In Tuesday’s tight primary race for Seattle city attorney, just over 2,000 votes separated incumbent Pete Holmes and challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy.
The top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the general election on Nov. 2 for the nonpartisan position, which represents the city in lawsuits and prosecutes misdemeanors.
Davison had received 34.6% of votes on Tuesday, while Holmes followed with 32.8% and Thomas-Kennedy garnered 32.2%. More votes will be counted Wednesday and throughout the week as ballots arrive.
Davison, an arbitrator speaking from her Wedgwood home Tuesday, said she was “touched by the amount of support” she received.
“It’s showing us Seattleites don’t want 16 years of one approach,” Davison said. “That’s too long. We can have both compassion and safety in Seattle when we all come together.”
Holmes has been in office for 12 years and is currently serving his third term as city attorney. In past terms, he sponsored the initiative that led to the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana in Washington in 2012 and oversaw reforms within the Seattle Police Department under the federal consent decree.
Because the city will soon have a new mayor and new police chief, Holmes has argued there’s a need for stability in the city attorney position.
Holmes’ opponents have attacked him from both sides on crime. Davison has said he’s allowed it to proliferate, while Thomas-Kennedy says he’s prosecuting too many petty property crimes.
Early on, Holmes’ supporters thought he might easily win a fourth term, but recent polling showed the three candidates were nearly in a three-way tie, with the majority of voters then undecided. Thomas-Kennedy recently outraised Holmes, largely by collecting taxpayer-funded “democracy vouchers,” while an outside political-action committee boosted Davison’s bid with mailers to Seattle households.
Davison has run for public office before — for Seattle City Council in 2019 and for lieutenant governor in 2020. She’s been a Seattle attorney since 2005, starting her own practice here before later joining a downtown firm. In recent years, she’s acted as an arbitrator for various panels and forums.
In the weeks leading to the primary, Holmes had attacked Davison for her Republican and pro-police stances, though Davison responded by saying it was “petty and pathetic” to bring up partisan labels in a non-partisan race.
Thomas-Kennedy has a background in public defense, with four years of experience at King County’s public defender office. She had promised to get rid of most misdemeanor prosecutions, which she says only further destabilize those who are often poor, mentally ill or homeless.
“Results look good and I’m hopeful, both about the race and about the fact that Seattle is ready to talk abolition,” said Thomas-Kennedy, who characterizes abolition as defunding the police.
As for his political future, Holmes recently said, “I am at peace with what happens.”
On Tuesday night, he said he’ll be “watching the returns from King County Elections over the week ahead.”