Last month’s elections, in Seattle’s Eastside suburbs, saw women and renters win a majority on Redmond City Council, recounts in Bothell and Mercer Island, approval for tax hikes in wealthy Medina, and debates across the area about how to not become exactly “like Seattle.”
On Episode 118 of The Overcast, The Seattle Times news and politics podcast, Times reporter Paige Cornwell explains what we can learn from the elections about the changing communities wedged between Seattle and the Cascades. She covers the Eastside, stretching from Bothell to Renton, including cities that she notes are no longer “stereotypical suburbs.”
In Redmond, where apartment buildings have sprouted and where light rail is coming, Seattle-like conversations about housing, transportation and climate change dominated the elections. Three millennial women renters won seats on the council, including Varisha Khan. The 24-year-old and a candidate in Pasco became the first Muslim women elected to local office in Washington state history. Every vote mattered, Cornwell says, with Khan prevailing by 66 votes after a machine recount.
Changes are also coming to Bellevue, where Amazon is adding a large number of jobs. Candidates said they would make the most of the massive company’s arrival, vowing to “plan (for Amazon) in a way that Seattle did not,” Cornwell says.
Medina was staring down budget cuts to services like Lake Washington lifeguards, despite being home to Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, until voters there approved tax increases. Cornwell doesn’t know how the super billionaires voted, but they did cast ballots, she says.
Beyond politics, Cornwell has been writing a series of quirky stories that demonstrate how quickly the Eastside is growing. She discusses Issaquah’s runaway goats, Kirkland’s dog-poop squad and Bellevue’s anxious equestrians.
The Overcast is recorded at the Seattle studios of KNKX public radio (88.5 FM).
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Listen to past episodes of The Overcast here.