A few weeks ago, you said something that made me respect you: “We think: Oh, we’re all good liberals, and give ourselves a pass. I believe it’s our shared responsibility to work with people of color who have been leading this effort for decades, and support them and listen to them to make changes.” Now, with the numbers in, it’s time for you to live up to those words and honor the leadership of people of color. You need to end your candidacy for Seattle mayor and boldly support Nikkita Oliver.
I’m not a person of political importance. I’m a queer, mixed race, light-skinned Latina living in West Seattle. Everyday I work to make the world a better place at my non-profit job, and I raise my son the best I can. You, Cary Moon, have real power. You can change the landscape of this city with a few simple words: “I am intentionally stepping out of the race for Seattle mayor.”
This must sound ludicrous to you. It sounds a little ludicrous to me as I write this. It sounds especially ridiculous given King County election law states that even if you drop out, Oliver's name won't appear on the general election ballot. She would have to run as a write-in candidate. Some will say this will hand Jenny Durkan the election on a silver platter, but I think you understand this system will never present an ideal path to power for women of color, unless white people like you give up some power and take a risk. We have to start somewhere.
This is your only path to Victory. I don’t mean victory in the mayor’s race, I mean Victory in moving this city forward. Victory in being a real white ally by surrendering your power for the betterment of people of color, namely black women in Seattle.
A mayoral race between you 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.
By contrast, a mayoral race between Oliver and Durkan could be a substantive debate about race, class, and lived experience. A black, queer, lawyer-artist with lived experience most of us can relate to would square off against a corporately-funded, personally-wealthy establishment candidate (Durkan). We would find out what Seattle is really made of.
You, and you alone, have the power to make this possible.
I know some people will shout, “You shouldn’t have to give up your candidacy because you’re white.” But I think YOU are smarter than that. I think you understand this isn’t giving up your candidacy because you are white, but because you are a leader. One person can do the job of mayor well, but this is about more than you. This is about what kind of city Seattle wants to be. This is your chance to be a real public servant, leader, example, and ally.
I am reminded of a moment from the Grammys this February. Adele won best album over Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Lemonade is a better album. Even Adele admitted it. A fantastic article from the blog Black Girl Dangerous outlines how Adele spoke the right words, but words are not action. Adele could have and should have declined to accept the Grammy. Because actions are what matters in a system that disadvantages, hurts, and often kills people of color. Cary, you are Adele. You would be a good mayor, but you aren’t what’s best for Seattle in this moment.
Before the final primary votes are counted, Cary, I urge you to step down. Real allyship with communities of color means surrendering your power to lift up those who are oppressed by systemic racism. Cary Moon, you can be a real ally. Show us you are action and not just words. If you decide to stay in the race, Cary, I will vote for you in November. But I hope you are better than that. You claim you aren’t a politician, that you are a city planner. Prove it. Plan a better future for Seattle. Step aside.
UPDATE: It was a nice intersectional/radical/batshit thought—depending on who you asked—and Sam Keller, Seattle Voter, wasn't the only person thinking along the Moon-drops-out-and-endorses-Oliver lines. Keller says she's heard from lots of people today who agree with her and wanted to thank her for writing her open letter. But Nikkita Oliver can't run as a write-in candidate, as it turns out, even if Moon were to step aside—a move the entire SECB would oppose, even the wing of the SECB that endorsed Oliver. (A majority of the SECB backed Moon in
the primary—you can read our endorsement here—and I'm going to out on a limb and predict that the SECB's support for Moon will be unanimous in the general election.)
Take it away, Revised Code of Washington 29a.24.311:
(3) No person may file as a write-in candidate where:
(a) At a general election, the person attempting to file either filed as a write-in candidate for the same office at the preceding primary or the person's name appeared on the ballot for the same office at the preceding primary;
If Oliver attempted a write-in campaign, votes for her wouldn't be counted and she wouldn't be mayor even if she somehow wound up getting more votes than Durkan. We should've checked that before running Keller's open letter. Our apologies. Thank you, Slog Hive Mind, for bringing it to our attention.
Now who will break it to Spekulation?