King Coun­ty sub­ur­ban pol­i­tics got a lot less bor­ing today with Belle­vue May­or Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci’s announce­ment that she is giv­ing up her seat on the Belle­vue City Coun­cil to chal­lenge Repub­li­can Jane Hague for King Coun­ty Coun­cil’s 6th District.

The 6th Dis­trict encom­pass­es Kirk­land, most of Belle­vue, Mer­cer Island, part of Red­mond, the Points com­mu­ni­ties, and Med­i­na. Data shows it votes heav­i­ly for Democ­rats in fed­er­al lev­el elec­tions, as well as state lev­el elec­tions. But it has been rep­re­sent­ed by Hague, a Repub­li­can, for decades.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has long been inter­est­ed in cap­tur­ing the 6th, but has not been able to field a for­mi­da­ble candidate.

Two cycles ago, in 2007, the par­ty did­n’t have any­one lined up to run, and so, when peren­ni­al can­di­date Richard Pope put his name for­ward for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion at the last minute, he end­ed up as the only can­di­date with a D next to his name on the bal­lot. The King Coun­ty Democ­rats sub­se­quent­ly found a can­di­date they liked to run as a write-in, Brad Larssen, but Pope defeat­ed Larssen in the pri­ma­ry. He went on to lose the gen­er­al elec­tion to Jane Hague, 57% to 39%.

(2007 was the last year that Wash­ing­ton held an actu­al pri­ma­ry for state or local office, as opposed to the Top Two sys­tem we have now).

In the weeks lead­ing up to the gen­er­al elec­tion, Hague suf­fered a round of bad pub­lic­i­ty when it was report­ed that she had been arrest­ed for dri­ving under the influ­ence. But as the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty did­n’t have a respect­ed can­di­date run­ning against her, it did­n’t end up weigh­ing her down much.

In 2011, the par­ty did field a chal­lenger… lawyer Richard Mitchell, for­mer­ly coun­sel to Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire. Mitchell ran a cred­i­ble cam­paign and even picked up the ear­ly endorse­ment of The Seat­tle Times, only to lose the paper’s sup­port for the gen­er­al elec­tion fol­low­ing his deci­sion to send out mis­lead­ing attack mail­ers against Hague. He fin­ished with 45.62% of the vote, to Hague’s 54%.

Bal­duc­ci is unques­tion­ably a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date. She has been elect­ed to the Belle­vue City Coun­cil sev­er­al times — and Belle­vue makes up a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the 6th Dis­trict. She has expe­ri­ence serv­ing on the Sound Tran­sit Board of Direc­tors. She is well versed in region­al pol­i­tics. She has already has raised $15,000 to start her cam­paign, and secured the ear­ly endorse­ments of Con­gress­man Adam Smith, State Sen­a­tor Cyrus Habib, and State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ross Hunter.

“We live in a dynam­ic, diverse, and grow­ing region,” Bal­duc­ci said in a press release. “It’s time for new lead­ers who reflect the pri­or­i­ties and poten­tial of the East­side. In my expe­ri­ence as a local offi­cial, tran­sit leader and mom, I’ll bring new ideas and ener­gy to the Coun­cil, help­ing to make sure our voic­es and val­ues are reflect­ed in crit­i­cal areas of pol­i­cy and planning.”

Hague has indi­cat­ed to Kirk­land Views that she plans to run again, and told the Seat­tle Times today she is “excit­ed” about the prospect of fac­ing Balducci.

We’re excit­ed, too, because this means that Seat­tle won’t be the only juris­dic­tion with com­pet­i­tive races in 2015. The spe­cial elec­tion in the 30th Dis­trict for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive and the race for King Coun­ty Coun­cil’s 6th Dis­trict look like they will be the mar­quee races out­side of Seat­tle this year.

Bal­duc­ci’s deci­sion to run for King Coun­ty Coun­cil will actu­al­ly result in two com­pet­i­tive East­side races, not just one.

That’s because she has to give up her posi­tion on the Belle­vue City Coun­cil to run. Open seats tend to attract can­di­dates, as we are already see­ing in Seat­tle this year.

Three oth­er King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­bers are also up for elec­tion this year. All of them are Democ­rats: Lar­ry Gos­sett, Lar­ry Phillips, and Joe McDer­mott. They rep­re­sent dis­tricts that are con­sid­ered safe­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic, so even if any were to retire, the polit­i­cal make­up of the Coun­cil would not change.

Offi­cial­ly, the King Coun­ty Coun­cil is non­par­ti­san, but unof­fi­cial­ly, it’s still as par­ti­san as it always has been. There is no tak­ing par­ti­san­ship out of pol­i­tics — any­one who has an opin­ion they want to defend can be con­sid­ered a partisan.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci announces campaign for King County Council, District 6”

  1. The chang­ing polit­i­cal land­scape of the East­side would indi­cate that some­one who can win an at-large posi­tion on the Belle­vue City Coun­cil, would be a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date for Coun­ty Council.

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