Donald Trump’s victory, following a populist presidential campaign that split Americans along fault lines of race and gender, spurred events across the Seattle area as people struggled to cope.
A Muslim Army veteran trying to comfort her kids.
A Navy retiree rejoicing at the possibility of a new emphasis on veterans’ care.
A woman approaching her 101st birthday who may now never see a female president, despite coming tantalizingly close.
Across the Puget Sound region — one of the nation’s most liberal — residents grappled with the momentous events of Tuesday night: the stunning election of Donald Trump, who will become the first president in American history with no prior government or military experience.
Most Read Local Stories
- With sobering center closed, King County is dropping homeless people off in ERs to sleep
- Seattle's weekend of violence stretched police thin, chief says
- State Court of Appeals rules Seattle’s wealth tax is unconstitutional, but gives cities new leeway
- Seattle Children’s hospital nurse diagnosed with measles
- Armed man attacking Tacoma's ICE detention center killed in officer-involved shooting
Trump lost Washington state, garnering 38 percent of the vote, according to Wednesday’s tallies. He got just 21 percent in King County and was losing every county that borders Puget Sound, save one.
“I feel like in Seattle I’m in a bubble,” said Carly Derrick, who works in early- childhood education, as she walked her dog Wednesday morning. “I don’t know anyone personally who voted for Trump.”
Trump’s victory, following a populist campaign that split Americans along fault lines of race and gender, spurred events across the Seattle area as people struggled to cope.
Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council held a rally at City Hall to reassure an anxious, weepy crowd that Seattle would remain a progressive bastion. Students at two Seattle high schools walked out of class to protest Trump’s win.
At the University of Washington a Trump protest vigil waxed and waned throughout the day and was still going as the sun went down. Hundreds of protesters gathered downtown at Westlake Center to oppose Trump’s agenda. Virtually every call to King County’s crisis hotline concerned politics.
“I think a lot of this is letting people know everyone is concerned,” Betty Vogeley, a UW senior, said at the vigil. “And they’re scared of the results.”
Trump supporters looking ahead
Even Trump supporters were surprised at his victory, which virtually no election forecaster had foreseen.
John McDonald, of Edmonds, an insurance broker who voted for the winning candidate, was waiting for a ride at the UW light-rail station after arriving home from an early-morning flight.
“I think he’s got a lot of work ahead of him,” he said. “It’s not going to be Armageddon; it’s not paradise … It’s going to even itself out.”
McDonald said Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s “entitlement to that job was just too great.”
Trump, he said, “may fall flat on his face, but he’s made it a lot further than anyone expected.”
Waiting to get through the gate of Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton on Wednesday, Paul and Ella Rohrer were ecstatic.
“He doesn’t seem corrupt and it seems like he will take care of veterans,” said Paul Rohrer, who retired from the Navy and now works at the shipyard.
“And our Second Amendment rights are safe!” added Ella Rohrer.
Joe Elder, a shipyard employee, said he was not a die-hard Trump supporter, but “I’d rather have him than her.”
Schools reach out
After a Trump campaign that pointedly focused on immigrants and refugees, a handful of Seattle-area school districts have already sent letters to schools and parents assuring them that their schools are safe. Schools have made counselors available for staff and students. And teachers are checking in with individual students who may have felt targeted by the Trump campaign.
At Cleveland High School, about 100 students walked out to protest Trump’s win. At West Seattle High, it was about 200.
“You are political animals and the leaders of tomorrow,” West Seattle Principal Ruth Medsker told students after they returned to school. “How do we go about doing the right work and building a better world?”
Mujaahidah Sayfullah, an Army veteran and Muslim American who served in Operation Desert Storm, was not concerned about Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering America. But her two young children were.
“It was disheartening to hear them say they were afraid, ‘Oh my gosh, Trump is getting elected, are we going to have to leave?’ ” said Sayfullah, 48, of Puyallup. “I definitely had to reassure him last night that everything’s OK, don’t worry, nothing’s going to happen, we’re not going to wake up to Armageddon. That was kind of sad.”
She said she was shocked at Trump’s victory — he proposed both the Muslim ban and government surveillance of American mosques — but at the same time she knew it was a possibility.
“He was honest about his agenda, as messed up as it may be,” Sayfullah said. “And people like honesty.”
On Election Day, Gabriela Quintana had spoken hopefully of the first female president and the progress she could make on issues like closing the Latina wage gap.
The day after, Quintana, 48, a consultant for nonprofits and a Clinton campaign volunteer, said she was disappointed, surprised and horrified.
“We didn’t, in general, recognize the real divide that the U.S. has,” said Quintana, who emigrated from Mexico three decades ago. “People who voted for Trump really felt disenfranchised by somebody and I think we didn’t really recognize that in a timely manner.”
Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration concerned her, even if she was dubious that he would be able to follow through on his promise to build a wall at the Mexico border. She worried about what her 5-year-old son would hear.
“People who have worked so hard to be here are going to find it harder to stay here and raise the children they’ve been raising,” Quintana said. “I think people should be very afraid of staying here and being here.”
She worried about the example set by Trump’s rhetoric, and especially about its effect on Muslims and Latinos.
“We’ll encounter even more animosity,” she said. “He’s given permission to people to be mean and speak out loudly in negative ways about others.”
And yet, despite her demoralizing message, her voice was confident, upbeat.
“We can’t walk around with our head down. Maybe today we can,” Quintana said. “But we have to pick up. I think America will hang on. Give us a day or two, we’ll be OK.”
“Why did they pick that rude man?”
At a coffee shop in Rainier Valley that’s frequented by African immigrants and other people of color, there was a subdued atmosphere. People were talking about the elections, but quietly, without passion.
Negussie Gebremariam, a taxi driver, leaned forward and whispered, “Who are the people who voted for him? Nobody will admit it.”
His friend, Abebe Alemayehu, talked about his 8-year-old son, who cried much of the night.
“He’s scared and his Mexican classmates are scared. He asked, ‘Why did they pick that rude man?’ ”
Michael Neguse was angry. He said election results and the campaign were a form of “psychological warfare against people of color.”
“I would rather see people wearing their Ku Klux Klan hoods so we would know who they are,” he said.
But there were also many who offered consoling words.
“I think we’ll do fine,” said Habtom Hagos, who immigrated to the U.S. from England in 1980. “You never can tell. I don’t think he is a racist; I think a lot of what he said was to appeal to his base. … It’s going to be OK.”
“We roll with the punches”
Anne Tilly was born in Bellingham in 1915, five years before women got the right to vote.
She voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She was an elector for Hubert Humphrey at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
On Election Day 2016, she could barely contain her excitement at Clinton’s historic candidacy.
“Whoever dreamed that I would vote for a lady for president of the United States of America?” she said from her retirement home on Bainbridge Island. “Never, ever, ever.”
If Clinton won, Tilly didn’t have a big celebration planned.
“I’ll just say a little Swedish prayer,” she said. “Tack sa mycket Gud.” Thank you God.
But the next morning, she took defeat in stride.
“We roll with the punches,” Tilly said. “I’m disappointed, terribly, terribly, but we’re going to back our president 100 percent.”