As Seattle voters wrapped up their primary election on Thursday, city officials appeared to be in trouble with mayoral, state House and mayor’s races that are expected to extend their streak of victories this year.
A series of racially charged incidents has pushed the head of a national police officers’ union to caution against rewarding “bad apples” with increased power in city government.
It’s one of a string of tense moments in the campaign against criminal justice reform, one in which liberals and progressives have dominated public discourse in cities across the country.
Protesters showed up at the Seattle city hall building on Thursday evening after preliminary results showed that incumbent state representative David Doty – an eight-term incumbent and state auditor with progressive leanings – would prevail over Democratic challenger Mukesh Singh.
Doty could have an eye-popping mandate with $1m remaining in his primary election campaign war chest.
In another seat facing a close race, Seattle city councilwoman Debora Juarez won the Democratic nomination, ensuring a victory in November against her Republican opponent Adam Pidgeon.
The council race is closely watched because Juarez and incumbent mayor Jenny Durkan recently appointed their supporters to the police commission.
What is Seattle getting with progressive mayor, Jenny Durkan? Over the past two years, Seattle’s longtime mayor has been criticized for a dramatic in-fighting with city leaders from her own party, long feuds with police and a seeming disregard for grassroots activism.
Olivia Holmberg of the National Democratic Lawyer’s Committee said voters on Thursday were deciding the fate of what he called a “progressive experiment”.
“Local officials who serve on the public safety commission are a crucial check on the kinds of law enforcement abuses that have the potential to result in legal trouble,” he said.
Urban community activist Janet Rummel was named the Mayoral front-runner, followed by Democrat Cary Moon. In the race for state house, challengers like Ed Murray beat incumbent Democrat Dan Timm and have extended their streak of victories this year.
One controversial policy from the Murray administration, a mandatory arrest policy, appears to have helped push attention back to a campaign argument that elected officials are doing a poor job overseeing police and other departments.
Seattle midterm results: ‘We got lucky’ Read more
Ryan Price, president of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, and former president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, is urging voters to use “a big tent” approach, framing the issue as one of public safety rather than affirmative action or the decriminalization of marijuana.
“As someone who advises leaders in other states on public safety policies, I know that these race-baiting false claims will have absolutely zero impact,” he wrote in a note to voters this week.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing that my caution and perspective are less important than that of the talking heads who are repeating the talking points of those in power,” he wrote.