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Spin Control: Seattle city elections about issues similar to those at stake in Spokane

There’s a Washington city that starts with an “S” that has municipal elections this year, where solutions to homelessness – or the lack thereof – have been controversial, where the questions of experience versus new blood are being raised and businesses are spending a boatload of money on their preferred candidates.

No, not Spokane. Seattle.

The big city across the mountains has council elections this year with similar sounding organizations backing different candidates.

The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy has raised some $2.4 million, more than half of it from Amazon, for independent campaigns supporting or opposing its favored candidates. The Washington Realtors Association, which has taken an interest in some Spokane races, is also a player, but at $120,000, to a lesser extent.

Amazon executives are also active in “People for Seattle,” a separate group supporting some of the same candidates.

They are matched up in some races against the Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy, which has raised about $422,000 and gets its biggest financial support from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and some of the state’s biggest labor unions.

A recent Crosscut Elway poll of 432 likely Seattle voters showed 69% of respondents had a negative view of their City Council while 27% had a positive view. That’s compared to a basically even split on Mayor Jenny Durkan, with 48% positive and 47% negative.

While respondents were also pretty evenly split on whether they think Seattle city government is effective, efficient and accountable, some two-thirds said they would be likely to vote for a candidate likely to change the direction of the council, while only one in five said they’d be likely to vote for someone who wants to continue the current direction. Reporter David Kroman goes deep on the poll at Crosscut.com.

Growing fast

One factor that may be roiling Seattle politics is growth. The Census Bureau said Seattle had the fourth largest growth in population between 2017 and 2018, adding 15,354 people.

What the bureau fails to explain is that because homes are so expensive, all of those new residents spend their days driving up and down Interstate 5, making it impossible to get anywhere in the city in a timely fashion.

A survey by WalletHub – an organization that has a survey about something just about every day – ranks Seattle as the third fastest-growing large city in the United States, and the 25th fastest-growing of the 515 cities they measured on a series of factors that included population and economic growth.

Spokane, which the Census Bureau says added 2,162 people between 2017 and 2018, ranked 110th for medium- size cities, and 205th overall in the WalletHub survey. Spokane Valley, which added just under 2,000 people but is sneaking up on 100,000, ranked 53rd for a small city and 181st overall in WalletHub.

The “heat map” that shows the growth across the United States points to the biggest changes in the South and West.

Other random stats to amaze your friends with

Where do you think Washington ranks as far as gun sales per person last year? Near the top? Near the bottom? Actually, it’s almost at dead center, at 64 sales per 100,000 people, according to research by security.org. Montana was at the top, with about 142 sales per 100,000 people; Oregon 6th, with 103 sales per 100,000; and Idaho 15th, at 83.

Measuring the ups and downs of the many Democrats running for president is a challenge, but an organization known as SEMrush.com is looking at social media trends, both during last week’s debate and over time.

From them, we know that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was the most tweeted about candidate in the debate, with 68% more tweets than the former VP Joe Biden, who was second. Julian Castro was the least tweeted about.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the most “searched” candidate between April and September, but searches for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which were down in the spring, have increased and she’s had the most so far in October. Searches for South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke are down since April.

None of this is necessarily definitive. But in an era long, long ago, there were people who could accurately predict elections based on yard signs, so who’s to judge?

Election season reminder

Ballots were mailed to Washington voters last week, so your ballot should show up in your mailbox by Monday if you are registered.

If you are – and it didn’t – you can check your registration information online at voteWA.gov. If you aren’t – so it wouldn’t – you can go to that website this week to register. You must be at least 18 by Nov. 5, an American citizen and a Washington resident who isn’t precluded from voting.