Photo of a King County ballot drop box with a countdown clock above it.

2021 King County Primary Election: Early Results Indicate González and Harrell to Head to General Election, City Attorney’s Race Tightens

by Ashley Archibald, Elizabeth Turnbull, and Phil Manzano

Editors’ Note: We will continue to update this article with election updates in the coming days.


Voters narrowed their choices for Seattle Mayor, Seattle City Council, and King County Executive in the Tuesday, Aug. 3, primary where an estimated 40% of registered King County voters were expected to cast their ballot. 

In addition to a myriad of city candidates and special district elections, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes is in a tight race to hold onto the position. Also, King County voters approved Proposition No. 1 “Best Start for Kids” ordinance, according to early unofficial results. Here’s a rundown of the most prominent races in the South Seattle area.

Seattle Mayor’s Race

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Bruce Harrell and Lorena González are set to face off in November’s general election. Both candidates led Seattle’s mayoral race during the primary election, Bruce Harrell with 34% and Lorena González with 32%.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Bruce Harrell and Lorena González are continuing to lead Seattle’s mayoral race with 34% and 32% of the vote respectively.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Bruce Harrell and Lorena González are continuing to lead Seattle’s mayoral race with 34% and 32% of the vote respectively.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Bruce Harrell and Lorena González are continuing to lead Seattle’s mayoral race with 37% and 30% of the vote respectively.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Bruce Harrell and Lorena González are continuing to lead Seattle’s mayoral race with 38% and 28% of the vote respectively.


Bruce Harrell and Lorena González pulled ahead in Seattle’s crowded mayoral race Tuesday night with 38% and 28% of the vote respectively, setting up a potential showdown between the two former colleagues.

King County Elections dropped the first batch of ballots just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, comprising 18.12% of Seattle’s registered voters.

González and supporters watched the results come in from Jellyfish Brewing in Georgetown. 

“Seattle voters are sending a powerful message and that is a message of change,” González shouted to a jubilant crowd. 

Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez gives a speech at her watch party for the 2021 King County Proposition and Primary Elections. (Photo: Ashley Archibald)

In a statement Tuesday night, Harrell said that he was “energized” by the early results.

“Our campaign’s message of unity, accountability, and action clearly resonated with voters,” Harrell said. “I’m looking forward to taking this energy into the general election and into office as Mayor as we unite our city and address the challenges facing Seattle.”

Recent polling showed Harrell, a former City Council president, in the lead heading into the night with González, the current City Council president, trailing behind. Former Chief Seattle Club Executive Director Colleen Echohawk took third with just over 8% of the vote, followed by former State Rep. Jessyn Farrell. Challenger Andrew Grant Houston ran a competitive campaign, securing $346,325 in Democracy Vouchers and 2.6% of votes on Aug. 3.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Committee recorded 15 people in the race as of Aug. 3.

Harrell is a three-term councilmember and briefly interim mayor after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid allegations of child sex abuse. González won her first race in 2015, becoming the first Latina councilmember in Seattle’s history. 

Echohawk’s campaign took on both of them, airing ads that targeted the ongoing issue of homelessness and touting her own record for creating affordable housing and moving people indoors. Houston ran to the left of the lot, focusing his platform on land use reform, strengthening public transit, and defunding the police department, among other things.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced she would not run for reelection in December 2020, throwing the doors open for potential candidates. More than 15 entered the field, most of whom ran on issues surrounding homelessness, a key issue for Seattle voters according to a poll by the Northwest Progressive Institute.

Nearly 70% of respondents said that the next mayor should respond to homelessness in the poll. What that means is up in the air — the City Council voted to move most of its homelessness outreach and response to the new Regional Homelessness Authority (KCHRA) in 2019. The transition is still in the works, with outstanding questions about how workers in the existing Homelessness Strategy and Investment Division may or may not move to the new authority. Voters will also have an opportunity in November to weigh in on an amendment to the City Charter that would dictate certain policy aspects around homelessness.

The leading candidates qualified for Democracy Vouchers, a program that allows Seattle residents to direct up to $100 to candidates who collected 600 signatures and 600 qualified donations of at least $10. “Qualified” donations and signatures must come from U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent residents. They must be 18 years old or older.

Houston garnered the most Democracy Voucher donations at $346,325. Echohawk received $312,625 through the program, with González following at $276,475. Harrell trailed the group with $157,725 in vouchers for his campaign.

The new mayor will have a full dance card. The coronavirus pandemic highlighted long-standing social issues including homelessness and the historic lack of investment in BIPOC communities. Gun violence in King County has soared, with multiple deadly shootings in Seattle just a week before the election. Efforts to cut back the SPD budget in early 2021 drew criticism from a federal judge in charge of overseeing the federal consent decree that was placed on the city in 2012. They’ll also need to hire a new police chief.

Seattle City Attorney’s Race

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy finished the primary election with 36% of the vote, and Ann Davison finished with 32.7%. The two will be running against each other in November’s general election. Incumbent Pete Holmes conceded the race on Aug. 6, finishing behind Ann Davison with 30.6% of the vote.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy continues to lead, with 36% of the vote. Ann Davison, with 32.7% of the vote, remains ahead of incumbent Pete Holmes, with 30.6% of the vote.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy is now leading, with 36% of the vote. Ann Davison, with 32.7% of the vote, remains ahead of incumbent Pete Holmes, with 30.7% of the vote.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Ann Davison is still leading, with 34.5% of the vote. Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, with 33.19% of the vote, has now surpassed incumbent Pete Holmes, with 32.02% of the vote.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Ann Davison is still leading, with 34.9% of the vote, over incumbent Pete Holmes, who has 32.66% of the vote. Nicole Thomas-Kennedy is not far behind with 32.1% of the vote, a difference of 551 votes.


Ann Davison took a slim lead over incumbent Pete Holmes in the race that will define the prosecutorial arm of the Seattle government.  

Davison had about 35% of the vote to Holmes’ 32.80% which was a near tie with candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy’s 32.15%, a difference of 556 votes.

The Holmes campaign will “watch the returns over the week ahead,” wrote campaign manager Matt Wieck in an email Tuesday night.

The race for Seattle’s City Attorney had no clear leader going into the contest with 12-year Holmes polling slightly above challengers Thomas-Kennedy and Davison.

The candidates presented a stark choice. Holmes ran to the left of the former incumbent Tom Carr in 2009, winning by a 26-point margin. He ran unopposed in 2013 and defeated challenger Scott Lindsay for the job in 2017. He’s known for his advocacy around marijuana legalization and vacating sentences around the drug but has come under fire by critics who see him as either too hard or too soft on misdemeanor crime.

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and self-proclaimed abolitionist who believes Holmes is using his office to prosecute people for crimes of poverty. Her campaign focused on ceasing prosecution for most misdemeanors, fighting wage theft, stopping sweeps of homeless encampments, and decriminalizing sex work, among other positions.

Davison is the furthest to the right of the three. She ran an unsuccessful campaign for City Council in 2019 and lieutenant governor in 2020. She’s the lone Republican in the nonpartisan race. Davison focused her campaign on cracking down on low-level crimes that she says have undermined Seattleites’ sense of safety over the 12 years of Holmes’ tenure. The Seattle Times endorsed Davison in her 2019 and 2021 races.

Thomas-Kennedy and Holmes both participated in the Democracy Voucher program, which allows Seattleites to direct up to $100 to individual campaigns. As of Aug. 3, Holmes reported $101,196 in fundraising with $57,475 from vouchers, while Thomas-Kennedy raised $115,747.04 with $160,425 from vouchers. Davison did not participate in the Democracy Voucher program.

When the dust settles, two candidates will advance to the general election in November. Which two will be a litmus test for Seattle voters’ perceptions of the direction of their city and how they want to see the criminal legal system operate moving forward.

Seattle’s city attorney prosecutes misdemeanor crime and handles civil litigation. It’s up to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to handle felony matters.

The count is far from over after Tuesday night. According to the King County Department of Elections, new totals will drop weekday afternoons until all votes are counted. Voters had until 8 p.m. Tuesday night to get their ballot in. The department recommended mailing ballots no later than Friday, July 30, and using ballot drop boxes after that to ensure the vote is counted.

To check all the vote totals go to this link and click “View results.”

Seattle City Council Position 9

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Nikkita Oliver, with 40.2% of the vote, and Sara Nelson, with 39.5%, are set to face each other in November’s general election.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Nikkita Oliver, with 40.2% of the vote, and Sara Nelson, with 39.5%, are still set to face each other in November’s general election.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Sara Nelson, with 39.5% of the vote, is still set to face Nikkita Oliver, who has increased her hold of the vote to 40.2%.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Sara Nelson, with 42.1% of the vote, is still set to face Nikkita Oliver, who has 36.5%.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Sara Nelson, with 42.78% of the vote, is still set to face Nikkita Oliver, who has 35.03%.


Sara Nelson, who is seeking a City Council position for the second time and who also once worked as a legislative aide to former Councilmember Richard Conlin, has received 42% of the vote, according to early results, and will face Nikkita Oliver, who has 35%. 

Oliver has been a prominent community activist and one of the faces of last summer’s movement to defund the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Oliver has not always seen eye-to-eye with the city government, and four years ago, they failed to win but played a prominent role in the 2017 mayoral run.

As one of the other top competitors, Nelson has focused her campaign around economic recovery and leveraging her personal experience with small businesses. At the same time, Nelson has stood against efforts such as Seattle’s JumpStart Seattle payroll tax, which taxes companies of a certain income threshold to help Seattle residents recover from the pandemic. 

In response to the initial election results, Nelson told the Emerald that she views the support she has received thus far as confirmation that residents of Seattle are looking for a change in the way issues like homelessness, public safety, and economic recovery are handled.

“I think that the results reflect maybe a lack of confidence in what the council’s been doing and hope that there can be some change,” Nelson said in a phone call. “The reason that I got into the race is that people are concerned about the direction of our city and they want change.” 

When asked how she felt about a race against Oliver, Nelson said that she “[doesn’t] make predictions” and that her methods of campaigning will remain largely the same. 

Brianna Thomas, who works as chief of staff to Council President Lorena González, received 14% of the votes. Thomas has emphasized racial and economic equality as her points of emphasis for her campaign. She has ambitions of redesigning SPD over time, while also expanding workers rights following her involvement in the secure scheduling ordinance which went into effect in 2017, to make schedules more routine and allow for breaks.

Seattle City Council Position 8

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Current Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, with a final result of 59.4% of the vote, is set to race against Kenneth Wilson, who finished with 16.2%, in November’s general election.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is maintaining her percentage of the vote of 59.4%, while Kenneth Wilson is still holding around 16.2%.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has again increased her percentage of the vote to 59.4%, while Kenneth Wilson now holds around 16.2%.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has increased her percentage of the vote to 56%, while Kenneth Wilson still holds around 18%.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda still has roughly 55% of the votes, while Kenneth Wilson still holds 18%.


Current Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda who has been likely to advance to the general election after receiving more substantial support in terms of funding and endorsements than other competing candidates for the position, has thus far received roughly 55% of the votes. 

She will face Kenneth Wilson, who received 18% in Tuesday’s vote. Wilson, who works as a civil engineer and owns a consulting business, has specifically highlighted issues of homelessness and better infrastructure in his campaign. 

In a brief interview with the Emerald, Mosqueda expressed that she is proud of her team and the efforts thus far while also acknowledging work that she hopes to do moving forward. 

“I understand that there’s a lot of anxiety about how we recover from this crisis and you know the public health crisis that were already present before COVID like housing affordability and homelessness,” Mosqueda said. “I’m proud, I really am proud, of what we’ve done, but I know that there’s so much more to do and that’s why I’m excited to get back in there and hopefully win in November.”

Proposition No. 1: “Best Starts for Kids”

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

The proposition is set to pass with 62.7% to 37.2%.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

The proposition is still set to pass with 62.7% to 37.2%.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

The proposition is still set to pass with 62.7% to 37.2%.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

The proposition is still set to pass with 60% to 39%.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

The proposition is still set to pass with 59% to 41%.


King County voters were approving Proposition No. 1, a King County Council ordinance that would renew funding for services and programs to support children, youth, and families such as “child care, prenatal and newborn family services; youth development programs, social, emotional and mental health supports and homelessness prevention.” The proposition allows for a six-year property tax starting in 2022 of $0.19 per $1,000 of assessed value ($114 for a home assessed at $600,000) with up to 3% increases each year. The proposition was passing 59% to 41% in early returns Tuesday night.

King County Executive’s Race

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Current County Executive Dow Constatine finished the primary election with roughly 52% of the vote, while State Sen. Joe Nguyen finished with roughly 32%. The two will continue on to November’s general election.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Current County Executive Dow Constatine still holds roughly 52% of the vote, while State Sen. Joe Nguyen continues to hold to roughly 32%.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Current County Executive Dow Constatine now holds roughly 52% of the vote, while State Sen. Joe Nguyen has increased his hold to roughly 32%.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Current County Executive Dow Constatine continues to hold roughly 53% of the vote, while State Sen. Joe Nguyen has increased his hold to roughly 30%.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Current County Executive Dow Constatine continues to hold roughly 53% of the vote, while State Sen. Joe Nguyen continues to hold roughly 29%.


According to early returns, incumbent King County Executive Dow Constantine and State Sen. Joe Nguyen will advance to the November general election with Constantine receiving 53% of Tuesday’s primary vote and Nguyen receiving 29%.

Constantine has a long resume in politics serving as a state representative and senator as well as county councilmember before his current 12-year run as county executive. The pandemic and racial reckoning from the police killing of George Floyd have created a climate ripe for change. “But the windows have been kicked wide open right now,” he told the Emerald. “And for our staff, for my allies charging through that and taking these issues to fruition, [it] is really invigorating. That is what is motivating me to want to continue this work.” 

The son of Vietnamese refugees, Nguyen grew up in White Center and learned the meaning of community when neighbors built ramps to his house after an accident left his father a quadriplegic. “I had to take the bus to get to the waterfront in order to get to my job,” he told the Emerald. “I was a janitor at my high school to help pay for tuition, and then I’d work another job on the waterfront to be able to help pay for bills around the house, where we struggled. We struggled so hard. It was because of things like TANF, the basic needs program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, that kept us stable and that kept us housed. I saw how hard it was for us growing up. But because we have the community, and we have the services that help uplift my family, we were able to be successful.” He’s an advocate of free transit to support communities and affect climate change.

King County Council District 9

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Incumbent Councilmember Reagan Dunn, with roughly 55% of the vote, and Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khánh Vǎn, with 21.9%, are set to face each other in the November election.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Incumbent Councilmember Reagan Dunn, with 55.5% of the vote, and Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khánh Vǎn, with 21.9%, are still set to face each other in the November election.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, with 55.5% of the vote, still looks set to face Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khánh Vǎn, who holds 21.9% of the vote.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, with 56.5% of the vote, still looks set to face Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khánh Vǎn, who holds 21.7% of the vote.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, with 56.6% of the vote, still looks set to face Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khánh Vǎn, who remains at roughly 21% of the vote.


Sixteen-year incumbent Councilmember Reagan Dunn advances to face Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khánh Vǎn in this November’s general election with Dunn receiving 57% of the vote and Vǎn receiving 21% of the vote. The primary contest featured newcomers including Afghan war veteran and social justice worker Chris Franco and Seattle equity development director Ubax Gardheere.

Seattle School Board District Positions 4 and 5

Update 08/18/2021, 4:30 p.m., final results:

Vivian Song Maritz maintained her hold of roughly 59.8% of the vote, while Laura Marie Rivera continued to hold 21.4%; the two will race each other in November. Michelle Sarju and Dan Harder also continued their holds of 85.8% and 10.5% respectively.


Update 08/13/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Vivian Song Maritz maintains her hold of roughly 59.8% of the vote, while Laura Marie Rivera continues to hold 21.4%. Michelle Sarju and Dan Harder also continue their holds of 85.8% and 10.5% respectively.


Update 08/10/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Vivian Song Maritz has increased her hold to roughly 59.8% of the vote, while Laura Marie Rivera holds 21.4%. Michelle Sarju’s hold has also increased to now 85.8%, while Dan Harder’s hold has continued to dip to now 10.5% but still holds enough to face Sarju in November.


Update 08/06/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Vivian Song Maritz has increased her hold to roughly 57.8% of the vote, while Laura Marie Rivera holds 22.7%. Michelle Sarju’s hold has also increased to now 83.7%, while Dan Harder’s hold has continued to dip to now 12.3% but still holds enough to face Sarju in November.


Update 08/04/2021, 4:30 p.m.:

Vivian Song Maritz continues to hold roughly 56% of the vote, while Laura Marie Rivera holds 23%. Michelle Sarju’s 82% hold remains, while Dan Harder’s hold has dipped slightly to 13.6% but still holds enough to face Sarju in November.


According to unofficial early results, Vivian Song Maritz received 56% and Laura Marie Rivera 23% of the vote to advance to the November general election for SPS School Board District 4, which represents the area for Ballard High School. Michelle Sarju received 82% and Dan Harder 14% in Tuesday’s primary to advance to the general election for SPS School Board District 5, which covers the area for Garfield High School.


Ashley Archibald is a freelance journalist with previous work in Real Change, the Santa Monica Daily Press, and the Union Democrat. Her work focuses on policy and economic development.

Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.

Phil Manzano is a South Seattle writer, editor with more than 30 years of experience in daily journalism in Portland, Ore. He is director of Southend Connect, a platform to support small business and build community in South Seattle.  A San Francisco native, he moved to Seattle in 2013, following his father, Aniceto “Nick” Manzano, who arrived here from The Philippines in 1929.

Featured image is attributed to King County, WA (under a Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license).

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