The ballots have been counted, and although they will not be certified until August 15, it appears our two candidates for Seattle mayor will be Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon. Yes, there has been talk about a recount, but I’m going to put my money on these two.
With Nikkita Oliver being narrowly defeated in third place, it’s time to queue the victims. In an almost laughable turn of events, some voters who support Oliver (endorsed by the “People’s Party”) want Moon to step down so Oliver can be on the ballot. Let me say this again… The People’s Party! Doesn’t the fact that the people spoke and the people chose Durkin and Moon mean anything? Doesn’t the fact the people of color, low-income, LGBTQ, etc. had an opportunity to vote and they chose these two candidates over Oliver? How would this act be just? How would it reflect our nation’s principle of the democratic process?
I am most concerned about this proposal when I reflect on the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. People were beaten, jailed and even killed fighting for the right to vote, for their equal voice in elections. Sam Keller, a West Seattle resident and supporter of Oliver wrote in an open letter published on The Stranger, “A mayoral race between you [Moon] and Durkan will be two wealthy white women deciding what working-poor people of color really need. How will that end gentrification? How will that produce racial diversity? How can people of color, renters, people who are homeless, people who are underemployed, and/or people who have less than $400 in their savings account—like the average American—see themselves in this race? We can’t.” Keller distills all this down to lazy identity politics. She fails to focus on the fact the both Durkan and Moon are women. That Durkan is a lesbian. No, Oliver has more minority points, so only she can support other minorities. Keller also brushes over both Durkan and Moon’s strong resumes. Perhaps that’s why voters leaned more towards their candidacies. But most importantly, she forgets the foundation of our country is democracy, driven by the voice of the voters.
All the people asking Moon to step down are missing a fundamental point. Voter turnout was less than 34%. I am sure the 66% who sat out this election included many “people of color, renters, people who are homeless, people who are underemployed, and/or people who have less than $400 in their savings account.” Why aren’t we asking why they didn’t take action to get Oliver the votes she needed? Washington state makes it easier to vote than most. We mail our ballots, so no need to get the day off of work. You don’t even need to buy that stamp. There are voting centers to help those who need assistance filling out their ballots. There are even organizations who help homeless residents exercise their right to vote. We are living in a society that more and more expects to receive without action. Expects the government to fix its problems without contribution. Expects the candidate you want to be elected without even casting a vote. It is time we change our perspective.