After 10 quadrillion debates in this unending election season, could yet another one get waffling voters to pick Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon for Seattle mayor?
Yes, as it turns out, at least for some.
Tuesday night, Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill was packed with young professionals watching Durkan and Moon on TV in the only live televised debate of the campaign (co-sponsored by KUOW, KING 5, Geekwire and Seattle City Club. Full audio below).
Moon supporters seemed to be the majority as the night began. Some people said they’d already voted for her even though ballots were just delivered.
Randy Eng said he’s concerned about homelessness, the opioid crisis and housing. And he saw Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, as a status quo candidate.
“I feel that Durkan has a lot of the same opinions and stances on issues that Ed Murray had, and I’m not a huge fan of Ed Murray,” Eng said, referring to the disgraced former mayor.
Christine Van Egeren said she’s worried she’ll never be able to own a home in Seattle. She also favored Moon.
“Like just gut feel, she seems more in touch with local Seattle where I feel like with Jenny Durkan she seems a little too, like, part of the big machine,” Van Egeren said.
In this Moon-friendly crowd, one of Durkan’s responses prompted groans of disbelief, when she was asked which other candidates for mayor she would consider hiring for her administration.
“I would hire … Cary Moon, because I think that she’s got some great ideas,” Durkan said.
And how did that go over with Moon? “All due respect to the political skills of my opponent, I don’t think so.”
But then there was Preston Bradley.
He said he moved to Seattle from New York and wants transit to get better so he doesn’t have to drive here. He seemed almost apologetic when he claimed to be leaning toward Durkan.
“Moon is a little too far for me, which makes me feel like a total right-wing person to say that but I’ve always been a lefty,” he said. “So I’m trying to figure out where I sit. I did the little Seattle Times quiz and I’m, like, right in the middle.”
As the debate ended, others in the crowd also said they were now considering voting for Durkan. Shannon Kelly says she’s watched multiple debates between the two candidates and on this night Durkan’s answers made her pause.
“She had a lot more specific examples that she didn’t have previous times,” Kelly said. “So that I’m now more interested in looking at her again.”
Steve Tricanowicz said he came undecided and is leaning toward Durkan now. He said homelessness in Seattle is the biggest issue on his mind.
“She has more experience and more attainable policies,” he said. “I think I agree more with the long-term vision of Cary Moon’s policies, but I’m afraid that reaching for the stars will in the short term stall out progress and leave us in a worst position than we might otherwise be.”
But the candidates might find it hardest to motivate voters who would be content with either one of them in office. Like Kate Alspaugh. She said she’s leaning Durkan but likes them both.
“I’m honestly proud to live in a city where I get to choose between two women like that for mayor,” Alspaugh said.