Sara Nelson vs. Nikkita Oliver
Sara Nelson vs. Nikkita Oliver (Campaign publicity photos)

Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers, we have anoth­er lead change in a Seat­tle city­wide race! Today, author and activist Nikki­ta Oliv­er ascend­ed to the first place spot in the con­test for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, edg­ing Fre­mont Brew­ing cofounder Sara Nel­son in the fifth count of bal­lots in this election.

Oliv­er now has 40.15% of the vote, while Nel­son has 39.52%.

Bri­an­na Thomas remains in third place with 13.4%.

Here’s the num­bers for the top three candidates:

Seattle City Council Position #9 (At-Large)

  1. Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 40.15% (78,774 votes)
  2. Sara Nel­son: 39.52% (77,546 votes)
  3. Bri­an­na Thomas: 13.4% (26,300 votes)

As of press time, the cam­paign had not respond­ed to the lat­est results on Twit­ter, though last week it did pub­lish a cel­e­bra­to­ry state­ment. That read:

“We’re advanc­ing to the gen­er­al elec­tion! Thank you to all of the amaz­ing vol­un­teers, part­ner orga­ni­za­tions, and sup­port­ers who’ve put in years of work to make this pos­si­ble. We’re so excit­ed to take this peo­ple-pow­ered ener­gy all the way to City Hall in November!”

Last week, we saw not one, but two lead changes in the race for Seat­tle City Attor­ney, as Nicole Thomas-Kennedy surged from third place to first, zoom­ing past incum­bent Pete Holmes as well as Holmes’ oth­er chal­lenger, Ann Davison.

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Nikki­ta Oliv­er are both sup­port­ed by the city’s most pro­gres­sive wings and received the endorse­ment of The Stranger.

NPI’s July 2021 polling sug­gest­ed that the top vote get­ting can­di­date in the race for Posi­tion #9 would be Oliv­er. 26% of respon­dents to our sur­vey last month said they were vot­ing for Oliv­er, while 11% said they were vot­ing for Nel­son and 6% said they were vot­ing for Thomas. 50% — half — said they were not sure.

On Elec­tion Night, it was Nel­son who had the largest share of the vote — a plu­ral­i­ty, not a major­i­ty — and a healthy lead over Oliv­er, hav­ing evi­dent­ly picked up a lot of sup­port between the dates our sur­vey field­ed and August 3rd.

How­ev­er, that lead has total­ly evap­o­rat­ed and first place belongs to Oliver.

The left-lean­ing late bal­lot boom is also lift­ing Lore­na González, the cur­rent Posi­tion #9 office­hold­er, who is leav­ing the Coun­cil to run for Mayor.

González was The Stranger’s pick for the city’s top job and was also heav­i­ly backed by the region’s labor move­ment along with the Work­ing Fam­i­lies Party.

González has sig­nif­i­cant­ly cut Bruce Har­rel­l’s lead down since Elec­tion Night, pulling with­in just a few points of her for­mer col­league. Har­rel­l’s share of the vote has shrunk while hers has grown. She now has 32.09% of the vote, while Har­rell has 34.10%. For con­text, on Elec­tion Night, the gap between Har­rell and González was about ten points. That is some seri­ous move­ment in late ballots!

We know that a huge per­cent­age of those vot­ers who turned out in Seat­tle did so in the final hours of the elec­tion — very few peo­ple vot­ed ear­ly — so it makes sense that these post-Elec­tion Night drops are high­ly consequential.

In our poll, 88% of respon­dents said they were “def­i­nite­ly” going to vote, yet in three out of the four city­wide races, majori­ties of them said they were unde­cid­ed even after being asked twice who they were vot­ing for.

King Coun­ty Elec­tions reports that it only has 1,700 bal­lots left to count across the whole coun­ty, so the ground is unlike­ly to shift much fur­ther in any of the August Top Two races pri­or to cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. The rest of the tab­u­la­tions will con­sist of only small num­bers of bal­lots. Con­se­quent­ly, any­one who has a lead as of tonight is almost cer­tain­ly going to have that lead a week from tomor­row when the final results are cer­ti­fied by the can­vass­ing boards.

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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