Nikkita Oliver may not be continuing on to the general election as a mayoral candidate, but on Tuesday afternoon she announced a victory for the Seattle Peoples Party.
Oliver held a press conference on Aug. 15, the day Washington ballots were certified, not to concede the primary election to frontrunners Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon, but to outline the next steps for the grassroots political party that formed in conjunction with her candidacy.
A teacher, lawyer, community organizer and spoken-word artist, Oliver trailed Moon in the primary election from the initial count on Aug. 1. The urban planner ended up with 17.62 percent of the vote, while Oliver had 16.99 percent. The difference was 1,170 votes.
Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, remained in the top spot, taking 27.9 percent of the primary vote in a race with 21 candidates.
Oliver said the Seattle Peoples Party got six candidates during the primary to address issues of poverty, racism, gender inequality and other issues confronting marginalized populations.
Moon acknowledged this in an official statement on her primary win.
“Further, The Peoples Party and Nikkita Oliver's campaign amplified the voices of those who often feel Seattle is no longer for them, and engaged thousands across Seattle in this important election,” reads part of Moon’s statement. “Our city is stronger for their work. I am inspired to hear the Peoples Party will continue to grow in power and engage in local politics.”
Oliver said Tuesday the Peoples Party is not endorsing either mayoral candidate at this point, and made it clear it would be difficult for either Moon or Durkan to earn such support.
She did acknowledge them as “two wealthy white women,” and said the ideas the Peoples Party brought to the election “are birthed out of our lived experiences, and those are not experiences that those candidates share.”
Oliver said, “some candidates spend $90,000 to talk about equality,” but don’t have proof they’re working to that end. One reporter asked for clarification as to whether the comment was about Moon, who spent more than $90,000 of her own money on her campaign.
“A lot of people spent their own money,” Oliver said, “but that 90,000, you know where it came from.”
If either remaining mayoral candidate wants to appeal to Oliver’s base, they are being invited to participate in a forum hosted by the Peoples Party and moderated by Oliver, she said; a date for the forum has not yet been set.
The Peoples Party will also be holding community listening meetings to develop policy positions, Oliver said, and a general assembly is planned for Sept. 23 at Washington Hall.
At the state level, Oliver said the Peoples Party will be promoting Initiative 940, which addresses police reform and violence de-escalation training, and fighting Initiative 200. I-200 is a 1998 Washington ballot measure that essentially blocks affirmative action, and Oliver said it continues to be a burden to education, housing, employment and other opportunities for people of color, transgender individuals, women and other historically marginalized populations.
Oliver’s press conference took place hours after the Seattle Human Rights Commission issued a statement that agrees with one from the LGBTQ Commission from July that asks Mayor Ed Murray to resign.
When asked Tuesday, Oliver said the findings in Oregon — published first by the Seattle Times — and a need for the Peoples Party to hold elected officials accountable, especially when it involves abuses against children, are the reasons why she feels Murray should do so.
The Seattle Times in late July published the findings of a child welfare investigator in Oregon who had been investigating and believed sexual abuse allegations against Murray by his then foster son, Jeff Simpson. The report states a Multnomah County prosecutor did not follow through with charges due to a lack of confidence in meeting the burden of proof.
“I think so,” Oliver said, “and I believe, according to our campaign statement, that Mayor Murray should resign.”