Seattle voters took the first step in choosing a new mayor for this booming liberal city, reducing their options from 21 to two.
Early returns in Tuesday’s primary showed former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan clearly in first in the race to replace current Mayor Ed Murray, who dropped his re-election bid in June after allegations surfaced of sex abuse decades ago.
Durkan had captured 31.6 percent of votes tallied by Tuesday evening. Urban planner Cary Moon and attorney Nikkita Oliver were vying for second place Tuesday evening with 15.6 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively.
Former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell had 11.8 percent, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa was following with 8.6 percent and former Mayor Mike McGinn with 7.2 percent.
All of the top vote-getting candidates are Democrats except Oliver, who is a member of the grassroots liberal Peoples Party of Seattle.
Durkan said on Twitter Tuesday evening that her team connected with the voters of Seattle.
The debate among candidates has focused on taxes and inequality among residents in a city that has seen median house prices double over the last five years to more than $700,000. Several leading candidates want to ask big corporations to pay more taxes and to invoke a city-wide income tax targeting rich residents – even though the legality of such a levy is in question for Washington state.
“There is an affordability crisis in this city,” Farrell said during a recent televised debate.
“We have taxing mechanisms at our disposal to tax the big corporations that are enjoying such success in our city,” said McGinn, who was defeated by Murray in 2013 after serving one term. “We should ask them to pay instead of continually piling taxes on the middle class and lower income people.”
Last month the City Council unanimously voted to impose a 2.25 percent tax on the city’s highest earners. The measure faces court challenges from opponents who call the tax proposal illegal and unconstitutional. Washington is one of seven states without a personal income tax, and a state law passed in 1984 prohibits local and regional governments from imposing taxes on income.
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