1. After yesterday's batch of votes came in (there were two drops), the cameras began to turn toward the First District in West Seattle. Longtime Nick Licata aide, populist Lisa Herbold—who was in second place behind liberal Shannon Braddock with 46.48 percent on opening night—climbed to 47.23 percent.
Herbold, behind by 733 votes on opening night was still behind by 729 votes, but was also getting around 53.8 percent of the latest batch. She had gotten about 50 percent of the previous batch, so she's trending up.
Overall turnout is looking to be historically low—Seattle is only at 38 percent so far. Off-year elections typically hit about 50 percent turnout, but this year is trending more toward mid 40 percent land. The heavier the later turnout, the better chance Herbold has of a last-minute win; progressive votes, traditionally, come later.
Herbold is pivotal for Kshama Sawant to retain a formidable voting bloc on the council. If the more traditional liberal, King County Joe McDermott aide Shannon Braddock stays ahead and wins, Sawant will most likely drop from a solid three-vote bloc (Sawant, Licata, and Mike O'Brien) to just a two-vote bloc (Sawant and O'Brien.) There is an outside chance that a few other races—District Two in Southeast Seattle and District Four in the U. District—could also go Sawant's way.
Sawant herself is winning handily. After all three counts so far she's leading comfortably, 53.07 to 46.64 with a nearly 1,200 vote lead. (She was winning 52.56 to 47.12 on election night with just an 850 vote lead.)
2. The Seattle Times declared election night a big win for urbanists. I agree. But they made one glaring error (which actually downplayed the urbanist win.) While they correctly quote John Fox as the city's premier antiurbanist, they failed to follow the money to see which race Fox focused on.
It's telling: Fox's own independent expenditure committee, Citizens Alliance for Limited Growth, focused on District Four where Fox (personally) and his group the Seattle Displacement Coalition, spent $4,500 to beat Rob Johnson. The Times, oddly, didn't count Johnson in the urbanist column.
Johnson, the premier urbanist in this year's race, was not only targeted by Fox, but was endorsed by the city's leading city green groups—Seattle Transit Blog, the Seattle Bike Blog, the Sierra Club, Cascade Bike Club, Seattle Subway, and tunnel detractor Cary Moon. (PubliCola endorsed Johsnon as well.)
If Johnson ends up winning—he's currently up by 1,200 votes at 54.18 to 45.40 over Democrat Michael Maddux—it will be a profound win for urbanists. The Fourth District includes the type of North Seattle turf (Wedgwood, Roosevelt, Sand Point) that supposedly represents the traditional Seattle neighborhood movement.
Johnson is currently the executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition, the group that led the $930 million transportation levy campaign. The levy won big—it's currently at 56.71 to 43.29. The Times used the winning levy as the bigger frame for its conclusion that urbanism carried the day.
3. In non-election news (and in curious news): After all the fanfare last year that the Seattle Department of Transportation was creating a new (frankly, urbanist!) division, director Paulo Nunes-Ueno, who had revolutionized transit services at Children's Hospital as their transit head, has resigned.
Word is not that SDOT director Scott Kubly was unhappy with Nunes-Ueno, but that the charismatic Nunes-Ueno was not happy with the bureaucratic trappings of a nerdy details agency like SDOT.
Here's his email, which, ironically, went out yesterday morning in the wake of SDOT's big transportation levy win on Tuesday night:
From: "Nunes-Ueno, Paulo" <Paulo.Nunes-Ueno@seattle.gov>
Date: Nov 4, 2015 8:08 AM
Congratulations on all the work you’ve done to pass the Move Seattle Levy!
I have decided to pursue other opportunities including spending more time with my family. My last day at work will be Friday November 6th. But you can always reach me via my personal email nuxxxxeno@xxxxxx I look forward to hearing how you are doing.
It’s been a privilege to work with you to add new bus service, plan a new network of RapidRide lines, launch a new Streetcar line and upgrade Seattle’s on-street parking technology. I will watch with enthusiasm as you and the rest of the talented folks at the SDOT continue to make Seattle one of the most livable and sustainable cities in the world.
I will be in my office from 11:30a to 12:30p on Friday November 6th. Stop by if you’d like to say goodbye in person.