Since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the city of Seattle has been running out of resources, and crime and homelessness are as a result of economic inequality. The mayoral elections in Seattle took place on November 2nd. The Democratic candidate Bruce Harrell emerged with a victory over the Democrat Lorena Gonzalez. Both suggested very different approaches to issues that Seattle residents are increasingly grappling with.
Patrick Schoettmer, professor of political science at Seattle University, shared what he thinks students should know when voting in local elections.
“Of course, you need to know your values … it’s really about sitting down, doing your homework and figuring out which candidate is a better fit for you. The most important things I would think about are two things: First, what are the problems you see off campus and how did you get the city’s reaction to these problems? ”Said Schöttmer.
Lorena Gonzalez, the more progressive of the two Democrats, promised to deal with issues such as homelessness and police brutality.
She suggested a combination of rent control, reallocating part of the police budget to mental health services, and higher corporate taxes and an amendment to Seattle’s zoning laws To build duplex, triplex and other lower cost houses in neighborhoods that were previously only designated for single family homes.
Bruce Harrell, the more moderate candidate, built his campaign on working to resolve homelessness and police brutality through reforming these systems rather than reallocating all Seattle Police Department (SPD) funds. Harrell has stated that he will not cut the SPD’s budget but will work for a law enforcement-free crisis response team to work by their side in situations where there is a behavioral crisis or nonviolent public disturbance.
The biggest difference between Gonzalez and Harrell’s policy proposals concerns homelessness. While both candidates recognize that homelessness is both a government failure and a humanitarian crisis, Harrell advocated removing camps from public spaces when housing is offered and denied. Given his 65% share of the vote, This approach was considered more appropriate by a majority of Seattle voters. Gonzalez criticized this approach for believing that all warehouse evictions were unethical and suggested that accommodation be denied because the city of Seattle does not provide adequate standards of accommodation.
This disagreement is at the root of one of Seattle’s most pressing problems: Nearly 12,000 people in King County are without a home. Most Seattle residents agree that homelessness is an important issue, but disagree on the right way to get people the support they need.
Sarah Trapizona, a third-year political science student and vice president of university affairs for the Seattle University student government, shared her thoughts on the differences between the candidates.
“Gonzalez and Harrell agree on the issues, but have different approaches. I think it comes down to, ‘Yes, we all agree, but how are we going to decide what to do about it,’ and I think each student has to decide for themselves, ”Trapizona said.
Harrell scored a formidable win, taking home 97,763 votes, compared with 53,965 votes from Gonzalez. Harrell has had better poll results with black and older citizens, while Gonzalez has been more popular with younger, white voters.
Amrine White, a third year political science student at the University of Washington, shared her findings on alternative ways for students to vote in local elections.
“While voting is an important part of local politics, there is still a lot that students from other states can do to help, such as attending city council meetings, volunteering, or electoral work,” White said.
In the course of COVID-19, one thing is clear: As students, we can hear our voice and make changes in our city by voting. As this election season ends, we are holding annual SGSU elections on the Seattle U campus.
For future references, you can Register online and have the option of having your voting slip sent to you. However, if you are an out of state student and are not an official Washington resident, you will not be able to vote in our local elections but will be able to view the voter registration in your state of residence.