In Seattle and most suburban cities, the overwhelming message was that the public was scared and wanted to feel safe.
That was most obvious in liberal Seattle, as they elected a law and order city attorney in Ann Davison, who is also a Republican. A Republican in Seattle? Both candidates were hurt by last-minute emails that became public, but they hurt the Democrat Nicole Thomas-Kennedy more. Davison led election night, 58% to 41%, even though the margin has gotten closer. The message also carried state and national implications for the 2022 mid-terms and revisiting police accountability legislation in the January session of the state Legislature.
That message resonated nationally. The Democrats lost Virginia, barely kept New Jersey, and the new mayor of New York is a former cop. Closer to home, the message was repeated in Kent, Federal Way, Des Moines and throughout the suburbs. Stephanie Mora, a one-issue candidate, defeated incumbent Krystal Marx in Burien. Mora’s one issue? Public safety.
In most cases the candidate who raised the most money won, but the message from the public was one of safety and supporting police.
King County Executive Dow Constantine was reelected at 56% to a fourth term against Joe Nguyen, and will continue to try and solve homelessness. But with over a million dollars available to Constantine, it wasn’t as close as many expected. Most incumbent King County Councilmembers were easily reelected at over 60%. The one surprise was Kathy Lambert trailing Sarah Perry 55% to 41% on election night, and that margin held after five days of returns. Not only had Lambert’s district changed and become more urban, but she sent out a mailer that her council colleges thought was racist, and it helped Perry.
Bellevue was a case in point about fundraising as two candidates raised almost $300,000, and Bellevue City Councilman Jared Nieuwenhuis held off Ruth Lipscomb to retain his seat. The combined total was likely the most expensive race in the state outside Seattle. Incumbent councilmember Conrad Lee was first elected in 1994, raised over $166,000 to his opponent Dexter Borbe’s $52,466, and was endorsed by the Bellevue Police Officers Guild. Lee polled 56% election night and has stayed around 55-56% since.
In Des Moines, the police guild supported a slate, all of whom won.
In Kent, incumbent Mayor Dana Ralph hit 70% and was still at that number when this column was due. Ralph was supported by the police, who just finished contract negotiations that other South King County cities may find difficult to match. Her opponent, Dawn Bennett, did not support the concept of “defund police,” but she did want to move some money to help residents with mental issues. Kent City Councilmembers Toni Troutner and Brenda Fincher appear to have won comfortably.
In Auburn, incumbent Mayor Nancy Backus was unopposed, and Yolanda Trout-Manuel and Kate Baldwin both won council seats. For Trout-Manuel, it was reelection.
In Renton, an upset could be brewing as Carmen Rivera was trailing Ben Johnson on election night, though she had moved ahead by Friday.
In Federal Way, the Stand Up Federal Way group endorsed incumbent mayor Jim Ferrell’s perennial opponent, Mark Green. However, Ferrell was still winning comfortably in the 64% range for the days votes were counted. But the group may have defeated two incumbent city councilmembers seeking reelection, with Erica Norton hovering around 60% over Greg Baruso. She looks like the winner. Hoang Tran was behind election night, but by Friday, he had moved ahead of Daniel Miller, although that race is still too close to call with several days of counting votes left before certification. The other race to watch is Federal Way City Council Position 5, which showed Leandra Craft pulling within 1% of Jack Walsh by last Friday.
The Stand Up Federal Way group had the right message for this environment and stayed on message. Norton was endorsed by police lieutenants and Baruso by the police guild. Jack Walsh was endorsed by the police guild. Craft has gained on Walsh each day, and with several days of ballots to count, she could overtake Walsh before certification. This race is too close to call. Jack Dovey was also endorsed by the police guild and held a 53% to 47% lead over Renae Seam, which may hold up. But both sides will be looking for voters who had signature issues to correct before their vote would be counted.
Since incumbent Martin Moore was defeated in the primary, there will be two to three new Federal Way City Councilmembers in place. The two candidates who are replacing appointed candidates could get sworn in early once the election is certified in late November. The incumbents and Stand Up Federal Way group supported additional police, but how the homeless will be treated might be different, along with relations with King County. The new council has no direct authority over county programs, but they could still try to influence them.
Their were two seats on the Federal Way School Board open. Quentin Morris, who is aligned with the Stand Up group, appears to have captured one seat over Tiffany LaFontaine at 51%-49%, although that could change. Incumbent Trudy Davis held the other seat with a 54% to 46% win over Jim Storvick.
The election won’t be certified until Nov. 23, and a lot of ballots are left to be counted. Be sure to check the King County Elections website every day for updates to keep track of your favorite candidates’ progress.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.