Nikkita Oliver may not have made it through the August 2017 primary in her run for mayor, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming one of the most influential voices in Seattle politics—and a rising star in the city’s own resistance movement.
The face of the new Seattle Peoples Party, organized after the 2016 election, wears a lot of hats: attorney, educator, spoken word poet, Black Lives Matter activist. She’s inspiring a new crowd of Seattle residents who historically don’t vote—youth and millennials, low-income renters, people of color, the LGBTQ and disability communities. She received the third-most votes in the mayoral primary, just barely losing to urban planner Cary Moon. (Moon, of course, lost to Jenny Durkan in the November general.)
Oliver wants to continue to pass the mic on to others who don’t normally get a voice in politics. After all, that’s what the Peoples Party was founded on. The challenge for the new party, then, is balancing that goal with its next step—actually winning an election. After months of debates and media attention from last year’s mayoral race, Oliver now carries notoriety and credibility. The black, multiracial, queer 31-year-old community leader is a natural choice for the party as it eyes placing a candidate to run in another local race.
“We’re trying to figure that out. Having leadership be from the grassroots up, and also understanding that we ran a great campaign,” Oliver says. “I don’t think there’s a clean answer there. We’re dealing with an evolving system, and so we’re an evolving party.”