First count in primary looks good for Harrell-González race for Seattle Mayor

Harrell appearing at an election night event, González making last minute phone calls to voters (Images provided by the campaigns)

The counts are far from over — but the races might be. The first King County Elections tally of votes in the 2021 primary — including ballots from about 17% of registered voters — showed big leads for Bruce Harrell and Lorena González in their bids to take the mayor’s office while incumbent Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes looks to be in the fight of his political life to go through to the November general.

Updates are scheduled to be posted by 4 PM each weekday through August 17th when the primary election is certified and many last minute votes were cast Tuesday amid fears of a worst ever turnout in a King County primary.

In the top two races to advance to November, Harrell, at 38%, and González, at 28%, appear well positioned to remain ahead of the field through subsequent updates. Harrell is a City Hall veteran with Central District roots and a track record of pro-business, moderate political views. González, meanwhile, worked as a civil rights attorney and as legal counsel to Mayor Ed Murray before taking a citywide seat on the city council in 2015 where she championed a vital new tax on large companies to help fund COVID-19 recovery and the city’s growing slate of social programs. The race looks likely to feature two people of color vying to lead the city.

“Tonight’s results show we have a very good chance to go on to November when all the ballots are counted! We respect every vote and we will not prejudge the outcome, but one thing is clear — Seattle voters are sending a powerful message for change,” González said in an Election Night statement. “Of votes counted to date, two-thirds of voters voted against the corporate-backed, status-quo candidate. That reflects the frustration I’ve heard from voters all over the city — they want bold, decisive, progressive action from their leaders. They want a mayor who will stand up to big wealthy corporations that spend millions trying to stop progress, but refuse to pay their fair share when it comes to addressing the root causes of so many of the problems we face, from homelessness to unaffordability to violence.”

“The city wants a leader of action,” Harrell said. “People are tired of this fighting in Seattle. The city is expecting me to come up with new solutions.” Continue reading

King County’s COVID rate climbs back to ‘substantial transmission’ level — more than 80% of cases unvaccinated

King County’s “community transmission level” has returned to concerning levels (Source: kingcounty.gov)

(Image: The Roanoke)

Driven by the increasing spread of cases among its thousands of unvaccinated residents, King County’s key metric in tracking the battle against COVID-19 has climbed back into terrible territory: “substantial transmission.”

The county’s current rate of 77.7 positive cases per 100,000 represents a sad new milestone in the second summer of pandemic as the spread of the virus is now at levels not seen since early spring and nearly twice the totals seen at the height of last summer’s outbreaks.

But things have changed. In King County as in the increasing case totals across the country, experts say this awful upward curve of the pandemic is doing nearly all of its damage among the unvaccinated.

King County officials say in July’s totals, 81% of cases and 89% of COVID-related hospitalizations were among the not fully vaccinated. Those totals line up with numbers across the state where officials say around 94% of the people hospitalized with COVID were not vaccinated.

Among COVID-related deaths in King County, 91% of the patients were not fully vaccinated. Continue reading

911 | Armed robbery outside Pike/Pine pizza joint, gunfire on 19th Ave, Boylston toilet arson

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS 911 coverage here. Hear sirens and wondering what’s going on? Check out Twitter reports from @jseattle or tune into the CHS Scanner page.

  • E Pike armed robbery: A bandit armed with a gun and a skateboard assaulted a woman and stole her backpack in a reported armed robbery before overpowering security and escaping the area outside an E Pike pizza joint Monday night. According to the SPD brief on the 8:30 PM attack, the victim told police she was sitting down to eat pizza at an outside table when the suspect got up from another table and began assaulting her before pulling out the gun. According to police, private security “briefly detained the suspect” and forced him to drop the gun to the ground but he was able to break free, grab the gun, and flee the area. Police searched the area near Broadway Ct were the suspect was last seen and the Seattle University campus was briefly put on lockdown during the response but there was no reported arrest.
  • Residents wait for the OK to reenter their building during the Boylston Ave fire response (Image: Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group)

    Boylston toilet arson: Residents were evacuated in a Thursday night arson fire on Boylston Ave that was extinguished before it could spread and do more damage. Seattle Fire responded to the blaze around 10:20 PM near Boylston and E Howell where someone had set a chemical toilet on fire at the site of the occupied building undergoing a remodel. “Fire investigators ruled the incident as incendiary (intentionally set) and have forwarded their findings to SPD’s Arson and Bomb Squad,” Seattle Fire tells CHS. Police say the fire did more than $10,000 in damage to the building and “fully destroyed the toilet.”

  • 19th Ave shots fired: Multiple 911 callers reported gunshots around 7:15 PM Saturday in the area of 19th and Pike. Police responded to the area after the reports of seven to ten shots and talked with witnesses who reported the incident involved a male and female in an argument. According to SPD radio dispatch updates, the male had taken the gun away from the other party and left the area. Police say they eventually made two arrests and confiscated a 9mm pistol. There were no injuries and no property damage was found. SPD’s Gun Violence Reduction Unit detectives responded to the scene following the previous weekend’s burst of deadly gun violence across the city.
  • First Hill phone thief busted: Police were able to chase down the suspect in a phone robbery after a “short foot pursuit” in a Sunday incident on First Hill. According to SPD, the thief grabbed the phone from his victim in a street mugging near Marion and Terry just after 9 PM. “Backing units located the suspect nearby. After a short foot pursuit, the suspect gave up and was detained without incident,” SPD’s brief on the arrest reads. Police were unable to locate the stolen phone.

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With Compassion Seattle initiative and final vote on new mayor, November election lined up to be referendum on homelessness in the city

November’s General Election is set to be a referendum on homelessness in Seattle, the top issue for voters in a city where thousands live outside and under-sheltered.

The Seattle City Council Monday approved a procedural vote to clear the way for King County Elections to place the Compassion Seattle initiative on the ballot this fall.

CHS reported on the formation of the initiative in April as business and community groups led by former councilmember and mayor Tim Burgess and the Downtown Seattle Association backed the plan.

If approved, the initiative would change the city charter through at least 2027 in a five-year burst requiring Seattle to provide 2,000 housing units within one year, ease regulations for creating new housing, and guarantee 12% of the city’s general fund for homelessness and human services.

It would also force the city to crack down on encampments by requiring sweeps and clearances of public spaces once the housing efforts and services are in place: Continue reading

2021 Umoja Day of Unity Parade & March steps off from Jimi Hendrix Park this weekend

2020’s parade and march

Concerns about the continued impact of COVID-19 mean another year without the full three-day festival but organizers behind Seattle’s annual Umoja events in the Central District will again gather for a day of celebration and a march “for Black Lives, Love, Unity, Healing & Justice” this weekend. Continue reading

A new backdrop for Pike/Pine, Broadway gas station get branding overhaul

Exploring the stubbornly reopening shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars of Capitol Hill might leave you feeling like you are in a different neighborhood. It has been a long time and things have changed. At Broadway and Pike, CHS did a double take at one of those uneasy changes.

The shifting tides of the major players in the transnational petrochemical industry have quietly redesigned a core corner of the neighborhood. The megacorp red and yellow are gone. In their place? A fresh coat of advertising nostalgia orange. The Broadway Shell is now a Broadway 76. The new look provides a new backdrop for nights out in Pike/Pine.

Owners Cyrus and Jinus Fiuzi purchased the station and the Capitol Hill property in 2009 for $1.35 million from Shell’s real estate wing and continued to operate the business under the brand. Previously, Shell acquired the property in its merger with Texaco. Operating a gas station in modern day Seattle is a complicated affair. The Fiuzis’ company must maintain licenses related to liquid fuel, underground storage, “vapor product,” retailing, tobacco sales, and liquor sales, in addition to being responsible for environmental factors of the business and the property.

CHS asked the gas station’s owners about the change but they declined comment.

Phillips 66, owner of the 76 brand, has been upgrading its stations and its “wholesale branded business, which encompasses some 6,500 sites in the U.S.” Continue reading

Seattle police commander files $5.5M claim over blame for Capitol Hill protest ‘pink umbrella incident’

A scene from June 1, 2020 (Image: Matt Mitgang)

Steve Hirjak, the assistant chief demoted by Chief Adrian Diaz for his role in the “pink umbrella incident” of heavy handed police response to Black Lives Matter protesters on Capitol Hill last summer, has filed a $5.5 million discrimination and retaliation claim against the city.

Publicola reports:

Captain Steve Hirjak, whom Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz demoted from Assistant Chief after deeming him responsible for SPD’s widely criticized use of tear gas and blast balls against protesters on Capitol Hill on June 1, 2020, argued through his attorney that Diaz unfairly shifted blame for the incident away from Lieutenant John Brooks, who was the on-site commander during the protest.

Hirjak’s attorney “criticized Diaz’s decision to demote Hirjak instead of Brooks, pointing to findings by the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) that held Brooks responsible for violating SPD policy on June 1,” Publicola reports.

The Seattle Times reports that Hirjak is “prepared to pursue a lawsuit, but remains open to mediating an out-of-court settlement. It gives the city and Diaz until Aug. 11 to agree to mediation.” Continue reading

You still have time to help keep King County from hitting lowest voter turnout of the 2000s

Odd year primaries can produce some terrible voter turnout numbers — add the life challenges of pandemic and 2021’s slate of candidates appears set to produce a real stinker.

So far, only around 66,093 people are about to set the course for the City of Seattle by selecting the top two mayoral candidates in Tuesday’s August 3rd primary election.

King County Elections says turnout is trickling in at around 13% of registered voters in the city and across the county with hopes of the final tally falling somewhere above 20%. The number could rival the 2015 primary’s dismal 25%, the lowest recorded turnout in the county in the 2000s.

2021’s low participation follows record turnout in November as 87% returned ballots to help remove President Donald Trump from office. Continue reading

This week in CHS history | #defundSPD, Sawant-Orion battle for D3, Meinert sells stake in Lost Lake and the Comet


Here are the top stories from this week in CHS history:

2020

 

‘It was a realization that we had an opportunity’ — After months of protest, Seattle’s moment to defund its police force is here — UPDATE: 43%

Demonstrators take their message to Chief Best’s home as Seattle City Council looks at smaller 2020 cuts to start process of #defundSPD


Continue reading

The Naked Grocer bringing ‘packaging free’ grocery shopping to Pike/Pine

The Naked Grocer concept signage (Image: Design by Parker)

A new experiment in grocery shopping is coming to Capitol Hill but the new venture is not backed by a retail giant . “Waste-less grocery store” The Naked Grocer is making plans to open its “packaging free” shopping concept on E Pine at the corner of Boylston, joining the block home to Rudy’s Barbershop, Realfine Coffee, and Fogon. The new business on the block will also mean a new start for neighborhood pawn shop Capitol Loans.

Jayne Truesdell, who cut her entrepreneurial teeth working with Autumn Martin to grow Seattle’s Hot Cakes, tells CHS the Naked Grocer is born out of the recent loss of her father and the realization that our time on the planet is dear.

“It brought home to me my time on this planet is incredibly finite,” Truesdell says. “I’m going to start spending my energy on something that holds value for me.”

When it opens late this year in the transformed former pawn shop space, Truesdell says Naked Grocer will be “nearly a one-stop shop” for grocery needs for those seeking retail that cuts down on the environmental impact of modern food shopping as much as possible. Continue reading