NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Bipartisan infrastructure bill advances in U.S. Senate, but still faces hurdles to passage

A bipar­ti­san infra­struc­ture bill nego­ti­at­ed by Ohio Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Rob Port­man and Ari­zona Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Kyrsten Sine­ma moved for­ward ear­li­er today when two-thirds of the cham­ber’s mem­bers (all Democ­rats and inde­pen­dents, plus sev­en­teen Repub­li­cans) vot­ed to invoke clo­ture on the leg­is­la­tion, allow­ing it to final­ly be for­mal­ly con­sid­ered on the Sen­ate floor.

The com­pro­mise leg­is­la­tion, which has the sup­port of the White House, is being hailed by the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion as a ground­break­ing set of invest­ments in every­thing from bridges and broad­band to mass tran­sit and water pipes.

In a state­ment, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden said:

I am pleased to join a bipar­ti­san group of Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors and announce our deal to make the most sig­nif­i­cant long-term invest­ment in our infra­struc­ture and com­pet­i­tive­ness in near­ly a century.

I want to thank the bipar­ti­san group for work­ing togeth­er and the com­mit­tee chairs for rais­ing their ideas and con­cerns with me, Vice Pres­i­dent Har­ris, and mem­bers of the Cabinet.

This deal sig­nals to the world that our democ­ra­cy can func­tion, deliv­er, and do big things. As we did with the transcon­ti­nen­tal rail­road and the inter­state high­way, we will once again trans­form Amer­i­ca and pro­pel us into the future.

This deal makes key invest­ments to put peo­ple to work all across the country—in cities, small towns, rur­al com­mu­ni­ties, and across our coast­lines and plains.

It will put Amer­i­cans to work in good-pay­ing, union jobs repair­ing our roads and bridges. It will put plumbers and pip­efit­ters to work replac­ing all of the nation’s lead water pipes so every child and every Amer­i­can can turn on the faucet at home or school and drink clean water—including in low-income com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or that have been dis­pro­por­tion­al­ly affect­ed by dan­ger­ous lead pipes.

Amer­i­cans will build trans­mis­sion lines and upgrade our pow­er grid to be more resilient and clean­er. Amer­i­cans will strength­en our infra­struc­ture, like our lev­ees, in the face of extreme weath­er like super­storms, wild­fires, droughts, hur­ri­canes, and heat waves.

Amer­i­can work­ers will make a his­toric invest­ment to install the first-ever nation­al net­work elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing sta­tions and under­take crit­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal clean-ups.

This bipar­ti­san deal is the most impor­tant invest­ment in pub­lic tran­sit in Amer­i­can his­to­ry and the most impor­tant invest­ment in rail since the cre­ation of Amtrak fifty years ago.

It will deliv­er high speed inter­net to every American.

And, we’re going to do it with­out rais­ing tax­es by one cent on peo­ple mak­ing less than $400,000 a year — no gas tax increase and no fee on elec­tric vehicles.

This agree­ment will help ensure that Amer­i­ca can com­pete in the glob­al econ­o­my just when we are in a race with Chi­na and the rest of the world for the twen­ty-first Century.

And, it comes at a crit­i­cal time. We are emerg­ing from this pan­dem­ic with an econ­o­my that is back from the brink. We are see­ing the fastest job growth on record. We are expe­ri­enc­ing the fastest eco­nom­ic growth in near­ly four decades.

Every­one from unions to busi­ness lead­ers and econ­o­mists left, right, and cen­ter believe the pub­lic invest­ments in this deal will mean more jobs, high­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and high­er growth for our econ­o­my over the long term. Experts believe that the major­i­ty of the deal’s ben­e­fits will flow to work­ing families.

Of course, nei­ther side got every­thing they want­ed in this deal.

But that’s what it means to com­pro­mise and forge consensus—the heart of democ­ra­cy. As the deal goes to the entire Sen­ate, there is still plen­ty of work ahead to bring this home. There will be dis­agree­ments to resolve and more com­pro­mise to forge along the way.

But the bot­tom line is—the Bipar­ti­san Infra­struc­ture Deal is a blue-col­lar blue­print to rebuild Amer­i­ca that will help make our his­toric eco­nom­ic recov­ery a his­toric long-term boom.

To say that nei­ther side got every­thing they want­ed in the deal seems like a big under­state­ment. Get­ting sev­en­teen Repub­li­cans on board came at a steep price.

The final com­pro­mise con­tains less mon­ey for pri­or­i­ties like tran­sit than the admin­is­tra­tion and Demo­c­ra­t­ic nego­tia­tors had pro­posed, lead­ing the Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Peter DeFazio (D‑Oregon, 4th Dis­trict) to com­plain: “From what we have heard, hav­ing seen no text, this bill is going to be sta­tus quo, 1950s pol­i­cy with a lit­tle tiny add-on… If it’s what I think it is, I will be opposed.”

DeFazio is the Chair of the House­’s Trans­porta­tion and Infra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee, and is a key voice for the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus on infrastructure.

DeFazio’s col­league Prami­la Jaya­pal, mean­while, warned that the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus — which she chairs — would not sup­port the bipar­ti­san bill unless a larg­er appro­pri­a­tions bill done through rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is also sent over from the Sen­ate with mon­ey for pri­or­i­ties Repub­li­cans won’t support.

“The invest­ments we iden­ti­fied months ago are long­stand­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­or­i­ties, includ­ing afford­able hous­ing, Medicare expan­sion, strength­en­ing the care econ­o­my, cli­mate action, and a roadmap to cit­i­zen­ship. Our Cau­cus will con­tin­ue to demand that Con­gress ful­fill the man­date we were elect­ed on: to deliv­er nec­es­sary, urgent, and trans­for­ma­tion­al change for work­ing fam­i­lies,” Jaya­pal said in a state­ment pub­lished by the cau­cus.

The votes do not exist in the House to pass the Sen­ate’s bipar­ti­san infra­struc­ture com­pro­mise with­out the sup­port of the Pro­gres­sive Caucus.

The White House knows this, but has been focused on break­ing the log­jam for the Amer­i­can Jobs Plan (or com­po­nents of it, any­way) in the Sen­ate, which only has a bare major­i­ty of fifty Demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent senators.

Sev­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors — chiefly Sine­ma and West Vir­gini­a’s Joe Manchin — have been vocal about their desire for bipar­ti­san­ship and have insist­ed on try­ing to find com­mon ground with Repub­li­cans like Ohio’s Portman.

The White House has played ball, with Biden’s team engaged in talks and the Pres­i­dent him­self par­tic­i­pat­ing in meet­ings to facil­i­tate a deal.

After weeks of frag­ile nego­ti­a­tions and dead ends, the effort to secure a bipar­ti­san bill appears to be yield­ing some fruit, but many hur­dles remain.

Not only does the bipar­ti­san bill still have to get vot­ed out of the Sen­ate, but the cham­ber also then has to send over the big­ger appro­pri­a­tions pack­age that House pro­gres­sives have staked their sup­port on (which some Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors are also very keen to get to Biden’s desk and signed into law). House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi — who is con­sid­ered by many peo­ple to be Con­gress’ most skilled vote counter — has said the bipar­ti­san bill won’t be con­sid­ered if it’s sent alone.

Sine­ma angered pro­gres­sives today when she said she did not want to sup­port a bill that invest­ed $3.5 tril­lion in the nation’s needs, say­ing that fig­ure was too high. But if she wants her bipar­ti­san bill to clear the House, she will need to vote for the appro­pri­a­tions pack­age, or there will be no deal at all, since not a sin­gle Repub­li­can is expect­ed to vote for the appro­pri­a­tions package.

Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, a vet­er­an appro­pri­a­tor and the third-rank­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of the Sen­ate, char­ac­ter­ized the vote on the deal as a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment, but stressed that get­ting the larg­er appro­pri­a­tions pack­age across the fin­ish line was also just as essential.

“We’ve been work­ing on this impor­tant bipar­ti­san bill for weeks, and I’m glad we’re final­ly mov­ing towards a vote, because we have to get this done,” said Mur­ray. “The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State sim­ply can’t wait any longer for essen­tial invest­ments in our roads and bridges, pub­lic tran­sit, clean drink­ing water, our ener­gy grid, and oth­er crit­i­cal phys­i­cal infra­struc­ture needs.”

“I want to be clear that this bill is just step one,” Mur­ray continued.

“Once we get this done, we will move on to a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion pack­age to even the play­ing field for work­ing fam­i­lies and help our coun­try build back stronger and fair­er… From afford­able hous­ing, to invest­ing in home care for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and old­er Amer­i­cans, to mak­ing com­mu­ni­ty col­lege free, to build­ing our pub­lic health infra­struc­ture — there is so much more work that needs to be done, so this bipar­ti­san infra­struc­ture pack­age is only the beginning.”

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west to invoke clo­ture on H.R. 3684 (offi­cial­ly titled the INVEST in Amer­i­ca Act) was as follows:

Vot­ing Aye to Invoke Clo­ture: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Lisa Murkows­ki (AK), Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID)

Vot­ing Nay to Fil­i­buster: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Dan Sul­li­van (AK) and Steve Daines (MT)

The final vote was six­ty-sev­en to thir­ty-two, with one not vot­ing (Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Dan Rounds, of South Dakota).

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Bruce Harrell talks with NPI about his 2021 candidacy for Mayor of Seattle

Bruce Har­rell is a for­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber and inter­im May­or. He’s one of the fif­teen can­di­dates vying to be the city’s next may­or. In NPI’s recent sur­vey of the Seat­tle Top Two elec­torate, Har­rell came out on top of the field with 20% of respon­dents indi­cat­ing they were vot­ing for him. 32% were undecided.

Bruce Harrell is running for Mayor of Seattle

Bruce Har­rell is run­ning for May­or of Seat­tle (Pho­to cour­tesy of Bruce Har­rell for Seat­tle May­or campaign)

I spoke with Har­rell on July 22nd to dis­cuss his cam­paign and platform.

This tran­script has been light­ly edit­ed for clarity.

Ruairi Vaugh­an, Ever­green State Elec­toral Ana­lyst (NPI): Thank you for tak­ing the time to talk with NPI!

Bruce Har­rell: Yes, my pleasure.

RV: You’re unique among the can­di­dates in this may­oral race because you’ve actu­al­ly held the job of may­or before, in Sep­tem­ber 2017. Of course, this was only for a short inter­val, but what insights from that time have helped pre­pare you for this election?

BH: I think I have a stronger appre­ci­a­tion for the enor­mous pow­er and influ­ence of the posi­tion. Not just hav­ing twen­ty-four depart­ments with over a thou­sand job titles, but the cab­i­net and the sub-cab­i­net and the com­mis­sions and the depart­ment heads, gives the may­or incred­i­ble influ­ence to actu­al­ly get things done.

I don’t think oth­ers may have an appre­ci­a­tion for that until you’ve actu­al­ly seen it; I have a great respect for what can be done.

We have a strong may­or sys­tem, and until you’ve actu­al­ly been there, rec­og­niz­ing the pow­er of either an exec­u­tive order or direct action that can be tak­en under the exist­ing bud­get, I don’t think many have appre­ci­a­tion for that. Which then cre­ates enor­mous oppor­tu­ni­ty for an effec­tive mayor.

I would also say that the impor­tance of trust and build­ing effec­tive rela­tions with your depart­ment heads is crit­i­cal. I know a lot of the depart­ment heads, I’ve known and had pre-exist­ing rela­tion­ships with them even before I was on the Coun­cil. I have good rela­tion­ships with many if not most of the depart­ment heads over the years – of course they change.

When I think about how the city runs, I think of a tri­an­gu­lar rela­tion­ship with the May­or, the City Coun­cil, and the depart­ment heads. I under­stand there’s the court sys­tem and the hear­ings exam­in­er and the audi­tor out­side of that tri­an­gle, but for the most part I think of that tri­an­gu­lar rela­tion­ship that is crit­i­cal toward the suc­cess of the city. If they are not com­mu­ni­cat­ing with trust and with trans­paren­cy it breaks down and the city as a whole suf­fers as a result of that.

So dur­ing the inter­im peri­od, I was over­whelm­ing­ly received by a lot of the depart­ment heads because I had worked with them. Quite hon­est­ly, a lot of them trust me and I trust them, and I will demand trans­paren­cy from them to allow the to excel in their core com­pe­ten­cy with­out micro­manag­ing them. But I also will make my deliv­er­ables and the out­comes I want to see very clear to them.

So I had an appre­ci­a­tion for that, because I was not sure how long I was going to keep that job, and I made it clear to them with both my legal and busi­ness back­ground, that that was the kind of may­or I would be – I was going to hire the best and let them excel in their core competency.

I’m not a social work­er, for exam­ple, so I can’t play one when direct­ing the Human Ser­vices Depart­ment, but I can make it very clear on agreed-upon goals and out­comes and can dri­ve that. So, I had a real­iza­tion and appre­ci­a­tion for the impor­tance of trust in the rela­tion­ships with the depart­ment heads.

I think last­ly, I had a new real­iza­tion for the impor­tance of trans­paren­cy. If you go back to Nick­els admin­is­tra­tion, despite a lot of the ini­tia­tives that he drove, peo­ple just recall his deba­cle dur­ing a snow­storm and what peo­ple would per­ceive as less-then-tran­s­­par­ent deci­sion mak­ing going out of his office.

Whether that is fair or not is not the issue, what the issue was is that the pub­lic thought there was a lack of trans­paren­cy. Even with the cur­rent issue deal­ing with May­or Durkan’s texts that were delet­ed, the pub­lic is expect­ing transparency.

So when I became May­or, I led by open­ly say­ing things, as you may recall, such as the city has become filthy. I said that, tongue in cheek, because I have lived here my entire life and I have nev­er seen such alarm­ing lev­els of garbage, debris, and graf­fi­ti – as though we should now be used to it. I made it very clear from the van­tage point of the may­or that that is not the city we want to be. So peo­ple had a strong appre­ci­a­tion for my can­dor, just because I was bru­tal­ly honest!

So I think the les­son is that peo­ple want hon­esty and trans­paren­cy, and that will go a long way. I had an appre­ci­a­tion for it just for the five days I was mayor.

RV: The most press­ing issue fac­ing the city is obvi­ous­ly the home­less­ness cri­sis. You’ve called for the city to use fund­ing from the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan Act (ARPA) to deal with home­less­ness, and also bring togeth­er fund­ing from the coun­ty and state. How much mon­ey do you think it is going to take to solve this crisis?

BH: Well, I’ve read sev­er­al reports on that issue and I don’t think it’s appro­pri­ate for me to state a dol­lar amount. I have heard the bil­lion dol­lar amount thrown around, I have heard that hard hous­ing costs less than $200 mil­lion, but I don’t think it appro­pri­ate to give a spe­cif­ic dol­lar amount until we have pub­lished a plan and I have the experts around to help me pub­lish that plan.

I will say, though, with a lev­el of con­fi­dence, that between the $150 mil­lion that the city is cur­rent­ly spend­ing, along with the $160 mil­lion that we will get next year, that that cou­pled with the mon­ey that I will raise from the civic and phil­an­thropic com­mu­ni­ties – which we can talk about a lit­tle more – will allow me to dras­ti­cal­ly change what we will see every day.

That means get­ting peo­ple into hous­ing – whether it’s tran­si­tion­al hous­ing or sus­tained hous­ing, there will be a com­bi­na­tion there­of – using the poli­cies we’ve already imple­ment­ed. These are good poli­cies, these are best practices:

  • Hous­ing First is a best practice;
  • Indi­vid­u­al­ized case management;
  • Whether you’re treat­ing some­one for drug and alco­hol or men­tal ill­ness or re-skilling them for job entry;
  • Whether you’re con­ced­ing that some­one may be chron­i­cal­ly homeless;
  • Or whether you’re meet­ing the needs of those who are disabled;
  • Using a region­al approach to address these issues.

These are best prac­tices that I will implement.

So the tool­box is there. What is not there is sim­ply the will to get it done. So you’ll see that I will revis­it the sit­ing and acqui­si­tion process. I will open it up to the pub­lic, using a region­al approach.

You may also remem­ber that one of my plat­forms will be to allo­cate $10 mil­lion to each of the sev­en dis­tricts. The rea­son I think this becomes crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant is each of the coun­cil mem­bers of the sev­en dis­tricts all seem to be total­ly com­mit­ted to solv­ing home­less­ness. I read their newslet­ters and hear them speak.

I want to give them tools to help the exec­u­tive achieve their out­come. They may use a por­tion of that, or a good­ly sum of that, towards sit­ing and build­ing; they may also use some of that to lever­age it into the gen­er­al sub-fund or oth­er fund­ing. That’s going to force the city to work with their councilmem­ber on a very gran­u­lar basis while look­ing at how we house those peo­ple who are unhoused.

The sit­ing and acqui­si­tion process becomes crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant for the num­ber of RVs [recre­ation­al vehi­cles] we see on the streets. I think many of the peo­ple in these RVs would like to have ser­vices, would like to know how to improve their lives, and look at alter­na­tive forms of hous­ing. I would like to assist these res­i­dents and see where they are in their par­tic­u­lar life, and that’s where the indi­vid­u­al­ized case man­age­ment approach and best prac­tice makes sense.

Now, what will be new under my approach is that I will call for at min­i­mum 70% of the ARPA funds to be used, that’s north of $80 mil­lion, and I will raise hun­dreds of mil­lions from the phil­an­thropic com­mu­ni­ties, and I think you know I’ve talked about this on the cam­paign trail, that my wife was once the CEO and pres­i­dent of Unit­ed Way. We assist Unit­ed Way in our phil­an­thropic efforts.

With that expe­ri­ence, we will build a dash­board and build a giv­ing mod­el so that not only will high wealth indi­vid­u­als give, but peo­ple can give $5 or $100, they can give cloth­ing items, assist with resume draft­ing, they can bring food to the food bank, but I will cre­ate a nar­ra­tive in this city where there are entry points for every person.

Ruairi, I think that is the prob­lem, that every­one in the city real­ly does want to help solve this issue, but most peo­ple don’t know what they are to do.

I get that dai­ly, “How can I help?”

I think the city’s role is to build that infra­struc­ture, by which every­one in the city who wants to help is able to help and that they know they are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence – that’s where the pub­lic plan comes in, so they can actu­al­ly see the cost per unit, per per­son, the costs that are going to home­less­ness ser­vice providers.

There are good providers out there, and we know who they are: DESC, LIHI, Catholic Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices, the Urban League.

We can go down the list of peo­ple who are doing good work and we are going to open up that data­base to show the city who’s doing the work and how much of the work they are doing, which ones are effec­tive and which ones can improve.

The oth­er piece of it is I’m cre­at­ing a new depart­ment called the Seat­tle Jobs Cen­ter. We know for a lot of peo­ple that are home­less or unhoused that our soci­ety has cre­at­ed a whole new sub­class of pover­ty – and no one real­ly talks about that.

When I was young in Seat­tle, a dis­abled vet­er­an, a teacher, a barista, a restau­rant work­er could afford to live in my neigh­bor­hood – that was in the Cen­tral Dis­trict of Seat­tle. Well, a lot of peo­ple have been the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of where soci­eties have gone, with high-tech, biotech, the sci­ences, and aero­space, and many peo­ple just need to be retooled. So the Seat­tle Jobs Cen­ter will be the city’s attempt to make sure that every per­son who wants to retool them­selves, tap into their gifts, learn new skills, will be able to do that.

We will har­ness all of the avail­able ser­vices out there in the pri­vate mar­ket – these are appren­tice­ships, intern­ships, train­ing pro­grams, schol­ar­ships, grant oppor­tu­ni­ties – we’ll put all that into a depart­ment and have coun­sel­lors ready to help peo­ple nav­i­gate their own lives and improve their lives.

The data sug­gest that a lot of peo­ple who are expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness need that, cou­pled with health out­comes, hygiene ser­vices, men­tor­ing, they need to have an oppor­tu­ni­ty and that’s what the city will create.

So I think that my plan on home­less­ness is well-round­ed, estab­lished on best prac­tices, and I’ve read quite a bit of mate­r­i­al on home­less­ness. I think we can imple­ment best prac­tices here in Seat­tle and, quite can­did­ly, show many cities how it can be done with the right polit­i­cal will.

RV: One of the points of your home­less­ness pro­gram is encour­ag­ing Seat­tleites to par­tic­i­pate via vol­un­teer­ing efforts like resume draft­ing ses­sions. How do you make sure you’re pre­vent­ing unqual­i­fied civil­ian vol­un­teers from get­ting paired with peo­ple who real­ly need pro­fes­sion­al help for men­tal health or addic­tion issues, and ensure everyone’s safety?

BH: That is the Human Ser­vices Department’s (HSD’s) role.

When you’re talk­ing about indi­vid­u­al­ized case man­age­ment, that is a very spe­cial­ized, trained area of exper­tise. The lay per­son may look at one per­son and think their needs may just be soft coun­sel­ing, when in fact they could suf­fer from schiz­o­phrenic or para­noid behav­ior or oth­er clin­i­cal prob­lems that need a deep­er lev­el of treat­ment. So the HSD direc­tor will be very skilled in hir­ing the right peo­ple to pair the right treat­ment providers.

In my per­son­al expe­ri­ence, I’ve men­tored and tutored kids since I was four­teen years old. I real­ized even then, tutor­ing at the Rotary boys and girls club, about many kids – who were sev­en, eight, or nine – how dif­fer­ent they were. I was teach­ing some of them to read, and I real­ized some just had an inabil­i­ty to read, but some had much deep­­er-seat­ed issues.

So I per­son­al­ly gained an appre­ci­a­tion for how you must know what you’re doing when you’re offer­ing ser­vices to some­one who’s in need. So we’ll make sure we have the right screen­ing process to get that right.

RV: I want to move on to anoth­er huge issue fac­ing the city. In your time on the City Coun­cil, you spear­head­ed some impor­tant reforms to the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment. Despite these reforms, the depart­ment is cur­rent­ly fac­ing class action law­suits for assaults on medics and jour­nal­ists dur­ing the protests last year, it had the largest con­tin­gent of offi­cers at the Jan­u­ary 6th riot of any police depart­ment in the coun­try, and the police union is cur­rent­ly fil­ing griev­ances against inves­ti­ga­tions con­nect­ed to that riot. With all that swirling around, how will you restore trust in law enforce­ment in this city?

BH: So first, there should be some lev­el of cel­e­bra­tion for what occurred in Olympia, when you look at the dozen or so police account­abil­i­ty laws that were passed. I do not think it was coin­ci­den­tal that we had the most diverse set of leg­is­la­tors that we’ve ever had in our state’s his­to­ry pass those dozen laws.

Choke­holds are banned, you have a new office of inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tions, you have the rea­son­able care stan­dard, as I recall, that requires a lev­el of deesca­la­tion. I’m going from mem­o­ry here, but you also had the require­ment that offi­cers inter­vene when they see mis­con­duct occur.

These are ground­break­ing laws, and as the City of Seat­tle and as the next may­or my first actions will be to make sure that through our train­ing and through our reg­u­la­tion we ful­ly imple­ment these laws that were passed and we insti­tu­tion­al­ize them in how we do busi­ness. You’ve heard me say this before, but we have many good poli­cies in place, being under a con­sent decree and with our exam­i­na­tion of the use of force by our offi­cers, our cre­ation of our inspec­tor gen­er­al and our com­mu­ni­ty police com­mis­sion work that’s being done.

That’s why I keep talk­ing about how it’s not a piece of paper that will change this depart­ment. Pieces of paper when memo­ri­al­iz­ing strong pol­i­cy are impor­tant, but the cul­ture is not changing.

My approach, hav­ing changed cul­tures at orga­ni­za­tions, will start with the lead­ers. I will hire the most effec­tive chief that we can find in this coun­try and we will start with the May­or set­ting the tone for transparency.

It will also start with the infor­mal lead­ers of the police depart­ment speak­ing out about that which they do not tol­er­ate – which should be mur­der, fatal­i­ties, and unrea­son­able force. No one can say that our police depart­ment has bro­ken its code of silence, and until our com­mu­ni­ties believe that the offi­cers have bro­ken their code of silence – much like we saw in Min­neapo­lis when George Floyd was mur­dered – we will not have com­mu­ni­ty trust.

While I knew I said a very provoca­tive state­ment that I want­ed the offi­cers to vol­un­tar­i­ly watch the George Floyd video and vol­un­tar­i­ly sign a pledge, the rea­son I made that provoca­tive state­ment is to impress upon peo­ple that if an offi­cer can­not, on a human lev­el, say that was mur­der, they have no place in our police depart­ment – none, zero!

The point being is that a piece of paper, or train­ing, or a legal safe­guard, or state law can­not make that offi­cer effec­tive if on a human lev­el we can­not agree that was wrong. When we can agree that that was wrong, I think it is incum­bent upon the offi­cers – and con­sis­tent with their oath of office – to say and pub­licly pro­claim that that was wrong and that will not be tol­er­at­ed here in Seat­tle. And that is where you change cul­ture, when the infor­mal lead­ers of a group, regard­less of rank, start describ­ing that which the depart­ment will become, will be, will honor.

Crit­ics want to sim­pli­fy my state­ments by say­ing crit­i­cal obser­va­tions, which tells me they do not have a clue about how you change cultures.

The rea­son why in the six­ties and sev­en­ties Black peo­ple said “Black is Beau­ti­ful” and “Black Pow­er” is because we were chang­ing the nar­ra­tive in our com­mu­ni­ty. We were say­ing that we are a crea­ture of beau­ty and we are empow­ered; you change the nar­ra­tive with procla­ma­tions and you change the culture.

You saw a rev­o­lu­tion of the mind and the spir­it, and in the police depart­ment that is what we must do if we are tru­ly to change the culture.

We change the nar­ra­tive, we change that which we cel­e­brate and that which we denounce. Now we will have a new kind of offi­cer, we will exam­ine every­where gun and badge goals, we will look at that. Charleena Lyles epit­o­mizes the exam­ple of a per­son who is in dis­tress, suf­fered from schiz­o­phrenic behav­ior, who need­ed a men­tal coun­selor and a cri­sis coun­selor, not a gun and a badge.

Last I will say that we need new lead­er­ship at SPOG [Seat­tle Police Offi­cers Guild], there’s just no soft way to say that.

SPOG, unfor­tu­nate­ly, are not embrac­ing the kind of cul­ture change that I would like to see, and I am hope­ful that new lead­ers will come forth and make them­selves known at SPOG so they can say amongst them­selves, “We want to build com­mu­ni­ty trust, we want to be respect­ed and trust­ed in the com­mu­ni­ty.” I don’t even hear them say­ing that and if they do not say that they do not believe that.

RV: Cir­cling back to the pro­pos­al for offi­cers to watch the George Floyd video, obvi­ous­ly it is a very sen­si­tive video. Have you con­sult­ed with Gorge Floyd’s fam­i­ly or rep­re­sen­ta­tives about this proposal?

BH: No is the short answer. But to me, giv­en the fact that mil­lions and mil­lions of peo­ple have watched that video through­out the world, that seems to be an illog­i­cal thing to have to do. Have you seen it?

RV: I saw parts of it.

BH: Did you ask for their permission?

RV: I did not…

BH: So why would I ask for per­mis­sion to ask the offi­cers to vol­un­tar­i­ly watch it? I appre­ci­ate it, and that is the kind of ques­tion I do ask.

I watched it and I didn’t ask their per­mis­sion, it’s in the pub­lic domain and there­fore per­mis­sion is not required.

RV: I wasn’t think­ing so much about per­mis­sion as about respect…

BH: So, I could just have eas­i­ly said the [Manuel] Ellis sit­u­a­tion in Taco­ma or the John T. Williams sit­u­a­tion that hap­pened here in Seat­tle. I think you’re miss­ing the point. The point is this: we have seen egre­gious acts of vio­lence com­mit­ted by police offi­cers, mur­ders. George Floyd is not even the point. These are unam­bigu­ous acts of mur­der. You take any one you want, and you have the police offi­cers look at those acts of mur­der – I would like SPOG to admit that that will not hap­pen in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton. George Floyd is only one of hun­dreds of Black men killed in this coun­try at this time, so he is not even an issue, nor is his family.

RV: Let’s move on from polic­ing. Anoth­er way to help com­mu­ni­ties of col­or is to help them recov­er from the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic. You were the co-chair of the small busi­ness recov­ery task force. How should Seat­tle move for­ward to ensure that the eco­nom­ic recov­ery is equi­table for all the cit­i­zens of the city?

BH: We saw with rem­nants of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion deal­ing with the $28.6 bil­lion fed­er­al fund that was relat­ed to the pan­dem­ic stim­u­lus, that there was not the kind of dis­tri­b­u­tion of funds that I would have liked to have seen – and that many small busi­ness­es would have liked to have seen. There are recent arti­cles describ­ing how a few of the large restau­rant chains received $10 mil­lion and hun­dreds of the small­er restau­rants – who were tru­ly strug­gling – didn’t receive any.

One of the things I’ve done recent­ly was small busi­ness­es tours in dif­fer­ent parts of the city: Sodo, Uni­ver­si­ty Dis­trict, Colum­bia City, et cetera.

I asked them, “What does help look like to you, what do you need?”

That’s where the answers come – I should not pre­sume to know the answers!

One of the things they have said repeat­ed­ly is how can the city use its built envi­ron­ment, its struc­tures, loos­en­ing up the reg­u­la­to­ry envi­ron­ment to allow them to expand and pro­vide the kind of ser­vices they want, to allow rights of way on streets for cre­ativ­i­ty in deliv­er­ing their ser­vices. I’m extreme­ly sup­port­ive of that!

The oth­er thing they’ve asked for is – and many of these are busi­ness­es that still need access to cap­i­tal – is to work with Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment Finan­cial Insti­tu­tions (CDFIs) and Com­mu­ni­ty Block Grant Orga­ni­za­tions (CBGOs).

There are sev­er­al around, but I think that the city of Seat­tle can make sure that these orga­ni­za­tions thrive and are avail­able to small businesses.

They cater to small busi­ness­es and bet­ter under­stand their unique bor­row­ing needs than tra­di­tion­al banks. So you will see us, through my Office of Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment, estab­lish­ing a much stronger con­sor­tium of CDFIs and CBGOs.

The oth­er part I talk about is the pub­lic safe­ty piece and the Seat­tle Job Cen­ter piece, because many of these busi­ness­es are ful­ly con­vinced that the city’s lack of pub­lic safe­ty is an imped­i­ment to their cus­tomers and employ­ees get­ting to them.

So my stance on pub­lic safe­ty – not just police reform but effec­tive pub­lic safe­ty –is being well-received by these small businesses.

The oth­er por­tion that they are excit­ed about is the Seat­tle Jobs Cen­ter, which assists employ­ees to find jobs and employ­ers to find employees.

A lot of them are hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing employees.

I will also men­tion that the work I have done with women and minor­i­ty owned busi­ness­es and sup­pli­er diver­si­ty for thir­ty years.

We will key in on that to make sure our dash­board is trans­par­ent, that the city can see how we are using women and minor­i­­ty-owned busi­ness­es, cou­pled with oth­er juris­dic­tions: the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, the State, the Port.

I want to put all of that on the dash­board, so that we can see who’s doing a great job when it comes to diver­si­ty of sup­pli­ers and who can improve.

I want the City of Seat­tle to be the evan­ge­list of using women and minor­i­­ty-owned busi­ness­es, because they are all work­ing sep­a­rate­ly on their issues and there’s not a uni­fied attempt here. But the state of Wash­ing­ton has prob­a­bly done the poor­est in terms of sup­pli­er diver­si­ty and we want to improve that.

Can I ask you a ques­tion? I wasn’t get­ting snit­ty ear­li­er with the video, was I? I was just mak­ing a point, but maybe I mis­un­der­stood your point?

I know we’ve left that top­ic, but I’d like to flip back to it if I may?

RV: The point I was try­ing to make was that there’s dif­fer­ent kinds of watch­ing the video. If you’re a news con­sumer watch­ing the video, you’re not real­ly under an oblig­a­tion. If you’re a news media out­let rebroad­cast­ing it, I think you have some degree of oblig­a­tion to the fam­i­ly of the vic­tim, and if you are the City of Seat­tle, as an employ­er, mak­ing it compulsory…

BH: There’s a word I keep using over and over and over, every time I use that descrip­tion. You know what that word is? Vol­un­tary! I said I would ask the offi­cers vol­un­tar­i­ly to watch the video. I nev­er used the word manda­to­ry, com­pul­so­ry, or required. I always say vol­un­tar­i­ly. I am SHRM [Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment] cer­ti­fied, I am a senior-cer­ti­­fied human resource pro­fes­sion­al. I know what a work­ing con­di­tion is, so that’s why I say “vol­un­tar­i­ly” watch the video.

When I said that, I said I would ask each offi­cer to vol­un­tar­i­ly watch the video and that I would ask each to vol­un­tar­i­ly sign the state­ment say­ing this would not hap­pen in Seat­tle. I said, what a great day that would be, where these offi­cers vol­un­tar­i­ly said to us, the pub­lic, that that would nev­er hap­pen – imag­ine that day! Do you think for a moment that the thou­sand patrol offi­cers were all just going to go to YouTube and watch it?

I am mak­ing the point – and I don’t mean to con­de­scend – but at some point you can­not train bad offi­cers! We have to rec­og­nize that. Peo­ple have to under­stand, do I real­ly think that one day a thou­sand offi­cers are going to wake up and watch YouTube? No I do not! But at some point we have to admit that per­haps we have some of the wrong offi­cers on the SPD force. No one’s real­ly say­ing that!

[Laugh­ing] Now let’s go to a soft­er subject!

RV: So we were talk­ing about small busi­ness­es, and one of the ways to help these busi­ness­es is to help their employ­ees get health­care, tak­ing that bur­den off the busi­ness­es. You have a plan to build a Seat­­tle-wide health­care sys­tem, and none of the oth­er major can­di­dates have such a plan – why do you think it’s so important?

BH: I think it’s crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant! First­ly, it’s going to be called Healthy Seat­tle and it’s mod­eled after Healthy San Fran­cis­co.

You will see two things that’ are occurring.

Thank God that [Joe] Biden is our pres­i­dent and the [Patient Pro­tec­tion and] Afford­able Care Act now has bet­ter legs, and the econ­o­my still has trau­­ma-relat­ed health sys­tem, but you will still see that so many peo­ple still fall through the cracks. If you look at what our Human Ser­vices depart­ment cur­rent­ly does, they pro­mote cer­tain things like pub­lic health, healthy aging, these kinds of things.

But, par­tic­u­lar­ly for the aging pop­u­la­tion – although this applies to every­one – that most peo­ple still don’t under­stand the dif­fer­ence between Medicare and Med­ic­aid, that it’s some­what of a max for a lot of peo­ple to achieve healthcare.

So I want to sim­pli­fy that.

Medicare, of course, is based on age – but even though you may under­stand that, there are dif­fer­ent parts of the sec­tions that one is eli­gi­ble for and it gets rather com­pli­cat­ed based on the choic­es that one is required to make.

Med­ic­aid, of course, is based on income.

But my approach is going to be to make sure that the Human Ser­vices depart­ment can in fact nav­i­gate through those choic­es, and we will imple­ment Healthy Seat­tle, which is based on a small employ­ee pre­mi­um and their abil­i­ty to pay – that may be zero or a small frac­tion – and we will make sure all our res­i­dents have health care. That’s not only going to help address the home­less­ness issue, but it will tru­ly address the vibran­cy of our city.

I talk about being the sole spon­sor of the human rights leg­is­la­tion in 2012 – the rea­son I men­tion that is that many cities have not embraced that and not become human rights cities. I believe health­care is a human right, that no one should be with­out, nobody. So we’re going to reflect that in Seat­tle and going to also assist those whose need a sys­tem to get through the eli­gi­bil­i­ty issues – whether it’s Med­ic­aid, Medicare, or the ACA – because quite can­did­ly, there are peo­ple who speak Eng­lish as a sec­ond lan­guage, there are peo­ple who just don’t com­pre­hend the com­plex­i­ties of the appli­ca­tion process. That’s where I think the City can come in and help peo­ple nav­i­gate through the health­care maze.

RV: Anoth­er way to be help­ing people’s health out­comes is through things like reduc­ing pol­lu­tion. The City Coun­cil pledged to reduce emis­sions to zero by 2030 – do you think the city can make that goal?

BH: Yes. When I was part of the dis­cus­sions in 2013 and 2019, we said we should not set goals that we can­not attain, we should always set real­is­tic goals.

Harrell sat on the City Council for twelve years

Har­rell was on the City Coun­cil for twelve years (Pho­to cour­tesy of Bruce Har­rell for Seat­tle May­or campaign)

Now, I’m going to go back to some great his­to­ry that was made in the state this year. Look at the cap and trade bill – that will clear­ly reduce our pollution.

That’s ground­break­ing stuff that will pro­duce hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in the next cou­ple of years. The clean fuel was awe­some, there’s the [equi­ty-focused] HEAL Act, all those great items com­ing out of Olympia this year, just incredible.

So one of the first things I will do com­ing in is mir­ror that and insti­tu­tion­al­ize that in our prac­tice, and make sure again that we are a leader in this country.

I tend to think of cli­mate change poli­cies in two buckets.

One is indi­vid­ual behav­ior – what can you and I do as res­i­dents of this plan­et, how can we make good choic­es every day?

That’s why I dri­ve elec­tric cars and have solar pow­er in my house.

I think that if a per­son is able to make changes that sup­port the envi­ron­ment, they can. So one of the things I want to do is re-incen­­tivize the state reg­u­la­tions on solar pow­er – even under­stand­ing that a lot of our pow­er is gen­er­at­ed through hydro and car­bon neu­tral sources – the more we can take off the grid the bet­ter! So you saw a lot of the state incen­tives for peo­ple to install solar on their homes start to min­i­mize or lessen over the years, so I’d like to see those reinstated.

If I could digress for a moment about the heat­wave we expe­ri­enced, because heat is one of the dead­liest kinds of extreme weath­er in our country.

Peo­ple think it’s extreme cold, but the heat is worse.

You may recall that in 2003 heat killed over 70,000 peo­ple in Europe, and about ten years ago there were about 55,000 peo­ple in Rus­sia who died from extreme heat! So I think about the record break­ing heat­wave that we received, which cli­mate change experts sug­gest are proof pos­i­tive that if it weren’t for cli­mate change, that would have not hap­pened. Our record break­ing tem­per­a­tures skipped the dou­ble dig­its, like eleven degrees, which is almost unprecedented!

I’m say­ing that as con­text because I think peo­ple are real­iz­ing how real this is.

So hav­ing said that, what I have to do, quite can­did­ly, is I have to hire the best. When I think of who the best cli­mate change advo­cate is for the city of Seat­tle, does a name come to mind? I want not one name, but three names to come to mind, so that peo­ple real­ize that under the Har­rell admin­is­tra­tion I will have three lead­ing cli­mate change experts dri­ving the pol­i­cy. So to answer the ques­tion – will we achieve it? – we will because I will have the three top experts on cli­mate change on my admin­is­tra­tion dri­ving this work.

RV: And who are those three people?

BH: Oh no, I don’t know the three names, not yet; I don’t have the job yet, Ruairi!

RV: In con­trast with oth­er big coastal cities, Seattle’s pop­u­la­tion actu­al­ly grew dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. As a life­long Seat­tleite, why do you think peo­ple keep com­ing to our city, when places like New York and San Fran­cis­co are los­ing residents?

BH: I don’t know is the short answer. I could only spec­u­late that we offer so much in terms of geog­ra­phy, the moun­tains, the water, the job envi­ron­ment, and we are a com­pas­sion­ate, lib­er­al city. Peo­ple still dig the vibe of Seattle.

Seattle’s not a place where you’re going from A to B and you hap­pen to be here – Seat­tle is a place that you tar­get. I think that Seat­tle still offers the dif­fer­ent employ­ers here, what nature has to offer here, and the peo­ple here – awe­some peo­ple! I think the vibe of Seat­tle is still strong, and that’s why I love it so much.

If you notice in this cam­paign, oth­ers will move here and then they will com­plain about how bad it is! I’ve lived here my whole life, and while I’m not obliv­i­ous to the great chal­lenges in front of us, I make it very very clear that I love this city, and that’s why I’m run­ning for mayor.

I use a quote by Mar­tin Luther King who said, “There is no great dis­ap­point­ment where there is no great love.” This city took some­one like me, whose par­ents did not go to col­lege, who grew up in the Cen­tral Dis­trict – in a poor­er part of the neigh­bor­hood at that time, in the sixties.

It took this lit­tle boy from pub­lic schools, raised him, and now I’m in a posi­tion to pos­si­bly be the may­or and cer­tain­ly have a viable can­di­da­cy. That’s what this city is about in my mind. It took my Asian grand­par­ents and my Black grand­par­ents and allowed them to have a great liv­ing for them­selves and their fam­i­lies – that’s the Seat­tle I like. So I think peo­ple still like the vibe here in Seattle.

RV: Bruce Har­rell, thanks for tak­ing the time to talk with NPI.

BH: My plea­sure, Ruairi!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Seattle Charter Amendment 29 has qualified to the November ballot, King County says

A pro­posed change to Seat­tle’s plan of gov­ern­ment that would add new direc­tives regard­ing the city’s oblig­a­tions for address­ing home­less­ness has qual­i­fied for the Novem­ber bal­lot, King Coun­ty Elec­tions announced today.

The coun­ty began check­ing the valid­i­ty of 66,340 sig­na­tures on peti­tions sub­mit­ted by the cam­paign in favor of Char­ter Amend­ment 29 (which calls itself Com­pas­sion Seat­tle) on Thurs­day, July 15th, at 9 AM.

The coun­ty says 65,393 sig­na­tures were reviewed.

34,714 were accept­ed and 30,679 were challenged.

The min­i­mum num­ber of sig­na­tures required to qual­i­fy was 33,060.

With the qual­i­fi­ca­tion thresh­old cleared, Char­ter Amend­ment 29 is now offi­cial­ly on the bal­lot. Seat­tle vot­ers will decide its fate this November.

The amend­ment — which many peo­ple already have strong feel­ings about — is enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port­ed by orga­ni­za­tions like the Seat­tle Met­ro­pol­i­tan Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Down­town Seat­tle Asso­ci­a­tion. It is staunch­ly opposed by orga­ni­za­tions like Real Change and the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union.

In our recent sur­vey of Seat­tle’s Top Two elec­torate, we asked vot­ers how they would vote on Char­ter Amend­ment 29 if the geneal elec­tion were hap­pen­ing now. 61% said they would sup­port the mea­sure, 23% said they would oppose it, and 16% were not sure. (Read this post for reac­tion to the find­ing from Com­pas­sion Seat­tle and the oppo­si­tion cam­paign, which calls itself House Our Neigh­bors.)

With the mea­sure offi­cial­ly on the bal­lot, let’s dive a lit­tle deep­er into the num­bers to under­stand where the mea­sure’s sup­port is com­ing from.

First, let’s take a look at the base num­bers again.

QUESTION: This Novem­ber, vot­ers in Seat­tle may be asked to vote on a city char­ter amend­ment con­cern­ing actions to address home­less­ness and keep areas clear of encamp­ments. The offi­cial descrip­tion of the char­ter amend­ment is as fol­lows: This mea­sure would require the City to pro­vide 2,000 hous­ing units with­in one year; and, until 2028: waive land use reg­u­la­tions for units dur­ing declared emer­gen­cies; adopt home­less­ness poli­cies; fund behav­ioral health and addic­tion treat­ment; ded­i­cate min­i­mum 12% of annu­al gen­er­al fund rev­enue to home­less­ness and human ser­vices with­out affect­ing cer­tain parks fund­ing; imple­ment diver­sion pro­grams for law vio­la­tions con­nect­ed to pover­ty or behav­ioral health; and bal­ance keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear of encamp­ments with avoid­ing harm to indi­vid­u­als. If the autumn gen­er­al elec­tion were being held now, would you vote yes to pass this char­ter amend­ment, or no to reject it?


  • Would vote yes to pass the char­ter amend­ment: 61%
  • Would vote no to reject the char­ter amend­ment: 23%
  • Not sure: 16%

Now, let’s look at how the num­bers break down by age:

  • Would vote yes to pass the char­ter amend­ment: 61% 
    • Ages eigh­teen to thir­ty-four: 64%
    • Ages thir­ty-five to forty-nine: 55%
    • Ages fifty to six­ty-four: 63%
    • Ages six­ty-five and old­er: 61%
  • Would vote no to reject the char­ter amend­ment: 23% 
    • Ages eigh­teen to thir­ty-four: 26%
    • Ages thir­ty-five to forty-nine: 23%
    • Ages fifty to six­ty-four: 28%
    • Ages six­ty-five and old­er: 17%
  • Not sure: 16% 
    • Ages eigh­teen to thir­ty-four: 9%
    • Ages thir­ty-five to forty-nine: 22%
    • Ages fifty to six­ty-four: 9%
    • Ages six­ty-five and old­er: 22%

Unlike in the may­oral race, where we saw a gen­er­a­tional divide with respect to vot­ers’ pref­er­ences in the crowd­ed fif­teen can­di­date field, ini­tial sup­port for Char­ter Amend­ment 29 is rea­son­ably strong across age groups.

In fact, younger vot­ers are the most enthu­si­as­tic age group. That helps explain why the mea­sure is at 61% sup­port over­all out of the gate.

Vot­ers of col­or, mean­while, are more sup­port­ive than just about any oth­er group. 70% of respon­dents iden­ti­fy­ing as Black, Native Amer­i­can, Lati­no, His­pan­ic, Pacif­ic Islander, and Asian said they would vote yes to pass the char­ter amend­ment. 20% said they’d vote to reject and 9% were not sure. (White vot­ers are a lit­tle less enthu­si­as­tic: 59% are sup­port­ive, 24% are opposed, 17% are not sure.)

Geo­graph­i­cal­ly, sup­port for CA 29 seems to be strongest in neigh­bor­hoods like Bal­lard, Green­wood, Bit­ter Lake, North­gate, Capi­tol Hill, the Cen­tral Dis­trict, Madi­son Park, and Madrona. Here is the break­down on the amend­men­t’s polling by “like­ly” city coun­cil dis­trict (data is based on respon­dents’ zip codes):

  • Would vote yes to pass the char­ter amend­ment: 61% 
    • Like­ly dis­trict one: 58%
    • Like­ly dis­trict two: 56%
    • Like­ly dis­trict three: 62%
    • Like­ly dis­trict four: 57%
    • Like­ly dis­trict five: 64%
    • Like­ly dis­trict six: 68%
    • Like­ly dis­trict sev­en: 55%
  • Would vote no to reject the char­ter amend­ment: 23% 
    • Like­ly dis­trict one: 28%
    • Like­ly dis­trict two: 31%
    • Like­ly dis­trict three: 24%
    • Like­ly dis­trict four: 24%
    • Like­ly dis­trict five: 16%
    • Like­ly dis­trict six: 14%
    • Like­ly dis­trict sev­en: 28%
  • Not sure: 16% 
    • Like­ly dis­trict one: 14%
    • Like­ly dis­trict two: 13%
    • Like­ly dis­trict three: 15%
    • Like­ly dis­trict four: 20%
    • Like­ly dis­trict five: 19%
    • Like­ly dis­trict six: 19%
    • Like­ly dis­trict sev­en: 17%

Our poll of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

NPI does not yet have a posi­tion on Seat­tle Char­ter Amend­ment 29 and was not involved in qual­i­fy­ing the mea­sure to the bal­lot. While NPI does not take sides in can­di­date elec­tions, we usu­al­ly do take posi­tions on bal­lot mea­sures. We antic­i­pate tak­ing a posi­tion on Char­ter Amend­ment 29 this autumn.

It isn’t uncom­mon for bal­lot mea­sures to start out with decent-sized leads. Pro­po­nents of a bal­lot mea­sure, whether it be an ini­tia­tive or a char­ter amend­ment like this, usu­al­ly only invest in cam­paigns when polling shows that the bal­lot title does well with vot­ers. It’s log­i­cal: Why risk mon­ey on a cam­paign that does­n’t have very good odds? Com­pas­sion Seat­tle’s objec­tive this fall will be to hang on to its lead. The coali­tion can afford to lose some sup­port and still win.

House Our Neigh­bors, mean­while, will be work­ing to get the per­cent­age of vot­ers who sup­port Char­ter Amend­ment 29 below fifty. The key to vic­to­ry for the oppo­si­tion coali­tion will be mount­ing cred­i­ble argu­ments against the amend­ment that res­onate with vot­ers. As the old polit­i­cal adage goes, when in doubt, vote no. Seat­tle vot­ers have a his­to­ry of being dis­cern­ing and doing their research. This is an elec­torate that lis­tens for the response when they hear a charge or claim.

With Char­ter Amend­ment 29 now offi­cial­ly on the bal­lot and home­less­ness far and away the top issue on Emer­ald City vot­ers’ minds, the stage seems set for a gen­er­al elec­tion more focused on hous­ing than any oth­er in recent memory.

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Select committee on January 6th attack gets to work, hears testimony from police officers

This morn­ing, the Unit­ed States House Select Com­mit­tee on the Jan­u­ary 6th Attack held its first meet­ing, con­ven­ing to hear tes­ti­mo­ny from four police offi­cers who defend­ed the Capi­tol on that hor­rif­ic day almost sev­en months ago.

Chaired by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ben­nie Thomp­son of Mis­sis­sip­pi, the com­mit­tee con­sists of nine mem­bers: sev­en Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans. The Democ­rats are Thomp­son, Adam Schiff, Zoe Lof­gren, Elaine Luria, Stephanie Mur­phy, Pete Aguilar, and Jamie Raskin; the Repub­li­cans are Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

All were appoint­ed by Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi.

Top Repub­li­can Kevin McCarthy with­drew all five of his choic­es after Pelosi said no to seat­ing two out of the five, say­ing that Jim Jor­dan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indi­ana were not appro­pri­ate choic­es to serve on the pan­el. Banks and Jor­dan are zeal­ous Trump boost­ers who stood ready to obstruct the com­mit­tee’s work.

McCarthy’s with­draw­al of his entire slate prompt­ed Pelosi to add Kinzinger to the pan­el. (Cheney, who was kicked out of House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship ear­li­er this year, had already been appoint­ed to the com­mit­tee as one of Pelosi’s ini­tial picks. She has become one of the high­est pro­file Repub­li­cans crit­i­ciz­ing Trump.)

All nine com­mit­tee mem­bers were on hand as Thomp­son gaveled the com­mit­tee to order and intro­duced its first wit­ness­es (descrip­tions are from Wikipedia):

  • Daniel Hodges, Offi­cer, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment of the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. Dur­ing the attack. Hodges was crushed in a door­way between riot­ers and a police line. An indi­vid­ual has pled not guilty to assault­ing Hodges and grab­bing his gear.
  • Michael Fanone, Offi­cer, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment. Dur­ing the Capi­tol attack, riot­ers pulled him into the crowd, beat him with a flag­pole, stole his badge and repeat­ed­ly tased him with his own Taser. They also went for his ser­vice gun. He sup­port­ed the cre­ation of the Jan­u­ary 6 com­mis­sion and crit­i­cized those who down­played the attack.
  • Har­ry Dunn, Pri­vate First Class, U.S. Capi­tol Police. He has spo­ken about the racial abuse he and oth­er offi­cers expe­ri­enced dur­ing the attack. His lawyers respond­ed to Tuck­er Carl­son call­ing him an “angry, left-wing polit­i­cal activist”.
  • Aquili­no Gonell, Sergeant, U.S. Capi­tol Police. He was beat­en with a flag­pole and chem­i­cal­ly sprayed.

Over the course of three and a half hours, the offi­cers told their hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries, describ­ing the vio­lence abuse they suf­fered at the hands of Trump’s ter­ror­ist mob.

Here are a few excerpts from their testimonies.


I thought I had seen it all, many times over, yet what I wit­nessed and expe­ri­enced on Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, was unlike any­thing I had ever seen, any­thing I had ever expe­ri­enced, or could have imag­ined in my coun­try. On that day I par­tic­i­pat­ed in the defense of the Unit­ed States Capi­tol from an armed mob… an armed mob of thou­sands deter­mined to get inside.

Because I was among the vast­ly out­num­bered group of law enforce­ment offi­cers pro­tect­ing the Capi­tol and the peo­ple inside it, I was grabbed, beat­en, tased, all while being called a trai­tor to my coun­try. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of, kill him with his own gun.

I could still hear those words in my head today.


I wit­nessed the riot­ers using all kinds of weapons against offi­cers, includ­ing flag poles, met­al bike racks they had torn apart and var­i­ous kind of pro­jec­tiles. Offi­cers were being blood­ied in the fighting.

Many were scream­ing and many were blind­ed and cough­ing from chem­i­cal irri­tants being sprayed in their faces.

I gave decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion aid to as many offi­cers as i could, flush­ing their eyes with water to dilute the chem­i­cal irritants.


While i was at the low ter­race of the Capi­tol work­ing with my fel­low offi­cers to pre­vent the breach and restore order, the riot­ers called me trai­tor, a dis­grace and shout­ed that I — I, an Army vet­er­an and a police offi­cer, should be executed.

Some of the riot­ers had the audac­i­ty to tell me that it was noth­ing per­son­al, that they would go through me, through us, police offi­cers, to achieve their goal as they were break­ing met­al bar­ri­ers to use as weapons against us. They used more men­ac­ing language.

If you shoot us, we all have weapons, we will shoot back. Or, we will get our guns. We out­num­ber you, they say.


As we came close to the ter­ror­ist our line was divid­ed and we came under attack. A man attempt­ed to rip the baton from my hands and we wres­tled for control.

I retained my weapon. He yelled at me: “You’re on the wrong team.”

Cut off from my lead­er­ship, which is at the front of our for­ma­tion, we hud­dled up and assessed the threat sur­round­ing us. One man tried and failed to build a rap­port with me, shout­ing: “Are you my broth­er”? [and] anoth­er shout­ing: “You will die on your knees.”

If you can spare the time, the video of their tes­ti­mo­ny can be watched on demand here. These first­hand accounts are worth see­ing and hearing.

Lat­er on dur­ing the hear­ing, Dunn lament­ed that so many Repub­li­cans have sided with Trump and his destruc­tive, unpa­tri­ot­ic cult against the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion and the Amer­i­can people.

“Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being laud­ed as coura­geous heroes,” Dunn said. “And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this Amer­i­ca, it is.”

Dunn asked the com­mit­tee mem­bers to inves­ti­gate not only the peo­ple who car­ried out the attack on the Capi­tol, but also the peo­ple who ordered the hit, not­ing that they are just as respon­si­ble for the events of Jan­u­ary 6th as the peo­ple who smashed win­dows, beat offi­cers, and ran­sacked offices.

Dunn is cor­rect that even in an era of mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion, the truth still mat­ters. Trump and his enablers can­not be allowed to rewrite his­to­ry. If we can’t get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened and prop­er­ly con­front this threat of domes­tic ter­ror­ism, we will be set­ting the stage for this to hap­pen again.

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

Followers of Trump resist vaccination as delta variant unleashes fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic — with deadly ramifications

Oper­a­tion Warp Speed, the pro­gram to devel­op vac­cines against COVID-19, was sup­posed to be the show­piece of Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign to curb the pan­dem­ic. The ex-pres­i­dent made a show of try­ing to waive aside vac­cine tri­als with a dis­tor­tion of Russ­ian his­to­ry: “Putin approved Sput­nik and then got the data later.”

There were tri­als, how­ev­er… suc­cess­ful tri­als, which yield­ed three effec­tive vac­cines approved by the FDA for emer­gency use against COVID-19.

The vac­cines have gone into mil­lions of arms, espe­cial­ly in coastal states. Appalling­ly, how­ev­er, as COVID’s delta vari­ant rages, eras­ing progress made in com­bat­ing the pan­dem­ic, about thir­ty-four per­cent of Amer­i­cans over the age of twelve and about forty-four per­cent of the country’s entire pop­u­la­tion have yet to be vac­ci­nat­ed against the most dead­ly res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease they’re like­ly to face.

Resis­tance to vac­ci­na­tion sad­ly reflects America’s polit­i­cal divisions.

It is cen­tered among Repub­li­cans, fol­low­ers of Trump, and in states he car­ried last Novem­ber. In Alaba­ma, the vac­ci­na­tion rate is only thir­ty-four per­cent, lead­ing Repub­li­can gov­er­nor Kay Ivey to say last week: “Folks are sup­posed to have com­mon sense. But it’s time to blame the unvac­ci­nat­ed folks, not the reg­u­lar folks. It’s the unvac­ci­nat­ed folks that are let­ting us down.”

It’s just the lat­est proof that there’s no such thing as com­mon sense.

Dem­a­gogues with a plat­form, like Fox’s Tuck­er Carl­son and Lau­ra Ingra­ham, are wag­ing a cam­paign of fear against vac­ci­na­tion. The man who boasts about Oper­a­tion Warp Speed – Trump has even sug­gest­ed the vac­cines be named after him – has yet to use his influ­ence to get them to stop endan­ger­ing people.

Carl­son, vaca­tion­ing in Mon­tana, was con­front­ed this week in a fly fish­ing store by a Mon­tanan named Dan Bai­ley, who post­ed a video clip of the encounter.

In the clip, Bai­ley can seen look­ing Carl­son in the face and be heard telling him: “You are the worst human being known to mankind. I want you to know that.”

This man has killed more peo­ple with vac­cine mis­in­for­ma­tion, he has sup­port­ed extreme racism, he is a fas­cist and does more to rip this coun­try apart than any­one that calls them­selves an Amer­i­can,” Bai­ley wrote in the Insta­gram cap­tion accom­pa­ny­ing his video, which has been viewed tens of thou­sands of times.

That’s a pret­ty apt syn­op­sis of the trou­ble we’re in.

“The prob­lem right now is that the voic­es of these cred­i­ble pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als are get­ting drowned out,” Unit­ed States Sur­geon Gen­er­al Vivek Mur­phy told a White House brief­ing last week.

The dem­a­goguery is out there for all to see.

It’s not just Fox hosts, either. Repub­li­can offi­cials are engaged in it, too.

After Pres­i­dent Joe Biden talked about pro­mot­ing vac­ci­na­tion “com­mu­ni­ty by com­mu­ni­ty” and “neigh­bor­hood by neigh­bor­hood,” Sen­a­tor Mar­sha Black­burn, R‑Tennessee, false­ly respond­ed with these fear­mon­ger­ing words: “Joe Biden is send­ing agents to your door to com­pel vaccinations.”

Gov­er­nor Mike Par­son of Mis­souri, his state an epi­cen­ter for the Delta vari­a­tion, accused the Pres­i­dent of “try­ing to scare” the citizenry.

“Don’t come knock­ing on my door with your ‘Fau­ci ouch­ie’: You leave us the hell alone,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Laren Boe­bert, R‑Colorado, told the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence in Dal­las, serv­ing as a warmup act for Trump.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Madi­son Cawthorn, R‑North Car­oli­na, warned that the door-to-door vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign could lead to con­fis­ca­tion of Bibles and guns.

The result: Polls have found forty-five per­cent of Repub­li­cans say­ing they will not get vac­ci­nat­ed, with thir­ty-one per­cent fear­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will insert a track­ing chip when the nee­dle is plunged into their arms.

Trump has done noth­ing to counter these falsehoods.

Why not? The fail­ure to vac­ci­nate is set­ting off a fourth wave of the pan­dem­ic, cen­tered in states that Trump car­ried last Novem­ber. The high­est inci­dence of new cas­es comes in Flori­da, where Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis is ped­dling “Don’t Fau­ci my Flori­da” stick­ers when he appears – non­stop – on FNC.

The “butch­er bill”, even among right-wing foot sol­diers, may be accept­able giv­en the objec­tives of those fan­ning doubts. Repub­li­cans have weaponized fear, fos­ter­ing hos­til­i­ty toward sci­ence, demo­niz­ing med­ical experts and research uni­ver­si­ties, and sneer­ing at so-called “elites.” I doubt that Tuck­er Carl­son or Lau­ra Ingra­ham believe a word of their anti-mask rhetoric or warn­ings about vac­ci­nat­ing chil­dren, but the prop­a­ga­tion of fear boosts ratings.

Trump is a mon­ey machine, hav­ing raised more than $75 mil­lion in recent months, mon­ey that is not spent to chal­lenge 2020 elec­tion results but rather goes to the care, feed­ing and trav­el of the leader, with much of the loot squir­reled away.

Fear brings in the bucks.

To keep milk­ing the cash cow, you need to cease­less­ly cre­ate tar­gets of fear.

“Repub­li­cans invent things to pro­voke para­noia,” New York Times colum­nist Mau­reen Dowd writes Sun­day, dis­cussing Repub­li­can denial of cli­mate damage.

As well, the goal is to cre­ate impres­sions rather than solv­ing problems.

As oper­a­tion Warp Speed devel­oped vac­cines, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol was faced with map­ping out a fifty-state plan for dis­tri­b­u­tion start­ing in Jan­u­ary of 2021. But the Trump regime took mon­ey out of the CDC’s budget.

At a hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill, Sen. Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, asked the CDC ‘s Dr. Robert Red­field where the lost dol­lars had gone. He replied that the admin­is­tra­tion had trans­ferred $300 mil­lion of CDC mon­ey to the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices’ pub­lic affairs office. The mon­ey was restored by the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee on health and human ser­vices, then chaired by Sen­a­tor Roy Blount, R‑Missouri, with Mur­ray the rank­ing Democrat.

Sec­re­tary Alex Azar want­ed to fire Redfield.

Such were the knives out in a regime wrestling with the country’s worst health cri­sis in one hun­dred and two years. The Mur­ray-Blount sto­ry is told in the new book “I Alone Can Fix It” by Car­ol Leon­nig and Philip Rucker.

One more fear fac­tor is at play – fear by right-wing politi­cians and pun­dits at what they have unleashed. It is dan­ger­ous to breathe a word of truth, even if done so rarely. The camp fol­low­ers aren’t used to it. Last week, speak­ing on his Fox prime­time show, Sean Han­ni­ty declared: “Enough peo­ple have died. We don’t need more death. I believe in the sci­ence of vaccination.”

The com­ment drew a storm of protest from his core audi­ence. Han­ni­ty back­tracked less than forty-eight hours lat­er, say­ing: “Well, first of all – I’m not urg­ing peo­ple to get the COVID-19 vac­cine because I’m not a doc­tor. What I said, I said to take it seri­ous­ly. It might kill you. I said to do a lot of research.”

What a stom­ach-turn­ing sit­u­a­tion for the country.

Trump wants to claim cred­it for devel­op­ing the vac­cines, yet his fol­low­ers resist being jabbed. The ex-president’s favorite boot lick­ers in Con­gress and right wing media spread fears and exploit the nation’s divi­sions. Trump cash­es in on those divi­sions, and by mock­ing pub­lic health experts. Mil­lions go unvaccinated.

Trump was qui­et­ly vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19 before leav­ing office, a rare unpub­li­cized action in his high­ly pub­lic, tabloid-anchored life.

For half a year, he’s had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring on board his fol­low­ers. He could do a ser­vice to his coun­try, but instead he serves only him­self, as usual.

The ram­i­fi­ca­tions are deadly.

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Most voters favor Seattle Charter Amendment 29 (concerning homelessness) out of the gate

This autumn, vot­ers in Seat­tle are almost cer­tain­ly going to be asked if they want to amend the Emer­ald City’s plan of gov­ern­ment to add new direc­tives regard­ing the city’s oblig­a­tions for address­ing home­less­ness, the issue that most vot­ers in Seat­tle say is the top pri­or­i­ty they want the next may­or to address.

Char­ter Amend­ment 29, as the mea­sure is offi­cial­ly known, is cur­rent­ly await­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from King Coun­ty Elec­tions offi­cials fol­low­ing a late spring/early sum­mer sig­na­ture dri­ve that end­ed at the begin­ning of the month.

Although the sig­na­ture check isn’t yet com­plete, the mea­sure is expect­ed to qual­i­fy, and the cam­paigns for and against the amend­ment are revving up in prepa­ra­tion for what is expect­ed to be a live­ly gen­er­al elec­tion campaign.

With the con­tentious amend­ment poised to be a focal point of debate this autumn, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty last week as part of our July 2021 city­wide Top Two sur­vey of Seat­tle vot­ers to ask respon­dents how they would vote on the mea­sure if the gen­er­al elec­tion were being held now.

Out of the gate, we find Char­ter Amend­ment 29 in a strong posi­tion, with 61% of vot­ers like­ly to vote in the cur­rent Top Two elec­tion say­ing they favor the amend­ment. Just 23% are opposed, and anoth­er 16% said they were not sure. That’s a net lead of thir­ty-sev­en points for the pro side to start.

Poll finding on Seattle Charter Amendment 29

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s poll find­ing on Seat­tle Char­ter Amend­ment 29, which will appear on the Novem­ber 2021 gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot if cer­ti­fied (Graph­ic by NPI)

Our poll of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Here’s the exact ques­tion that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: This Novem­ber, vot­ers in Seat­tle may be asked to vote on a city char­ter amend­ment con­cern­ing actions to address home­less­ness and keep areas clear of encamp­ments. The offi­cial descrip­tion of the char­ter amend­ment is as fol­lows: This mea­sure would require the City to pro­vide 2,000 hous­ing units with­in one year; and, until 2028: waive land use reg­u­la­tions for units dur­ing declared emer­gen­cies; adopt home­less­ness poli­cies; fund behav­ioral health and addic­tion treat­ment; ded­i­cate min­i­mum 12% of annu­al gen­er­al fund rev­enue to home­less­ness and human ser­vices with­out affect­ing cer­tain parks fund­ing; imple­ment diver­sion pro­grams for law vio­la­tions con­nect­ed to pover­ty or behav­ioral health; and bal­ance keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear of encamp­ments with avoid­ing harm to indi­vid­u­als. If the autumn gen­er­al elec­tion were being held now, would you vote yes to pass this char­ter amend­ment, or no to reject it?


  • Would vote yes to pass the char­ter amend­ment: 61%
  • Would vote no to reject the char­ter amend­ment: 23%
  • Not sure: 16%

Com­pas­sion Seat­tle, the coali­tion in favor of the amend­ment, hailed the find­ing, say­ing that it showed Seat­tleites are ready to take action on homelessness.

“The find­ings of the NPI poll are con­sis­tent with our own research and the response we have received from the peo­ple of Seat­tle,” the cam­paign said in a state­ment. “Vot­ers believe the best path for­ward to address­ing the home­less­ness cri­sis is through a coor­di­nat­ed, action­able plan that holds the City of Seat­tle and its lead­er­ship account­able in mak­ing mea­sur­able progress.”

“It starts with pri­or­i­tiz­ing the indi­vid­u­als who need our help through emer­gency hous­ing, access to men­tal health and sub­stance abuse treat­ment and oth­er nec­es­sary sup­port ser­vices that are need­ed to bring peo­ple inside.”

“Ulti­mate­ly, CA 29 is the plan that is need­ed to solve this cri­sis, and it requires our city to be trans­par­ent about progress and set­backs for it to be suc­cess­ful. As the cam­paign to approve the Char­ter Amend­ment begins, we urge all of Seat­tle to work togeth­er to solve this human cri­sis and not con­tin­ue to politi­cize it.”

House Our Neigh­bors, the coali­tion opposed to the amend­ment, told NPI that they believe the mea­sure’s fatal flaws will become increas­ing­ly appar­ent to vot­ers, and cit­ed Com­pas­sion Seat­tle’s ref­er­enced — but not pub­licly released — polling that showed even high­er lev­els of sup­port for the pro­pos­al a few months ago.

“[Back­ers] claim that their amend­ment was polling between 70–80% [pri­or to fil­ing]. So the fact that in a few months, a grass­roots cam­paign of cur­rent­ly home­less, for­mer­ly home­less, advo­cates, and over six­ty orga­ni­za­tions, bankrolled by peo­ple pow­er, not real estate devel­op­ers and cor­po­ra­tions, has brought that num­ber down to 61% is a great sign!” said Tiffani McCoy, Advo­ca­cy Direc­tor for Real Change and one of the orga­niz­ers of House Our Neighbors.

“Vot­ers are learn­ing about the disin­gen­u­ous nature of Char­ter Amend­ment 29, and how cor­po­ra­tions and devel­op­ers are buy­ing a char­ter amend­ment to influ­ence city­wide elec­tions,” McCoy added.

“CA 29 includes no new solu­tions, no new fund­ing, and cod­i­fies the forced removal of our unhoused neigh­bors into the city charter.”

“Their Amend­ment, if passed, would already fail our unhoused neigh­bors. It does absolute­ly noth­ing for fifty per­cent of those cur­rent­ly liv­ing out­side, and does noth­ing to deter the inflow of home­less­ness. It’s an emp­ty promise to end home­less­ness and it sen­sa­tion­al­izes our most vul­ner­a­ble for polit­i­cal gain.”

The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union of Wash­ing­ton is among the orga­ni­za­tions that has declared its oppo­si­tion to Char­ter Amend­ment 29, writ­ing:

“Char­ter Amend­ment 29 (CA 29) would enshrine Seattle’s cur­rent inef­fec­tive and harm­ful prac­tice of sweep­ing unhoused res­i­dents and their homes from pub­lic places into the City’s Char­ter, while doing noth­ing to mean­ing­ful­ly address home­less­ness. The crim­i­nal­iza­tion of pover­ty is not only uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, but an inap­pro­pri­ate way to address the long-stand­ing and inter­sect­ing issues of hous­ing afford­abil­i­ty, Seattle’s racial wealth divide and com­mu­ni­ty dis­place­ment, and the his­to­ry of struc­tur­al inequity in housing.”

Com­pas­sion Seat­tle says the ACLU’s analy­sis is incorrect.

“Despite what the ACLU says, Char­ter Amend­ment 29 does not pro­mote sweeps, nor do we believe sweeps to be an effec­tive prac­tice to help those liv­ing unshel­tered. That is why the Amend­ment requires cre­ation of 2,000 units of emer­gency hous­ing and expan­sion of behav­ioral health services.”

“Char­ter Amend­ment 29 does not crim­i­nal­ize home­less­ness; it says noth­ing about law enforce­ment,” a June 9th state­ment from the coali­tion con­tends. “It does require expan­sion of diver­sion pro­grams so police, pros­e­cu­tors, defense attor­neys and the courts can decide on a case-by-case basis whether treat­ment and oth­er indi­vid­u­al­ized ser­vices are bet­ter than arrest and prosecution.”

House Our Neigh­bors told NPI that they see three big prob­lems with the Char­ter Amend­ment 29 bal­lot title, which you can read above in its entire­ty (it was part of the ques­tion that we asked vot­ers). Here’s their analysis:

First, the bal­lot title says that CA 29 “would require the City to pro­vide 2,000 hous­ing units with­in one year”  but the Char­ter Amend­ment lan­guages actu­al­ly dic­tates emer­gency or per­ma­nent hous­ing, and the fact that this amend­ment would only divert rough­ly $18 mil­lion more to home­less­ness, these 2,000 units will be emer­gency shel­ter. The lan­guage in the bal­lot title makes it sound like per­ma­nent hous­ing units.

Sec­ond, the bal­lot title says CA 29 will “bal­ance keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear of encamp­ments with avoid­ing harm to individuals.”

This is a flow­ery notion and has no place in the bal­lot title.

CA 29 is all about keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear, and allows the use of force to ensure this. The last sen­tence in sec­tion three of the pro­posed char­ter amend­ment states: “In those cir­cum­stances where the City does not close an encamp­ment, the City may still require indi­vid­u­als to shift their belong­ings and any struc­tures to ensure safe­ty, acces­si­bil­i­ty and to accom­mo­date use of pub­lic spaces.”

Let’s be clear, shift is a euphemism.

A shift is a sweep, it’s a forced removal, it’s dis­place­ment, with­out any guar­an­tee of shel­ter or hous­ing. This is the true aim of CA 29.

Third, the bal­lot title repeat­ed­ly refers to how this will fund x, and fund y. This is wild­ly mis­lead­ing, as this Char­ter Amend­ment has zero fund­ing attached to it. CA 29 only requires 1% more fund­ing to be divert­ed to a human ser­vices fund, so that’s rough­ly $18 mil­lion more than we already spend.

Com­pas­sion Seat­tle argues in its FAQ: “2,000 units is not the end, it’s the begin­ning. This is an aggres­sive start to pro­vid­ing enough capac­i­ty in the first year to move peo­ple inside and make a notice­able dif­fer­ence in the region.”

And, with respect to the lack of fund­ing attached to the pro­pos­al, the coali­tion says: “Adopt­ing new tax­es is not nec­es­sary to ful­fill the first years of the plan out­lined in Char­ter Amend­ment 29. We believe the City of Seat­tle has the nec­es­sary resources in its gen­er­al fund, and it comes down to a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ti­za­tion. If the City demon­strates both suc­cess and a need for new fund­ing to com­plete the plan, they should then make that case to the voters.”

“Char­ter Amend­ment 29 is not a quick fix,” Com­pas­sion Seat­tle stresses.

“It will take a focused and per­sis­tent effort to per­suade indi­vid­u­als to accept hous­ing and ser­vices tai­lored to meet their needs. The best way to keep our pub­lic spaces free of encamp­ments is to fol­low the expe­ri­ence of oth­er cities who have suc­cess­ful­ly addressed this issue by meet­ing basic human needs for safe and secure hous­ing and by pro­vid­ing behav­ioral health services.”

House Our Neigh­bors says Char­ter Amend­ment 29 would take the city in the wrong direc­tion, not make things bet­ter over time. “The pro­pos­al is in fact a major step back­wards in address­ing the region’s hous­ing cri­sis,” HON’s FAQ says.

“Our unhoused neigh­bors don’t need more ‘com­pas­sion­ate’ sweeps — they need deeply afford­able, per­ma­nent, and suf­fi­cient hous­ing units, an expan­sion of proven options like tiny house vil­lages and sub­si­dized hotel rooms, safe lots for RVs and oth­er vehi­cles, and more wrap­around ser­vices,” the coali­tion says.

NPI does not yet have a posi­tion on Seat­tle Char­ter Amend­ment 29 and was not involved in qual­i­fy­ing the mea­sure to the bal­lot. While NPI does not take sides in can­di­date elec­tions, we usu­al­ly do take posi­tions on bal­lot mea­sures. We antic­i­pate tak­ing a posi­tion on Char­ter Amend­ment 29 this autumn.

If you’d like to dive more deeply into the case for and against the mea­sure ahead of the fall cam­paign, we rec­om­mend read­ing the FAQs and answers to those ques­tions post­ed by Com­pas­sion Seat­tle and House Our Neigh­bors.

Bal­lots in the cur­rent August 2021 Top Two elec­tion (which were mailed out last week) must be returned to a drop box by 8 PM or post­marked by the last out­go­ing mail col­lec­tion time on Tues­day, August 3rd, 2021. Hap­py voting!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

No surprise: Seattle voters’ top concern this election year is addressing homelessness

Almost six years ago, in Novem­ber of 2015, the City of Seat­tle declared that home­less­ness in and around the Emer­ald City had become a cri­sis, with then-May­or Ed Mur­ray stat­ing in a civ­il emer­gency order that “mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty should not be forced… to live and sleep out­doors and on the street.”

In the time that has passed since, how­ev­er, the num­ber of peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness in and around Seat­tle has gone up, not down.

The city, coun­ty, and state have all enact­ed new laws and ordi­nances recent­ly in an attempt to address the cri­sis and pre­vent more peo­ple from becom­ing home­less, but our research shows that Seat­tle vot­ers feel strong­ly that the city needs to be doing more — a lot more — to get peo­ple into housing.

A whop­ping 68% of like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers sur­veyed last week by Change Research for NPI iden­ti­fied address­ing home­less­ness as the pri­or­i­ty they most want the next May­or of Seat­tle to tack­le once sworn in.

13% cit­ed hous­ing costs and access to hous­ing — a close­ly relat­ed pri­or­i­ty — as a top con­cern they want the city’s incom­ing chief exec­u­tive to act on. And 9% specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned they want to see pub­lic hous­ing for low income Seattleites.

Here’s a word cloud that visu­al­ly demon­strates just how dom­i­nant of an issue address­ing home­less­ness is this elec­tion cycle for our respondents:

Homelessness is Seattle voters' top concern in the 2021 election

The NPI team used the ven­er­a­ble Wor­dle app to build a word cloud with the text of the sur­vey respons­es (Graph­ic by NPI)

“Home­less” and “home­less­ness” appeared over and over again in the respons­es sub­mit­ted to our open end­ed ques­tion about the work of Seat­tle’s next may­or, which are cod­ed below into cat­e­gories based on the themes that Change Research and the NPI team saw after sift­ing through them.

QUESTION: What poli­cies do you want to see Seattle’s next May­or imple­ment to improve the health of the city?

[Note: Respons­es cod­ed from open-end­ed submissions]


  • Address the city’s home­less­ness cri­sis: 68%
  • Police reform (defund, demil­i­ta­rize, change nature of): 18%
  • Improve pub­lic safe­ty and tack­le crime: 17%
  • Bring down hous­ing costs (i.e. through rent con­trol): 13%
  • Police sup­port (increase fund­ing, deploy more offi­cers): 10%

In addi­tion to the five top answers shown above, respon­dents also specif­i­cal­ly expressed sup­port for beau­ti­fy­ing the city (like through graf­fi­ti removal or pick­ing up trash — 9% of respon­dents iden­ti­fied that as a con­cern), pro­vid­ing pub­lic hous­ing for low income Seat­tleites (9% iden­ti­fied that as a con­cern), and bol­ster­ing the city’s infra­struc­ture (8% iden­ti­fied that as a concern).

Small­er per­cent­ages flagged addi­tion­al pri­or­i­ties they want the may­or to focus on:

  • more and bet­ter tran­sit (7%),
  • increase tax­es on the wealthy and cor­po­ra­tions (7%),
  • expand ser­vices for those strug­gling with addic­tion (6%),
  • sup­port the city’s busi­ness­es (6%),
  • improve parks (6%),
  • enforce laws (5%),
  • act on cli­mate and pro­tect the city’s envi­ron­ment (5%),
  • make down­town Seat­tle safer and more wel­com­ing (4%),
  • and help fam­i­lies with bet­ter child­care and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties (4%).

Final­ly, 3% of respon­dents specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned they’d like the next may­or to focus on low­er­ing tax­es and anoth­er 3% men­tioned cham­pi­oning racial justice.

Many respon­dents’ answers con­sist­ed very sim­ply of “Address home­less­ness!” or some vari­a­tion there­of, while oth­ers offered lengthy and extreme­ly thor­ough com­men­taries on the state of the city and what they think their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives are or aren’t doing to act on the issues of the day.

Because home­less­ness was such a pre­dom­i­nant theme in the respons­es, we’ve cre­at­ed a sec­ond word cloud that does­n’t have home­less­ness in it so you can see a sam­pling of oth­er words that were com­mon to the respons­es we received.

Supplementary word cloud from NPI's July 2021 survey of Seattle voters

This word cloud, also made with Wor­dle by the NPI team, does­n’t have home­less­ness in it, thus allow­ing oth­er words to be more promi­nent. (Graph­ic by NPI)

In all, five hun­dred and eighty-two out of the six hun­dred and sev­en­teen respon­dents answered this open end­ed ques­tion — a pret­ty high per­cent­age. Their respons­es cumu­la­tive­ly total 70,669 char­ac­ters and 11,090 words.

Our sur­vey was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers took the sur­vey, with all par­tic­i­pat­ing online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for NPI, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

This being Seat­tle, most respon­dents in the sur­vey iden­ti­fied as Demo­c­ra­t­ic or lean­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic. (The Emer­ald City is one of the bluest places, polit­i­cal­ly, in the Pacif­ic North­west). While most Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dents offered just a few words in response to our prompt above, there were a few who took full advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lay out a vision for what they want Seat­tle to be.

One respon­dent sketched out their ideas for Seat­tle’s next may­or pri­or­i­tize cre­at­ing a more con­nect­ed, liv­able city as follows:

Rapid expan­sion of sup­port­ive ser­vices, shel­ters and afford­able hous­ing to address the home­less­ness cri­sis. Sup­port for small busi­ness­es as the city’s econ­o­my recov­ers from the reces­sion cre­at­ed by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Invest­ments in tran­sit infra­struc­ture and mod­ern improve­ments to road­way design.

Anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dent wrote that they want to see the city lead where the state Leg­is­la­ture won’t, and invest tax dol­lars in ser­vices that help peo­ple rather than pun­ish­ing them or lock­ing them up. Their comments:

I want the next may­or to work for the peo­ple, not the police. I want invest­ment in peo­ple, not police. Meet the unhoused and addict­ed where they are with ser­vices. Flour­ish­ing pub­lic spaces. More P‑Patches to meet the grow­ing low-income hous­ing built with­out green spaces. The city mov­ing for­ward where the state won’t (UBI, munic­i­pal broad­band, safe injec­tion sites, no bail, hous­ing the unhoused, social work­ers in libraries) …

Still anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dent offered sim­i­lar thoughts:

Move fund­ing from police to social ser­vices, includ­ing address­ing [the] home­less pop­u­la­tion. Stay firm on stance toward mega employ­ers. Work with schools, fam­i­lies and child­care providers to serve all chil­dren. Sup­port adults who make too lit­tle to afford cost of liv­ing in Seat­tle. Use research to inform com­mu­ni­ty build­ing ver­sus allow­ing the news­pa­per to point out inequities in our city. Help uni­fy the city. Avoid busi­ness ver­sus socialists.

Help­ing peo­ple rather than cit­ing them or lock­ing them up was def­i­nite­ly a uni­fy­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic we saw across the Demo­c­ra­t­ic responses.

One Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dent explained that they want the city to inter­vene when prob­lems like noise pol­lu­tion arise… they just want the city to send first respon­ders who aren’t police to pro­vide a non-puni­tive response:

Find a way oth­er than the police to han­dle civic cas­es. Fire­works go off every sin­gle night in my neigh­bor­hood, and the cops say they can’t respond unless it involves alco­hol or vio­lence. There also was a protest ral­ly for Don­ald Trump last sum­mer in my neigh­bor­hood, and the cops said the same thing. I don’t want to call the cops for these types of things, but I would like to be able to call on some pub­lic ser­vice law-enforce­ment group that could help with­out incrim­i­nat­ing those who are either break­ing the law or caus­ing trouble.

Repub­li­can respon­dents who answered our ques­tion had very dif­fer­ent takes.

“Stop giv­ing mon­ey to the home­less!” one wrote. “It just brings them to our city. Start fund­ing the police. Quit allow­ing pro­test­ers to ruin our streets.”

“Reverse a major­i­ty of poli­cies enact­ed by mayor/city coun­cil over the past sev­er­al years,” wrote anoth­er, with­out elab­o­rat­ing further.

“More police, crack down on crime down­town, get the home­less out of pub­lic parks, get a move on repair­ing the West Seat­tle Bridge. Actu­al­ly charge those arrest­ed for any vio­lent crimes, van­dal­ism, riot­ing, and pros­e­cute the offend­ers instead of releas­ing [them]. Sup­port the police!” wrote a third.

(Empha­sis is the respondent’s).

Respon­dents iden­ti­fy­ing as inde­pen­dents expressed a few of the same sen­ti­ments as the Repub­li­cans who left com­ments, but unlike the Repub­li­cans, many of them expressed inter­est in find­ing and imple­ment­ing “solu­tions” for the unhoused as opposed to dis­man­tling encamp­ments with sweeps, or oth­er puni­tive measures.

One char­ac­ter­ized home­less­ness this way:

It is a com­pli­cat­ed prob­lem that has not been addressed by our city lead­er­ship. The tax­pay­ing cit­i­zens and small street lev­el busi­ness­es are the not get­ting what they con­tribute to the good. Crime lingers in the shad­ows of the home­less camps and is unchecked.

Life has con­se­quences. We can­not con­tin­ue to let peo­ple who are not capa­ble of mak­ing good deci­sions live in the streets.

Not my fault, not the fault of the small busi­ness own­er, but we are the only ones suf­fer­ing the con­se­quences of poor deci­sions. The poor deci­sions have crept into city hall and our cur­rent coun­cil are unable and not equipped to deal with the com­pli­cat­ed problems.

Con­tin­ued street liv­ing is not a solu­tion. It is time for solutions.

“Solu­tions” also stood out in this response from anoth­er independent:

Faster improve­ment to pub­lic trans­porta­tion; real solu­tions to home­less­ness not just clear­ing them away from where we can see them; more activ­i­ties for youth.

Still anoth­er inde­pen­dent put it even more sim­ply, and paired their desire for action on home­less­ness with their desire of action on hous­ing costs:

House the home­less. Do some­thing to curb the cost of housing/home buy­ing and assist those who rent to feel more secure.

The bot­tom line? Regard­less of age, par­ty affil­i­a­tion, gen­der, or race, Seat­tleites real­ly, real­ly want their next may­or to make address­ing home­less­ness and pub­lic safe­ty in the city their top pri­or­i­ties. There is a strong desire for results over rhetoric. While respon­dents diverge on how to get there, they are in agree­ment that there needs to be action. What the city has done to date just isn’t sufficient.

Inter­est­ed in the find­ings we’re pre­vi­ous­ly released from this sur­vey? Then we sug­gest read­ing these Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate posts next:

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Oregon changes its ballot return policy to match Washington’s more voter-friendly laws

Begin­ning next year, vot­ers in the Beaver State who wish to use the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice to return their bal­lots will no longer have to wor­ry about ensur­ing that their bal­lot reach­es elec­tion offi­cials by the dead­line to return bal­lots. That’s because Ore­gon Gov­er­nor Kate Brown just signed into law House Bill 3291, autho­riz­ing elect­ed offi­cials to accept bal­lots that are post­marked by Elec­tion Day.

Vot­ers to the north, in Wash­ing­ton State, have long enjoyed the free­dom to vote late and still use the Postal Ser­vice to return their bal­lot, because bal­lots that arrive after Elec­tion Day are still legal­ly cast votes under Wash­ing­ton State law. To count, they just need to be post­marked no lat­er than the last day of the three week vot­ing win­dow and received before the elec­tion is certified.

More than a dozen oth­er states around the coun­try have embraced Wash­ing­ton’s vot­er-friend­ly approach for accep­tance of bal­lots that were vot­ed at home.

Ore­gon, on the oth­er hand, has long required bal­lots to be in elect­ed offi­cials’ cus­tody by the time that vot­ing ends. Now, Ore­gon is chang­ing course and fol­low­ing Wash­ing­ton’s lead. That’s a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment for our region!

As the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Ore­gon (DPO) said in an email to its sup­port­ers today: “This is great news for increas­ing vot­er access and participation!”

“It also means no more con­fu­sion about when you can put your bal­lot into a mail­box in time for it to arrive at an elec­tions office by Elec­tion Day. Now, so long as you drop your bal­lot in your mail­box by Elec­tion Day and it is received no lat­er than sev­en days after an elec­tion, it will be accepted.”


Many years ago, Sam Reed and The Seat­tle Times pro­posed doing away with Wash­ing­ton’s vot­er-friend­ly bal­lot return pol­i­cy and adopt­ing Ore­gon’s pol­i­cy. Thank­ful­ly, the Leg­is­la­ture did­n’t lis­ten to them. And now, the oppo­site has hap­pened: Ore­gon leg­is­la­tors have come to their sens­es and made return­ing a bal­lot eas­i­er. This is a love­ly win for democ­ra­cy and bal­lot access.

Repub­li­cans opposed the bill when it came up for a floor vote in the Ore­gon Leg­is­la­ture, base­less­ly argu­ing that it would make fraud eas­i­er.

It won’t, of course, and it’s rare that any­one tries to vote fraud­u­lent­ly. There are almost no known instances of vot­ing fraud any­where in this country.

The cas­es we do know of have gen­er­al­ly involved peo­ple aligned with Repub­li­can can­di­dates and caus­es who are des­per­ate to win at any cost.

Per­haps that’s why some Repub­li­cans think about “vot­er fraud” so much — because they assume their oppo­nents are just as will­ing to cheat as they are.

One Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor also expressed con­cerns, say­ing: “I reluc­tant­ly vot­ed for this today… My con­cern is, in close races … that delay­ing the returns for a week or two after­ward will under­mine faith in the sys­tem. I hope I’m wrong.”

That sen­a­tor was Lee Bey­er, D‑Springfield.

You don’t have to wor­ry, Sen­a­tor Bey­er. Returns in Ore­gon will not be delayed as a result of this new law. Some bal­lots might be count­ed lat­er on in the process than they would have before, but that won’t delay the work of count­ing bal­lots. More impor­tant­ly, oth­er bal­lots that would have been void­ed mere­ly because they did­n’t get deliv­ered back to offi­cials by Elec­tion Day will now be counted!

Wash­ing­ton State has accept­ed bal­lots post­marked through Elec­tion Day for years, and we usu­al­ly have a pret­ty good idea of who won on Elec­tion Night.

Even when we don’t, due to close mar­gins, it rarely takes longer than a few days to be able to project with con­fi­dence who will win in a giv­en race.

The excep­tions would be super tight races in which only a hand­ful of votes sep­a­rate the can­di­dates. But super tight races don’t ben­e­fit from the sys­tem Ore­gon just aban­doned because the result can’t be known until the bal­lots are recount­ed. And a prop­er recount can only begin when the ini­tial count is done.

It also isn’t nec­es­sary to require bal­lots to be in elect­ed offi­cials’ cus­tody by Elec­tion Day in order to count them quick­ly. The speed at which bal­lots are count­ed is dri­ven by logis­ti­cal con­straints and elec­tions offi­cials’ resource avail­abil­i­ty, not hoops placed in front of vot­ers. Again, what’s impor­tant is doing every­thing pos­si­ble to ensure that every vote is count­ed. The more bar­ri­ers we can elim­i­nate to vot­ing, the health­i­er our democ­ra­cy will be.

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Ready, fire, aim! NRCC ineptly tries to knock Kim Schrier for sponsoring NPI’s research

This morn­ing, the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee fired off the lat­est in a series of attack mis­sives aimed at Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er of Issaquah, a pedi­a­tri­cian who has effec­tive­ly rep­re­sent­ed Wash­ing­ton’s 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict since the weeks fol­low­ing the 2018 midterms.

While it’s not unusu­al for the NRCC to say bad things about Schri­er, who they des­per­ate­ly want to defeat in 2022, this par­tic­u­lar broad­side was notable in that it also attacked NPI, and fault­ed Schri­er for spon­sor­ing our research!

Here’s the mis­sive, attrib­uted to NRCC oper­a­tive Court­ney Parella:

Kim Schri­er is using her cam­paign dol­lars to reveal her true colors.

Schri­er recent­ly donat­ed hun­dreds of dol­lars to [the] North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, a rad­i­cal­ly pro­gres­sive think tank that wants to raise tax­es, restrict gun own­er­ship, lim­it school choice, and auto­mat­i­cal­ly reg­is­ter crim­i­nals to vote…

Which isn’t that sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing she also sup­ports Speak­er Pelosi’s rad­i­cal, social­ist agen­da 100% of the time.

News­flash to the NRCC: Kim Schri­er has been sup­port­ing NPI’s work for over three years, since before she was even in Con­gress. Not only is she a spon­sor of our research, but she’s also spo­ken reg­u­lar­ly at our events.

Unlike her pre­de­ces­sor, Repub­li­can Dave Reichert, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Schri­er believes in acces­si­bil­i­ty, which is why she reg­u­lar­ly hosts town hall events for con­stituents and goes to events like our Sum­mer Anniver­sary Pic­nic. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Schri­er believes our state and region need insight­ful research and imag­i­na­tive advo­ca­cy to secure a bet­ter future for every­body. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing!

As for our leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties– pro­gres­sive rev­enue reform, gun safe­ty, pro­tect­ing pub­lic schools, ensur­ing every­one can exer­cise their right to vote — well, those are all ideas that our state needs to be suc­cess­ful, safe, and prosperous.

And they’re pop­u­lar! We know because we reg­u­lar­ly take the pulse of the Wash­ing­ton State elec­torate on the issues of the day.

Take gun safe­ty. Our polling has con­sis­tent­ly found broad sup­port for laws that require respon­si­ble gun own­er­ship. In fact, it’s one of the issues where we have found the most bipar­ti­san agree­ment among Wash­ing­ton State voters.

And actu­al elec­tion results have cor­rob­o­rat­ed our polling.

In the last sev­en years, vot­ers have passed three con­sec­u­tive gun safe­ty ini­tia­tives offered by our friends at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

Or con­sid­er pro­gres­sive rev­enue reform. We have six straight years’ worth of polling data show­ing that vot­ers sup­port levy­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy to ben­e­fit our pub­lic schools. There’s noth­ing “rad­i­cal” about requir­ing the wealthy to invest in Wash­ing­ton’s future. It is an Amer­i­can tra­di­tion for peo­ple to pool their resources accord­ing to their means to get things done. Tax­es have allowed us to accom­plish some incred­i­ble things as a coun­try — together!

Demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ism, inci­den­tal­ly, is also an Amer­i­can tradition.

While there is no uni­ver­sal­ly agreed up on def­i­n­i­tion of social­ism — it means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple — the basic con­struct under­pin­ning pret­ty much all forms of social­ism is shared pub­lic own­er­ship of resources, includ­ing the means of pro­duc­tion. Medicare, Social Secu­ri­ty, the VA, our nation­al parks, and even our mil­i­tary are exam­ples of sys­tems that could be called social­ist.

Repub­li­cans sure do love their scare words, but there’s noth­ing scary or rad­i­cal about the val­ues, prin­ci­ples, and pol­i­cy direc­tions our orga­ni­za­tion sup­ports. They are as Amer­i­can as apple pie and as main­stream as the music of The Boss.

What is rad­i­cal, though, is the anti-democ­ra­cy agen­da of the House Repub­li­can cau­cus. This is a cau­cus that — with very few excep­tions — has become a cult loy­al to the most dis­hon­est, dan­ger­ous, and destruc­tive per­son ever to occu­py the White House: Don­ald Trump. The par­ty’s very name has become a mis­nomer: it sad­ly does­n’t even want this coun­try to have a repub­li­can form of gov­ern­ment any­more. Instead, the par­ty has become a pro­po­nent of fascism.

Con­sid­er the actions of Kevin McCarthy, the top House Repub­li­can, in the wake of the Jan­u­ary 6th attack on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol by a mob incit­ed by Don­ald Trump and his many Repub­li­can enablers in Con­gress. It was appar­ent that day even to Repub­li­cans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger how low we had sunk as a nation and how close we had come to los­ing our democracy.

Instead of belat­ed­ly stand­ing up for Amer­i­ca’s future and the rule of law, McCarthy made a pil­grim­age to Mar-a-Lago and re-embraced Don­ald Trump, sid­ing with the very man whose actions had endan­gered him­self, his col­leagues, and the insti­tu­tion he serves over the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion and the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Then McCarthy engi­neered Liz Cheney’s ouster from cau­cus lead­er­ship, installing anoth­er Trump syco­phant in her place as cau­cus Chair.

This is the man the NRCC is work­ing every day to put into pow­er as Speak­er and sec­ond in the pres­i­den­tial line of suc­ces­sion. The NRCC answers to him and to his lieu­tenants, includ­ing Tom Emmer of Min­neso­ta, the cur­rent NRCC Chair.

Of course, McCarthy can only take pow­er if Repub­li­cans have a major­i­ty, which is why the NRCC wants so bad­ly to defeat Democ­rats like Kim Schrier.

Since the new dis­trict lines haven’t been drawn yet, the NRCC can’t know if the 8th will even be a swing dis­trict in the 2022 midterms. But they’re bet­ting it prob­a­bly will be. And so, their oper­a­tives are under instruc­tions to gen­er­ate as many attack mis­sives as they can against Democ­rats like Kim Schrier.

Even if they have noth­ing to work with, they still have to put out some­thing.

Hence, this nonsense.

Sor­ry, NRCC, but that dog won’t hunt.

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Cascadia needs climate action: Mother Nature is not giving the Pacific Northwest a bye, and activism is not something we can mail in

Glob­al warm­ing and evi­dence of cli­mate dam­age first reg­is­tered on the nation­al con­scious­ness thir­ty-three years ago dur­ing the dry, blis­ter­ing sum­mer of 1988. The lack of nation­al response, of nation­al resolve, in years since is amaz­ing giv­en the sig­nals and warn­ings from Moth­er Earth.

I was vaca­tion­ing from Wash­ing­ton, D.C. report­ing duties at Cape Look­out on the Ore­gon Coast in July of ’88 and took the family’s black stan­dard poo­dle, Jen­nifer, for an ear­ly morn­ing walk on the beach.

We returned, flipped on the Today show, and the map behind weath­er­man Willard Scott showed two sliv­ers of Amer­i­ca below nine­ty degrees, the north coast of Maine and the north coast of Ore­gon and Washington.

That sum­mer, three decades ago, marked the first pre­dic­tion by America’s polit­i­cal pun­dits that the envi­ron­ment would be a major issue in the fall elec­tion. After all, George H.W. Bush was declar­ing, “I want to be the envi­ron­men­tal president.”

The qua­dren­ni­al pre­dic­tions nev­er seem to gel. So here we are in anoth­er hot­house sum­mer out West with flood­ing in the North­east and fifty to one hun­dred year storms strik­ing West­ern Europe. Europe is mov­ing away from hav­ing a pol­lut­ing econ­o­my. On this side of The Pond, how­ev­er, its defend­ers are mount­ing mas­sive resis­tance against Biden admin­is­tra­tion initiatives.

The map behind Willard Scott appeared to car­ry a mes­sage, that the warm­ing of the plan­et will be mel­low­er to live with in the Pacif­ic North­west than elsewhere.

That sen­ti­ment remains baked in around these parts despite the alarm­ing one hun­dred and sev­en degree (and high­er) tem­per­a­tures of late June, and a fire sea­son that has spread from remote forests of the Pasayten Wilder­ness to the edges of com­mu­ni­ties on both sides of the Cas­cade Crest.

With due note to the keep-our-cool urg­ings of UW atmos­pher­ic sci­ences pro­fes­sor Cliff Mass, here are non-sta­tis­tic naked eye obser­va­tions that we, too, are in what George Bush mem­o­rably described as “the deep doo-doo.”

The retreat of the glaciers

The Cole­man and Roo­sevelt Glac­i­ers on Mount Bak­er were advanc­ing when I was a kid. The advance was being mea­sured by UW engi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor Art Har­ri­son. It was a bear to get mea­sur­ing mark­ers across out­let streams and up to Bastille Ridge on the north side of the Roo­sevelt Glacier.

A very ter­ri­to­r­i­al bear was rip­ping up the mak­ers. The glac­i­er was fas­ci­nat­ing to observe, its advanc­ing ice tongues were curl­ing around either side of a cliff.

The glac­i­er has since retreat­ed about a quar­ter mile.

Of course, ice tongues advance and recede. But changes in my life­time have been dra­mat­ic. The Ander­son and Lil­lian Glac­i­ers in the Olympics have dis­ap­peared in the last two decades. The South Cas­cade Glac­i­er has large­ly melt­ed since the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey began mea­sur­ing it in 1950.

The region depends on its win­ter snow­pack, and glac­i­er melt in sum­mer, for stream flow, irri­ga­tion, fish­eries, hydro­elec­tric pow­er, nav­i­ga­tion and recreation.

It has fero­cious­ly fought efforts by the South­west to take our water, but now sees cli­mate tak­ing it.

The expansion of the pine beetle’s range

The mod­er­at­ing of tem­per­a­tures in British Columbia’s cold Chilcotin Plateau have quick­ened the breed­ing cycles of the pine bark beetle.

The infes­ta­tion is killing forests on a vast scale. Fly from Van­cou­ver to Ter­race: You will see below gray (dead) and orange (dying) trees.

Cana­di­an land man­agers are mak­ing a stand at the Con­ti­nen­tal Divide, hop­ing to turn back the infes­ta­tion before it rav­ages Canada’s bore­al forests. Bee­tles are also killing white pine bark pine trees from the Sier­ra Neva­da to the Rock­ies. Cones from the trees are a prime source of food for our endan­gered griz­zly bears.

The ever-lengthening fire season

The fire sea­son has grown longer and even reached our tem­per­ate rainforests.

A lot of us chuck­led a few years back when Forks was struck by drought – water could not be used to hose down log­ging trucks – and a tru­cu­lent for­est fire burned in the Queets Riv­er Valley.

It’s no laugh­ing mat­ter, though.

I once raft­ed the Stikine Riv­er, which flows from British Colum­bia down to South­east Alas­ka. We took to the water at the wet lit­tle town of Tele­graph Creek. Two years ago, part of Tele­graph Creek was destroyed in a for­est fire.

Vast fires have burned across Alas­ka, north­ern Cana­da and par­tic­u­lar­ly Siberia. Seat­tle has breathed smoke from Alas­ka fires.

Rising temperatures and rising seas

Ocean and riv­er tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing, at times risk­ing big sock­eye salmon runs in the undammed Fras­er River.

The acid­i­fi­ca­tion of our coastal waters (bril­liant­ly detailed in a Seat­tle Times series by Craig Welch) is such that shell­fish must be grown elsewhere.

Deprived of pro­tec­tion from sea ice, Alaskan coastal vil­lages are being hit hard by ear­ly sea­son storms off the Bering Sea. (Alaska’s U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young is a cli­mate skep­tic.) Our cities are begin­ning to plan for ris­ing sea levels.

Even as waters advance, the envi­ron­ment and cli­mate recede as a nation­al issue as elec­tion day approach­es. Projects to address cli­mate dam­age have large­ly come from the state and local lev­el, not the fed­er­al level.

Wit­ness the May­ors’ Cli­mate Task Force that Seattle’s Greg Nick­els helped launch, and California’s mileage stan­dards for cars and trucks. The Gold­en State found its fuel effi­cien­cy stan­dards chal­lenged by the Trump regime.

Our Wash­ing­ton is enlight­ened, “the oth­er” Wash­ing­ton is not.

(Not yet, anyway.)

The envi­ron­men­tal move­ment, joy­ous­ly launched on Earth Day in 1970, has grown into a lob­by that rais­es lots of mon­ey and makes the act of con­tribut­ing feel good. Seat­tle is, for instance, a font of cash for the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers. Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors fly here for fundrais­ers and fly out again.

The green-mind­ed activists of our state show their clout at the Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ “Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons,” fill­ing the West­in ball­room each fall (except for last autumn, due to the coro­n­avirus pandemic).

Very good, but duty does not stop with check writing.

We need more indi­vid­ual com­mit­ment and col­lec­tive action.

Dur­ing my time as as a reporter and colum­nist, I’ve watched peo­ple singing “O Cana­da” at road block­ades against log­ging of old growth in British Columbia.

And Abo­rig­i­nal First Nations chiefs, in full robes, bust­ed for protest­ing the Trans Moun­tain Pipeline expan­sion (fuel­ing the huge tar sands oil fields in Alber­ta and bring­ing a sev­en­fold increase in tanker traf­fic on the Sal­ish Sea.

This is not to sug­gest that every­body go out and get bust­ed. Only that it’s not enough to let an orga­ni­za­tion or lob­by speak on your behalf.

Con­tribute, yes, but com­mit to call­ing and canvassing.

As this is writ­ten, I am wear­ing an “LCV for Tester” T‑shirt brought back from Mon­tana by Seat­tle friends Eric and Heather Redman.

The Red­mans are busy, pret­ty promi­nent folk, yet they took time in 2018 to can­vass as League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers vol­un­teers in piv­otal Yel­low­stone Coun­ty, boost­ing the reelec­tion of Mon­tana Sen. Jon Tester.

Tester had infu­ri­at­ed Don­ald Trump, who came out not one, not two, not three, but four times to cam­paign against him. Mike Pence and Trump’s son Don Jr. were also dis­patched to afflict the Big Sky State.

Tester sur­vived in what’s become a very red state. With tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials lined up cheek-to-jowl, peo­ple count. And don’t count on net­work news or cable tele­vi­sion to ensure that cli­mate dam­age and cli­mate action get discussed.

The push for social and envi­ron­men­tal change in Amer­i­ca has long come from the bot­tom up. But we are liv­ing in a cli­mate emer­gency. Grass­roots activism is cru­cial to address­ing that emer­gency. It must con­tin­ue, and it must expand. But it also must be sup­port­ed in our nation’s cap­i­tal with seri­ous cli­mate action.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Nikkita Oliver has a big early lead over Sara Nelson for Seattle City Council Position #9

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.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Teresa Mosqueda well ahead of Kate Martin for Seattle City Council #8 with most not sure

First term Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da is on track for reelec­tion this autumn and is like­ly to cruise to a sec­ond term in Novem­ber past a crowd of oppo­nents who sim­ply aren’t get­ting any trac­tion among Seat­tle vot­ers, a new poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute suggests.

26% of like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers said they were vot­ing for Mosque­da, while 55% said they were not sure. The remain­ing respon­dents said either that they would not vote (3%) or picked one of Mosqueda’s opponents.

The chal­lenger who looks most like­ly to get through to Novem­ber and face Mosque­da is activist Kate Mar­tin, per­haps best known for the unsuc­cess­ful “Park My Viaduct” bal­lot mea­sure that Seat­tle vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly reject­ed a few years ago. 6% of respon­dents said they were vot­ing for Martin.

Seattle City Council #8 poll finding

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

Mar­t­in’s cam­paign is run­ning ads that ask Seat­tleites if they’ve “had enough,” but most of the vot­ers who have formed an opin­ion about the field of can­di­dates vying for City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8 evi­dent­ly don’t agree.

Mosqueda’s oth­er chal­lengers are all under five percent.

Paul Felipe Glumaz and Bob­by Lind­sey Miller are tied for third place with 3% each. The oth­er can­di­dates either got 1% or received no sup­port in our poll, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

Our 2021 Top Two Seat­tle sur­vey 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 #8 this year 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: 69%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 19%
  • Kate Mar­tin: 5%
  • Paul Felipe Glumaz: 2%
  • Bob­by Lind­sey Miller: 2%
  • Alexan­der White: 1%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 1%
  • Jor­dan Eliz­a­beth Fish­er: 1%
  • Jesse James: 0%
  • Alex Tsimer­man: 0%
  • George Free­man: 0%
  • Bri­an Fahey: 0%

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


  • Not sure: 81%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 9%
  • Kate Mar­tin: 2%
  • Bob­by Lind­sey Miller: 1%
  • Paul Felipe Glumaz: 1%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 1%
  • Jesse James: 1%
  • Alexan­der White: 0%
  • Alex Tsimer­man: 0%
  • Bri­an Fahey: 0%
  • Jor­dan Eliz­a­beth Fish­er: 0%
  • George Free­man: 0%
  • Would not vote: 4%


  • Not sure: 55%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 26%
  • Kate Mar­tin: 6%
  • Paul Felipe Glumaz: 3%
  • Bob­by Lind­sey Miller: 3%
  • Alexan­der White: 1%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 1%
  • Jesse James: 1%
  • Jor­dan Eliz­a­beth Fish­er: 1%
  • Alex Tsimer­man: 1%
  • George Free­man: 0%
  • Bri­an Fahey: 0%
  • Would not vote: 3%

Tere­sa Mosque­da — who has a long and dis­tin­guished his­to­ry of involve­ment in Wash­ing­ton’s labor move­ment — was first elect­ed to the Seat­tle City Coun­cil in 2017, eas­i­ly defeat­ing rival Jon Grant. She received 121,192 votes (59.85%), while Grant received 81,302 votes (40.15%).

Mosque­da has broad and deep sup­port among labor, Demo­c­ra­t­ic, and pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions for her reelec­tion bid, with a long list of endorse­ments.

A tes­ti­mo­ni­al from U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal, per­haps the most pop­u­lar office­hold­er in Seat­tle, graces the front page of Mosqueda’s reelec­tion web­site, which has an Accom­plish­ments page in addi­tion to a Pri­or­i­ties page.

Mosqueda’s top accom­plish­ment is the enact­ment of the Jump­start Seat­tle rev­enue recov­ery plan, which levied a tax on large employ­ers with pay­rolls of $7 mil­lion or more to fund essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices under finan­cial duress due to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. The tax has so far with­stood a chal­lenge from Seat­tle’s busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, which has con­tend­ed that it is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. A King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judge dis­agreed; that rul­ing is being appealed.

The Stranger, which endorsed Grant four years ago, is now an enthu­si­as­tic backer of Team Tere­sa, with The Stranger Elec­tion Con­trol Board writ­ing:

“In our endorse­ment of her com­pe­ti­tion in 2017, we called Tere­sa Mosque­da a ‘self-styled con­sen­sus builder’ who would ‘ride into city hall on bold promis­es only to dis­ap­pear into mil­que­toast cen­trism.’ In her four years on the coun­cil, Mosque­da has proven us all wrong. We will eat crow, but not in front of oth­er crows, as we fear they may keep harass­ing SECB mem­ber Charles Mudede.”

The Seat­tle Times, mean­while, pub­lished a wide­ly crit­i­cized edi­to­r­i­al ear­li­er this week say­ing that it was mak­ing no endorse­ment in the race, but nev­er­the­less offer­ing some praise for Mosqueda’s first term on the Council.

“To her cred­it, Mosque­da has a rep­u­ta­tion for lis­ten­ing to the busi­ness inter­ests antag­o­nized by oth­er far-left coun­cil mem­bers,” the Times edi­to­r­i­al board wrote in its com­men­tary on the Posi­tion #8 race, which was prompt­ly dubbed a non-endorse­ment endorse­ment by sev­er­al commenters.

“She pushed to pro­vide pan­dem­ic emer­gency resources to res­i­dents, small busi­ness­es and child­care sites. Before join­ing the coun­cil, she helped write the suc­cess­ful ini­tia­tive for a high­er state min­i­mum wage, which this edi­to­r­i­al page sup­port­ed. She speaks up for port com­merce, which hap­pens to rely on union jobs. Mosque­da has envi­able polit­i­cal skills, but this list of pos­i­tives is too short to mer­it reelec­tion when the count of wrong­head­ed moves is so long.”

Hav­ing con­clud­ed that none of Mosqueda’s rivals are cred­i­ble oppo­nents, the Times end­ed its com­men­tary with a line that acknowl­edges the edi­to­r­i­al board expects Mosque­da to be reelect­ed this autumn to a sec­ond term: “Seat­tle deserves bet­ter. Mosque­da ought to try deliv­er­ing it more often.”

Mosqueda’s sup­port­ers say she has already deliv­ered for the peo­ple of Seat­tle and will con­tin­ue to if she is reelect­ed. She is the only can­di­date list­ed in Fuse’s Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8.

Though most vot­ers in our sur­vey said they were unde­cid­ed, we antic­i­pate the vast major­i­ty will ulti­mate­ly back Mosque­da when they go to vote.

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.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

A three-way race for Seattle City Attorney: Pete Holmes barely ahead of two challengers

As the end of Fil­ing Week approached a cou­ple of months ago, three term incum­bent Seat­tle City Attor­ney Pete Holmes’ name was list­ed alone under the head­ing for that office, with seem­ing­ly no chal­lengers in sight and one ear­ly promi­nent chal­lenger hav­ing with­drawn from the race weeks before.

Then, with the Fri­day after­noon dead­line quick­ly draw­ing near, two oppo­nents emerged at last: Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davison.

Both chal­lengers are right behind Holmes as vot­ing begins in the August 2021 Top Two elec­tion, with 53% of like­ly vot­ers not sure who they’re vot­ing for, a new poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

Holmes does have a lead, but it’s very small.

There’s sim­ply not much dis­tance right now between his can­di­da­cy, which gar­nered 16% sup­port, and that of Thomas-Kennedy and Davi­son, who each earned the sup­port of 14% of respon­dents in the survey.

Seattle City Attorney poll finding

A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Attor­ney, 2021

Holmes was eas­i­ly reelect­ed in 2017 and 2013, but this year could be a dif­fer­ent sto­ry, our sur­vey results sug­gest. Dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Holmes prompt­ed both The Seat­tle Times and The Stranger to recent­ly endorse his opponents.

The Times picked Davi­son, while The Stranger chose Thomas-Kennedy.

“Davi­son faces long odds; Holmes took 74.5% of the vote in 2017,” the Times edi­to­r­i­al board not­ed in its endorse­ment of her.

Long odds? Maybe, maybe not. Any of the pos­si­ble gen­er­al elec­tion matchups seem like they are on the table as pos­si­bil­i­ties at this junc­ture: Holmes vs. Davi­son. Holmes vs. Thomas-Kennedy. Thomas-Kennedy vs. Davison.

With the can­di­dates so close togeth­er and so many vot­ers unde­cid­ed, it’s just not pos­si­ble to project with con­fi­dence who will get through.

But it is strik­ing that an incum­bent who received three-fourths of the vote in his last reelec­tion and has been in office for twelve years only has 16% sup­port among like­ly vot­ers with just three weeks to go until Elec­tion Day.

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 Attor­ney this year 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: 72%
  • Pete Holmes: 11%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 9%
  • Ann Davi­son: 8%

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


  • Not sure: 73%
  • Ann Davi­son: 8%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 7%
  • Pete Holmes: 6%
  • Would not vote: 5%


  • Not sure: 53%
  • Pete Holmes: 16%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 14%
  • Ann Davi­son: 14%
  • Would not vote: 4%

Among the unde­cid­ed vot­ers who made a selec­tion in the fol­low-up ques­tion, Davi­son was the top choice, fol­lowed by Thomas-Kennedy and then Holmes, with bare­ly any dis­tance between the can­di­dates. This is anoth­er indi­ca­tion that Holmes’ reelec­tion cam­paign could be in trouble.

Hav­ing won reelec­tion by huge mar­gins in the past, Holmes can afford to lose some sup­port and still return to office for a fourth term.

But again, it’s note­wor­thy that the vot­ers Change Research sur­veyed for us did­n’t come home to Holmes giv­en the chance (no pun intended).

The three can­di­dates each have dif­fer­ent emphases in their campaigns.

Thomas-Kennedy is run­ning on a plat­form of decrim­i­nal­iz­ing pover­ty, com­mu­ni­ty self-deter­mi­na­tion, green infra­struc­ture, law for the peo­ple, and end­ing sweeps.

“Every year the City Attor­ney choos­es to pros­e­cute pet­ty offens­es born out of pover­ty, addic­tion and dis­abil­i­ty,” her web­site says. “These pros­e­cu­tions are desta­bi­liz­ing, inef­fec­tive, and cost the City mil­lions each year.”

“We must dis­man­tle this waste­ful sys­tem of crim­i­nal punishment.”

Davi­son cites goals like “focus on improv­ing effi­cien­cies with­in divi­sion in regards to zon­ing” and “trans­form exist­ing Men­tal Health Court to spe­cial­ized Behav­ioral Health Court for cas­es that involve men­tal health, sub­stance use dis­or­der or dual diag­no­sis” as her civ­il divi­sion and crim­i­nal divi­sion pri­or­i­ties if elected.

“The City Attor­ney is a crit­i­cal link to pub­lic safe­ty, down­town and in our neigh­bor­hoods, decid­ing when to pros­e­cute many types of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty. We need bal­anced lead­er­ship that makes us smart on crime: proac­tive not reac­tive,” her web­site says. “We need a col­lab­o­ra­tive leader bring­ing actu­al compassion.”

Davi­son was an unsuc­cess­ful Repub­li­can can­di­date for statewide office last year. She ran for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor and was elim­i­nat­ed in the Top Two election.

The front page of Holmes’ reelec­tion web­site points to his endorse­ment in the Fuse Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide, which has this intro­duc­to­ry state­ment: “There are two pro­gres­sives run­ning for Seat­tle City Attor­ney who would bring dif­fer­ent approach­es to the office. Incum­bent Pete Holmes has earned more sup­port from local lead­ers and our Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide part­ner organizations.”

“If re-elect­ed, Holmes has a pro­gres­sive vision for the role of city attor­ney in response to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and the move­ment for racial jus­tice,” Fuse’s Seat­tle City Attor­ney can­di­date entry reads.

“His pri­or­i­ties include improv­ing police account­abil­i­ty, gun safe­ty, and cre­at­ing a lev­el play­ing field in our legal sys­tem and city. To achieve these goals, Holmes pro­pos­es pass­ing stronger gun laws, reduc­ing exces­sive force on the part of the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment, vacat­ing mar­i­jua­na charges, and keep­ing peo­ple housed post-pan­dem­ic, among oth­er policies.”

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.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Bruce Harrell, Lorena González lead in 2021 Seattle mayoral race with many undecided

For­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Bruce Har­rell and cur­rent Seat­tle City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Lore­na González are the cur­rent top two can­di­dates in the Emer­ald City’s 2021 field of fif­teen may­oral con­tenders, with a plu­ral­i­ty unde­cid­ed, a new poll con­duct­ed this week for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

20% of 617 like­ly 2021 Top Two vot­ers in Seat­tle said they were vot­ing for Har­rell, while 12% said they were vot­ing for González. 10% said they were vot­ing for Colleen Echohawk, 6% said they were vot­ing for Jessyn Far­rell, and anoth­er 6% said they were vot­ing for Andrew Grant Hous­ton. 4% said they were vot­ing for Casey Sixkiller and anoth­er 4% said they were vot­ing for Arthur Langlie.

3% said they were vot­ing for Lance Ran­dall and 1% said they were vot­ing for James Don­ald­son. Anoth­er 1% said they were vot­ing for Bob­by Tucker.

The oth­er can­di­dates — Omari Tahir-Gar­rett, Clin­ton Bliss, Hen­ry Den­ni­son, Stan Lipp­mann, and Don Rivers — did not receive any sup­port in the survey.

32% of respon­dents (a plu­ral­i­ty) are undecided.

Mayor of Seattle poll finding, 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for May­or of Seat­tle, 2021

The poll, 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 May­or of Seat­tle this year are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the August Top Two bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list as it was shown to respon­dents]


  • Not sure: 54%
  • Bruce Har­rell: 15%
  • M. Lore­na González: 8%
  • Colleen Echohawk: 6%
  • Jessyn Far­rell: 4%
  • Andrew Grant Hous­ton: 3%
  • Arthur K. Lan­glie: 3%
  • Casey Sixkiller: 2%
  • Lance Ran­dall: 2%
  • Omari Tahir-Gar­rett: 0%
  • Bob­by Tuck­er: 0%
  • James Don­ald­son: 0%
  • Clin­ton Bliss: 0%
  • Hen­ry C. Den­ni­son: 0%
  • Stan Lipp­mann: 0%
  • Don L. Rivers: 0%

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


  • Not sure: 62%
  • Bruce Har­rell: 8%
  • M. Lore­na González: 6%
  • Colleen Echohawk: 6%
  • Andrew Grant Hous­ton: 4%
  • Casey Sixkiller: 3%
  • Jessyn Far­rell: 3%
  • James Don­ald­son: 2%
  • Lance Ran­dall: 2%
  • Arthur K. Lan­glie: 1%
  • Bob­by Tuck­er: 1%
  • Clin­ton Bliss: 0%
  • Hen­ry C. Den­ni­son: 0%
  • Stan Lipp­mann: 0%
  • Don L. Rivers: 0%
  • Omari Tahir-Gar­rett: 0%
  • Would not vote: 2%


  • Not sure: 32%
  • Bruce Har­rell: 20%
  • M. Lore­na González: 12%
  • Colleen Echohawk: 10%
  • Jessyn Far­rell: 6%
  • Andrew Grant Hous­ton: 6%
  • Casey Sixkiller: 4%
  • Arthur K. Lan­glie: 4%
  • Lance Ran­dall: 3%
  • James Don­ald­son: 1%
  • Bob­by Tuck­er: 1%
  • Omari Tahir-Gar­rett: 0%
  • Clin­ton Bliss: 0%
  • Hen­ry C. Den­ni­son: 0%
  • Stan Lipp­mann: 0%
  • Don L. Rivers: 0%
  • Would not vote: 1%

Bruce Har­rell — who the sur­vey crosstabs show is favored by old­er vot­ers — appears well posi­tioned to move on to the Novem­ber gen­er­al election.

Lore­na González’s hold on sec­ond place, mean­while, is more tenuous.

That’s because Colleen Echohawk came in just two points behind González. She was the only oth­er may­oral can­di­date besides Har­rell and González to reg­is­ter sup­port in the dou­ble dig­its in this survey.

Echohawk has clear­ly made a pos­i­tive impres­sion on Seat­tle vot­ers despite nev­er hav­ing run for office before. She can­not be count­ed out in this election.

González did just earn the sup­port of The Stranger, the city’s best known left lean­ing media out­let, and she has enthu­si­as­tic sup­port from the labor com­mu­ni­ty, so that could help her hold on to the sec­ond place spot. (A plu­ral­i­ty of respon­dents from union house­holds who have an opin­ion backed González.)

Still, Echohawk has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tend for sec­ond place.

Jessyn Far­rell and Andrew Grant Hous­ton, mean­while, are tied for fourth place, with each receiv­ing 6%. While they can’t be count­ed out either, their chances of vault­ing into the top two seem much slim­mer than Echohawk’s.

The remain­ing can­di­dates all polled under 5% each or received no sup­port at all, as men­tioned above. They are all like­ly to be elim­i­nat­ed from con­sid­er­a­tion by vot­ers next month when the August Top Two elec­tion is certified.

King Coun­ty Elec­tions announced on Wednes­day that it had mailed over 1.4 mil­lion bal­lots to reg­is­tered vot­ers for the August Top Two election.

The depart­ment expects turnout of 40%, which would mean a return rate of two out of every five bal­lots. In 2019, the depart­ment notes we saw sum­mer turnout of 35% across King Coun­ty, while in 2017, it was 34%.

Turnout in Seat­tle will like­ly be high­er than the coun­ty as a whole.

Seat­tle vot­ers have a record of strong par­tic­i­pa­tion, and our sur­vey data shows that peo­ple are enthu­si­as­tic about vot­ing this sum­mer even if they don’t know who they’re vot­ing for yet. A whop­ping 88% of respon­dents said they “def­i­nite­ly” plan to vote, while only 8% said they will “prob­a­bly” vote. 4% said “maybe”.

(As stat­ed, the poll was of like­ly vot­ers, so any­one who said they weren’t vot­ing was thanked for their time and excused from the survey.)

Since near­ly a third of the like­ly vot­ers are unde­cid­ed with respect to their vote for may­or, the qual­i­ty, reach, and effec­tive­ness of the can­di­dates’ home stretch cam­paign­ing is going to mat­ter. Polls are snap­shots in time. This par­tic­u­lar dataset is a reflec­tion of the views of the Seat­tle elec­torate before bal­lots dropped.

There’s only three weeks left to go, yet those three weeks are when about one in three vot­ers indi­cat­ed to our poll­ster that they will be mak­ing a deci­sion about who they want to serve as Seat­tle’s chief exec­u­tive for the next four years.

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.

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