Seattle City Council #9 poll finding

Two very dif­fer­ent can­di­dates appear like­ly to move on to the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion in the race to suc­ceed may­oral hope­ful Lore­na González on the Seat­tle City Coun­cil this year, with one enjoy­ing a rather big ear­ly lead over the other.

Asked who they are vot­ing for in the con­test for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, 26% of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers said Nikki­ta Oliv­er, who ran for may­or in 2017 and fin­ished just behind the sec­ond place can­di­date, Cary Moon.

11% said Sara Nel­son, the co-own­er of Fre­mont Brewing.

6% said Bri­an­na Thomas, who, like Oliv­er and Nel­son, ran unsuc­cess­ful­ly for elect­ed office in Seat­tle in a pre­vi­ous cycle and is now try­ing again.

3% said they would vote for Corey Eich­n­er, while 1% said Xtian Gunther.

50% said they were not sure, and 5% said they would not vote.

Rebec­ca Williamson and Lind­say McHaffie received no sup­port in the poll.

Seattle City Council #9 poll finding
A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, 2021

Nikki­ta Oliv­er describes them­self as a com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er, cul­tur­al work­er, artist, and attor­ney run­ning on a plat­form of trans­for­ma­tive change.

“Nikki­ta has lived in Seat­tle since 2004 and has served as a com­mu­ni­ty sup­port and cul­tur­al work­er with Urban Impact, the Union Gospel Mission’s YROC (Youth Reach Out Cen­ter), the Urban Youth Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my, Seat­tle Urban Acad­e­my, Who’s Next?, Year Up, and Writ­ers in School,” their cam­paign web­site explains. They sup­port hous­ing for all, divest­ing from police to invest in com­mu­ni­ty, and envi­ron­men­tal, racial, and eco­nom­ic jus­tice as core pri­or­i­ties.

With the excep­tion of Tere­sa Mosque­da — who also received 26% sup­port in our sur­vey, for the city’s oth­er at-large coun­cil race — Oliv­er is our sur­vey’s best-per­form­ing can­di­date. That sug­gests that the work they have done to build a peo­ple-pow­ered cam­paign that res­onates with the vot­ers has been very effec­tive. Oliv­er is well posi­tioned to advance to the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion next month.

Oliv­er’s most like­ly gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent is Sara Nel­son, who co-owns Fre­mont Brew­ing. Nel­son placed sec­ond in our sur­vey, as men­tioned, and is enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly backed by the Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al board.

(Oliv­er, mean­while, is The Stranger’s pre­ferred can­di­date.)

Nel­son describes her­self as pro­gres­sive, prag­mat­ic, and an expe­ri­enced pol­i­cy­mak­er in addi­tion to a small busi­ness own­er. “Sara’s a pol­i­cy nerd who watch­es the Seat­tle Chan­nel for fun — real­ly! She served as a Leg­isla­tive Advi­sor on City Coun­cil for many years where she advanced land­mark leg­is­la­tion on envi­ron­men­tal, trans­porta­tion, and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment pol­i­cy. She knows how pol­i­cy is made and how local gov­ern­ment should work,” her web­site says.

Nel­son is endorsed by many for­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­bers, from Richard Con­lin to Jan Dra­go, Tom Ras­mussen, Jean God­den, and Hei­di Wills, along with NPI board­mem­ber Gael Tar­leton, a for­mer State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive. She is the only oth­er can­di­date in this race with dou­ble-dig­it sup­port in our survey.

How­ev­er, an open­ing remains for Bri­an­na Thomas, Lore­na González’s chief of staff and an expe­ri­enced, well liked activist. Like in the oth­er Seat­tle city­wide races, there are a huge num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers out there who are def­i­nite­ly plan­ning on vot­ing, but haven’t set­tled on a can­di­date yet.

Thomas isn’t that far behind Nel­son and could con­ceiv­ably secure the sec­ond place spot with a strong get out the vote oper­a­tion and a mes­sage that res­onates. She will need to improve her can­di­da­cy’s vis­i­bil­i­ty to bol­ster her chances in this elec­tion. Thomas is sup­port­ed by many Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty orga­ni­za­tions in her Coun­cil cam­paign and could lever­age that sup­port in the final weeks.

Our Top Two elec­tion sur­vey, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Mon­day, July 12th, 2021 through Thurs­day, July 15th, 2021.

Here are the exact ques­tions that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9 are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the August Top Two bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list of can­di­dates as it was shown to respon­dents]


  • Not sure: 58%
  • Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 24%
  • Sara Nel­son: 10%
  • Bri­an­na K. Thomas: 5%
  • Corey Eich­n­er: 2%
  • Xtian Gun­ther: 1%
  • Rebec­ca L. Williamson: 0%
  • Lind­say McHaffie: 0%

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for?


  • Not sure: 87%
  • Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 3%
  • Bri­an­na K. Thomas: 2%
  • Sara Nel­son: 2%
  • Corey Eich­n­er: 1%
  • Xtian Gun­ther: 0%
  • Rebec­ca L. Williamson: 0%
  • Lind­say McHaffie: 0%
  • Would not vote: 5%


  • Not sure: 50%
  • Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 26%
  • Sara Nel­son: 11%
  • Bri­an­na K. Thomas: 6%
  • Corey Eich­n­er: 3%
  • Xtian Gun­ther: 1%
  • Rebec­ca L. Williamson: 0%
  • Lind­say McHaffie: 0%
  • Would not vote: 3%

Bal­lots in the August Top Two elec­tion are due back by Tues­day, August 3rd at 8 PM. A list of drop box loca­tions in Seat­tle and across Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty is avail­able from King Coun­ty Elec­tions. Bal­lots can also be returned through the Unit­ed States Mail, but we rec­om­mend using a drop box.

NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for office and is not aligned with any of the can­di­dates run­ning for elect­ed posi­tions in Seat­tle this year. No cam­paigns were involved in the design or exe­cu­tion of this survey.

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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