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How the influx of new Seattle residents might reshape elections

Seattle is regularly ranked in the top ten of fastest growing cities, and with tens of thousands moving to Seattle every year, the definition of a local and what’s important to residents can rapidly change.

In the last six years the Seattle area added 400,000 people and 135,000 homes, and nearly 40 percent of current Seattle voters were not registered in Washington just four years ago, reports The Seattle Times. But concern over Seattle gradually losing its identity is nothing new, says KIRO Radio’s John Curley.

“So this guy, Emmett Watson, back in the seventies or early eighties, he said, ‘Listen, stop more people moving here. Every time we have a chance on television and newspaper, let’s talk about how terrible the weather is. Stop people from coming here. Keep Seattle the way it is,'” Curley said.

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“In its early days (around the World’s Fair in 1962) Seattle was just this blip on the map,” added co-host Tom Tangney. “Nobody really knew about us and it was all about self-promotion … Finally, enough people have discovered Seattle that I think that Emmett Watson would be feeling good right now to say, ‘I told you, I told you.'”

Since people kept coming here, regardless of what some of the locals wanted, now much of the population doesn’t know what Seattle was like, and doesn’t necessarily think of the city as having lost anything.

“There’s been a sense from those of us who’ve lived here a long time … that we have this idea of what Seattle is like, but we really don’t know because there’s been such an influx, and how that influx is going to impact us,” Tom said.

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Many of the issues at the fore in this election include homelessness, housing costs, and transit, among others. But for Curley, moving to a new place often means that you’re not really invested in the city to begin with.

“When you move around to a bunch of different cities, like a lot of these young people, you don’t vote because you don’t know what you’re losing, what you’re coming from,” he said. “You just sort of show up. You are part of the thing, but you don’t really feel invested in it.”

“So I think of the 40 percent that have come in, how many of them are actually going to vote? I don’t believe a lot of them will vote, and I hope not.”

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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