Honking horns, waving flags and sounding whoops of joy, Seattleites took to the streets Saturday to celebrate the news that Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump.
Farmers were just setting up the Columbia City Harvest Market when the clanging started after news networks called the race for Biden. People were standing in the windows of an apartment building, just down the street, pounding on pots and pans.
“That was how I found out,” said Shane Clyburn, manager of the market. “I said, ‘Yeah! We won!’ We’re going to have everybody in high spirits today,” he said, then paused. “This has been the longest week of my life.”
Aya Masilela drove by the market with her friend, Mollie Wolf, who honked the horn. They were thrilled that Biden’s win included the historic election of Kamala Harris as vice president.
“There’s a lot happening,” said Masilela. “It’s not just the conclusion of this administration. We’re getting a vice president who actually looks like me. And we’re getting rid of a president and vice president who hate people like me.”
For many in Seattle, the defeat of Trump brought a sense of relief after four seemingly endless years of conflict, ugly tweets and falsehoods flowing from the White House.
On Capitol Hill, Paula Wright, a 56-year-old yoga instructor, listened to “Oh Happy Day” on her phone in Cal Anderson Park as she walked the neighborhood and danced.
As a Christian, she said she felt the country had entered a new spiritual era. She hoped Biden would move the country closer toward reckoning with racial injustice.
“God is in control and love wins,” she said, adding it had angered her that others who called themselves Christians contributed to what she saw as a campaign of fear and hatred by Trump.
In West Seattle, neighbors converged on the Alaska Junction intersection around 10 a.m. to dance, stroll and wave flags as allowed by the Walk All Ways traffic signal.
“We need to put together a party,” said a worker at Easy Street Records, which soon changed its signboard to “Biden Harris Win!” from the previous “Repair or Replace” quip about the area’s cracked bridge.
“It’s amazing, in a pandemic, to have the highest number of voters in the history of our country, the people who came out to stand up for democracy,” said Junction resident Jesse Turajski, a 71-year-old musician. He praised voters in Michigan, and especially Georgia, where voters often stood in line for hours.
By noon, at Westlake Plaza in downtown Seattle, a crowd of about 200 people had gathered to mark Trump’s defeat and rally for social justice.
“He’s fired!” shouted Kimberly Mustafa, one of those on hand.
The crowd was cheerful, but Mustafa, who sells head wraps and face masks for a living, said the final two months of Trump’s term might be rough.
“It’s going to be tumultuous,” she said, as Ice Cube’s song “Arrest the President” thundered over the rally’s sound system. “He’s going to try to line his pockets and we’ve got to watch him like a toddler.”
The state’s top elected Democrats also offered quick congratulations and expressions of relief at the looming end of the Trump administration.
“The American people have spoken,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, adding he “was extremely optimistic about America’s future” under the leadership of Democrats Biden and Harris.
“The Biden-Harris administration will restore our nation to its principles, with respect for the rights of each and every American regardless of personal opinion or patronage,” Inslee said in a prepared statement.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, said the election results “prove that our democracy still works and that the power always belongs to the people through the power of the vote.”
Jayapal, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also congratulated Harris as the first woman — as well as the first South Asian American and Black woman — elected vice president.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said a Biden presidency will bring an end to the city’s acrimonious relationship with the Trump White House, which labeled cities including Seattle “anarchist jurisdictions” and threatened to withhold federal dollars.
“Instead of spending energy and resources in courts to fend off actions that divide us, we in Seattle can focus on making positive progress together,” Durkan said at a news conference.
With Trump refusing to concede and fighting to toss out later-arriving ballots in swing states that went against him, some local Republicans were also not yet ready willing to accept a Biden victory.
“I felt there was enough concern that the Biden campaign really should have waited [to claim victory],” said Hossein Khorram, an Eastside apartment developer who co-chaired Trump’s fundraising campaign in the state.
“I think until that really gets settled, there is gonna be questions on the legitimacy of the election,” he said. “If there is no evidence that’s fine. But if there is evidence, it should be looked at.”
About 400 Trump supporters gathered at the state Capitol in Olympia as part of a nationwide protest called “Stop the Steal.” They traded insults with counterprotesters, who at one point burned a Trump flag.
Elections officials nationally, including Republicans such as Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, have rejected claims of widespread fraud as false and damaging to the electoral process.
Other area Trump supporters said they worry whether Biden is capable of dealing with the immense challenges facing the country.
At a shopping center in Mill Creek, Gary Roberts, 63, said Biden’s biggest tasks will be to deal with the pandemic and to bring the country together. “I haven’t seen the country this divided in my entire life,” Roberts said.
“Not a fan,” said Marquarite Gogal, 39, of Everett, as she rang up customers Saturday at a Shell station in Snohomish, when asked about Biden.
Gogal said she voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, in part because of Trump’s stance on immigration. But Gogal said she was won over by Trump’s economic policies, which she credited with helping “the little person’s economy.”
“I have a job now, and I haven’t had a job in five years,” she said. “I don’t know about the rest of it, for middle class and upper class, but I know that my economy got better.”
Ryan Lovell, a 36-year-old union carpenter and Snohomish County resident, heard the news of Biden’s win as he sat in his truck at a gas station just off Interstate 5 and State Route 96.
Lovell said he had supported Trump and liked how he ran the country “like a business” but thought the president didn’t always do a good job dealing with social unrest. “Trump was just not listening to reason,” said Lovell. “We needed change.”
For the most part, the mood was joyful in the deep-blue Seattle area, which overwhelming voted for Biden and Harris.
Joey Black, a 29-year-old preschool director from Capitol Hill, said he was shopping at QFC when he got the news and broke down crying with other people inside the store.
“It’s just very emotional,” Black said. “I am a gay, Black man. A lot of this world’s against me already.”
The movement for Black lives was the most important issue for him going into this election, and he said he had been worried about the future of gay marriage, too.
“I honestly felt like if Trump were to win again, gay marriage would have been abolished and I would not have been able to get married until my late 40s or whatever when someone came along to overturn that ruling,” Black said.
But even in Seattle, not everyone was in a festive mood.
While others waited in line for coffee and banged on pots nearby on Capitol Hill, Ray Bracamonte, 58, had his doubts about a Biden presidency.
Bracamonte had been laid off from his job months earlier because of the coronavirus pandemic, he was skeptical of Biden and of the business interests of his son Hunter Biden.
Whoever occupies the White House for the next four years will have a lot of work to do to stimulate the economy, Bracamonte said.
“What are you going to do to get this country back to work?” he asked.
Seattle Times staff reporters Daniel Beekman, Brendan Kiley, Mike Lindblom and Nina Shapiro contributed to this report.