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Election 2017 | Optimism party watches Durkan take expected big lead

With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin and photography by Alex Garland

With the combatants in the central battle in Seattle politics gathering their supporters off Capitol Hill, CHS spent Election Night at Broadway and Union’s Optimism Brewing where City Council candidates Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda and Capitol Hill-based School Board candidate Zachary DeWolf watched the night’s first ballot counts come in and show the expected early big count for mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan.

Full King County results are available at

Durkan’s Election Night party was held at the strong>Westin while Cary Moon supporters rallied at 1st Ave’s Old Stone Brewing Co.

Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, would be the first woman elected mayor in Seattle since 1926. The Victory Fund, dedicated to boosting LGBTQ candidates, celebrated her likely victory as the first “out lesbian” mayor in the city’s history. Most viewed her as the establishment candidate due to her legal background and her championship of the justice system for solutions. CHS talked with Durkan about her plans for the mayor’s office in the weeks leading up to Election Night. “For three years I sat in on every police shooting case there was,” Durkan told us at the time. “I have spent decades working for social justice in this city.”

Remembering the last woman elected mayor of Seattle, Durkan joked about her legacy Tuesday night:

She also told a story about meeting a Seattle woman who was alive during the Bertha Knight Landes administration. “Last week, I was in South Seattle at the senior center and I met a woman named Jewell who is 94,” Durkan said. “She was alive when Bertha was Mayor. She has lived in this city for decades. She has lived almost two lives. But today Jewell can barely get by. I sat and talked to her. And she pays her rent and expenses – she has only a few hundred dollars left. And she talked to me about how hard it was and how much she really had faith in Seattle. So wanna tell you Jewell if you’re watching this: Help is On the Way.”

While Durkan stopped short of declaring victory, she did acknowledge from the stage that the Seattle Times had called the race in her favor with only the first round of votes counted. Durkan said the campaign was tough but gave her new love for Seattle. “It has really renewed my optimism for this city,” she said.

Back at Optimism, Mosqueda found herself with a Durkan-like lead over challenger Jon Grant. She also found the appropriate adjective given the brewery setting when we asked her how she felt on Election Night. “Full of optimism,” she said before the first tally showed her with more than 60% of the vote. “I feel like this entire year, the campaign has been about how we pull together the community. People are coming out and showing they want somebody who will work for others… believe in women, believe in me.”

Gonzalez sported an even larger lead over her challenger, Pat Murakami. Her big totals showed that “just because you’re a low wage worker, it doesn’t mean Seattle isn’t your home,” the incumbent council member said.

DeWolf, too, appeared to have his race locked up with 61% tally in his quest for the Position 5 seat on the school board. CHS looked at the race here and the campaign from the long time driving force of the Capitol Hill Community Council. DeWolf will be the second Native American to serve on the board and its first openly gay representative.

Back in the mayor’s race, Durkan received criticism for her hefty campaign contributions from the likes of Comcast and Amazon. The independent expenditures (or IEs) People for Jenny Durkan and Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) worked together to create a PAC with the likes of Amazon, Comcast and the Chamber of Commerce to give campaign-related contributions of $611,000. IEs can work on behalf of a campaign but not technically “for” them, meaning the IEs don’t have a legal limit on the donations they get. But they can still produce ads, events and promotions on their own accord for a specific candidate. Amazon gave CASE, an IE, nearly half of the total amount given to People for Jenny Durkan. It’s the largest amount Amazon has ever given for any political campaign ($325,000).

Durkan broke the record for most money raised by a Seattle campaigner — though one previous candidate’s dollar amount, when adjusted for inflation, would be comparatively higher.

Durkan also took heat for her support of ousted mayor Ed Murray before he eventually resigned due to the sexual abuse allegations against him. “I think I made the right choice,” Durkan said at a forum this fall. “I have represented women who have experienced sexual abuse over the years… and people who have been wrongly accused.” A lesbian, Durkan said the LGBTQIA+ community viewed Murray as a model for change and equality.

The Carry Moon for Mayor group sent out an email Tuesday saying, “We expect tonight’s counts will show Moon behind Durkan, and then will tighten up over the days ahead.”

After the count, Moon’s camp said it hasn’t giving up — yet:

We are up against tough odds. Campaign spending for our opponent broke city election records, outspending us by more than 3:1. The Chamber of Commerce funneled hundreds of thousands on behalf of Comcast, CenturyLink, AT&T, Amazon and others into a no-limit PAC for our opponent. But Seattle late voters may surprise everyone. We believe the ballot counts will swing in our direction over time, and we’re not out of the race yet.

Moon, viewed as the more progressive candidate, predicated her platform largely on affordable housing and equity. She demands stopping Seattle’s homeless “sweeps,” removing money from politics and building more housing infrastructure. To back her statements, Moon refused to take any corporate donations during her run.

Seattleites criticized her work downtown as a waterfront activist rather than in a Seattle community of need, and frequently pointed to her wealth as problematic. Both Moon and Durkan are some of the wealthiest people to have vied for the mayor’s office in modern day Seattle.

Because Moon is both rich and refused donations from big corporations, nearly half of her own campaign she funded herself. Moon still raised around only $350,000 which paled in comparison to her opponent who had nearly three times that in contributions.

A major player in the race even after her elimination in the August primary, Nikkita Oliver continued to shape the race toward a more progressive set of values and, in some cases, platforms. The activist chose not to endorse either candidate — a decision that surely damaged the chances of the underdog Moon. Oliver’s Peoples Party Forum put both candidates through the wringer in the days approaching the election with questions challenging their progressive, pro-equity bonafides.

In other races, longtime City Attorney Pete Holmes will remain in his position for yet another term, leading over his opponent Scott Lindsay 73% to 27%. Both pivoted their platforms around police reform.

Ongoing allegations around sexual assault may have dogged incumbent John Urquhart into a scrap with his challenger, Mitzi Johanknecht in the King County Sheriff’s race. Johanknecht tallied a surprising 52% of the vote on Election Night. Johanknecht is lined up to be the second woman to lead the department and the first open lesbian.

King County Prop. 1, meanwhile, to increase a county levy for “Veterans, Seniors and Vulnerable Populations” was headed toward approval with 66% voting yes on the proposition in the first count. CHS wrote about the support for the measure among those working at the Plymouth at First Hill housing facility.

UPDATE: The Durkan campaign sent out the following transcript of the seeming mayor-elect’s Election Night remarks:

Jenny Durkan’s Election Night Remarks 

Following the Seattle TimesKING5 and KIRO declaring former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan the winner in the race for mayor, Durkan delivered the following remarks tonight to supporters and volunteers:

Wow, Seattle.

Are you having a good time?

Good evening Seattle. Thank you!

So I want to say, there’s a few celebrities in the house I want to thank.

The Seattle Times has called the race.

I’m so grateful for all of you that are here tonight.

I’m especially grateful to have my family Dana and our boys here. They’ve put up with me at every step of the way.

I also want to thank my campaign team, I’ll name some folks I miss some people but I love you all Kelly, Erin, Ali, Anthony, Stephanie, Lyle, Amanda and everyone –

We have the greatest team.

We were like flying this plane as we were building it.

And you’ve all been there right along.

Thank you to every single one of you for helping my campaign.

It’s been a great journey. I’m so proud of the historic inclusive campaign that we built.

And I will tell you the backbone of our campaign was our working families like our nurses, fire fighters, health care workers, building trades, and longshore workers, and there’s a rumor there’s labor in the house tonight.

But the truly secret weapon: folks up here, folks out there – our volunteers.

We had the best grassroots campaign of any mayoral campaign ever.

At the end of the day today we contacted more than 100,000 voters. And I apologize to all those people whose dinner we interrupted. And those doors we knocked on again and again but thank you.

So this campaign was never about any candidate. It wasn’t about me. Or anyone else.

It was about you.  It was about Seattle and the future of Seattle. It’s a campaign about what Seattle will be like for the next generation. You have committed to making it the best Seattle ever.

Now I know there are a lot more votes to be counted. And if you know me you know I like to count every single vote.

But, I have to tell you: We are feeling really really good about where we are. And I think you guys should celebrate.

And I have it on good authority that some of you have been doing that!

So I want to talk a little bit about the last woman mayor.

92 years later Seattle is about to have another woman mayor.

Bertha Knight Landes, she’s got a conference room. She was the first woman mayor, and the first woman ever to lead a big American city.

And she did it in 1926 – not too long after women got the right to vote.

At the time, newspapers they talked about her – they described her as this:

“[A] plain, unassuming, churchgoing woman.”

That is kind of like what they have been calling me.

Last week, I was in South Seattle at the senior center and I met a woman named Jewell who is 94.  She was alive when Bertha was Mayor.  She has lived in this city for decades.   She has lived almost two lives.

But today Jewell can barely get by.  I sat and talked to her. And she pays her rent and expenses – she has only a few hundred dollars left.  And she talked to me about how hard it was and how much she really had faith in Seattle.

So wanna tell you Jewell if you’re watching this: Help is On the Way.

You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bertha and that glass ceiling.

And when we had the year of the woman – you know, they gave us a year. I remember going to a conference and someone say you know the first people through that glass ceiling, they get cut.

Well, did you notice they named this big drill after Bertha?  94 years later, it was all Bertha’s fault when it didn’t happen.

Just imagine what they are going to blame on me in 94 years!

I will be honest – running for office – it is not for the meek.

But my mom – Lolly Durkan – did not raise her 8 kids to be meek.

She raised us to be fierce — and gentle.

And I tell ya, everywhere I went in this campaign – I knew that was Seattle. Because we stand fiercely for what we believe in.

But when we see our neighbors hurting we will also be gentile.

Because that’s the kind of future we will build together for Seattle.

Fierce and Gentle.

And in this time of Trump, are we gonna be fierce?

And for our neighbors in need, are we gonna be gentle?

And we have a lot of people hurting now but we know if we come together as a city we can tackle those challenges. We can build that better future, that better Seattle for the next generation.

NOW the other thing that Mayor Landis was quoted as saying is she thought Seattle is not really a city – but it’s really “only a larger home.”

So that’s how we have to think of Seattle. We have to build it as a place where everyone has a home.

A place where people are united. Where people know they have have place. Where we are a city that will be equitable and inclusive. And where every person regardless of their race, gender, their faith, their economic status, there is a place for you in Seattle.

That’s the Seattle we believe in, right?

And you know what else we believe in? Science. Seattle will continue to fight [for] climate change and will help lead this country.

And we believe everyone has a right to a shelter and a home. And we work as hard as we can to bring everybody inside until that happens.

We believe in full justice and equality, and we will not rest and will keep fighting until we get it.

In this time in our nation, we know that we need to face the deep wounds of systemic racism.

And we will not be afraid to look in that mirror, to heal those wounds, and to make our hearts better. Because that’s who Seattle is.

And for you parents out there who are struggling so hard to get by and you’re worried about your kids and you’re trying to get them through school, please know that if they graduate from Seattle Public Schools, college is on the way!

You know, we’re also a city that has been blessed with a great economy, even though many have struggled. And we believe in diverse businesses that make up the heart of every neighborhood, who employ so many people. And I have to tell you, walking the neighborhoods of Seattle, meeting with the small business owners, and knowing that they are the work engine of this city, thank you for all you do.

So, you know, I started this campaign, and it was beautiful weather. What happened to that?

We’ve walked neighborhoods, we’ve knocked on doors. And this weekend I was doing it in the rain, the snow, the sleet. I could have worked for the post office. But after all those miles, I will tell you one thing and I know you agree with me, I love Seattle.

I am more optimistic today than when I started this race.

We have great challenges. Affordability is crushing Seattle. The homeless need a home. Our transportation system has challenges. But you know what, I know we are up to the task. I know it because of everyone in this room, everyone at home, in all the neighborhoods I’m walking.

People in Seattle care, we will build a better city, we will build a better future, and we can be proud of it.

You know, we can really show what it looks like when it progressive values are put into action.

And can I just say to Donald Trump, keep your hands off Seattle!

So the Seattle I know and the Seattle we live in?

Unity triumphs over division

Equity over inequality.

Progress over gridlock.

And inclusion always triumphs over injustice.

So I just want to close. I want to thank you again for all your hard work. Thanks to everybody who has contributed and helped this campaign, been there volunteering, knocking on doors, talking to me, talking to me in every part of this city, it really has renewed – renewed – my love for this city and my optimism for the future.

I love you guys!

So you all worked so hard and things aren’t quite official yet, but thank you so much.

You know I also want to thank Cary Moon and her family.

I know firsthand how hard they worked and how much they put into this and the toll it takes on families, so they deserve a huge round of applause for their love for this city.

We did – we had somewhere over 85 debates.  And I will tell you, we have to be thankful that people are willing to go out and try to contribute to their city in this way, so thank you to the whole Moon family.

So I just want to say in close, thank you!

I trust the people of Seattle. I trust us to build a better future. I trust us to show the other Washington how we can really put values to work – to show that we are a better place than Donald Trump says we are.

Thank you very much.

UPDATE 11/8/2017 4:45 PM: Cary Moon has conceded the race:

I ran for Mayor because I felt an immense duty and responsibility to ensure Seattle — our beautiful, vibrant, diverse city — works for everyone.

While the election results will probably continue to tighten, the outcome is unlikely to be what we hoped. We should not let that discourage us. Despite being outspent 3:1, we ran a strong, transparent, and honest campaign about vision and solutions. We drove the conversation around housing affordability, real estate speculation, municipal broadband, and wealth inequality.

l have offered my congratulations to Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s first woman mayor in 90 years. I urge her to boldly confront the challenges facing our city and to remember that Seattle’s prosperity should provide shared opportunity and success for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

To our supporters who may feel disappointed, I feel disappointed too. But I will not let the future of our city be sunk by status quo thinking and politics as usual. There is too much at stake.

That is why I ask you to join me in making sure the promises made during this campaign are actualized. We must ensure our homeless neighbors can move back inside, that people of all income levels have a place in our city, and that our elected leaders share power across race, gender, and class in our government.

Thank you for all you have done for this campaign. We all belong here, and deserve a voice in shaping our city’s future. I know you won’t stop fighting for what you believe is right, and I won’t stop fighting either.


Cary Moon

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6 thoughts on “Election 2017 | Optimism party watches Durkan take expected big lead” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Dear Ms. Durkan.

    Please, please, please do not pander to Nikkita Oliver or her “Peoples Party”. They are a small minority with the loudest voice and do not represent the majority of Seattle that wants sensible politics without the need to shout if you do not get your way. I am sick and tired of feeling hijacked in my own city by people like Nikkita Oliver and Kshama Sawant who think the only way to get their point across is to blame hard working citizens for all the problems and shout the loudest.

  2. WTF? Just read this headline and… talk about a STRETCH. The celebration at Optimism Brewing had nothing to do with Jenny Durkin. I was there to celebrate Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzalez .. and Zach too. I find it amusing how Seattle Times and this page too are so desperately trying to spin excitement about this election as being about Durkin. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • But Elena, look what party we chose to hang out at. CHS was covering from Optimism hence the headline. Probably not my best headline. Definitely not my worst.