Seattle mayoral primary will be test of progressive movement

R&I – FS

A year after racial justice and anti-police demonstrators took over part of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, there are lines outside the restaurants in and around the former protest zone.

Pickup soccer games and dog owners playing fetch dominate a park formerly occupied by a tent encampment. Corn, kale and zucchini flourish in a community garden dug by the protesters, next to the letters “BLM” fashioned from lengths of hose.

But issues crystallized by the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest — policing, equity, disorder and homelessness — are animating Seattle’s Tuesday mayoral primary, a contest that highlights a political divide between activist-left voters and more moderate progressives.

The election comes weeks after Democratic primary voters in New York’s mayoral race chose a centrist former cop who balked at calls from the left to “defund the police.” The question is whether voters in overwhelmingly liberal Seattle will also back moderate candidates who reject pleas to reduce police budgets or candidates who support the agenda espoused so forcefully by protesters during last summer’s rallies.

Many residents are frustrated, with large swaths saying the city is on the wrong track. Six years after the city first declared homelessness an emergency, Seattle remains mired in a humanitarian crisis, with tent encampments and open air drug use a feature of many neighborhoods.


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