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Surprisingly tight race for Seattle city attorney as voting begins

SEATTLE — Seattle is one of the nation’s most prosperous cities — but persistent homelessness and public safety are the key issues in the Seattle city attorney’s race.

Three-term incumbent Pete Holmes is facing a surprisingly tough challenge as voters receive their mail-in ballots for the August 3 election.

The latest poll shows him effectively tied in a three-way race with Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. He has 16% of the vote, while Davison and Thomas-Kennedy each have 14%.  In all, 53% of voters aren’t sure. Also, 617 people were surveyed, and the margin of error is 4.3%. Only the top two winners of the August primary go on to the November general election.

By contrast, Holmes won the 2017 general election with nearly 75% of the vote.

The poll was conducted by the Northwest Progressive Institute. Its executive director, Andrew Villeneuve, said of Holmes’ showing, “It’s a very low number for someone who’s been in office for that long. It would seem to indicate that voters are not sure about his performance as city attorney.”  Villeneuve also noted that with so many voters undecided, Holmes can still make a strong showing in the primary.

Davison is on the more conservative side of this race. She said Holmes has allowed too many repeat offenders to cycle through the system.

“The experience we all have in the city of Seattle is the under prosecution of the crimes. … There is a clear neglect in the city,” Davison said.

On the more progressive side, Thomas-Kennedy said criminal crackdowns won’t solve the public safety problems.

“The way that we can address those safety issues is by trying to lift people out of poverty, trying to make sure people have their basic needs met. There’s no, there’s no amount of prosecution that’s going to solve poverty,” she said

Both candidates disagree with Holmes’ new countersuit against journalists seeking public records that the city has failed to fully release.

Thomas-Kennedy said, “Absolutely not. I mean, it’s a little bit, it’s a little bit mind-blowing. We are spending tax dollars that need to be focused elsewhere.”

In his voter’s pamphlet video, Holmes leans on his experience.

“Now is not the time for an untested voice in this vital office,” he said.

Holmes’ campaign later issued a statement responding to the criticisms of Davison.

“Pete is proud of his record holding accountable those who violate our laws, supporting small businesses, and working with proven diversion programs to assist people in crisis. Seattle voters should be wary of a failed Republican candidate who has lost two campaigns in two consecutive years but who now wants to be the independently elected attorney representing the people of our city. Seattle needs strong progressive leadership committed to community safety, not failed Republican scare tactics,” the statement read.