Contentious race for Seattle City Attorney winds to a close with decision now put to voters

Nov 2, 2021, 2:23 PM | Updated: 3:58 pm
Seattle City Attorney candidates...
Seattle City Attorney candidates Ann Davison (left) and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy (right). (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

By the end of this election cycle, Seattle voters will have chosen their first new city attorney in over a decade. That will close out what’s been a contentious race between candidates operating at opposing ends of the political spectrum.

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On one end sits former public defender and abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, whose platform revolves around ending prosecution of misdemeanors related to poverty, and deemphasizing the need for armed officers. On the other is Republican Ann Davison, who has centered her own campaign around a more tough-on-crime message rooted in a focus on public safety.

Check back on local election results

The race has also garnered national attention, viewed by many as a bellwether for how traditionally liberal cities like Seattle might be looking to address issues like police reform, homelessness, and public safety in the years to come.

Neither has been without controversy in the months leading up to Election Day. For Thomas-Kennedy, that came in the form of several controversial tweets she posted during summer protests in 2020, where she referred to police officers as “pigs,” “Nazis,” and “stains on humanity.”

Reports first surfaced from KOMO News in late September, and have since been the primary focus of those opposing Thomas-Kennedy’s candidacy. The effort to highlight those tweets has taken on several forms, ranging from two separate websites, to over 464,000 mailers sent out by the “Seattle for Common Sense” PAC since mid-October.

Thomas-Kennedy addressed the tweets in the wake of KOMO’s late-September report, claiming that they were “in response to the system of policing” amid protests that had frequently turned violent between demonstrators and police.

“At the same time, SPD was continuously posting these tweets that were lying about what was going on,” she told KIRO Radio’s Jack Stine in early October. “First, I didn’t really think that it might be entirely true, and, second, I knew that it would make people mad if I posted that, particularly the people that would tweet at me like, ‘cops should use live rounds,’ or ‘all protesters should be gassed.’ It was speaking back to that.”

Seattle election preview: Mayoral, city attorney candidates make their case

Davison has faced questions of her own, particularly concerning her move to the Republican Party in 2016 to run for lieutenant governor. At the time, she recorded a video detailing the decision as part of the pro-Trump “WalkAway” campaign started by Brandon Straka. Straka pleaded guilty in October to disorderly conduct, following his participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Davison has frequently tried to keep that affiliation at arm’s length, describing herself as “an independent thinker, not an activist ideologue,” and pointing to past presidential elections where she says she voted for Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Joe Biden.

After losing in the August primary, incumbent Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes addressed both the remaining candidates, as “one who considered my criminal policies too lax and another who considered them too draconian.”

“It’s clear Seattle’s a city with fractured views, sadly reflective of the polarized politics that grips our nation,” he concluded. “Whether the Republican candidate or the Abolitionist candidate prevails in November, they’ll face a truly daunting set of challenges.”

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Contentious race for Seattle City Attorney winds to a close with decision now put to voters