Results from the primary election indicate the Seattle City Council may be younger, more female and more diverse next year.
There are a lot of votes still to count, but early results from Seattle’s City Council primary suggest the general election will feature a number of hard-fought matchups, including runoffs pitting labor-backed Councilmember Kshama Sawant against business-supported Pamela Banks, and Council President Tim Burgess against tenant advocate Jon Grant.
The top two candidates in each race advance to the Nov. 3 general. All nine council seats are up for grabs, including seven with voting by geographic district for the first time in modern history.
The results from the first two days of ballot counting also suggest the council may become younger, more female and more diverse. Only two leading vote-getters across the nine races as of Wednesday afternoon were older than 60, five were women and four were people of color. The present council has four women, three people of color and six members over 60.
Longtime Councilmember Jean Godden, 83, who trailed transit advocate Rob Johnson by a lot and paralegal parks activist Michael Maddux by a little as of Tuesday night, was slightly further behind Maddux after updated counts were posted Wednesday.
“We could have only three white males on the council,” said Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association and one of the organizers of the 2013 initiative that led to district voting. “That’s a pretty radical change, and change is what a lot of us are looking for.”
Lisa Herbold was leading District 1 in results through Wednesday afternoon, edging past Shannon Braddock, who led Tuesday night. The margins are small in some district races: Herbold is ahead by only 41 votes.
Liz Berry, president of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, called Tuesday night “a great night for women.”
“We have a shot at a women-majority council for the first time since 1998,” Berry said. “It’s a really exciting time for Seattle politics when you think about what the council could look like in November.”
More than 10,000 additional Seattle ballots were counted between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a total of about 93,000 counted so far. More ballots will be counted Thursday.
• Political consultant Christian Sinderman, who works closely with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, has five clients leading their council races: Bruce Harrell in District 2, Rob Johnson in District 4, Sally Bagshaw in District 7, Burgess in Position 8 and Lorena Gonzalez in Position 9. Sinderman’s other two council clients, Banks in District 3 and Sandy Brown in District 5, are running second in their races.
• Some candidates endorsed by former Mayor Mike McGinn aren’t impressing. Tammy Morales will be on the November ballot in District 2 but is running far behind Harrell. Debadutta Dash has 5.6 percent of the vote in a crowded District 5 race, and John Roderick is third in Position 8 with 16 percent.
McGinn also endorsed Sawant in District 3, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who’s leading in District 6, and Maddux, who’s poised to advance in District 4.
• Candidates who explicitly sought support from voters concerned about residential Seattle neighborhoods growing too dense too quickly didn’t fare well. Tony Provine is third in District 4 with 14 percent of the vote, Catherine Weatbrook is trailing O’Brien 58 to 22 percent, and Bill Bradburd, whose campaign slogan has been “Take Back Seattle,” is running second to Gonzalez with 15 percent.
• Eight candidates running for seven council seats held a joint news conference last week to announce an alternative to Murray’s new housing-affordability plan, saying stronger policies are needed to prevent displacement. Based on results as of Wednesday afternoon, six of those hopefuls are poised to advance to the general.
• The top two fundraisers in each race are running first and second in almost every instance. One exception is Maddux, who raised less money than Godden and Tony Provine but is currently ahead of both.