‘Abolitionist’ Seattle City Attorney candidate scores endorsement from local Democrat group
The 34th Legislative District Democrats voted on a new round of endorsements for Seattle’s mayoral, city council, and city attorney races this week.
The group represents West Seattle, White Center, Vashon Island, and Burien, among other areas west of the Duwamish River. It typically throws its support behind candidates in local elections that it believes best represent Democratic Party values.
In the primary election, the group did not come to a consensus for endorsing any of the 15 candidates for Seattle’s next mayor. With the field now narrowed to just two, the 34th Democrats voted this time to endorse Lorena Gonzalez in the general election, who attended the meeting herself to plead her case.
“I’m running for mayor to bring Seattle together,” she said. “Together, we can build a city of safe livable neighborhoods. Together, I believe we can solve homelessness by addressing the root causes of poverty and income inequality. I’ll demilitarize the police, and hold bad cops accountable. I am a proven progressive, and that is a record I want to build on as mayor.”
Gonzalez will face off against Bruce Harrell in November. While Harrell was in attendance at this week’s endorsement meeting, a representative spoke on his behalf.
“The three things you need to know about Bruce: One, Bruce has always been an advocate for the people. He has always been there representing people who have been oppressed by the system,” his representative laid out. “Two, he’s deeply rooted into the African-American community and Asian community. Three, Bruce is big on police accountability and, at the same time, for second chances for people who have run afoul of the law.”
“I’m supporting him because I want a return to normalcy,” he added.
An endorsement for one of two seats on the Seattle City Council wasn’t quite as straightforward, with the group voting not to support any candidates in the Position 9 race between Sara Nelson and Nikkita Oliver.
Because the group only endorses candidates running as Democrats, Oliver was not eligible due to her status as a member of the Seattle People’s Party. For Nelson, many within the 34th Democrats cited concerns over a statement from a representative of hers during their primary election endorsement meeting, where he had attacked Oliver for “preying” on the Black Lives Matter movement during 2020’s racial justice protests as “livestreamed entertainment.”
“I also was at the last endorsement meeting for Sara Nelson, and I spoke against (her) candidacy primarily because her campaign’s entire speech when she was urging us to support her was a racialized attack targeting her opponent, a Black (candidate), running for the office, who is our neighbor in West Seattle,” 34th Democrats member Elena Perez said. “I was appalled, I was shocked. Nothing has changed, and frankly we haven’t gotten an apology for that shameful strategy.”
Nelson then responded to that criticism, claiming “that was not the campaign that said that.”
“That was somebody that was speaking for me, and those words did not come out of my mouth,” she added. “I wish to be judged on my merits, my platform, on my endorsements, and the fact that I want to bring people together in this time of crisis.”
Further disapproval was voiced shortly after that response, with another member saying that while he “could almost get past what was said,” it’s also “the duty of a candidate to vet their speakers.”
For Seattle’s Position 8 council race, incumbent Teresa Mosqueda was given the group’s endorsement by a wide margin.
Seattle City Attorney
With incumbent Pete Holmes out of the Seattle City Attorney race, it now comes down to Democrat Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Republican Ann Davison. That left the 34th Democrats with one candidate to decide on, having initially endorsed Holmes prior to the primary election.
While Thomas-Kennedy’s position as an “abolitionist” in favor of ending the prosecution of low-level misdemeanors would represent a sizable shift in the City Attorney’s Office, a representative speaking on her behalf laid out her reasoning.
“What we have right now is an opportunity to endorse a candidate who understands that if we can take resources from incarcerating for crimes of poverty, and put those resources into actually healing trauma and solving problems — then we can have a better society,” she described.
Speaking against Thomas-Kennedy’s endorsement was Bruce Harrell’s representative, arguing that “abolition is going to encourage people to become lawless.”
“Either you believe in the rule of law, or you don’t — abolition of misdemeanor offenses is saying you don’t believe in the law,” he continued.
Ultimately, the 34th Democrats voted in favor of endorsing Thomas-Kennedy’s candidacy for November’s general election.