Along with winnowing the field for Seattle mayor, voters will decide which candidates move on to the fall election in School Board, Port Commission, state Senate and city and county council races.
When Mayor Ed Murray in May ended his campaign for a second term amid sexual-abuse allegations, he said he hoped the race to succeed him would focus on “the pressing issues facing Seattle” rather than on the claims he continues to deny.
“Making the city more affordable and equitable, and addressing homelessness, growth and livability,” were the issues Murray cited, and his wish has mostly come true.
The key question in a crowded primary-election race ending Tuesday has been how to best handle an economic boom making some people rich and leaving others behind.
2017 Seattle mayoral race
- Jenny Durkan defeats Cary Moon to become Seattle’s first woman mayor since the 1920s
- Seattle's next mayor, Jenny Durkan, names full transition team, deputy mayors
- Seattle’s millionaire mayoral candidates say they know what it’s like to struggle
- Beyond tent-camp ‘sweeps,’ big questions await next Seattle mayor
- Seattle mayoral candidates both say the future holds fewer cars. Here’s how they would ease the crunch
- Cary Moon: Urbanist, waterfront activist touts vision for city, faces questions about résumé, accomplishments
- Jenny Durkan: Former U.S. attorney brings experience, high-powered allies, but also draws scrutiny
- Seattle’s first — and only — female mayor was elected in 1926
“In this time of tremendous transformation and flux in our city, we’re all wondering, ‘What’s happening to my place? Who’s in charge? Where are we headed? What are we trying to accomplish here?’?” urban planner Cary Moon said this month, introducing herself to viewers during a televised debate hosted by KING 5 and KUOW.
Ballots in the top-two primary are due by Tuesday — popped in the mail or placed in official dropboxes. Along with winnowing the 21-candidate field for Seattle mayor, area voters are choosing candidates to advance to the Nov. 7 general election in School Board, Port Commission and state Senate races, along with contests for city and county council seats. King County Executive Dow Constantine faces rather token opposition in his bid for a third term.
Taxes are also on the ballot in some jurisdictions, and a big question in the King County primary is whether to again increase the sales tax — this time by 0.1 percent to boost access to culture and science.
About 13 percent of Seattle ballots had been returned as of noon Saturday, according to King County Elections. Countywide, the returns were closer to 14 percent.
Issues in mayor’s race
The Seattle TV mayoral debate featured six candidates widely viewed as major contenders: Moon, former Mayor Mike McGinn, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa, former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell, and educator and attorney Nikkita Oliver.
Propelled to power as an underdog outsider in 2009 by energetic volunteers, then unseated by Murray in 2013 after clashing with City Council members, McGinn launched his 2017 bid with the enigmatic campaign slogan “Keep Seattle.”
To keep Seattle affordable and diverse, the onetime Sierra Club and Greenwood neighborhood activist says he would “hold the line” on regressive taxes by opposing a higher sales tax and by increasing property taxes only to account for inflation.
McGinn says he would make cuts to a city budget that’s grown 25 percent over the last three years and then direct the savings to needs such as homeless-shelter beds.
Most Read Local Stories
- Driver arrested after video shows Jeep plowing into Seattle snowball fight, police say
- Bellevue homeowner recounts 'nightmare' after house slides down hill with wife and dog inside
- What to know about the new website to order free COVID tests
- Coronavirus daily news updates, January 18: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Most of Seattle area's 200,000 unvaccinated adults say they will 'definitely not' get COVID shots
Touting her work on police reform and endorsed by Murray, Durkan says the mayor has Seattle moving in the right direction. The longtime Democratic Party insider largely agrees with Murray’s policies, such as his plan to upzone neighborhoods across the city while requiring developers to help create affordable housing.
Unlike other leading contenders, Durkan would continue evictions of unsheltered people, if necessary, from unauthorized encampments. Living downtown after recently selling in Windermere, she says she would “bring a special focus” to children living on the street.
Hasegawa’s mantra on the campaign trail has been his plan for a municipal bank. A former United Parcel Service driver who worked for Teamsters union reform in the 1990s, the state lawmaker has been pushing his public-bank idea for years in Olympia.
Now the Beacon Hill homeowner sees an opportunity in Seattle, though there are questions about what might be possible under the state constitution. Hasegawa says a municipal bank could help the city finance the construction of sidewalks, schools and much more public housing.
Barred from taking campaign donations while the Legislature remained in session, Farrell gave up her state House seat to concentrate on her mayoral campaign.
A public-school parent with a long record of working for better public transit, Farrell says she would grapple with the population growth choking Seattle’s streets. Among other things, the Laurelhurst homeowner says that she would speed up light rail to West Seattle and Ballard by permitting it faster, and that she would add bike infrastructure.
Also an urbanist, Moon has vowed to crack down on real-estate speculation by nonresident owners, arguing that out-of-town buyers are corrupting the housing market.
Funding her own campaign to the tune of more than $90,000, Moon lives near Pike Place Market and says she’d open up single-family neighborhoods to backyard cottages, duplexes, row houses, clustered housing and congregate housing.
Moon entered the race after the allegations against Murray came to light, as did McGinn, Durkan, Hasegawa and Farrell. Oliver was already running, having kicked off a campaign to challenge the mayor in March as a candidate of the new Peoples Party.
Curbing displacement and caring for marginalized groups are priorities of a party rooted in community organizing. Oliver says she would ratchet up affordable-housing requirements on developers and either freeze or reduce property taxes.
The Delridge renter opposes construction of a new King County youth-detention center in the Central District, saying approaches other than incarceration would be better.
Other candidates include Harley Lever, whose Safe Seattle group directs attention to crime and homelessness; Gary Brose and Casey Carlisle, Republican and Libertarian alternatives in a race dominated by Democrats; James Norton, a police officer; and Michael Harris, a video journalist and whale conservationist appealing to moderates.