Last week’s election results are shaping the future landscape of the city. After some long days of counting, we are nearing the final results. (This article was sent to print while some of the races were still too close to call.) But here is where we stand:
King County Council will welcome Jorge Barón as the next District 4 Councilmember. Barón is the former executive director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project who defeated Assistant Attorney General Sarah Reyneveld to replace longtime councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Reyneveld was humbled by the support for her campaign as she worked to address the challenges of the region. And as a member of the King County Women’s Advisory Board, she says she looks forward to “collaborating with Councilmember-elect Barón to continue the work of creating a more equitable future for women and our most vulnerable communities in Seattle and King County.”
Barón says he is humbled that the voters have given him this honor and that he is looking forward to tackling the issues that county council oversees, with special attention to some of the issues that affect Queen Anne and Magnolia: making Metro more safe and reliable, expanding shelter capacity to reduce and ultimately eliminate unsheltered homelessness, Improvements to the West Point Treatment Plant, listening to community voices, and supporting the implementation of the new King County Doors Open program to promote access to the arts and culture organizations.
He is also very cognizant of the fact that his election marks an important milestone as he will be the first Latino to serve on the King County Council.
“As we celebrate these milestones, I hope they will inspire us to continue the important work of ensuring that our governing structures better reflect the communities they serve,” Barón said. He also wants to recognize and build upon the decades of service of Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles who is retiring at the end of the year.
Girmay Zahilay and Claudia Balducci ran unopposed and were reelected in Districts 2 and 6, respectively.
Seattle City Council races have been incredibly close this year. Districts 1, 3, and 5 will be welcoming Rob Saka, Joy Hollingsworth and Cathy Moore. And Dan Strauss will retain his seat in District 6. As of Sunday evening, Districts 2, 4, and 7 were too close to officially call. There are only a few hundred votes separating the candidates in each of these races. Tammy Morales has a slight lead over Tanya Woo in District 2. Maritza Rivera has 400 more votes than Ron Davis in District 4. And incumbent Andrew Lewis is trailing Navy veteran Bob Kettle by about 500 votes in Queen Anne and Magnolia’s District 7. This race has been called and then uncalled but still remains tight. Kettle says he is eager to work with City Council and the Mayor to lead the city and address changes. But it looks like he will have to wait a little longer for the full count.
“With hard work, Seattle has so much to be optimistic about,” added Kettle.
Seattle School Board had four seats on the ballot this year. Liza Rankin and Lisa Rivera are the incumbents who won reelection in School Board Districts 1 (North end of Seattle) and 2 (Magnolia, Ballard, Green Lake). The School Board will also welcome first time candidates Gina Topp and Evan Briggs in Districts 6 (West Seattle) and 3 (U District, Ravenna, out to Sand Point).
Briggs is an independent documentary filmmaker who plans on setting a better tone for adult behavior in the district because she recognizes the importance of the relationships that undergird the system.
“I care very deeply about education because we know how important education is to the trajectory of our children’s lives,” she said. And she believes a commitment to education will help get to the root of the issues that are facing our society. It’s also important to note that Briggs was reluctant to run until a number of people in her community encouraged her to step up. Outgoing School Board Director Chandra Hampson said that she considers recruitment of new board members a part of her job. Hampson feels strongly that Briggs shares the commitment to work toward best practices in governance and has a “uniquely strong ability to tell that story better than we have thus far.”
Rankin and Rivera will be two of the more seasoned members of the board.
“This year is going to be pretty big,” Rankin said, referring to the upcoming plans to address the expiring strategic plan and significant budget deficit.
She feels that the election results demonstrate the public support for the current direction of Seattle Public Schools and the board in general.
“I am here to do the work for kids” and “ensure the org is doing what it says it’s doing for the children,” Rankin said.
Ben Gitenstein, who ran against Evan Briggs in District 3, says he was really struck by how many people came out to support his campaign.
“I sincerely hope the current board understands the seriousness of this moment,” he said.
Gitenstein views the 100,000 votes that he received as votes of no confidence for the current direction of the School Board and Seattle Public Schools. He feels that SPS is facing a crisis of consciousness and he plans on helping in any way that he can. Adding, “I am putting my energy to help organize for the long term to create lasting political change.”