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caption: The boarded up Seattle Police Department's East Precinct building is shown on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, near the intersection of 12th Avenue and East Pine Street in Seattle.
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The boarded up Seattle Police Department's East Precinct building is shown on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, near the intersection of 12th Avenue and East Pine Street in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

'Everybody wanted this story. You guys got it.' This week in Seattle politics

Local election ballots are in the mail this week, and, as you might expect, the contests for Seattle mayor and City Council are becoming more intense.

So, what are some of the themes driving public opinion this year? The short answer: a lot.

Brian Callanan, host and producer at the Seattle Channel, says follow the money if you want to know who's got momentum right now.

RELATED: What are the primary issues in Seattle's mayoral election?

Bruce Harrell has made some big strides after entering this race a bit later than his competitors. He’s now leading in fundraising thanks to support from business and law enforcement.

Just behind Harrell in fundraising are Colleen Echohawk and Andrew Grant Houston, both very strong in their democracy voucher returns.

"But I’m really keeping an eye on Lorena Gonzalez," Callana says. "She’s fourth in money raising ... but she has a number of major labor endorsements."

"You don’t need a poll to tell you that Bruce Harrell and Lorenz Gonzalez are the two most likely to make it through the primary and onto the general," says political analyst and contributing columnist Joni Balter. "The easy explanation is name familiarity, money and key endorsements,. We have a definite sense this summer that voters want change."

In the City Council race, Position 9, voters have a chance at that.

Sara Nelson is a small businessperson and co-owner of Fremont Brewing. Balter says it could be refreshing to have someone with that perspective.

RELATED: What Seattle mayoral candidates care about most

In any case, public safety is front and center this year.

"If you talk to small-business owners in Seattle, many feel unsafe — too many homeless camps blocking streets and business entryways," Balter says. "The other issue —very important, very top of mind — is climate change. The hot weather and fires are no joke this early in the season, and this feeds local issues of transportation and housing."

Callanan says much of this goes back to the idea of coming back "better" after more than a year of the Covid-19 pandemic's hold on the economy and social unrest that brought protestors to the streets last summer.

The legacy of the CHOP has already had an impact on the morale of the Seattle police officers, he says. Hundreds of officers have left the department since then, and Callanan says it’s certainly something that has a major effect on the legacy current Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan leaves behind.

A legacy made all the more complicated by the series of events leading up to the abandonment of SPD's East Precinct at the height of racial justice protests.

KUOW's Isolde Raftery has this timeline of events, revealing what was happening behind the scenes that led to that critical decision.

"Everybody wanted this story. You guys got it," Balter says. "You revealed the details about how and why the police front-line commander decided to close the precinct; to reduce that flashpoint between protesters and police. This has been such a point of contention. It’s all about who’s running the show. The fact that it took this long to piece this all together is strange."

Strange and certainly not complete.

KUOW is still learning more about that night and Durkan's missing text messages on the subject. And as the city grapples with the future of policing, candidates are sure to reflect on the events that took a year to understand.