What we learned from the elections


By Assunta Ng

Last Tuesday’s election reflected the divide between young and old, business and workers, progressives and moderates. The results were dramatic, showing the victory of the moderates and the miscalculation of the progressives.

Bruce Harrell’s campaign flyers sent to voters (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Polls showed the three business-backed candidates would win: Bruce Harrell for mayor, Ann Davison for city attorney and Sara Nelson for city council. But no one had predicted that Harrell would win as much as 59%. Few could imagine Davision and Nelson would win, and with a substantial lead, as their opponents had made a lot of noise.

Candidates ran on public safety issues, against police funding and much less on ideology even though Democrats accused Davison of being a Republican, passing from a Democrat. Despite the national trend that many voters switched to voting Republican in the last election, this is probably less true with Asian American voters.

Without naming Harrell’s opponent Lorena Gonzalez, Tomio Moriguchi, former president of Uwajimaya, who backed Harrell, said: “The other side is mad”, speaking of “funding the police and encouraging lawlessness. to ruin the city ”.

Ling Chinn, a Chinatown real estate owner, is quick to point out that there is one more Seattle election victory on top of the triple wins.

Lorena Gonzalez’s campaign flyers and packet of cherries sent to voters
(Photo by Assunta Ng)

“We got rid of this woman (Gonzalez). She always sows trouble. Business is not the enemy. Giving up her seat on city council to run for mayor, Gonzalez said she represents workers. His campaign was funded by the unions. With nearly a million dollars to buy commercials of vicious attacks on Harrell and backtrack on his take on police funding, Gonzalez’s poor performance has revealed his weakness as a candidate. She grouped together sexual abuse and other issues to confuse voters about the real challenges Seattle faces. His method angered businesses and the community at large. He also exposed unions’ miscalculation of strength and choice of candidate, and strategies for winning.

Progressives have miscalculated on several fronts. First, the majority of voters were not fooled by the misleading and racist advertisements directed at Harrell. These ads turned on them as “racist,” forcing Gonzalez to remove the ads. She underestimated the intelligence of voters who were more concerned with solutions to overthrow the city, convinced that leadership matters and that divisive politics have no place.

Gonzalez’s divisive style is to turn workers against the business community, especially big business. She has said repeatedly that she will tax Amazon. The businesses provide jobs and income for the community, Chinn said.

“Imagine Chinatown without businesses, we wouldn’t have jobs, no money, we couldn’t prosper. “

Unlike Gonzalez’s approach to Amazon, Harrell aims to work together to find solutions. In meetings with members of the Asian community, Harrell said, Amazon has made billions of dollars in the city, and it has a responsibility to contribute to the well-being of the city, which implies that it will not let Amazon get away with not sharing it. He would give them a chance first, rather than using direct attacks and slurs like many city council members. It reminds me of a Chinese saying, “Be a gentleman first, then be mean”, if he fails.

Harrell supporter Tony Au, an entrepreneur, along with other Chinese Americans, has organized more than eight fundraising events for eight different candidates, from Bellevue to Seattle, from Renton to Burien, who are moderates and above all, not anti-police.

“I learned to support candidates with the right policies. Being in the political process helps the community fight for their rights and make their voices heard. Any political involvement creates an opportunity to unify the Chinese community, whether it is from Hong Kong, Taiwan or China. Then by connecting the entire AAPI community, our family, we work together to choose the right leaders for the city. Democracy means our right to choose.

Rosa Melendez, a delighted, relieved and excited retiree for the citizens of Seattle, had voted “for the principles and justice that Harrell stands for.” I know he wants to increase law enforcement and social services to complement each other. “

Melendez also voted for Davison and Nelson.

“Being a Latina doesn’t mean I have to vote for another Latina (Gonzalez). I vote for the principles that are right for society.

At a South Seattle neighborhood meeting, Chinn said she could understand Harrell’s comment that not all city council members represent the city. Seven of the nine council members represent a particular district with only two members for the city as a whole. Each of these seven members must pay attention to the needs and interests of their own district.

One example is council member Kshama Sawant from District 3. Her constituents complain that she has not responded to her district. People called her about problems and she never returned phone calls.

Why Progressives Won’t Support Harrell

A progressive organization, the Asian Pacific American Coalition for Equality (APACE), supported Gonzalez. Rick Polintan, a board member, who was part of the approval committee, said the question about Harrell’s role in defending former mayor Ed Murray, who was charged with sexual abuse while ‘he was chairman of the board, did not perform well. APACE backed Gonzalez, who was the first board member to call for Murray’s resignation.

Stephen King, who chaired the 37th Democratic District, said he didn’t approve of anyone even though Harrell lives in the neighborhood. Contrary to belief that progressives tend to be younger, King said most of his district members are in their 50s. But Gonzalez was only a voice of approval away.

King said he voted for Gonzalez because when the mayor and council are online, they work together to get things done. But if the mayor disagrees with the council, it would be like before, four more years to fight.

There was more to these legislative districts. An older voter, who did not want to be named, said he was not happy with the people responsible for the approval process.

“They took everything in hand. So he left. He thought his revenge would be to vote against the choices of young people.

In the past, older Asian leaders, being inclusive, often encouraged and mentored young people to participate in politics. Instead of working with different segments of the population, young people felt they had a head start by excluding those who disagreed with them.

Defending oneself

When Harrell met with disenfranchised voters, he said, “Let us take back our city with your help. Many Asian Americans resonated with her feelings. They believed the city was under siege by one-sided militants.

Shiao-Yen Wu, another business owner, supported the three moderate candidates for the Seattle races by donating to their campaign and organizing fundraising events for them. She and her friends advertised in the Seattle Chinese Post to promote these candidates in order to educate Chinese immigrant voters. She then emailed the ad to her circle of 2,000 people. Enraged by city lawyer candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, who advocated no prison for those who have committed crimes, Wu said, “There is no excuse for the crime of poverty. The candidate encouraged people to steal. She has no standard and no brain.

Sara Nelson’s Smallest Flyer vs. Nikkita Oliver’s Biggest Flyer (Photo by Assunta Ng)

It was the first time that she and her friends had worked so tirelessly for these candidates even though some were not Asian.

“I hate to see the moral level of our city go down. If Seattle City Council had used common sense to run the city, none of these downtown and neighborhood businesses would be closed, due to shoplifting and nearby homeless camps.


Last week’s election was a referendum on what candidates had to do to win. The results conclude that no candidate could win with a one-sided program.

It is also a reflection on the current members of City Council, who are deaf to opposing views.
Council proposed on Nov. 9 to cut $ 11 million from the police service to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s objection.

Mayor-elect Harrell also opposed it. In a statement, he said: “City council must listen to voters’ desire to immediately invest in public safety and reverse the proposed $ 10 million reduction in the SPD budget. Proposing further cuts robs the city of the resources it needs to meet national best practice staffing levels, slash response times, and hire and train desperately needed agents – and is in direct conflict with what Seattle voters say. demanded last week. “

A town hall insider, who did not want to be identified, described the city council as “insular”.
“They just want to listen to who they want to listen to – just a small group of people – workers and young people. This is how they make their decisions. And they won’t back down. This perception is wrong. And they don’t do any outreach about their policies. And this is their downfall.

Don’t wait until 2023 for the re-election of some board members. It is time to recruit new blood to run against those who do not listen to voters.

Assunta can be contacted at [email protected]

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