Update: Seattle Mayor’s Race and the Gonzalez Council Vacancy


A quick catch-up on Seattle political races: 

On the mayor’s race, opening up because of Jenny Durkan’s decision not to seek re-election, City Council President Lorena Gonzalez has ended her hand-wringing and tossed in her hat, which means her district 9 (at-large) seat will be vacant. In her Publicola interview, Gonzalez hits most of the progressive agenda sweet spots, promising to be a mayor who enacts the city council’s bold agenda, including reducing the number of cops. Gonzalez is the likely front-runner, though with the disadvantage of heading a very unpopular city council.

It looks like Jessyn Farrell, now working at Nick Hanauer’s policy shop, is serious about entering the mayor’s race, albeit late. She would compete for much of the same vote as Gonzalez and Colleen Echohawk, though with more of an urbanist/transit/density platform. Publicola’s story also reports that Echohawk, already declared a candidate, and here profiled by the Guardian, has shifted campaign consultants and is now working with the Mercury Group, headed by Bill Broadhead and Julie McCoy, the team that elected Mayor Mike McGinn. Also eyeing a mayoral race, with better connections to the business community, is former city councilmember Bruce Harrell. And, as if the progressive lane is not already crowded, poet and arts activist Nikkita Oliver is once again said to be thinking of making a race. Harrell (4th in 2013), Farrell (4th in 2017), and Oliver (3rd in 2017) all ran for mayor before.

As for the vacant Gonzalez seat, which is a citywide election, the likely leader in this race will be, if she runs as is likely, Brianna Thomas, a Black staffer for Gonzalez. MLK Labor Council head Nicole Grant was poised to run, with strong labor backing, but decided against it in favor of Thomas, yielding to the Black candidate in this year of Black activism. Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins toyed with running but seems disinclined. In a repeat candidacy, Sara Nelson, a small businesswoman, has entered the race in the center-left lane.

David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.


    • On paper – given the needs of the city – to revive economically, especially downtown, to quit using transformative businesses (see Amazon) as political punching bags, to find a path out of homelessness, to fix crumbling infrastructure, to rethink policing without rhetorical defunding slogans – yes, Burgess would be the adult sensibility in the room, with experience to boot. But “on paper” is not the politics of the moment – just ask Durkan.


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