Seattle City Council primary hints at progressive/centrist showdown

Aug. 1 elections have voters watching to see if Seattle politics will continue to trend right as seven district races shake out.

inside seattle city council chambers

Inside Seattle City Council chambers. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

After the first ballot count Tuesday night, with about 20% of Seattle’s votes tallied, a picture is emerging of a likely contest between progressives and centrists for each of the seven City Council districts in November’s general election.

The issues remain the same. Voters are still worried about homelessness, housing affordability, public safety, policing and the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic. For many observers, the 2021 election of Mayor Harrell, Councilmember Sara Nelson and City Attorney Ann Davison was seen as a conservative turn by Seattleites seeking harder-line responses to those pressing issues.

Seattle’s political class is carefully watching this election to see whether that trend continues apace, or if voters are moving back toward the left-of-center politicians who have led the Council for more than a decade. After the first night of counting, it looks like the general election could be a showdown between those ends of the political spectrum.

In West Seattle’s District 1, climate activist Maren Costa leads with 29% of the vote. Rob Saka, an attorney for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is a close second with 25%. Phil Tavel sits third and is still a contender to make it to the general with 21% of the vote. Tavel is an attorney and administrative law judge who ran against retiring District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold in 2019.

In District 2, which encompasses south Seattle, incumbent Councilmember Tammy Morales, who typically votes with the Council’s progressive wing, leads with 48% of the vote. Tanya Woo, a community activist in the Chinatown-International District who garnered the support of former Gov. Gary Locke, the Master Builders Association and the hospitality industry, is right behind her with 45%. It’s all but guaranteed the two will face off in November.

With incumbent District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant stepping down at the end of the year, it’s a highly contested race to represent Capitol Hill and the Central District. Cannabis business owner and nonprofit food-bank worker Joy Hollingsworth, who has been endorsed by Mayor Bruce Harrell, leads with 40% of the vote so far. Alex Hudson, a former director of a transportation advocacy group and neighborhood association leader, sits second with 32%. Public Defender Bobby Goodwin is a distant third with 11%.

In District 4, which encompasses Wallingford, the University District, and northeast Seattle, tech entrepreneur and urbanist Ron Davis leads with 41% of the vote. Maritza Rivera, the deputy director of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture, is in second with 34%. Ken Wilson, a small business owner who ran against at-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda in 2021, has 23% after night one.

North Seattle’s District 5 is another highly contested race, with 10 candidates vying to replace retiring Council President Debora Juarez. Former King County Superior Court judge and former public defender Cathy Moore leads the race with 32%. ChrisTiana ObeySumner, an equity consultant who advocates for affordable housing and disability rights, sits second with 21%. Nilu Jenks, a community advocate with strong endorsements from establishment Democrats and unions, is in third with 19%.

In District 6, which covers Ballard, Fremont and northwest Seattle, incumbent Councilmember Dan Strauss leads by a wide margin with just shy of 51% of the vote. Pete Hanning, executive director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, sits second with just under 30% of the vote. With every other candidate in the district garnering single-digit percentages, it’s likely Strauss and Hanning will face off in November.

District 7, anchored by Downtown and Queen Anne, saw incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis leading on night one with 41% of the vote. Bob Kettle, a former Queen Anne Community Board member, has 33%. Olga Sagan, owner of Piroshky Piroshky, is third with 14% of the vote.

Regardless of who wins in November, the Seattle City Council is in for a shakeup. Seven of the nine positions are up for re-election, but only Councilmembers Tammy Morales, Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis are vying to keep their jobs, meaning no matter what there will be at least four new councilmembers next year. On top of that, at-large Councilmember Mosqueda is running for King County Council and would leave another open seat if she wins. She was leading in her race after the first vote drop with nearly 55% of the vote.

As a vote-by-mail state, Washington’s election results can take days or even weeks to finalize. You can stay up to date on daily results from Seattle as well as Bellingham, Spokane, Tacoma and Yakima on Crosscut’s Election Results Page.

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors