Newspapers have made their endorsements, ballots have hit mailboxes and pretty soon, campaign yard signs will start to lose some diversity. Local primaries are here, and there’s a lot going on: The King County executive race is seeing its first well-funded challenger in 12 years; two citywide council seats are up for grabs; the Seattle mayor is vacating and city attorney is being challenged from both the left and right.
As of July 15, ballot boxes are open. On Aug. 3, voters will winnow down crowded races like the open mayoral seat, which attracted 15 candidates. There’re a lot of names to choose from across the races, so let’s start with the nonpartisan, executive positions: the King County executive and the mayor of Seattle, both of whom are elected every four years. Next week, we’ll end our primer by covering the judicial and legislative elections.
King County executive
The executive holds the highest rank in King County government, meaning whoever is elected will lead the 12th largest county in the country and oversee an annual budget of over $6 billion. Dow Constantine has held the position with little challenge since he first ran for and won the position in 2009. State Sen. Joe Nguyen made headlines when he announced his campaign against the incumbent. The race has also attracted two perennial candidates — both of whom ran against Gov. Jay Inslee in the most recent gubernatorial race — and one newcomer.
Constantine has served as the King County executive for 12 years. Despite a stated commitment to phase out youth jail by 2025, Constantine has been criticized for allowing a new facility to be built. With leadership he calls “progressive” in his candidate statement, Constantine emphasizes taking bold action regarding homelessness, improving public security and combating climate change.
After studying political economics and history at the College of Idaho for the last four years, Crines says, “What we need is systematic change.” A political newcomer, Crines has not seen much news coverage at all. According to his candidate statement, he is a security guard.
A continual candidate in Washington, Goodspaceguy filed his candidacy under the Trump Republican Party and was among the more-than-30 challengers to Inslee in 2020. In his candidate statement for the King County executive race, he called to abolish the minimum wage, “reject the Command Economy of stagnant Socialism” and “Embrace the Free Market Economy of Capitalistic Consumerism.”
Hirt, a retired Boeing engineer, was another challenger for the governor spot in the 2020 election. According to Hirt, he has run for office nine times — without any expectation of winning but rather to spread awareness of various issues. In his candidate statement, Hirt spoke against the Northgate light rail, critical race theory and attempts to reduce CO2 emissions.
State Sen. Nguyen, a program manager at Microsoft, currently represents the 34th legislative district, which includes White Center, where he grew up. He is set on bringing something fresh to the position, he said in his candidate statement, “after 12 years of current leadership failing to solve our biggest problems like homelessness.”
One-term mayor Jenny Durkan announced in December she would not be running for re-election, following months of her leadership’s controversial calls over policing and COVID-19 economic hits. This announcement prompted plenty of local names and newcomers to enter the race. As sought after as the position is, Seattle has a checkered past when it comes to keeping a mayor in office: The city has had six mayors in two decades, only one having been elected twice. The Seattle mayor is responsible for ensuring laws and ordinances are enforced, directing city agencies and maintaining peace.
Bliss is a family doctor whose campaign emphasizes fulfilling the basic needs of folks experiencing homelessness and addressing issues in contracts with the police union. Bliss does not accept financial contributions to his campaign, as he is a believer in campaign finance reform.
Henry C. Dennison
Running under the Socialist Workers Party, Dennison lists his education as a “lifetime in the working class struggles in various unions and industries.” Dennison previously ran for governor in 2020 and Seattle City Council District 2 in 2019.
After starting his professional athlete career with the SuperSonics, Donaldson now runs a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth with mental health challenges. Donaldson wants to restore trust in the police — not defund them. His statement also mentions a plan to provide mental health and addiction services to Seattle residents who are unhoused.
As the executive director at Chief Seattle Club, Echohawk said in her candidate statement she has spent the last seven years “fighting for our homeless Native community.” In the mayoral race, her priorities are affordable housing, homelessness and police accountability. If elected, she would be Seattle’s first Native mayor.
A state representative for the 46th District from 2013 to 2017, Farrell wants to “establish a new standard” of success for cities by making housing more affordable and implementing universal childcare for all from birth to five years old.
If elected mayor, current Seattle City Council President González hopes to build on what she calls a “progressive record” — she’s endorsed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, after all. According to her campaign website, González is focused on addressing homelessness and the city’s economic recovery from COVID-19. She would be Seattle’s first Latina mayor.
When Mayor Ed Murray stepped down in 2017, then-President of the Seattle City Council Harrell stepped in for three days. If elected, Harrell’s top priority is to address homelessness by dedicating a minimum $140 million in federal relief funds for immediate housing and individualized services.
Andrew Grant Houston
Houston, also known as Ace, is a queer, Black and Latino architect who is tired of inaction from the mayor’s office. He is a self-identified housing activist and environmental advocate. His website is full of progressive plans to raise the minimum wage to $23 by 2025, implement rent stabilization and defund the police.
Arthur K. Langlie
Langlie, the executive vice president at Holmes Electric, described himself as a political independent and centrist in his candidate statement. He plans to treat the homelessness crisis like an emergency and build better police-community relationships.
A perennial candidate for Washington, Lippman is a physicist who believes that Seattle can soon become the most progressive city on Earth. His candidate statement suggests building 2000 Space Needles to create 288,000 units of affordable housing.
Randall describes his platform as “an investment in our people, our culture and our future.” He has 30 years of experience as a political scientist and development practitioner, and he has been a director of SouthEast Effective Development (SEED) Seattle. His attention is on housing for people experiencing homelessness, economic recovery, public safety and climate change.
Don L. Rivers
Once director of the Seattle Police Department African American Community Advisory Council, the issues that matter most to Rivers are education, economic development and criminal justice. According to Rivers’ website, former King County Executive Ron Sims credits Rivers’ work for saving King County taxpayers $2.5 million each year on crime prevention.
Sixkiller, a longtime government staffer and lobbyist, is currently the deputy mayor for Durkan’s office. He has been Durkan’s go-to guy on homelessness, according to The Seattle Times. His website previews his plan to pilot what he calls “the largest guaranteed basic income program in the nation.” Sixkiller would be the first Native mayor if elected.
Tucker’s website says he was formerly homeless and that he loves God, poetry and peace. His candidate statement emphasizes housing the homeless and building confidence through education. He calls himself a leader who cares. The link on his candidate statement leads to a website where you can purchase his book.
According to his candidate statement, Tahir-Garrett is running as a “spokesperson for the Anti-Apartheid/Reparations-Now Movement.” He has called for reparations to Africatown, Seattle’s historically Black Central District, and specific police reforms.
Voting registration for mail-in ballots ends July 26. Voters may register for in-person voting until Tuesday, Aug. 3. Results will be posted Aug. 3 by 8:15 p.m.
Hannah Krieg studied journalism at the University of Washington. She is especially interested in covering politics, social issues and anything that gives her an excuse to speak with activists.
Read more of the July 21-27, 2021 issue.