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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 9, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 32
Primary election results
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Primary election results

Will Larry Gossett survive?
District 3 still likes Sawant


by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In the most stunning result of election night, political newcomer Girmay Zahilay seems set to upset veteran King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. Early returns show Zahilay picking up more than 52% of the votes in County Council District 2 to Gossett's 39.37%.

Gossett, who was born, grew up, and still has his home in the district, is a fixture of local politics, having served on the King County Council since 1994. He was also a founding member of the Franklin High School Black Student Union, a member of Seattle's Black Panther chapter, and a local civil rights icon.

Gossett has noted with some amusement that his council office is in exactly the same location in the King County Courthouse as the holding cell he occupied in 1968, when he was arrested for participating in a sit-in at Franklin High School.

Zahilay, an immigrant from the Sudan, who also attended Franklin High School and spent much of his childhood living in public housing, is a Stanford- and University of Pennsylvania-educated attorney.

'Voters want change, that's what our results are showing us,' Zahilay told the Seattle Times.

Gossett attributed his disappointing showing to Zahilay's youth and his fundraising.

'Those things are a little bit more difficult to deal with: ageism,' Gossett told the Seattle Times. 'It means a very difficult time mobilizing people to turn out for the finals, but I'm a fighter, so that is what I will work hard on doing.'

Zahilay and Gossett will go on to the general election in November.

In other King County Council elections, Gay councilmember Joe McDermott enjoyed an easy race, bringing in more than 82% of the vote against token opposition.

Seattle City Council
In the most-watched Seattle City Council race, incumbent councilmember Kshama Sawant proved once again that her boots-on-the-ground organizing strategy can pull in more votes than the big money mass-marketing campaign of her opponents.

Sawant came first in the field of six candidates for her District 3 seat, with 32.75% of the vote. Facing Sawant in the November election will likely be Egan Orion, the favorite of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and its CASE PAC. Orion pulled in 23.74% of the votes.

Orion, an events promoter who runs the popular Pride Fest and who presided over the bankruptcy of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, was the beneficiary of $123,000 in 'independent expenditures' from local business interests in their attempt to dislodge Sawant.

NIMBY activist Pat Murakami is running third in the pack with just over 14% of the votes.

Zachary DeWolf, like Orion an out Gay man, is in fourth place after a lackluster campaign, with 12.54%.

The Seattle business community seems to be facing an uphill battle in its drive to replace progressive City Council members with more conservative members beholden to developers and business interests.

In District 1, incumbent Lisa Herbold, protégé of progressive veteran Nick Licata, ran well ahead of her nearest challenger, with almost 48% of the vote against Phil Tavel's 33.83%.

In District 2, labor organizer Tammy Morales led the field of seven candidates with 44.69%. She will likely face Mark Solomon, a civilian employee of the Seattle Police Department, in November. Solomon scored 24.59% of the votes.

District 4 may provide the best opportunity for the pro-business side to elect a councilmember, with CASE-backed Alex Pedersen well ahead in the field of 10 candidates. Pedersen won more than 45% of the votes. His likely November opponent, socialist Shaun Scott, brought in 19.41%.

In District 5, incumbent and semi-progressive Debra Juarez led the field with more than 42% of the votes, followed by Ann Davison Sattler, running on a 'crack down on the homeless' platform. Sattler took almost 28% of the votes.

District 7 is shaping up to be a race between two relatively progressive candidates. Andrew Lewis, backed by MLK Labor, is running first with 28.85%, followed by a pro-police reform ex-cop, Jim Pugel, with 26.46%.

Comeback city
The District 6 City Council race featured the surprising comeback of former City Councilmember Heidi Wills.

Wills was one of three councilmembers caught up in the infamous 2003 'Strippergate' scandal - accused of accepting campaign contributions from the Colacurcio crime family in return for a favorable vote on a zoning variance for a Colacurcio-owned strip club in Lake City.

Although Wills denied any wrongdoing, she opted not to run for reelection. Frank Colacurcio Sr. and Jr. were convicted of felony violations of campaign finance laws.

In her previous political incarnation, Wills was considered part of the City Council's progressive wing, but this year she campaigned on a law-and-order platform and came in second in the field of 13 District 6 candidates, with 22.74% of the vote.

Dan Strauss, former staffer to retiring City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, led the field with 30.85%, and will face off against Wills in November.

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