SEATTLE — Last August, the Seattle office of EMC Research was commissioned to poll public opinion on Family, Education Preschool and Promise Levy, the city's $600 million education property tax which eventually passed with nearly 69 percent of voters endorsing it.
But the poll, never released to the public, showed something else as well: While the voters were overwhelmingly willing to tax themselves for the expansion of preschool and student health care, they strongly dislike the Seattle City Council and they deeply distrust city leaders to manage the money correctly.
Adding insult to injury for the City Council — seven of whom are facing re-election next year – the EMC poll revealed that council members remain increasingly unpopular even as opinion about Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan becomes more favorable. The poll surveyed 400 likely voters in the city. Overall, it seems to indicate that voters generally like the mayor, but not the council. Also, it cautioned the backers of the levy – including the mayor – to keep some distance from the City Council when advocating the property tax hike.
“The mayor is well-liked and can be an effective messenger,” the report analysis says, “but visibility from the City Council runs the risk of connecting the levy to voters’ broader concerns about the city.”
Noted one longtime Seattle political consultant who asked to remain anonymous, “This is the most unpopular city council in a decade. It will make for an interesting spring when council elections really get underway.”
Among the results in the poll obtained by KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com:
- The city council's disapproval rating has climbed to nearly half the voters (48 percent) with 26 percent – one in five of those polled – having "strongly unfavorable" views of the current city council.
- Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose popularity took a sharp dip during the Head Tax fight, appears to have completely recovered with 63 percent of respondents having a favorable view compared to 25 percent unfavorable (with 10 percent "strongly unfavorable.")
- Nearly half of the voters (45 percent) feel the city is headed on the wrong direction, the second highest total in the past seven years. The highest negative total, 47 percent, also happened this year as the Head Tax issue peaked in June.
- Overall, residents are getting increasingly pessimistic about the city's capacity to spend money responsibly. In the six months between March and August, the public's trust in Seattle leaders' fiscal responsibility dipped to 42 percent from 52 percent.
Cox Media Group