King County Elections certified final elections results today confirming that mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver will not make it through to the general election.
In a press conference today, Oliver conceded the race but characterized her campaign as a victory because it offered ideas from people who directly live through housing instability, racial injustice, and other challenges often talked about by politicians who may not have same experiences.
"We have the ability to not just talk at a 30,000-foot view about equity, but to actually bring tangible, real solutions to the forefront of the discussion because we live these challenges," Oliver said. "As renters, as workers, as black and brown people, as the queer and trans community—we live these challenges every single day.”
Urban planner Cary Moon and former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan will face off in the November general election. At the final count, Durkan won about 27.9 percent of the vote, Moon 17.6 percent, and Oliver 16.99 percent. In the two weeks since the primary election Oliver had inched closer to Moon as the county counted more ballots and Oliver's campaign went ballot chasing for ballots that had missing or challenged signatures. But she fell short by 1,170 votes. Oliver would have had to come within 1,000 votes and .5 percent of Moon to trigger an automatic recount. Her campaign could have requested a recount but would have had to pay for it.
Oliver, a lawyer, educator and activist, ran with the newly formed Peoples Party on a platform largely focused on increasing housing affordability, reforming the criminal justice system, and offering political representation and access to people usually disenfranchised from politics. Her campaign had a fierce social media presence and ground game—they knocked 22,000 doors and had 1,401 volunteers—but only spent half of $135,000 raised.
Oliver today said the Peoples Party does not plan to endorse either Moon or Durkan. Doing so, she said “would be giving support to candidates that have not shown their commitment to communities they regularly talk about."
But she encouraged her supporters to "stay engaged."
"We should not allow ourselves to give into political apathy," she said.
“The two candidates in the general election are two wealthy white women who regularly in forums would say things like, 'What Nikkita said, and...," Oliver said. "It’s important that those ideas that the party and myself brought to this election are birthed out of our lived experiences. Those are not lived experiences those two candidates share."
Durkan and Moon are "going to have to show up in communities they do not regularly show up in," Oliver said. "Neither one of them has a substantial ground game or organizing game in the city and they’re going to have to do that. They will have to organize voters, show them they are committed to equity [and] race and social justice, and if those are the votes that they want, they will do that work."
In a shot at Moon, who is largely self-funding her race and whose campaign acknowledged she has little ground game, Oliver said, "Some candidates were able to spend $90,000 of their own wealth while talking about income inequality… and yet had no ground game, no real community relationships. If I regret anything it’s not calling that out sooner."
In the future, the Peoples Party "will absolutely" run candidates for office, Oliver said, though she did not say whether she would run again in the future. In the immediate term, Oliver said the party will continue holding "community listening posts" to recommend specific policy proposals on issues like housing affordability. And Oliver will invite Durkan and Moon to a debate, which she will moderate.
The party will also focus on organizing around issues, including support of Initiative 940, which would increase police de-escalation training and make it easier to prosecute cops who wrongfully kill civilians, and against Initiative 200, the 1990s ban on affirmative action in Washington.
In a statement today, Moon said she was "deeply honored by the support I received, and look forward to earning the support of all who want a City Hall of, by, and for the people."
"I hope to earn the trust and support of every Seattle voter ready to boldly re-envision a City Hall that makes a difference in people’s lives through inclusive, accountable leadership," Moon said. "My experience working in coalition, my deep roots in civic advocacy, and my 20 years of experience building solutions to the very challenges Seattle faces are the leadership skills our city needs now."
UPDATE: In a statement, Durkan praised Oliver for a campaign that "amplified the voices, dreams, and pain of those who have been shut out of the opportunities and prosperity of our city."
"For those who didn't support me, I'll work hard to earn your support," Durkan said. "I fundamentally believe that the next mayor has the moral challenge and deep responsibility to address inequities facing our city."