Moderate candidates leading liberals in Seattle’s top races

 Two people stand behind lecterns.
Bruce Harrell and M. Lorena González take part in a Seattle mayoral debate. González, the City Council president, and former Council President Harrell are running to replace Jenny Durkan, who declined to seek reelection.
( Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Moderate candidates took significant leads in early Seattle election returns Tuesday after a months-long debate about how to address the city’s problems of homelessness, policing, and racial and economic injustice.

In the mayor’s race, Bruce Harrell, a former City Council president, was ahead of current City Council President M. Lorena González. Harrell had criticized his opponent for supporting the goal of cutting the Seattle Police Department’s budget in half — a position she has since softened.

And in the normally low-key contest for city attorney, which also drew national attention, Ann Davison, who pronounced herself a Republican in overwhelmingly Democratic Seattle in 2020, was leading police and jail abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. Davison had said Thomas-Kennedy’s policies would jeopardize public safety.


Although Harrell and Davison now hold strong leads, it could be days before there are clear winners. Liberal candidates in Seattle tend to gain ground in later vote counts. And in Washington’s vote-by-mail system, ballots need be postmarked only by election day, not received.

The moderate-versus-left dynamic in Seattle mirrored that in other liberal cities, with “back-to-basics” candidates who promise law and order facing off against progressives who insist that new approaches are needed to solve intractable problems. The Seattle positions are officially nonpartisan.

The 63-year-old Harrell, who grew up in a redlined city neighborhood, would be Seattle’s first Asian American and second Black mayor. He has strong backing from business and real estate executives.

The Virginia governor’s race will offer a glimpse into the likely political dynamics of the 2022 midterms.

Nov. 3, 2021

“We’re going to bring Seattle back together,” Harrell told supporters after initial results were posted.

González, 44, the daughter of migrant farmworkers, would be the city’s first Latina mayor. She’s been endorsed by service worker unions as well as environmental and urbanist groups.


In a statement Tuesday, she said she wasn’t conceding, noting late-arriving votes and “the fact that the votes of so many of our voters, who tend to vote at the very end, have not been counted means we may not know until late in the week or next week who the next mayor will be.”

Former police Capt. Eric Adams easily won the race for New York mayor, and Boston elected its first woman and Asian American to the city’s top job.

Nov. 2, 2021