Local elections in Seattle, 2017
Local elections are underway in Seattle/King County Washington. The state has mail-in ballots, and the primary election date is August 1st. Seattle is one of the nation's leading cities--the other is San Francisco--pushing a significantly progressive political agenda. (Cities like DC vie for a similar title, but aren't really in the same league.)
Much to the consternation of the center-right Seattle Times newspaper, the city tends to be supportive of local taxing initiatives to support transit and other endeavors, even when such measures fail at the scale of the entire county.
A couple elections ago, Seattle switched from an nine seat at-large Council system to seven districts and two at-large seats. Just before the switch, the city elected Kshama Sawant, affiliated with Socialist Alternative, to Council. With the switch to districts, she was re-elected as a representative for the Capitol Hill district.
The Seattle Port Commission, which runs the airport and the seaport, is publicly elected too.
In this year's election, 21 people, including former mayor Mike McGinn, are running for mayor. The incumbent, Ed Murray, declined to run after being accused of non-work related improprieties.
The Stranger is Seattle's leading alternative weekly (although compared to most other cities, the second alternative paper, the Seattle Weekly, holds its own). It's endorsement articles are always a great read, as is the one for this election, "The Stranger's Endorsements for the August 1, 2017, Primary Election."
Reading their endorsements of Jon Grant for an at-large seat and Cary Moon for Mayor make me feel conservative, although I have to admit that my progressivism is mediated by pragmatism and acceptance of the status quo shaped by the Growth Machine/neoliberalism.
Grant is affiliated with Socialist Alternative. Moon co-wrote a series of articles in The Stranger on Seattle's housing crisis of high velocity in pricing appreciation, and the loss of lower priced housing to redevelopment:
-- "Hot Money and Seattle's Growing Housing Crisis: Part One"
-- "Parasitical Finance and Seattle's Growing Housing Crisis: Part Two"
-- "Why NIMBYs And Their Haters Can't Offer a Deep Solution to Seattle's Growing Housing Crisis: Part Three
-- "Solutions to Seattle's Growing Housing Crisis: Part Four"
It would be unheard of for a candidate for election in DC to produce the equivalent.
The Seattle Times concurs that the field of Mayoral candidates is surprisingly deep ("Election shocker: This is the best field of Seattle mayoral candidates in decades." While the Municipal League didn't rank highest the most radical candidates, the columnist Danny Westneat called Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver the smartest. From the article:
The Municipal League of King County has been using citizen volunteers to interview and rate candidates for a century. This year’s Seattle mayoral field got by far the highest rankings in the past 50 years (that’s as far back as I looked).An interesting tax measure on the ballot applies to King County's entirety, not just Seattle, King County Proposition No. 1 (Sales Tax for Cultural Access Program). The proposed sales tax increase would fund (1) cultural programming in schools; (2) transportation to cultural programs for public school students; and (3) an expansion of programming by cultural organizations to serve underreached, low income, populations.
The Muni League approaches it as a job interview: Do the candidates have the background and the skills to be mayor? This time, three earned the top grade of “outstanding.”
No Seattle mayoral field going back to 1977 has had more than one “outstanding” candidate. And in four elections — 2001, 1989, 1985 and 1981 — the medal-deserving volunteers couldn’t find a single candidate that earned an A grade.
The A grades this time went to former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. ...
I haven’t even mentioned the two smartest candidates. Urban planner Cary Moon and educator Nikkita Oliver often drive the mayoral debates with their ideas. Neither has much experience for the job, especially on the managerial side, yet both still earned “very good” ratings from the Muni League.