Seattle Set to Elect Its First Female Mayor in Almost a Century, But Which?


By Daniel Beekman

King County Elections certified the results of Seattle’s mayoral primary Tuesday, stamping as official an outcome made clear last week — Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.

But neither candidate will be getting an endorsement anytime soon from the activist political party of third-place finisher Nikkita Oliver, she said.

Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, wound up with 27.9 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan Aug. 1 primary, losing ground over two weeks in late-ballot counting from 31.6 percent election night.

Moon, an urbanist who made her name opposing the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, narrowly claimed second place among 21 candidates, wrapping up with 17.6 percent to Oliver’s 17 percent.

Oliver, an educator and attorney who ran as a candidate of the new Seattle Peoples Party, gained on Moon late and sat only 1,170 votes back in the end.

She didn’t concede in the days before certification, nor did Moon claim second place. But the gap between them remained too large Tuesday to trigger a mandatory recount.

In a news conference, Oliver called her campaign a success because it “changed the conversation,” pushing other candidates to talk about racial and economic inequities.

She said she would urge her supporters — including young voters — to stay engaged. And she said the Seattle Peoples Party would host a forum with Durkan and Moon, promising to moderate.

“We have an active and engaged base now of people who are willing and ready to organize,” she said.

Oliver said she and the party, however, “are not planning on making any endorsements at this moment.”

Since the primary, Moon has sought to align herself with Oliver and other leading candidates not named Durkan.

“I’m encouraged that close to 60 percent of Seattle’s primary-election voters chose one of the five leading candidates who was not backed by big corporations and City Hall insiders,” she said Aug 3.

But Oliver came nowhere close Tuesday to backing Moon. On the contrary, she challenged both remaining candidates.

“I think it’s very notable … that the two candidates in the general election are two wealthy white women who regularly in forums would say things like, ‘What Nikkita said, and…'” she said. “Those ideas that the party and myself brought to this election are birthed out of our lived experiences and those are not lived experiences those two candidates share.”

Oliver added, “They’re going to have to show up in communities that they do not regularly show up in … If those are the votes they want, they will do that work.”

The candidate later alluded to Moon’s helping to bankroll her own campaign.

“Some candidates were able to spend $90,000 of their own wealth while talking about income inequality as their way of running the race and yet have no ground game, no real community relationships,” she said. “If I regret anything, it’s not calling that out sooner.”

In a statement Tuesday, Moon praised the Oliver campaign, saying it “amplified the voices of those who often feel Seattle is no longer for them.”

Durkan issued a similar statement, saying Oliver “amplified the voices, dreams, and pain of those who have been shut out of the opportunities and prosperity of our city.”

(c)2017 The Seattle Times

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