1. The pundits I polled heading into tonight's election told me this:
Seattle Proposition 1, the $930 million transportation levy, is looking shaky. I-122, the campaign finance reform measure, is looking good. Irony of the year, of course: I-122's campaign to get money out of politics spent a whopping $1.4 million, and much of it raised from Citizens United–era hard-to-track, dollars.
Tim Burgess, Sally Bagshaw, Mike O'Brien, Kshama Sawant, Bruce Harrell (the five incumbents running) will retain their seats (see my churlish analysis about that—and the supposed district revolution here).
Lorena González wins the Position Nine citywide seat (Burgess is running in Position Eight, the other citywide seat). Debora Juarez bests Sandy Brown in North Seattle's District Five; Rob Johnson beats Michael Maddux in District Four (U District, Wallingford, Wedgwood). And in District One (West Seattle), where Shannon Braddock and Lisa Herbold are facing off...no one seems willing to call it one way or the other.
The other thing I was told is that voters seem to be "in a mood." The apparent declining fortunes of the transportation levy are the most obvious sign of that.
It's not clear how else grumbling at the polls will translate—and turnout is currently only at 20 percent in Seattle. Typical off-year election turnout is about 50 percent. We could easily hit that number as ballots come in over the next few days.
I'd say the most obvious victim of cranky voters would be a citywide incumbent like Burgess. And Burgess's energetic lefty opponent, tenants' advocate Jon Grant, has run a good campaign media wise. (This mood could also help underdog Maddux; Johnson is perceived as the "establishment" candidate in that race.)
It will be tough for Grant to overcome Burgess's money advantage in a citywide race (about $400,000 to $75,000), but—and despite the contradictory messages here—a conservative vote against transportation spending and a left wing vote for Grant's antideveloper message may be one possible populist outcome.
Contradictions like that make Seattle's brand of populism confusing.
2. The big news yesterday: King County executive Dow Constantine and Seattle mayor Ed Murray signed an emergency proclamation to take on homelessness; a state of emergency is something typically used to address a natural disaster like an earthquake or civil unrest.
The proclamation itself was mostly a Bat Signal—the last one-night count found an alarming 3,772 homeless people—a 21 percent increase over 2014—including 2,800 in Seattle. Joined by city council members Mike O’Brien and Sally Bagshaw, state representative and liberal speaker of the house Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford), and homeless advocates and service groups, Murray and Constantine announced that the city would spend an additional $5 million on homeless services such as prevention, beds, bathrooms, and outreach.
The city currently spends $40 million to combat homelessness, and Murray has already requested an additional $2.1 million in the new budget.
Based on the one-night count, plus adding the 4,400 people who are in local shelters, $40 million means the city spent about $5,500 per homeless person in 2014.
Here's the breakdown of that spending:
- $28.6 million is spent on intervention, including emergency shelter, transitional housing, outreach, meal programs
- $7.6 million is spent on housing, not including office of housing levy spending for beds in supportive housing or supportive services
- $4.5 million is spent on prevention, such as rental assistance, eviction prevention, housing stability services for seniors
The new city money—full breakdown of those dollars here—will bump the spending to about $6,200 per person locally.