Seattle voters continue to feel pessimistic about direction of city

Jun 9, 2023, 1:28 PM

Seattle Ben Bridge flagship store...

Attendees celebrate the opening of the Ben Bridge flagship store. (Bill Kaczaraba/MyNorthwest.com)

(Bill Kaczaraba/MyNorthwest.com)

A majority of voters (65%) still think things in Seattle are seriously off track, according to a survey conducted by EMC Research.

Mayor Bruce Harrell was given high marks by 31% of voters for his efforts to bring the city back, while only 8% thought that the Seattle City Council was doing a good job on downtown recovery.

A survey of Seattle’s likely voters in the 2023 election ranked public safety and downtown revitalization as top priorities.

Mayor Harrell renews Downtown Seattle ambassador program

“With seven of the nine city council seats on the ballot and a crowded field of candidates, we wanted to get a clear picture of how voters are feeling about downtown, the city’s progress on revitalization and the issues they believe are impacting these efforts,” said Downtown Seattle Association VP of Advocacy and Economic Development Kylie Rolf. “A successful and thriving downtown benefits the entire city and it’s evident that voters throughout Seattle see the connection.”

Of those surveyed, 77% believe Seattle’s hands-off approach to people using illegal drugs in public is contributing to rampant street crime and is making it much harder for downtown to recover.

Despite the pessimistic outlook on Seattle from its residents, there are signs of hope. Ben Bridge Jewelers held the grand opening of its flagship store near Westlake Plaza on Thursday.

Is new flagship Ben Bridge store in downtown Seattle a sign of resurgence?

“We would encourage and welcome other retailers to join us in downtown Seattle,” Lisa Bridge, CEO of Ben Bridge Jewelers, told MyNorthwest. “And it’s together that we build to a brighter and healthier future. And for the people who haven’t visited downtown Seattle in a while, I would say come down and check it out.”

Two-thirds of likely Seattle voters believe that now is not the time to increase taxes on businesses given the fragile state of downtown’s recovery.

“Seattle voters overwhelmingly recognize how critical downtown recovery is to both our economy and our quality of life and they are sending a clear message to city hall — and council candidates — that downtown recovery must be a top priority,” said EMC Research Senior Principal Andrew Thibault. “Voters have also been clear that for them, addressing public safety — including illegal drug use — is central to downtown recovery.”

DSA said foot traffic downtown is increasing.

“We’re seeing a number of positive markers downtown. Return to office numbers keep climbing. Visitor numbers are increasing year over year and more people live downtown than ever before,” said Rolf. “At the same time, we’re seeing persistent issues impacting downtown and voters want to see more progress on problems like public safety, open-air drug use and getting help for people in need. This research clearly shows Seattle voters see the nexus between solving these issues, downtown’s revitalization and how important that is for the entire city.”

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Seattle voters continue to feel pessimistic about direction of city