1. Ballot returns for tomorrow's off-year mayoral election are coming in lower than expected, according to King County Elections spokeswoman Kim van Eckstrom, who estimates that "about 250,000 ballots have been returned" as of this morning (that's about 40,000 more than you'll currently see on King County's official elections web site, which only reflects returns through Friday night.)

"The numbers are definitely lower than we anticipated," van Eckstrom says. "We have no way of knowing if this rate is going to continue or if it's going to pick up."

However, van Eckstrom says she has seen a "steady stream" of cars dropping ballots off at King County Elections headquarters in Redmond, where she works, and adds that voters may be holding on to their ballots longer because of all the confusing ballot measures (thanks, Tim Eyman) on the roster. 

The estimated 250,000 ballots that have come in so far represent about 21 percent of the King County electorate; King County Elections has predicted has predicted a 55 percent turnout.

The estimated 250,000 ballots that have come in so far represent about 21 percent of the King County electorate; King County Elections has predicted a 55 percent turnout.

2. Mayor Mike McGinn put out a new online-only ad today encouraging people to get out and vote.

Smiling and relaxed, McGinn stands in his campaign office and, speaking directly to the camera, says: "If you're a hotel worker, you're as important as the hotel owner. If you work at a startup, you're as important as a cable company executive. And if you care about climate change, you're as important as the people that want to carry coal through this city."

The ad is referring, respectively, to: The hotel workers who've endorsed McGinn and, through their union, poured thousands into a campaign on his behalf; Comcast, which has spent thousands supporting Murray (a story that blew up nationally last week); and the plan to send as many as 18 mile-long coal trains through Seattle en route to Bellingham every day. 

It's a more energizing ad than his earlier lonely TV spots, shot against a grim black background.

Unlike previous McGinn ads, though, the latest spot is only available on Youtube. 

3. For his part, challenger Ed Murray held another last-minute press conference in Occidental Park today—his third in just three days as McGinn's campaign has been hitting him over Comcast donations and as, reportedly, there's been a shift toward McGinn on the ground say some observers.

Murray, trying to change the conversation back to McGinn, made the case that he'll be a better crusader for public safety than the incumbent.

Flanked by city council members Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Bruce Harrell, along with King County Sheriff John Urquhart and former council member Peter Steinbrueck, Murray accused the mayor of ignoring public safety and denying it's an issue. 

After the press conference, Murray spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said, "The mayor spent the last three-and-a-half years denying that there was any problem around crime, ignoring the perception problem, and arguing that adding more cops wasn’t part of the answer. And now, in the late stages of the campaign, he has suddenly changed his tune and said he’s going to add more cops and that crime is an issue that he's going to address."

4. Socialist city council candidate Kshama Sawant showed up with a group of red-shirt-wearing supporters at this afternoon's city council meeting, bearing an oversized "pledge" sheet for city council members to sign and affirm their support for a new city ordinance mandating a $15-an-hour minimum wage. 

According to a statement released earlier today, the pledge Sawant wanted council members to sign read, “I support raising the minimum wage in Seattle to $15/hour. Following the election, the city council should adopt a minimum wage ordinance and get it passed in 2014.”

According to a statement released earlier today, the pledge Sawant wanted council members to sign read, “I support raising the minimum wage in Seattle to $15/hour. Following the election, the city council should adopt a minimum wage ordinance and get it passed in 2014.”

Testimony at council meetings is limited to items on the agenda (Sawant's hypothetical minimum-wage ordinance wasn't), a fact council president Sally Clark pointed out to the minimum-wage proponents. "I welcomed them to chambers as first-time attendees and reminded them that public comment is limited to items on the agenda," Clark says, but "I did not cut them off."

Although he didn't sign Sawant's pledge, in a press release today, the Murray campaign reiterated Murray's campaign pledge to enact a $15 minimum wage.

The statement said in part:

Ed would begin the process by bringing together representatives of business, labor, the Council and other stakeholders to negotiate an agreement on a living wage proposal that will be implemented in the City of Seattle. Those conversations will include: implementation of a $15 dollar per hour minimum wage standard for City employees and contractors; moving forward on achieving the goal of a $15/ hour wage for large scale industries like national big-box retail and fast food brands.

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