Categories: Elections

Teresa Mosqueda still leads for Seattle City Council #8; Kenneth Wilson gaining ground

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.

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]

INITIAL ANSWERS:

  • 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?

ANSWERS FROM UNDECIDED VOTERS:

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

COMBINED ANSWERS, BOTH QUESTIONS:

  • 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.

Andrew Villeneuve

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