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A big night for women in Seattle politics

Jenny Durkan, former U.S. attorney, was ahead in the mayor's race with 30.6 percent of the initial vote.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
Jenny Durkan celebrated her lead in the first ballot count: "I feel great about where we are."

Initial results in Seattle’s race for mayor showed former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan with the largest share of votes counted.

She’s followed by urban planner Cary Moon and lawyer and activist Nikkita Oliver.

Altogether, female candidates for mayor had their best showing since 1926, when the citylast elected a woman to run it.


“Oh my God, we’ll have a woman mayor!”

This realization from a supporter at Cary Moon’s primary night party in Belltown.

But candidate Jessyn Farrell was quick to point out that electing women isn’t exactly a milestone these days.

Farrell: “It’s going to be exciting but on the other hand it’s 2017, we shouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Farrell, a state legislator who left her seat to run for mayor, was in fourth place in the first tally.  

Farrell: “I was hoping we’d have a better result but there’s still lots more votes to be counted.”

Meanwhile Cary Moon as a first-time candidate took pleasure in coming in second place so far.

Moon: “I think we really changed the conversation around politics and the future of our city so I think we all have a lot to be proud of.”

Moon included her fellow candidate Nikkita Oliver in that assessment. Oliver came in third place, with 1,500 votes difference.  But at her primary night gathering at Washington Hall in Seattle, Oliver didn’t speculate on her chances of overtaking Moon. She just asked her supporters to stay involved no matter what happens.  

Oliver: “Regardless of whether or not we make it into the general election, then more than ever do we have to keep organizing. Because the only reason they’re talking about the things they’re talking about now is because we got in the election in the first place.”

It seems clear that one candidate going on to the general election will be Jenny Durkan, who took the stage with her partner and their teenage sons at a party in Pioneer Square.

Durkan: “We – we can’t declare victory. I feel great about where we are.”

Durkan says the hardest thing about the campaign so far was the speed at which it occurred.

Durkan: “I think it’s more the pace. We ran a campaign that normally would be run in six months, in 12 weeks.”

Durkan and several other candidates jumped in only after Mayor Ed Murray announced in May that he would not seek reelection amidst a sex abuse scandal.

Durkan: “But I think that between now and November, regardless of who is number two, that we will have a great dialogue on what the city should look like. And I really think – what I heard from people is they need somebody who knows how to run a city. And I think I’m that person.”

State Senator Bob Hasegawa, in fifth place in the initial results, made a plea to whoever is elected to re-engage Seattle’s neighborhood councils which Mayor Murray phased out.

Hasegawa: “I hear everywhere throughout the city that people just don’t appreciate the way that decisions are being made that affect them in their neighborhoods and they feel like they’ve lost control of their own government.”

And former mayor Mike McGinn said he’s disappointed with his results in the first ballot count, but excited for the new candidates emerging.

McGinn: “When I look at these results what I see is that the public is saying that there’s some new young candidates who they believe are progressive candidates who they want to lead the city moving forward, and I’m really proud of them and I’m proud of what they’re trying to do.”

The next ballot count is scheduled for this afternoon. The top two candidates will advance to the general election in November.

A number of KUOW staff contributed to this report. 

Year started with KUOW: 2005