NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Bruce Harrell looks set to be Seattle’s next mayor with huge lead over Lorena González

It’s elec­tion night in Seat­tle and King Coun­ty’s first bal­lot drop of the elec­tion has been pub­lished. In the mar­quee race of the year, for May­or of Seat­tle, for­mer City Coun­cilmem­ber Bruce Har­rell has a huge, mas­sive lead over cur­rent City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Lore­na González, with 64.63 % of the vote to González’s 35.02%.

While González may nar­row that gap as the count­ing con­tin­ues, it seems evi­dent that Har­rell will be the next may­or of the Emer­ald City.

Bruce Harrell vs. Lorena González​

Bruce Har­rell vs. Lore­na González​ (Cam­paign pub­lic­i­ty photos)

City-lev­el elec­tions in Wash­ing­ton are offi­cial­ly “non­par­ti­san”, mean­ing that Seat­tleites – who are over­whelm­ing­ly pro­gres­sive – get to choose between two Democ­rats as the city’s next chief executive.

Bruce Har­rell and Lore­na González are both active Democ­rats and even have rel­a­tive­ly sim­i­lar résumés (both grew up in work­ing class com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and had careers as lawyers before join­ing the city coun­cil, each ris­ing to become coun­cil pres­i­dent). That being said, these two can­di­dates do have sig­nif­i­cant pol­i­cy dif­fer­ences – a reflec­tion of the big-tent nature of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

On home­less­ness (the most press­ing issue fac­ing the city as iden­ti­fied by vot­ers), Har­rell has respond­ed to pub­lic safe­ty con­cerns by promis­ing to take a tougher line on unhoused indi­vid­u­als who do not accept hous­ing offers.

He also plans to appeal to Seattle’s phil­an­thropic com­mu­ni­ty, encour­ag­ing Seat­tleites to donate to non­prof­its work­ing to end homelessness.

By con­trast, González favors bold­er pub­lic invest­ments in afford­able hous­ing ser­vices to give unhoused indi­vid­u­als a choice from options that work for them.

On polic­ing, Har­rell has promised to per­son­al­ly address the tox­ic orga­ni­za­tion­al cul­ture at the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment, inter­view­ing offi­cers and ask­ing them to sign an anti-racist pledge. He is against cut­ting the police budget.

As Coun­cil Pres­i­dent, González pre­vi­ous­ly sup­port­ed a call to cut SPD’s bud­get by as much as 50% dur­ing last year’s racial jus­tice protests. Although she has since backed away from that idea, she still favors alter­na­tive pub­lic safe­ty investments.

Each can­di­date has raised a large sum of mon­ey and has well-fund­ed allies work­ing on their behalf (as well as against the oth­er candidate).

Har­rell has more busi­ness sup­port; González has more labor support.

In the final weeks of the cam­paign, the can­di­dates’ pol­i­cy dif­fer­ences have large­ly been over­shad­owed by a back and forth over cam­paign tac­tics and messaging.

In late Octo­ber, the González cam­paign released an ad that argued Har­rell was untrust­wor­thy and unde­serv­ing of Seat­tle’s high­est office, cit­ing his con­duct dur­ing the final months of for­mer May­or Ed Mur­ray’s tenure.

Harrell’s cam­paign, backed by many lead­ers from the Black and Asian com­mu­ni­ties, quick­ly con­demned the ad, char­ac­ter­iz­ing it as false and divisive.

This is the first may­oral elec­tion in Seat­tle his­to­ry in which both of the final­ists for the posi­tion are peo­ple of col­or, which ought to be cause for cel­e­bra­tion. How­ev­er, the rhetoric used on the cam­paign trail has not shown Seat­tle at its best.

The Seat­tle Times backed Har­rell, while The Stranger backed González. Each pub­li­ca­tion ran an endorse­ment edi­to­r­i­al offer­ing rous­ing praise for its pre­ferred can­di­date and strong crit­i­cism of the oth­er candidate.

NPI’s Octo­ber polling indi­cat­ed that Har­rell had a sub­stan­tial, six­teen point lead over González, with eigh­teen per­cent of respon­dents unde­cid­ed. 48% of respon­dents said they were vot­ing for Har­rell, while 32% said they were vot­ing for González. The poll was in the field from Octo­ber 12th-15th and was con­duct­ed by Change Research for NPI; it has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.1%.

Although this elec­tion has been fierce­ly con­test­ed, Seat­tleites are assured of get­ting a may­or who is famil­iar with City Hall no mat­ter who ulti­mate­ly pre­vails. Both Har­rell and González are expe­ri­enced and qualified.

In addi­tion to elect­ing a new may­or, Seat­tleites are also choos­ing a new city attor­ney and decid­ing who should rep­re­sent them in the city’s at-large coun­cil seats and on the Board of Direc­tors of Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools. If you’re inter­est­ed in our cov­er­age of those oth­er races, check out our WA-Cities archive.

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