Seattle City Council #8 poll finding, October 2021
A visual of NPI's general election poll finding for Seattle City Council Position #8, 2021

Though Seat­tle has four city­wide races on the bal­lot this year, there’s only one with incum­bent vs. chal­lenger dynam­ics: Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8. Cur­rent Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da is squar­ing off against bridge engi­neer and first time can­di­date Ken­neth Wil­son in the gen­er­al elec­tion, in a race that so far has received far less atten­tion than the city’s oth­er three races.

But per­haps that will change in the final two weeks of vot­ing, because our gen­er­al elec­tion sur­vey of the Seat­tle elec­torate finds Mosque­da with just an eight point lead over Wil­son, despite hav­ing cap­tured near­ly 60% of the vote in August.

39% of 617 like­ly 2021 vot­ers in Seat­tle said they were vot­ing for Mosque­da for Coun­cil Posi­tion #8, while 31% said they were vot­ing for Wil­son. 26% said they were not sure and 3% said they would not cast a vote.

In our July 2021 sur­vey of the Seat­tle elec­torate, Mosque­da received 26% sup­port, while Wil­son received only 1%. It appeared, at the time, that Kate Mar­tin could be Mosqueda’s like­ly gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent, with 6% support.

But then some­thing very inter­est­ing hap­pened: vot­ers across the city col­lec­tive­ly took notice of Wil­son after check­ing out the voter’s pam­phlet state­ment, and decid­ed to back his can­di­da­cy. Wil­son surged past Mar­tin dur­ing the vot­ing peri­od, cap­tur­ing 16.21% of the vote for the sec­ond place spot in the August election.

Now that Wil­son is Mosqueda’s gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent, vot­ers appear to be tak­ing even more notice of his cam­paign… and they’re very intrigued. Mosque­da is still the favorite to win in Novem­ber, but a Wil­son vic­to­ry is also a possibility.

Seattle City Council #8 poll finding, October 2021
A visu­al of NPI’s gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8, 2021

This new poll, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.1% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Tues­day, Octo­ber 12th, 2021 through Fri­day, Octo­ber 15th, 2021.

Fol­low this link if you’re inter­est­ed in a detailed primer on the sur­vey’s method­ol­o­gy along with infor­ma­tion about who took the poll. 

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

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8 this year are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list as it was shown to respon­dents]


  • Not sure: 37%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 35%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 27%

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


  • [Still] Not sure: 73%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 8%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 10%
  • Would not vote: 9%


  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 39%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 31%
  • Not sure: 26%
  • Would not vote: 3%

As men­tioned, Mosque­da is the only incum­bent appear­ing on this gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, with May­or Jen­ny Durkan hav­ing decid­ed not to run again, Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Lore­na González hav­ing left the Coun­cil to run for May­or, and Pete Holmes hav­ing been oust­ed in his bid for a fourth term as Seat­tle City Attorney.

Mosque­da was first elect­ed to the Coun­cil four years ago with a big mar­gin of vic­to­ry and is run­ning on sev­er­al key accom­plish­ments, chiefly the city’s Jump­Start rev­enue plan, which has so far held up in court and which is backed by a robust major­i­ty of Seat­tle vot­ers, accord­ing to NPI’s research.

Mosque­da also cites pub­lic safe­ty invest­ments and equi­table, afford­able hous­ing invest­ments as major accom­plish­ments of her first term.

“In the face of grow­ing unaf­ford­abil­i­ty in Seat­tle, I chaired the Hous­ing Com­mit­tee and passed bills and bud­get pri­or­i­ties to build more hous­ing options and afford­able homes through­out Seat­tle, and am proud of the impor­tant progress we have made to improve afford­abil­i­ty across Seat­tle, and know that there is much more to do in terms of fund­ing and zon­ing changes to build the 418,000 new afford­able units our region needs,” Mosque­da writes on her web­site.

“I am proud that Jump­Start secured an addi­tion­al rough­ly $135 mil­lion per year for afford­able hous­ing, shel­ters, home­own­er­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties and more to address the hous­ing and home­less­ness declared states of emer­gency by build­ing more hous­ing, pre­vent­ing dis­place­ment, improv­ing access to ser­vices, and pro­tect­ing pub­lic land for pub­lic good.”

With respect to pub­lic safe­ty, she writes: “Safe com­mu­ni­ties are healthy com­mu­ni­ties. That’s why I have pri­or­i­tized health, safe­ty, and well-being over invest­ments in sys­tems that have proven to cause dis­pro­por­tion­ate harm, espe­cial­ly to our Black and Brown com­mu­ni­ties. I am so proud of our accom­plish­ments towards stronger com­mu­ni­ties, but there is much more to be done to reverse harm caused, invest in com­mu­ni­ty solu­tions, and move fund­ing upstream to invest in pub­lic safe­ty and infra­struc­ture that saves lives.”

Wil­son is a first time can­di­date who bare­ly raised or spent any mon­ey in the elim­i­na­tion round. Nev­er­the­less, he put togeth­er a voter’s pam­phlet state­ment that clear­ly appealed to vot­ers who look­ing for an alter­na­tive to Mosqueda.

Draw­ing on his expe­ri­ence as a bridge engi­neer, Wil­son is cham­pi­oning what he says are prac­ti­cal trans­porta­tion solu­tions for the city along with caus­es that often don’t get top billing but nev­er­the­less are strong­ly sup­port­ed by Seat­tle vot­ers… like tree pro­tec­tion, which NPI’s research has found mas­sive enthu­si­asm for.

“Enforce­ment by Seat­tle Depart­ment of Con­struc­tion and Inspec­tions (SDCI) of [the] passed Tree Pro­tec­tion Ordi­nance sounds straight­for­ward and obvi­ous, but it is not work­ing to cre­ate the smart City-wide Plan we need,” Wil­son writes on his web­site. “Fee-in-lieu of options and lim­i­ta­tions to three trees a year per lot are not pro­vid­ing actu­al account­ing and val­ue for trees lost nor meet­ing our goals nec­es­sary to main­tain crit­i­cal green canopy.”

“It is also false to assume that even at 6 to 1 replace­ment of new to mature cre­ates a real­is­tic alter­na­tive to the mature trees’ ben­e­fits. Count the leaves on six tiny new trees or con­sid­er­ing the fact that small trees die or require replace­ment with­in three years, which makes them unequaled to a crit­i­cal mature tree.”

“The tree ordi­nance must be clar­i­fied to pro­tect all mature trees, except in des­ig­nat­ed arte­ri­als and urban devel­op­ment zones, includ­ing and espe­cial­ly those on pub­lic prop­er­ty,” Wilson’s com­men­tary goes on to say.

“The val­ue of the trees with­in the allowed zones to be removed must be inven­to­ried, retained if prac­ti­cal, but again val­ued in a track­ing sys­tem for mon­i­tor­ing our area’s crit­i­cal green canopy. Pro­tect­ing Seattle’s urban trees is a pri­or­i­ty. Envi­ron­men­tal impacts begin in our own back­yard. Crit­i­cal green space and tree canopy needs to be pro­tect­ed from poor­ly planned development.”

These kinds of spe­cif­ic, rich sub­stan­tive analy­ses are rare on a can­di­date’s web­site. But then, Wil­son is not a con­ven­tion­al candidate.

That could explain why he’s get­ting all this traction.

To go from 1% to 30% in polling in three months is a pret­ty incred­i­ble accom­plish­ment. Wilson’s rise has been noth­ing short of mete­oric. And if it con­tin­ues into the final days, Mosqueda’s once com­fort­able lead could evap­o­rate, cre­at­ing a close con­test that few peo­ple could have ever anticipated.

Our team and the ana­lysts we work with at Change Research believe that Wilson’s Top Two surge was­n’t detect­ed in our last round of polling because it hap­pened after our July sur­vey had field­ed. We know that the poll cor­rect­ly antic­i­pat­ed near­ly every dynam­ic in the Top Two elec­tion, and we know that Wil­son was an unknown who spent no mon­ey to reach vot­ers, so it’s log­i­cal to con­clude that Wil­son did not catch fire until peo­ple sat down at the kitchen table with their voter’s pam­phlets, where they final­ly had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to be intro­duced to him.

Three months lat­er, Wil­son is no longer an unknown and cur­rent­ly has about the same lev­el of sup­port that Lore­na Gon­za­lez has in the may­oral race… which is some­what incred­i­ble giv­en that Gon­za­lez has very high name recog­ni­tion and has (along with her allies) invest­ed huge sums in vot­er outreach.

The bot­tom line? Wil­son has become a cred­i­ble can­di­date even with­out hav­ing a big cam­paign war chest. A few months ago, Tere­sa Mosque­da faced a large field of for­get­table chal­lengers. Now, she faces a sin­gle chal­lenger who has man­aged to attract atten­tion and inter­est. This race has sig­nif­i­cant­ly changed, and it’s one worth pay­ing atten­tion to. A win for Mosque­da remains the most like­ly out­come, but it’s not the only pos­si­ble out­come: as stat­ed, Wil­son could also pre­vail. He’s nice­ly posi­tioned for a stun­ning vic­to­ry if he can con­tin­ue his surge.

NPI is not aligned with either Mosque­da or Wil­son and does not have an endorse­ment for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8, or any involve­ment in an inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture sup­port­ing or oppos­ing either candidate.

Vot­ing in the Novem­ber 2021 gen­er­al will end on Novem­ber 2nd. Bal­lots must car­ry a 11/02/2021 post­mark or be in a drop­box by 8 PM to count.

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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