Angst grips America's most liberal city | TheHill
Jul 30, 2021 2 mins, 39 secs
SEATTLE — America’s most liberal city stands at an uneasy crossroads.

Tensions have grown so heated here between a rising generation of ultra-progressive leaders and activists and the more traditionally liberal Democrats who have dominated the city’s politics for so long that the old Seattle Way of compromise politics has been eschewed for one of protest and purity.

One city council member, a self-described socialist, led a march last year to the home of Mayor Jenny DurkanJenny DurkanAngst grips America's most liberal city An exhausting year takes toll on nation's mayors Most Biden-won states to meet July 4 COVID-19 vaccine goal: analysis MORE, whose address is kept confidential because of ongoing death threats related to her past work as a federal prosecutor.

But I don’t think that’s how most Seattleites feel,” said Rachel Smith, president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

It is a big, thankless job,” said Michelle Merriweather, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

But this time, the two contenders most likely to advance to a November runoff are relative insiders: Polls show Bruce Harrell, a former city council president, and Lorena Gonzalez, the current council president, leading the field.

Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure Millennial momentum means trouble for the GOP Briahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' MORE (I-Vt.), who carried the city of Seattle but lost the Washington State Democratic primary to Joe BidenJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE in 2020, backs Gonzalez.

The primary contest, and a potential showdown between Harrell and Gonzalez in November, will test just how comfortable Seattle voters are with the direction of a changing city. .

Rising costs of living have led to an explosion of homelessness, akin to other major cities across the country, and debates over both how to house those experiencing homelessness and how to enforce public safety (Asked in a candidate questionnaire by The Seattle Times whether they supported defunding the police, Harrell said no; Gonzalez said maybe).

Some candidates, both for mayor and for city council seats, have asked voters whether they have had enough, an implicit appeal to ordinary Democratic voters who might be uncomfortable with the more progressive turn of recent years.

Those voters might gravitate toward Harrell, some observers said, rather than Gonzalez.

“Lorena has a game plan, that’s her strength, but I don’t think people feel comfortable with it,” said Nick Licata, who represented the more liberal wing of the city council where he served five terms.

Gonzalez supporters say her approach — she helped lead a confrontation with Amazon and other major corporations over the per-employee tax, known as a head tax, that blew up in 2018 — represents the deeper change Seattle needs. (Harrell, then a member of the city council, also voted for both the tax and its repeal)

Because unlike other places, I thought one of the keys that we had as a city was a vibrant downtown,” said Alec Stephens, a Democratic activist and civil rights attorney who backs Harrell

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