Varisha Khan
Varisha Khan, Redmond City Council candidate

This is turn­ing out to be quite the dra­ma-filled local elec­tion year!

Less than an hour ago, a Red­mond City Coun­cil race that did­n’t look all that com­pet­i­tive on Elec­tion Night saw a lead change. In the con­test for Red­mond City Coun­cil Posi­tion #1, chal­lenger Var­isha Khan is now lead­ing entrenched incum­bent Hank Myers… by a mere nine­teen votes.

Khan is a young Mus­lim woman who is mak­ing her first run for elect­ed office. She has been active in pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics for sev­er­al years, work­ing with OneAm­er­i­ca and serv­ing as a del­e­gate for Bernie Sanders to the 2016 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion. She was also cho­sen to serve as the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial elec­tor for Wash­ing­ton’s 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in 2016. In that role, she helped make his­to­ry by cast­ing a vote for Hillary Clin­ton in the Elec­toral College.

I bring the per­spec­tive as the daugh­ter of par­ents who chose many years ago to make Red­mond their home, and I’m also some­one who has again cho­sen Red­mond as a home for my own fam­i­ly,” Khan wrote in a mes­sage to vot­ers pub­lished on her cam­paign web­site. “At a time when Red­mond is chang­ing and grow­ing so quick­ly, it is so impor­tant for our city coun­cil to have the per­spec­tive of some­one who under­stands why peo­ple want to live and work here. I chose Red­mond and I hope you will choose me for Red­mond City Council!”

Myers is a Repub­li­can who pre­vi­ous­ly ran for the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives sev­en years ago and got trounced by now-Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Cyrus Habib. He has served sev­er­al terms on the Red­mond City Coun­cil and was backed in his reelec­tion by promi­nent devel­op­ment inter­ests in Redmond.

Dur­ing his time on the Red­mond City Coun­cil, Myers has con­sis­tent­ly opposed any and all efforts to take posi­tions against destruc­tive right wing ini­tia­tives such as those spon­sored by Tim Eyman. Myers has also reg­u­lar­ly espoused right wing talk­ing points on issues like trans­porta­tion from his seat on the dais.

Red­mond (NPI’s home­town) is one of Wash­ing­ton State’s most pro­gres­sive cities and Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists on the East­side have long argued that it deserves more diverse and effec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion. After fail­ing to recruit any­one to run against Myers the last time his posi­tion was con­test­ed, Demo­c­ra­t­ic and pro­gres­sive activists jumped at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to back a cred­i­ble chal­lenger to Myers.

On Elec­tion Night, as men­tioned, Myers appeared to be cruis­ing to reelec­tion, with 55% of the vote… a seem­ing­ly deci­sive ten point lead.

But the late bal­lots have con­sis­tent­ly gone against Myers. His share of the vote has dwin­dled with each pass­ing day. And as of tonight, he’s los­ing.

After King Coun­ty report­ed its sec­ond bal­lot drop of the day, Khan found her­self in first place. She leads with 6,508 votes (49.94%), while Myers has 6,489 votes (49.80%). There are thir­ty-four write-in votes.

What an incred­i­ble come­back. While Seat­tle’s Kshama Sawant is known for late inning wins, it’s a feat very few oth­er can­di­dates ever pull off.

Khan’s work to get out the vote down the stretch appears to have paid off hand­some­ly. Regard­less of the final out­come, she has made this race as com­pet­i­tive as it could pos­si­bly be. This race could eas­i­ly end up in a recount, with the win­ner not known for cer­tain until after the elec­tion is certified.

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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