Mayor's Race 2017

Catching Up on Seattle's Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon are ramping up their policy game.

By Hayat Norimine September 29, 2017

Mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon are ramping up their policy game as the race gets closer to the finish line. Both candidates in the past few weeks have released more detailed proposals on a number of issues as the race heats up.

Durkan has raised more than $685,000 from nearly 3,000 donors, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, while Moon has raised a fraction of that ($225,000, more than half of which is her own contribution and the rest from 568 donors). That's not to say money is necessarily an indication of a surefire win; there have been candidates in the past who have won despite having been outraised (as was the case with Mike McGinn in 2013). 

With just about a month left until the November 7 election, here's what polls are saying: A GBA Strategies poll—conducted September 6 to September 11—released by Moon's campaign earlier this month showed the two mayoral candidates virtually tied. Moon was just 2 percentage points behind Durkan (38 percent compared to 36 percent) with a 4.9 percent margin of error. That poll showed 26 percent of voters are undecided among a survey of 400 likely voters over a span of six days—leaving the race as a tossup. 

Washington State Wire poll released Thursday had very different results. The organization only polled landline calls and showed Durkan with a significant lead—51 percent over Moon's 26 percent, with a 4.3 percent margin of error. The survey included 510 completed calls from September 23 to September 26. In the primary, Washington State Wire was close when it came to Durkan and McGinn; but it listed Oliver as second to last (a scant 3.4 percent) among the six high-profile candidates, showing that Oliver's support base (and Moon's, though her campaign also had a boost from The Stranger's endorsement later) clearly got overlooked in the landline-only methodology. Moon was in fourth with 4 percent.

One thing both polls agreed on: There's a large chunk of voters still undecided. Here's what the latest news has been with both candidates and what issues they've brought to the forefront. 

Durkan proposes:

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  • Free college tuition: providing two years of free tuition to attend a community college in the state for all graduating Seattle high school seniors. The estimated $4.3-$5 million plan in the first year, Durkan said, could potentially use funds from the 13th Year Promise plan, Sound Transit 3's $518 million education pool for three surrounding counties, or the families and education levy up for renewal next year. (Currently the levy can't be used for college education.)
  • Affordable housing: 700 new short-term shelters in every council district and 1,000 new tiny homes within the first year, a city-run rent voucher program for lower-income families (30-50 percent area median income), and a faster permitting process for affordable housing projects. On funding, Durkan said she'd identify existing city property for tiny home sites, and call on city council to include the rent voucher program and funding for tiny homes rather than spending on "emergencies on our streets." She proposed using the income tax (if it passes legal muster) to create property tax incentives for those who provide affordable housing and reduce property taxes on seniors. She also wants to lobby to increase the real estate excise tax limit in Olympia and explore a speculative tax. (FYI, Moon included a plan on affordable housing in her platform as soon as she announced in April, and in June, she released a plan for her first 100 days in office. You can find that here.)
  • Relief for small businesses: a business-and-occupation tax exemption for startups within the first three years of launching, so long as they don't make a profit of over $1 million; increasing contracting with women and minority business enterprises; and a small business advisory council to report to the mayor, which would include two city council members.

King County executive Dow Constantine's endorsement of Durkan wasn't a surprise. Other recent endorsements for Durkan included the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Transportation for Washington, the political arm of Transportation Choices Coalition; both organizations endorsed Jessyn Farrell in the primary.

"She is a strong leader and has a proven track record working on gun violence prevention," CEO Renee Hopkins said in a statement September 18. 

Moon is proposing: 

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    Public transit: speeding up Sound Transit 3 construction with a loan using the city's bonding capacity, provide ORCA cards to public school students (originally proposed by Nikkita Oliver, who finished third in the primary), expanding funds to give low-income adults better transit access, increasing bus only lanes, and planning "where and how rideshare vehicles operate" with a priority on public transit. She wants to expand public education for elementary school kids to learn how to ride bikes safely and lobby in Olympia for more transportation funding with less emphasis on highways. Moon didn't have estimates for the costs or propose where the money would come from but said she wants to live within the budget's means. (Here's Durkan's plan for transportation.)
  • Addressing the wage inequality: tracking pay data every year by gender, race, and ethnicity from city departments and Seattle businesses with more than 100 employees, prohibiting employers from asking about an applicant's salary history or using it to set compensation, and working with the Office of Civil Rights to better enforce the state's equal pay law. 
  • Improved protections for domestic workers and freelancers: protecting freelance workers based on New York City's law (which outlines deadlines on paychecks, retaliation protections, and penalties for violations, to name a few), making clients provide $800 worth of work every four months, and prohibiting the use of non-compete agreements. Moon also wants to apply the city's minimum wage to live-in workers, mandate meal and rest breaks, and extend overtime and limitations on consistent days worked without a day off.

Moon also announced on Friday endorsements by United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 (which endorsed Jessyn Farrell in the primary) and Unite Here! Local 8, adding to labor groups' endorsements SEIU 6 and SEIU 925—the majority of labor has backed Durkan, including SEIU 775 and Martin Luther King County Labor Council.

"I'm the only candidate for mayor who is not taking money and support from the same corporate special interests that tried to block Seattle's progress on workplace fairness and economic equity," Moon said. 

Lucia Flugencio, member of Unite Here Local 8, said part of the endorsement decision was Moon's stance against the Seattle Hotel Association. Flugencio said Moon didn't hesitate to urge the association to drop the lawsuit against the city to undo Initiative 124. 

"She stood with hotel workers and stood up to the industry," Flugencio said.

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