People’s Party could be a new ongoing force in Seattle politics
by George Howland Jr.
Win or lose, educator-lawyer-poet-activist Nikkita Oliver’s mayoral campaign was truly inspirational. At the moment, Oliver is in third place trailing urbanist Cary Moon by a mere 1,457 votes out of 90,000 ballots counted. There could be as many as 50,000 votes remaining to be counted.
Unlike Durkan and Moon, Oliver has no personal fortune. She started with little name recognition and no big-time backers. She is a young, queer, African-American woman who has been involved in grassroots politics, art and education. She built a movement campaign powered by 1,000 volunteers. She depended on turning out voters who don’t usually cast ballots in great numbers: people of color, young voters, the disenfranchised and activists to the left of the Democratic Party. Her achievement was extraordinary—even if she doesn’t make it into the general election.
If Oliver fails to overtake Moon, one questionable electioneering decision may haunt her: she only spent $66,000 of the $120,000 she raised. She should have spent every last dime to make it through the primary. Campaign contributions would have increased exponentially for the general election.
Raising $120,000 in small donations was just one aspect of her remarkable campaign. She held real listening sessions across the city and was clearly part of a social movement for transformative change—not a politician driven by ego and a desire for power. She supported rent control and participatory democracy, opposed the injustice of current law enforcement and imprisonment practices and refused to take corporate campaign donations. If she and the People’s Party of Seattle do not become discouraged and exhausted, they could represent a new political force in the city. On some issues, like the new youth jail and the new Seattle Police Department north precinct, members and allies of the People’s Party have already have played a significant role.
Oliver and the People’s Party may not win this election, but they represent the best hope for Seattle’s future.
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Award winning journalist George Howland Jr has been hired by Seattle Displacement Coalition to write for Outside City Hall about city politics, housing, homelessness and land use. He is not a member of Seattle Displacement Coalition and no part of his writing serves as a statement of the Coalition’s views. He works under his own editorial direction. The Coalition plays no role in choosing his specific subjects or editing his copy. He has never even been to a Huskies’ football game with the Coalition’s John Fox.