Drop box dispatches: What Seattle voters want as City Council braces for change
After placing her ballot in the drop box outside the Ballard library, Brenda Leonard stopped to chat in the uncharacteristically bright October sun.
Leonard said she’s sending a message to Seattle's elected officials: They’ve gotten "way too liberal" on some issues, like crime and homelessness.
“People need to be housed safely, but we can't give up our parks and everything else,” Leonard said.
The city is bracing for change as voters weigh in on seven Seattle City Council races, four of which are open seats. The big, existential question for Seattle’s City Council is whether it moves further left or shifts more to the center on the top issues like homelessness and public safety.
For her part, Leonard calls herself a centrist Democrat.
“I'm so old, I left Republican Party after Nixon and Watergate, and it's kind of gone downhill since then,” she said.
Voter Brenda Leonard
Brenda Leonard calls herself a centrist Democrat who used to vote Republican.
That puts her on the conservative side of Seattle politics, where the political spectrum on the current City Council runs from business-friendly Democrat to a card-carrying Trotskyist.
To Leonard’s left, politically, voter Bill Van Buren is concerned about homelessness and public safety, too. But he's looking for more progressive solutions to crime.
“If we can do something where we keep public safety, and we keep compassion and taking care of people, then I feel like we will have solved something,” he said.
Van Buren, who voted for Bernie Sanders in the last presidential primary, also strongly favors raising taxes.
“I am down with taxing people. We have a lot of people that have a lot of wherewithal here and are doing very well, and we don't have a state income tax,” he said.
Voter Bill Van Buren
Bill Van Buren, who says he voted for Bernie Sanders in the last Democratic primary, is also on the progressive side of Seattle politics.
Also at the drop box, voter Erica Sampson described herself as a woman of color and a first-generation college student, who said her views aren’t easily categorized.
“I like to look at all of the issues that matter to me from a more holistic viewpoint,” she said.
On the one hand, she wants to see a lot more government support for mental health and other services for homeless people. But she also calls herself a supporter of law enforcement, as long as it's combined with help.
Sampson's not alone in feeling like her views on local politics don't fit neatly into one category. Some recent political science research has found that voters' views on local issues don't neatly correspond to a left to right partisan scale, like they often do nationally.
Voter Erica Sampson
Erica Sampson says her views can't be easily categorized when it comes to Seattle politics.
Wherever you stand, there's time to make your voice heard. Voters have until Tuesday, Nov. 7 to cast ballots.