Seattle Elections 2021: Digging deeper into voters’ top priorities

What details about housing, homelessness, taxes and policing can candidates give you to help you cast your ballot?

Four photos, from top left: A tent encampment, someone holding a credit card, a crowd of police in gas masks in riot gear, and a row of buses.

When it comes to the local issues you care about most, what specific details or solutions do you need to hear 2021 candidates address? (Photos by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut and AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) 

In a few weeks, election season will really ramp up. The Crosscut newsroom is spending the brief downtime until then trying to understand exactly what you voters want the candidates to discuss. 

We surveyed you a few weeks ago to determine the four issues you care most about in the 2021 local elections across Washington. Based on a few hundred responses, your priorities seem pretty clear:

1. Housing and homelessness:

This has been the top-most issue in voters’ minds for years, and it appears that this year will be no exception. Voters want candidates to discuss what they would do about camps and tents around the city, homelessness funding and help, tenant protections, rent control, affordability, landlord protections and help for small landlords. 

2. Police and public safety:

Few should be surprised that this was on so many voters’ minds (and even more so with a contested city attorney race this fall). Respondents want candidates to talk about criminal justice reform, defunding or reimagining police services, police unions, police brutality and violent crime.

3. Taxes and the economy:

A lot of people are worried about money. Things like income inequality, cost of living, employment and small business support were mentioned a lot. Others listed the popular — and hotly debated — salves to those issues: tax reform, wealth taxes, universal basic income and fiscal responsibility. 

4. Urban planning and transportation:

This topic includes density, land use, zoning, infrastructure, roads, traffic, walkability, broadband, buses, trains and bike lanes. A few people named parks and public art as other quality-of-life priorities. 

Other topics some of you brought up: elections, good governance, climate change, responding to extremism, public health, education and school funding and media/political information. 

For this next survey, we’ll focus on King County and Seattle citywide elections: county executive, county council districts 3, 7 and 9, and Seattle mayor, city council seats 8 and 9 and city attorney. 

Our goal is to dig deeper and draw out the nuances you need from candidates to cast your vote with confidence. Homelessness, for example, is a huge topic. Tell us what ideas and solutions you want to hear their stance on by taking our survey, here, or by filling out the form below.

This story was first published in Crosscut's Weekly newsletter. Want to hear more from reporters and editors like Anne Christnovich? Sign up for the newsletter, below.

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