dent in Seattle’s rising homeless numbers and produced the vaguest homelessness plans in a crowded field.

Here's what mayoral candidates M. Lorena González and Bruce Harrell said about how they would tackle this issue.

Read the full story here.

—Scott Greenstone
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Minneapolis voters weigh fate of police after George Floyd

Mayor Jacob Frey casts his vote on Election Day alongside his family at the Marcy Arts Magnet Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in Minneapolis.  Voters in Minneapolis are deciding whether to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety. The election comes more than a year after George Floyd’s death launched a movement to defund or abolish police across the country. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Voters in Minneapolis were deciding Tuesday whether to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety, more than a year after George Floyd’s death under the knee of a white police officer launched a movement to defund or abolish police across the country.

Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey was also in a tough fight for a second term, facing a bevy of opponents who have attacked him for his leadership in the wake of Floyd’s death. Frey opposed the policing amendment. Two of his leading challengers in the field of 17 candidates, Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth, strongly supported the proposal.

Minneapolis voters were also deciding whether to replace the city’s unusual “weak mayor, strong council” system with a more conventional distribution of executive and legislative powers that would give the mayor clearer authority over day-to-day government operations.

While results from the ballot questions were expected Tuesday night, the mayoral race was a question mark because the city uses ranked choice voting. If no candidate reaches 50% in the first round of counting, the winner would be determined after a tally Wednesday of second- and potentially third-choice votes.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Voter turnout projected at 46% in King County, higher in Seattle

King County Elections officials are projecting 46% voter turnout countywide for the Nov. 2 election — and several points higher in Seattle with its marquee mayoral race and other contests.

About 22% of countywide ballots had been returned by Monday evening, according to the county's online ballot return statistics tracker. In Seattle, it was already about 27%.

"We’re trending a few points over where we would expect to be today and drop box returns today have been really steady," said Halei Watkins, a spokesperson for King County Elections, in an email Monday afternoon.

Watkins said election workers expect to pick up some 250,000 ballots from drop boxes on Tuesday.

The relatively feeble turnout is normal for odd-year elections in Washington, which feature local races that draw less voter interest than presidential or congressional elections. In 2019, King County saw 49% turnout; in 2017 it was 43%.

Several Democratic state lawmakers have in recent years proposed eliminating the odd-year elections and moving local races to even years, when turnout is higher. But those efforts have not gotten far.

—Jim Brunner

Governors and more: What to watch in Tuesday’s elections

A voter cast his ballots during the Miami General Municipal and Special Elections in Miami-Dade County at Miami Beach Fire Department – Station 3 on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in Miami Beach, Fla.  (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

It may be an odd-numbered year but Tuesday’s elections aren’t sleepy, local contests. Voters in Virginia are weighing in on a governor’s race that could rattle President Joe Biden and Democrats in Washington. In Minneapolis, a city still shaken by George Floyd’s murder will vote on whether to disband its police department and create a new public safety agency. School board races across the country have become the new battlegrounds for partisan debates over race.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Just tuning in to Seattle area elections? Here are 5 races to watch

Ballots have been mailed out. Ads are airing. Voters have tough decisions to make.

People throughout the region are casting 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, here are five races to keep an eye on.

Read the full story here.

—Amanda Zhou

Seattle mayoral matchmaker: Which candidate shares your views?

We've rounded up reporting on where candidates Bruce Harrell and M. Lorena González stand on some key issues ahead of the Nov. 2 election. For each question, pick the answer you agree with most. When you're done, we'll tell you which candidate thinks most like you.

Take the quiz here.

2021 general election voters guide

Seattle voters will decide who will become the next mayor of our city, who will serve in two citywide council seats and who will become the next city attorney in the Nov. 2 general election.

Ballots were sent to registered voters Oct. 13. They must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 2, or deposited in an official drop box by 8 p.m. Nov. 2. Postage is not required.

There are several ways to return your ballot: by mail, at a ballot drop box or at an accessible voting site if you need assistance.

Read the full guide here.