Editor’s note: In advance of the Aug. 3 primary, The Seattle Times is profiling candidates for Seattle mayor. Casey Sixkiller, Lance Randall and Art Langlie have active campaigns and hundreds of donors but are running a step behind five other contenders in fundraising and major endorsements. All eight have shared their positions on issues with The Seattle Times in a Meet the Candidates guide. Ballots will be mailed July 14.
Langlie’s construction view
Art Langlie says Seattle leaders have lost sight of basic services and are running City Hall like a far-left activist “think tank” — while the city’s problems multiply.
Even in a famously progressive city, people are getting fed up and want a change in direction, says Langlie, a longtime construction company executive who, if elected mayor, would review the city’s spending on homelessness and demand police step up enforcement against low-level crimes.
“We spend a lot of time and money doing things that seemingly haven’t worked at all,” Langlie says, pointing to the hundreds of millions spent on homelessness since an emergency was declared six years ago.
In addition to his business experience at some of the region’s top construction companies, Langlie is touting his volunteer work with the Salvation Army, including raising money to support an outreach program that has brought people off the streets into shelters, and then into permanent housing.
In another era, Langlie, 52, might have been seen as a front-runner upon entering the mayoral race in May.
His grandfather, Arthur B. Langlie, was one of Seattle’s most successful politicians, serving as mayor from 1938 to 1941 and then as Washington governor for three terms. His father was a prominent attorney.
But Art Langlie, a first-time candidate, knows he faces difficult odds to get past the primary against better-known and better-funded rivals, including City Council President M. Lorena González and former Council President Bruce Harrell.
“There was no question this would be a challenge from the beginning,” said Langlie, who lives in North Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood. But he criticizes Harrell and González for spending years at City Hall without, he says, making headway on Seattle’s thorniest problems.
In a summer primary with likely low turnout, Langlie hopes he can attract enough voters who share his views to squeak through to the November election. “I think there is a group of voters in Seattle that has been very quiet,” he said.
Langlie grew up in Seattle and spent just four years living elsewhere, when he attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. After college, Langlie worked in security at music concerts at the old Seattle Coliseum. He remains a big music fan, and says he’s seen the Dave Matthews Band 287 times.
Langlie has worked for decades in construction, helping grow the business of some of the region’s major firms. At Turner Construction, he worked on projects including the Seahawks stadium and the waterfront Marriott hotel. Since 2012, he has worked for Holmes Electric, the Seattle-area electrical construction company, where he is executive vice president.
He also has served on the business advisory board for the local Salvation Army, where he raised money to expand an outreach program deploying vans to connect with people experiencing homelessness.
“When he sees something that needs to be done, he kind of just takes off with a project and gets it done,” said Paul Seiler, a retired Salvation Army official who worked with Langlie. “He sees challenges as opportunities.”
The van program has shown success in moving people off the streets and into housing. Langlie said Seattle should be “doubling, tripling” down on approaches that work and ditching wasteful programs that don’t deliver results.
His public safety plan calls for repairing police/community relations while increasing training — and pushing to retain experienced officers, who have been leaving in droves.
Langlie opposes efforts to defund the Police Department and says the city should step up enforcement of low-level offenses, such as shoplifting, that often draw no police response.
“We can’t just ignore crime. Those things are disqualifying for a city that expects to have tourism, that expects to have vibrancy in downtown,” he said.
Randall’s economic eye
Lance Randall is unlike some Seattle politicians, the mayoral candidate says. Not because he grew up in Georgia, wears a suit almost everywhere and plays the organ at church and the piano with a jazz band.
Randall is different, he says, because he’s campaigning on the idea that City Hall should aggressively work to attract and retain businesses of all sorts and sizes.
Some politicians and activists have criticized Seattle’s tech titans and other large corporations for causing rents and home prices to soar without paying what some consider their fair share in taxes. That’s not what Randall is concentrating on.
“Jobs are important to any city or any town, because people need to work and when they make money they spend money,” said the 55-year-old, who rents in Rainier Beach.
“It baffles me that people look at job creation and the growth of a company as something bad … I just don’t understand that concept.”
Randall opposes raising taxes on big businesses and defunding the police. He urged residents to work with officers this summer after someone shot toward him outside his home. The shooter had been trying to steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle across the street.
His stances could appeal to some residents, especially older and centrist voters. But he knows that rivals like Harrell are better connected, touting endorsements from power brokers and community leaders. Randall has never been an elected official, in Seattle or anywhere.
“I know them, too, and they have no problem with me” he said of Harrell’s endorsers. “But what I get from them is, ‘We watched Bruce grow up,’ and I can’t argue with that.”
Randall grew up in a neighborhood of Black professionals in Macon, Georgia, which he described as more segregated and less diverse than Seattle.
His father, an attorney, and his grandfather, a civil rights activist who knew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., were politically active; one became a state representative and the other a county commissioner.
“My family has a legacy of public service,” he said.
Randall followed in his father’s footsteps to Morgan State University in Baltimore, playing wide receiver on the football team, like his dad, and majoring in political science, like his dad.
When he realized he was too short and slow to turn pro, Randall pivoted to politics, interning with a Maryland lawmaker. Back in Macon, he worked as a mayoral aide and then a congressional staffer, managing constituent services.
He found his calling with a gig at the local economic development commission, recruiting businesses to the area, like a trucking company.
“They were looking to get a nice-sized depot in Middle Georgia,” Randall said, recalling that he located a property, negotiated the sale and worked on tax incentives. “That brought in about 30 jobs and still exists today.”
In 1999 Randallwas criminally charged with “cruelty to a child” after physically punishing his son hard enough to leave bruises. He pleaded “no contest” to a lesser charge and received a suspended sentence with no jail time.
Randall ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner and Macon mayor, then decided “to see what it would be like to do [economic development] somewhere else.”
That led him in 2007 to a job in Seattle under then-Mayor Greg Nickels, with the city’s economic development office. For years, continuing under Mayor Mike McGinn, Randall spent his work days visiting businesses “to understand their problems” and try to help, said Charlie Cuniff, a co-worker.
“Even when he became a manager, he was the one who went out and did the most outreach,” Cuniff said, remembering that Randall at one point helped talk GM Nameplate, a Boeing supplier, into staying in Seattle.
“He also always dressed very well. He was one of the only guys in the entire Seattle Municipal Tower who wore a tie,” Cuniff recalls.
Let go when Ed Murray became mayor, Randall continued to work on economic development at South East Effective Development, a Rainier Valley nonprofit.
Randall was the first mayoral candidate to register a campaign, completing the paperwork last year, months before incumbent Jenny Durkan decided to drop out.
“I don’t have the name recognition some others have in the race, but I have a record of getting things done,” he said.
Sixkiller’s Seattle roots
Casey Sixkiller sounds more nostalgic than most 43-year-olds, maybe because he moved away from home when he was a teenager and only recently returned.
The mayoral candidate yearns for the Seattle that he grew up in — playing on baseball and basketball teams coached by his father, the legendary University of Washington quarterback Sonny Sixkiller.
Rediscovering the city with his own children isn’t all bad, the Dartmouth College graduate said, mentioning Ballard Avenue’s makeover with bars and boutiques. Sixkiller rents in Phinney Ridge.
“But I have to tell you, knocking on doors, talking to voters on the phone, people do not feel safe in Seattle,” he said. “We need to get our mojo back as a city.”
That’s the message Sixkiller is selling as a candidate, and it’s a message that a certain segment of the electorate may want to hear. Less clear is whether those voters want to hear it from Sixkiller, who was a deputy mayor under Mayor Jenny Durkan until he stepped down to concentrate on campaigning ahead of the top-two primary election.
His D.C. experience bolsters his résumé, having worked directly for U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and the Cherokee Nation, and as a consultant and lobbyist on Capitol Hill for Seattle, King County, Sound Transit and tribes.
He moved back across the country to serve as chief operation officer under County Executive Dow Constantine from 2018 to 2020, when he joined Durkan’s administration.
“What I appreciate about Casey is that he doesn’t take the limelight. He gets things done,” said Adrienne Quinn, a former Seattle housing director who worked with Sixkiller at the county.
He helped Sound Transit secure funding for light rail and worked to bring Cherokee language instruction into Head Start preschool classrooms, he said. Sixkiller helped Murray win permanent housing vouchers for veterans, Quinn said
The candidate’s name is also an advantage, because Sonny Sixkiller is revered by many Seattleites who were around for his gridiron heroics in the 1970s.
But Casey Sixkiller’s lobbying days may raise questions with some voters, considering that he and the firm he started also represented a number of corporations, including military/security contractors, a pharmaceutical company and a private prisons company.
His work with the county and city also could work against him, because voters upset with Seattle’s problems could include him in the blame.
Sixkiller was Durkan’s point person on homelessness throughout 2020, as encampments grew, hygiene efforts were delayed and advocates pressed the city to use hotels. He was a City Hall leader as police deployed tear gas against racial justice demonstrators and abandoned the East Precinct last summer.
“There were things we got right and things we didn’t get right,” on homelessness, “just to be honest about that,” he said, citing public health work “to keep people from getting COVID-19 and dying” as positive and obliquely citing shelter efforts as less successful.
Sixkiller didn’t launch his campaign until May, months after some other mayoral contenders. And his campaign has raised only $75,000, whereas four rivals have raised more than $300,000.
His marquee proposal is a $1 billion, voter-approved bond measure, backed by property tax increases, that he says could pay for 3,000 additional housing units with social and medical services.
Besides that, Sixkiller’s campaign may not resonate much with urbanists and younger progressives. He opposes allowing multifamily housing on every residential block, raising taxes on large corporations and defunding the police.
When the going gets tough, Sixkiller says, he thinks about the challenges about his Cherokee heritage and the challenges his relatives survived. The racist taunts his dad endured playing high school football; the anonymous “you’re not welcome here” letter he and his parents received after they moved to a house in Laurelhurst; the Trail of Tears that his relatives walked.
He says he tells himself: “If they could walk [all those miles], I can knock on 200 more doors.”