NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Seattle voters shake up school board, City Council – and fund transit

Seattle’s election night results defy easy categorization. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that voters are mostly content with the progressive trajectory their city is on – but want that to go further, especially when it comes to the school board.

All nine City Council seats were up for election, and we know the likely winners in all but two of them. In District 1, Shannon Braddock holds a 53-47 lead over Lisa Herbold. In District 2, incumbent Bruce Harrell holds a 55-45 lead over Tammy Morales. However, the number of outstanding ballots means that Herbold and Morales still have a chance of pulling even, as late ballots usually favor more progressive candidates like them.

In District 3, incumbent Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant has likely won her race against Pamela Banks. Sawant leads 53-47, but it is widely expected that future ballot counts will favor Sawant.

In District 4, Rob Johnson has a 55-45 lead over Michael Maddux. In District 5, Debora Juarez has easily defeated Sandy Brown. In District 6, incumbent Mike O’Brien is cruising to re-election over Catherine Weatbrook, and in District 7 incumbent Sally Bagshaw has easily defeated Deborah Zech-Artis. In Position 8 (a citywide seat), incumbent Tim Burgess has likely defeated Jon Grant, and in Position 9 (also a citywide seat), Lorena González has easily defeated Bill Bradburd.

District elections have historically made City Councils more diverse, and this election is no exception. In the city’s first election conducted under a district system, voters sent at least four new members to the City Council.

The City Council will have a majority of women for the first time in twenty years, and will have at least four people of color.

This morning, several good analyses of the Seattle results have been posted by progressive outlets. The Stranger’s Heidi Groover looks at the balance of power on the City Council. The Urbanist concludes it was a good night for urbanist policies, and Seattle Transit Blog called it a great night for transit.

In a campaign closely watched by campaign finance reformers across the nation, Initiative 122 sailed to an easy victory, with initial returns showing at least 60% of voters approving of this unique public financing proposal.

I-122 would provide every Seattle voter with “Democracy Vouchers” that they can give to campaigns to redeem from a $3 million fund.

Seattle voters also approved a $930 million transportation levy (Let’s Move Seattle), designed to fund improvements to transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as road and bridge maintenance.

One of the most important stories from Seattle in the 2015 election is the voter revolt at the school board. Seattleites elected a slate of school board candidates who had vowed to take on the district bureaucracy and shake up the status quo – and it wasn’t close. Scott Pinkham, Rick Burke, Jill Geary, and Leslie Harris were all leading their opponents by wide margins on election night. Harris was 50 points ahead of Marty McLaren, the only incumbent on the ballot this year.

Seattle voters were fed up with mismanagement at their public schools, crystallized by the September strike that most voters felt was deliberately caused by district leaders. It was a vote of no confidence in a district staff who are widely viewed as being unresponsive to parent and public concerns.

The strike and the ongoing battle in the Legislature over education funding have sparked a new grassroots movement of Seattle parents, and after their victories last night, we can expect this movement to spread rapidly across the state.

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One Comment

  1. Dear Robert, I would appreciate some examples of the District’s mismanagement which you allude to above – aside from how the strike was handled. I do not follow the School Board closely at all and am interested in your interpretation of what the voters were saying in this election. Thank you.

    # by Diann :: November 5th, 2015 at 6:09 AM