Primary Election 2019: Key races to watch from Seattle to Olympia | KNKX

Primary Election 2019: Key races to watch from Seattle to Olympia

Aug 6, 2019

Today is the deadline to turn in primary election ballots. Our reporters have identified key races to watch in the Puget Sound region. Revisit our relevant coverage, and watch for updates on results and reaction. First results drop around 8 p.m., and we’ll update this post with the latest in the coming days. (Last update Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.) 


Seattle City Council

More than 50 candidates have flooded the primary ballot vying for Seattle City Council seats. Districts 1-7 have anywhere from three to 13 candidates in a single race. During filing week, Crosscut reporter David Kroman told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick that the high turnout is driven by two factors: opportunity and unhappiness with the current council. 

"There are seven seats up for election. That is a new thing because of the switch to district elections," Kroman said. "It used to be the most that would be up for re-election was five. Also, in four of those races, the incumbents are not running again... it's seen as less intimidating and more positive for an outlier to not need to challenge an incumbent."

UPDATE,  Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: Below are the top two candidates following the latest results drop Wednesday. Updated with details.

District 1 - West Seattle and South Park

Lisa Herbold 51%

Phil Tavel 32%

Herbold is running for her second term on the council, having represented District 1 since 2016. She typically sides with the progressive wing of the council and has received some backing from labor groups. Tavel is a public defender and entertainment company founder from West Seattle who unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2015.  He's backed by some business leaders, including the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's political action committee.

District 2 - Southeast Seattle

Tammy Morales 50%

Mark Solomon 23%

Morales is a community organizer who nearly unseated outgoing District 2 Council Member Bruce Harrell in 2015. She has also been backed by labor. Solomon is a business owner from the Beacon Hill neighborhood who is backed by the chamber PAC.

District 3 - Capitol Hill and the Central Area

Kshama Sawant 37%

Egan Orion 22%

Sawant is a two-term incumbent and would be the senior member of the council if she's reelected in November. She is a vocal socialist who has raised the most money of any of the council candidates. Orion is a business owner who runs PrideFest. He is also backed by other business leaders and the chamber PAC.

District 4 - Northeast Seattle

Alex Pedersen 40%

Shaun Scott 23%

Pedersen was an aide to former City Council Member Tim Burgess, who was seen as the council's more moderate voice before he left in 2017. Pedersen is backed by Burgess' new PAC, People For Seattle, as well as the chamber PAC. Scott is a documentarian and former Real Change editor who organized for U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) and Democratic Socialists of America. Jayapal endorsed another candidate in this race, Emily Myers, who received about 11 percent of the vote. Scott has collected more democracy vouchers than any other candidate in any of the seven races.

District 5 - North Seattle

Debora Juarez 45%

Ann Davison Sattler 27%

Juarez was first elected in 2015, and is supported by both business and labor interests. Davison Sattler is an attorney who was endorsed by The Seattle Times.

District 6 - Fremont and Ballard

Dan Strauss 34%

Heidi Wills 21%

Strauss is a policy adviser to District 7 City Council Member Sally Bagshaw, whose seat is also open this year. He was endorsed by The Stranger. Wills is a former City Council member who was ousted in 2003 after a controversy involving campaign contributions linked to a strip-club owner looking for a zoning change. She's backed by the chamber PAC.

District 7 - Queen Anne and Magnolia

Andrew J. Lewis 32%

Jim Pugel 25%

Lewis is an assistant city attorney who has received backing from some labor groups. Pugel is a former Seattle Police chief backed by the chamber PAC.

Seattle library levy

Seattle voters are deciding whether to renew a seven-year levy for library funding. The $219 million property tax measure would cost the median homeowner about $7 per month. It’s valued at $100 million more than the measure approved in 2012. 

Funds would increase physical and digital collections and keep libraries open longer. Opponents say they support the library, but stress its funding should come from the city’s budget, not property taxes. 

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: Seattle Proposition 1 (library levy) is earning overwhelming support — Approve 76%, Reject 24%.

King County parks levy

Voters in King County will decide on renewal of a six-year parks levy, which would generate $810 million if approved. It would cost the owner of a $500,000 home roughly $7.60 per month. 

The county maintains 175 miles of hiking trails, and 80 percent of the parks budget comes from the levy.

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: King County Proposition 1 (parks levy) is earning majority support — Approve 70%, Reject 30%.

UPDATE, Aug. 6, 9:55 p.m.: King County Executive Dow Constantine told reporter Paula Wissel that people at the parks levy party were "very excited" to see the measure's apparent victory after the first results drop Tuesday night. 

"This levy pays for most of the maintenance and operations of King County parks, but also invests in protecting last best places," Constantine said. And, he stressed, it focuses on equity — access to trails for all people and "creating green space in cities that historically have been left behind." 

King County Council

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: A young political newcomer is leading a 25-year officeholder in the County Council's District 2 race. Attorney Girmay Zahilay is leading incumbent Larry Gossett 56 to 37 percent. Gossett represents eastern Seattle and Skyway. This will be his first competitive race in more than a decade. 


Tacoma City Council, at-large

Incumbent Conor McCarthy, a private attorney, faces two challengers for Position 7. Brett Johnson is an air traffic controller and political newcomer who serves on the East Side Neighborhood Council, among other commitments. Courtney Love is a political activist and single mother who is running on a lengthy platform of social issues.

McCarthy comes from a powerhouse political family. He’s the son of State Auditor Pat McCarthy, who previously served as county executive. His father, John McCarthy, is a former judge and Port of Tacoma commissioner.  

Key issues in Tacoma include rising housing costs and the controversial LNG plant on the tideflats.

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: Tacoma City Council incumbent Conor McCarthy has a strong lead with 53% of the vote. Brett Johnson (6,075) has a five-vote lead over Courtney Love (6,070).

Port of Tacoma Commission

Two out of five Tacoma Port Commission seats are on the primary ballots in Pierce County. 

None of the three candidates vying for Position 3 are incumbents. They include UPS executive Frank Boykin, veteran and KelTech Plastics president Deanna Keller, and millennial Justin Camarata, who wants the port to be a “social justice innovator.”

Three people are also running for the Position 5 seat: political newcomer and business attorney Kristin Ang, Navy veteran Dave Bryant and Shelly Schlumpf, who owns a consulting business in Puyallup after years of leading the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce.   

The Port of Tacoma is home to the Northwest Detention Center and the controversial liquefied natural gas project that awaits final permitting. Listen to this story from environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp about the importance of port races. 

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: Deanna Keller is leading the Port of Tacoma Position 3 race with 48% of the vote. Frank Boykin and Justin Camarata trail with 28% and 23%, respectively. Kristin Ang narrowly leads in the Position 5 race with 41% of the vote, ahead of Dave Bryant with 38% and Shelly Schlumpf with 20%.

Puyallup City Council, District 1

Incumbent Robin Farris faces two challengers in Position 1, amid growing tensions regarding the homeless population in Pierce County’s third largest city. Both men are vocally critical of the city’s response to homelessness. Curtis Thiel is a local business owner and board member for the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce. Matt Cuyle is a former Marine and owner of a plumbing business. Three years ago, a trespass order was issued against Cuyle to keep him away from the New Hope Resource Center, which provides homelessness services.

Last year, Farris said she was contemplating quitting the City Council and moving away from Puyallup due to the deep division over the homelessness crisis in a city where her family has lived for more than a century.

“I don’t want to belong to a City Council, I don’t want to belong to this community, with this type of division driving the conversation,” Farris said in September last year

UPDATE, Aug. 6, 9:55 p.m.: Early returns show incumbent Puyallup City Council member Robin Farris is in the lead with 40% of the vote and 144 more votes than the next highest candidate. She's opposed to fighting homelessness in the courts and has voted against a homeless services ordinance that restricted providers to a corner of the city — a law that was later rejected by the state.

Her two challengers are neck and neck, separated by just 3 votes. Matt Cuyle has 401 votes. He helped start the "Clean Up Puyallup" Facebook page, where people complain about what they see as failed policies to address homelessness. Curtis Thiel has 404 votes. Thiel says he wants the police to enforce the law, with the goal of returning the city to what he remembers from his childhood.

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: Incumbent Robin Farris has 859 votes, giving her a lead over her challengers with 42% of the vote. Curtis Thiel leads Matt Cuyle by just eight votes (579 votes to 571, respectively).

Olympia mayor

Incumbent Cheryl Selby is defending her seat against three challengers. Among them is her colleague on the City Council, Nathaniel Jones. The race could be a de facto referendum on how the city is handling a sharp rise in homelessness downtown. The other two challengers include Brenden Clerget, a business analyst and web developer, and David Ross, a small business owner and community volunteer.

UPDATE, Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.: Cheryl L. Selby has earned has a healthy lead over her challengers with 40 percent of the vote. Nathaniel Jones has taken a narrow lead over David Ross 26 percent to 25 percent, respectively. Brenden Clerget significantly trails them all with 7 percent.

UPDATE, Aug. 6, 10:25 p.m.: News director Erin Hennessey talked with Selby, who has a strong lead over her opponents in the primary. All the candidates in the Olympia mayoral race are talking about how the city is handling a sharp rise in homelessness in its downtown.

Selby says she's proud of what the city is doing with its homeless mitigation site and its tiny home village that connects people to services. But she says what the city doesn't have is the money to take it to scale. She's says the way to do that is to get surrounding towns to be a part of the solution.