Mayoral Matrix

by John Colby

Updated 5/22/17

Filing has closed, and we now know who will be on the ballot for Mayor. But before we get into it – a mea culpa. Your writer mistakenly gave the wrong draft of the matrix to your editors last week. This caused heartburn that was unnecessary, and for that, I apologize. 

On the flipside: we now have specific candidates! In addition to this list, you can count on the South Seattle Emerald watching Position 8 and City Attorney pretty closely. You can also expect some time spent on the School Board races – where two incumbents are not seeking re-election.  And while the Emerald will be reporting on the race, I’ll  personally be passing on Position 9 – Council Member Gonzalez won with about 80% of the vote two years ago, and while there are some interesting candidates who have filed against Council Member Gonzalez, there does not appear to be any viable challengers in my estimation. If this begins to change, I’ll of course start in on Position 9.

With that said, here are the candidates who have filed to be Mayor of Seattle. These people have paid the nearly $2,000.00 filing fee, or collected nearly 2,000 signatures:

  1. James W. Norton, Jr.
  2. Casey Carlisle
  3. Cary Moon
  4. Jason Roberts
  5. Alex Tsimerman
  6. Jessyn Farrell
  7. Harley Lever
  8. Mary J. Martin
  9. Jenny Durkan
  10. Keith J. Whiteman
  11. Greg Hamilton
  12. Bob Hasegawa
  13. Tiniell Cato
  14. Mike McGinn
  15. Nikkita Oliver
  16. Dave Kane
  17. Michael Harris
  18. Thom Gunn
  19. Gary E. Brose
  20. Larry Oberto
  21. Lewis A. Jones

For a bit of perspective, in 1997 (the last time there was an open mayoral race), 11 candidates were on the ballot. There were 13 in 1989 (the year Norm Rice won his campaign for Mayor).

In the interest of…so many things… I’ll be analyzing this race in order of what I believe – based on fundraising, earned media, paid media, and what I’m hearing on the street – is the most likely order that these candidates are in for the Primary. I’ll avoid percentages until (if) there is polling. I’ll also stick to the six candidates who are most viable. I’m defining that based on various factors: fundraising, endorsements, prior elective office, and campaign infrastructure.

Think I’m wrong? Tell me in the comments what you’re seeing and hearing, and I’ll rope that into my next matrix! Again, (because it appears to need repeating) the following thoughts and opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the South Seattle Emerald’s editorial board.

Candidate Strengths Weaknesses
Mike McGinn He’s been mayor before; his listening tours of Seattle weren’t completely unpopular; everyone agrees his last year was way better than his first three; new city council that doesn’t completely want to destroy him. He’s been mayor before; his listening tours of Seattle weren’t completely useful; everyone agrees his first three years were pretty bad; new city council that hasn’t had a chance to determine whether they want to completely destroy him.


Jenny Durkan Institutional, business, and LGBTQ support; family has a history in State politics; has shown an ability to raise a lot of money.


That institutional and business support has had mixed results in recent years; she’s unfamiliar to everyday voters, and has never run for office before


Nikkita Oliver Deep ties to communities in southeast Seattle; strong social justice values and ability to express equity in public policy; unafraid to challenge the status quo. Bob Hasegawa has many of the same qualities, with electoral experience; spotty voting record; not as well known outside of social justice circles.



Jessyn Farrell Very popular legislator in Northeast Seattle; strong on worker rights and transit policy; track record of accomplishments in Olympia and known ability to articulate to voters a clear plan.


Not as well known outside of Northeast Seattle; can’t raise money until session is over, or unless she resigns from the House.
Bob Hasegawa Current elected official representing the 11th Legislative District (including Beacon Hill); Strong support in the Bernie Sanders community (was a Sanders delegate); social justice and labor cred. Can’t raise money until session is over, or unless he resigns from the Senate; has a history of criticizing light rail and Sound Transit; Represents the 11th, which only includes Beacon Hill in Seattle.



Cary Moon Deep knowledge of public policy with proposals to solve problems; deep personal pockets; well-liked by urbanists and environmentalists (thanks to her opposition to the tunnel). Mike McGinn announced just before she did, and Jessyn Farrell after she did; not well known throughout the city; her opposition to the tunnel is remembered by folks in Labor.


This is the last week that I’ll display Strengths and Weaknesses. Moving forward, regular analysis will be on what direction I believe the candidates are going in the sweepstakes to be mayor, and why.

For now – I’d say that McGinn is poised to start dropping on the list – his fundraising has been mediocre, and his appearances during straw polls has not been very good. Farrell is poised to rise, given strong performances at early forums, and an impressive early list of supporters. Durkan’s support of homelessness sweeps is probably good politics to get through the primary, so she’s likely to stay put. Hasegawa has had a rough start, particularly when talking about Sound Transit, but could be lifted depending on how Oliver performs. Speaking of, her recent endorsement from Council Member Sawant could bump her up the list. Moon is taking up sixth, and is likely to stay there if Farrell continues to rise.


4 thoughts on “Mayoral Matrix”

    1. Lawrence, the article erroneously mixed our Mayoral and City Council candidates matrices. We’ve updated the article accordingly. We sincerely apologize for the confusion!

  1. This piece is an embarrassment to the South Seattle Emerald. After reading this garbage, I might as well lump this publication with The Stranger. Sure, it’s funny, but informative? It is not. If you’d rather not be spoon-fed bullshit, do your own research. The author lacks any hint of journalistic integrity, and I question why I spent this much time providing a rebuttal. If readers take seriously the drunken words of John Colby, our city will be screwed. No member of the press will give it to you straight; accept that, and do your own research. Start here: