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Seattle Election, Ann Davison, Republican Win
November 7, 2021
by William P. Meyers

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Voters Rejected Some Magical Thinking

The national media has characterized the November 2021 general election in Seattle as part of a swing to the right, to Republicans, that was more obvious in the Virginia elections. Even normally reliable narrators like the New York Times. As has been my case more than once in my life, I saw the reality on the ground, and it differed pretty sharply from what national level summaries implied. I am going to supply some details, particularly about the City Attorney race between Ann Davison and Nicole Kennedy. With a better understanding of what actually happened people might make better decisions in the future. No matter where on the political spectrum a person is, from ultra-right to ultra-left, knowing the facts allows for better decision making, even if that only forms the basis for spinning and lying. There was a lot of spinning and lying in Seattle in the 2021 local elections.

If you live in Seattle, or visit, your interpretation of the current state of the city would still depend on where you live, play, and work; who you listen to; and you prior biases. But most people agree that Seattle has lots of new skyscrapers and lots of people living in tents in parks, on the sidewalk, and under and around the freeways. If you live within walking distance of a homeless encampment you or your neighbors have experienced nuisances and crimes committed by homeless people. Rents and housing prices are high. Because of the presence of Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies, there are also hundreds of thousands of very prosperous people around. And there has not been a Republican mayor or city council member for decades, so it is hard to blame the Republicans for Seattle's problems (but Democrats still do). There is even a Trotskyist on the City Council, plotting her future dictatorship, sweet talking Bernie supporters even though she plans to eliminate them if they do not become her minions when the revolution finally comes.

So the primary elections looked like they would be business as usual in the spring of 2021. Mostly the contests here are between those Democrats who are (or pose as) merely progressive, and those who blur over into the lefty-socialist camp. The most prominent offices up for election were mayor and the two at-large city council seats (the others are district based). City Attorney Peter Holmes was considered certain to be re-elected.

On the last day to file to run, two women decide to run for City Attorney. One was Ann Davison, who would run to Peter's right, and the other was Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, who said she was an Abolitionist who would refuse to prosecute misdemeanors. It was the first time I had heard that old term for anti-slavery activists of the 1800s used by someone who wants to abolish the police and prosecutions by the justice system. During this entire campaign I have been active in the 46th LD (legislative district) Democrats, the local sort of grassroots party organization. I was Secretary of the organization in 2020 and became Treasurer in 2021. I had been left-of-democrats since I was 19, but when I came to Seattle in 2017 I found the local dems were plenty lefty for me. I am also the Democratic Committee organizer for my Precinct. In the 2020 presidential primary I started by supporting Kamala Harris and ended up caucusing for Bernie Sanders.

Ann Davison had been a lifelong Democrat who caucused for Hillary in 2016. In 2019 the local City Council seat came up again and there appeared to be very little support for the incumbent, Debora Juarez, who had spent her 4 years in office mainly working to build sporting arenas and scoffing, like a good progressive, at people complaining about homeless camps near them. I like Debora, on the whole, but not sports arenas. So I asked her and the two other likely candidates, Ann and John Lombard, an activist I had started working with, to sit down and talk to me. Debora, or her staff, blew me off, confirming what I had heard, that she did not like to meet with constituents. John's critique of Debora was mainly that she did not listen to constituents, including him and his friends. But Ann had a cogent reason for running for office. We talked for an hour at Kaffeeklatsh. She had worked at refugee camps in Thailand and thought they housed and served people better than the homeless camps of Seattle. She wanted to help homeless people. But she was not progressive on all issues, she was more of a moderate. She came in second in the primary.

Ann was a clear threat to the local Democratic Party establishment on many levels. She was challenging a tribal member, with connections to casino money. She was white, not a favored color anymore. She was walking the district, listening to people, something Debora would never do. So the Party told the professional manager/analyst types they could not work on her campaign, not if they wanted a career. They started saying she was a Republican (it is a non-partisan race), with the evidence that when she was young she took a staff position with a republican elected official in Texas. And they spun her plan to help homeless people into a constantly repeated meme that she planned to put them in concentration camps. Of course many of the people saying these things did not know they were lying. But even when I confronted people about it, they just kept up their campaign. Ann lost, but she got about 40% of the vote, which I thought was actually extremely good for a novice going up against an entrenched, well-financed incumbent.

Ann was really upset at how she was treated by the Party. I told her it was just politics, she should be proud of what she did accomplish, raising issues and the like (Debora got better on homelessness in her rhetoric during the campaign, and better in practice too). But some Republicans approached her. It is hard to find a Republican in Seattle, but they are plentiful in more rural parts of the state. These particular Republicans did not like the QAnon Trumpy types, and thought Ann, as a moderate Democrat, would make just as good of a moderate Republican. So she switched parties [contrary to my advice]. She ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2020, but lost out to a Trump Republican.

Ann criticized Pete Holmes for being soft on crime. A lot of people in Seattle felt she was right. To Pete's left was Nicole Kennedy, saying it hurt poor people to prosecute them for misdemeanors, so if elected she would not prosecute misdemeanors. Only rich people would be prosecuted. She said she would used diversion programs to help poor committers of what were formerly misdemeanors to get back on their feet. In her brief career as a public defender she had never met a person who deserved to be prosecuted. They just needed some help from rich Seattle people who should pay more taxes, like Jeff Bezos.

It was a city-wide race. Back in the 46th LD, we had a meeting to make our primary endorsements. Anyone can join the organization, but of course we typically have less than 150 members. They tend to two types: career builders and progressive activists. Our rules require a 60% threshold of voting members to give a candidate our endorsement. In the race for mayor no candidate got to that threshold. Of the two at-large City Council seats, only one candidate was endorsed, Theresa Mosqueda. In the City Attorney race, Ann, as someone who had been a Republican, was not considered. Nicole had enough support to keep Pete from getting our endorsement. Did I mention that active membership trends to 75% to 80% female?

I later had an approximately one hour phone call with one of the major mover-and-shaker progressive women of Seattle, Melissa Taylor. She explained that, like Nicole Kennedy, whom she supported, she was an Abolitionist. Confession: I have known a few criminals and ex-criminals, not just of the political sort, in my day. I explained that criminals could be pretty smart, and if misdemeanors were abolished, they would set to work to misdemeanor the city to death. I asked her if she had actually bothered to look at the code that listed the misdemeanors. I explained that various sexual and physical offenses against women were misdemeanors. That thieves seldom had it together to steal expensive stuff from people living in nice neighborhoods, that if they stole a $200 item from a working person it could be devastating, whereas the loss of $200 might not bother someone with graduate degrees and a nice job and home. Although in the conversation Melissa did not give up on the wave a social worker wand theory of stopping crime, I did notice that in the following weeks Nicole backed off on some of her pre-run absolutist statements, starting to say "some" misdemeanors and specifically promising to prosecute domestic abuse and public abuse of women.

Then there is diversion. Pardon me if I am cynical about diversion. Crime has greatly increased in Seattle as more diversion has been introduced. I am sure some not-particularly-criminal people, given a diversion program after a first arrest, went forward and sinned no more. But at a help-the-homeless meeting once I heard a counselor in a diversion program say that most people did not show up, and that there was no mechanism for the court and prosecutors to follow up when they did not show up. So it is not like probation. There may be a variety of diversion programs, it might be a good idea if done properly. But if someone is homeless, who will follow up? Not someone sitting in an office all day.

When the results of the primary election came in, there were some surprises. Pete Holmes, Ann Davison, and Nicole Kennedy had split the election three ways, but Pete was out by a few votes. Bruce Harrell led in the mayor's race, with Lorena Gonzales, the favorite of the Berniecrats, second. And the candidate supported by the progressive democrats, and me, for one City Council seat, #9, Brianna Thomas, did not make the cut. Instead a non-Democrat, socialist Nikkita Oliver made the cut with Sara Nelson, a small-business friendly progressive Democrat.

At first it looked like Nicole would easily beat Ann, and Lorena would beat Bruce, and Nikkita would beat Sara. When the 46th met to endorse for the general election, our party activists endorsed Lorena, even though Bruce had beaten her in the primary. Ann and Nikkita were ineligible for endorsement, but only Nicole was endorsed. There was enough lefty support for Nikkita, even though she was not a Democrat, to prevent Sara from getting endorsed.

I was pretty mad at that point. I sent Sara's campaign $100, and gave $100 (in vouchers) to Bruce as well. It had just been Black Live Matter year, and Bruce was a black man and progressive, but our group felt okay endorsing a white woman (with a Hispanic surname) because she was backed by team Bernie. I expressed my displeasure, and my criticisms, and team Bernie started their usual if you criticize us you must be a right wing thug campaign.

Then, everyone learned things about Nicole Kennedy that she had not revealed herself. She had forgotten to delete her twitter account. There, she sounds like an anarchist terrorist, urging people to attack police, destroy police property, and destroy private property. When caught, she did not apologize. She just rationalized that she was angry at the time. This is while running for a job where the main people you have to work with, in addition to your team of prosecutors, is the police.

People, from the grassroots up and from the bottom down, started to look objectively at Nicole and Ann. They switched to Ann. Mostly, at first, Democrats who were no longer running for office. And former judges. And former police chiefs. And then the firefighters union. In the streets you could hear conversations about people who had never voted Republican thinking of voting for Ann. But it was also clear from Ann's campaign that she was independent, running for a nonpartisan office.

Still, I thought Nicole would win, with Lorena and Nikkita. To my surprise, the voters of Seattle had had enough magic wand Berniecrat bullshit. Bruce won by a landslide. Sara had a very solid beat against Nikkita. And Ann Davison edged out Nicole.

This was by no means a Republican victory, unless you think Clinton Democrats are now secretly Republicans. If Democratic Party insiders had not been a bunch of lying vicious curs, Ann would still be in the party. If lefty progressives had not gone over the edge from legalizing marijuana to legalizing beatings, theft, and vandalism, they might have won some races.

Is there hope for Seattle? I don't know. My guess is the Berniecrats, most of them, will interpret the election results in their usual bizarre, fact-free, we are the righteous, business-conspiracy theory manner. I suspect we will see more Abolitionist candidates in the future.

What concerns me is that the progressive program I agree with (more progressive taxation, fair wages and housing prices, equal opportunity, people showing respect for each other, peace, and protection of the environment) could get lost in the shuffle.

There is one thing you can bet on. Everything that goes wrong in Seattle in the next four nears will be blamed on Ann Davison. Because she had been declared a witch, I mean a Republican, and the only thing most Democratic Party activists know how to do effectively is bleat as they are told.

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