Gaps narrow in Seattle City Council races, Strauss flips to lead

On Thursday, incumbents Morales and Lewis gained ground in an election that will shape the city’s approach to policing, drugs and homelessness.

a woman pumps her fist in a crowd of people

Joy Hollingsworth dances with supporters moments after seeing election results in her favor during a campaign party at First AME Church on Capitol Hill, Nov. 7, 2023. (David Ryder for Crosscut)

After Thursday’s updated ballot count, the gaps have narrowed significantly in several of Seattle’s seven district City Council races and incumbent Dan Strauss has flipped into the lead in District 6. 

The slate of business-backed candidates still lead in other races, but incumbent Tammy Morales is now within spitting distance of her opponent and incumbent Andrew Lewis has gained ground as well.

King County Elections counted an additional 100,000 ballots Thursday and has at least 97,000 more on hand to count in the coming days for all races across the county.

November’s election was driven by concerns about policing, public safety, the drug crisis and homelessness, with many candidates promising to focus on hiring more officers and tamping down on crime and disorder.

Voters wanted change. In an August Crosscut/Elway poll, 44% of likely voters said they want to significantly change the direction of the Council. Another 41% said they want to modify the Council’s direction a little. Just three incumbents sought reelection, and all three trailed their opponents on election night. 

Business and real estate interests spent more than $1.1 million through political action committees in support of candidates who promised a law-and-order approach to leadership and said they’d avoid new taxes in Seattle.

Rob Saka, here talking with supporters, leads in District 1 after the first vote count. (Caroline Walker Evans for Crosscut)

Maren Costa gives an impassioned speech while waiting for the preliminary votes to be released. Costa at the time trailed in District 1. (Caroline Walker Evans for Crosscut) 

In West Seattle’s District 1, Rob Saka, a tech lawyer who garnered business support in the race, leads with 57%. Maren Costa, a tech worker and climate activist, has 42.5%, nearly 2 points more than Tuesday’s count.

In south Seattle’s District 2, Tanya Woo, a Chinatown-International District activist who launched a nightwatch during the COVID-19 pandemic, has 51.5%. Incumbent Tammy Morales is up three points from election night with 48.2%. Morales now trails by just 634 votes.

Tanya Woo, District 2 candidate for Seattle City Council, embraces a supporter at her election-night event at Tai Tung Restaurant on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (M. Scott Brauer for Crosscut)

Tammy Morales, incumbent District 2 Councilmember, speaks to supporters at her election-night event at Baja Bistro on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Morales said she was “confident” that results in the coming days would go her way. (M. Scott Brauer for Crosscut)

In District 3, which includes Capitol Hill and Madison Valley, cannabis industry veteran Joy Hollingsworth lost a little ground Thursday night and now has 56%. Hollingsworth was the first candidate in this race to net an endorsement from Mayor Bruce Harrell. Alex Hudson, former executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition, trails with 43%.

In northeast Seattle’s District 4, Maritza Rivera, former deputy director of the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, leads with 52.9%. Tech consultant and urbanist Ron Davis gained 2.5 points and now has 46.7%. 

District 3 City Council candidate Alex Hudson speaks during an interview at a campaign party at Olmste(a)d on Capitol Hill on Nov. 7, 2023. (David Ryder for Crosscut)

Mayor Bruce Harrell joins District 3 City Council candidate Joy Hollingsworth and Pastor Carey G. Anderson at Hollingsworth’s campaign party at First AME Church on Capitol Hill in Seattle on Nov. 7, 2023. (David Ryder for Crosscut)

Former King County Superior Court judge Cathy Moore leads equity consultant ChrisTiana ObeySumner 66.6% to 33% in the race to represent north Seattle’s District 5. 

In northwest Seattle’s District 6, Strauss has moved into the lead with 50.1% to Fremont Chamber of Commerce director Pete Hanning’s 49.4%. Strauss is up by just 225 votes.

District 7, which includes Downtown and Queen Anne, is a race between incumbent Andrew Lewis and former Queen Anne Community Councilmember Bob Kettle. Kettle still leads with 53.2%, but Lewis gained 2.4 points on Thursday and now has 46.2%. Lewis is 1,356 votes behind Kettle. 

District 7 City Council candidate Bob Kettle raises a glass to the crowd of volunteers and supporters at Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub after a speech following a strong lead in election night’s first numbers drop, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Grant Hindsley for Crosscut)

District 7 incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis visits with volunteers and supporters before the first numbers drop at Here Today brewery near the waterfront, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Grant Hindsley for Crosscut)

At-large Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is running for King County Council’s 8th District seat and extended her lead over Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon on Thursday. Mosqueda has 52.4% to Aragon’s 47.3%. If Mosqueda is elected, the Seattle City Council will have 20 days after her final day in office to appoint a replacement.

Voters are also tasked with renewing the Seattle Housing Levy this election, a property tax that pays for subsidized affordable-housing construction and operations. After Thursday, the Housing Levy was passing 67.6% to 32.4%, all but guaranteeing its victory. 

Because Washington votes by mail, it can take days or even weeks for elections to be decided. Historically, results in Seattle trend left in later counts because younger, more liberal voters often vote at the 11th hour.

King County Elections will provide its next ballot count update around 4 p.m. Friday. 

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