Updated Oct 27, 2023 - Politics

Seattle voter guide: Your primer on the 2023 election

Illustration of a check mark being drawn in front of the Seattle City Hall facade in the colors of the city flag.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Your ballot for the Nov. 7 election is on its way, if it hasn't already arrived in your mailbox.

Why it matters: This year's election will decide seven of nine seats on the Seattle City Council, along with dozens of other local government positions across the county and state.

  • Four Seattle City Council incumbents aren't running for re-election, leaving their seats up for grabs.

Plus: Seattle voters are being asked to approve a $970 million property tax levy for affordable housing.

Here's how to participate and what to know about the major races on the ballot.

Registering to vote

You can register to vote or update your voter registration information at VoteWa.gov through Oct. 30.

Pro tip: Even if you haven't changed your name or address recently, you can update your registration to include your cellphone number and opt in to receive text alerts about the status of your ballot.

Returning your ballot

Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day or placed in an official drop box by 8pm that day to be counted.

  • Election officials recommend that if you are returning a ballot by mail, you put it in a mailbox by Nov. 3 to ensure it gets an on-time postmark. No stamp is required.
  • If you need a replacement ballot in King County, call 206-296-VOTE (8683) or email [email protected].
  • You can also use King County's online ballot marking tool to fill out and print a new ballot that you can return by mail or to a ballot drop box.

Here’s a rundown of the major races.

Seattle City Council District 1

Photo illustration of Maren Costa and Rob Saka.
Maren Costa (left) and Rob Saka (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

In District 1, two former tech company employees have very different visions.

  • Rob Saka, a former lawyer at Facebook and Microsoft, is competing against Maren Costa, a user experience designer who publicly urged her former employer, Amazon, to do more to combat climate change and improve conditions for warehouse workers.
  • The two candidates are at odds over the city's new drug policy, taxes and more.

Read more: What separates Costa and Saka in Seattle's District 1 council race

Seattle City Council District 2

Photo illustration of Tammy Morales and Tanya Woo.
Tammy Morales (left) and Tanya Woo (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

Chinatown-International District advocate Tanya Woo, who fought against expanding a homeless shelter in the area last year, is trying to unseat sitting Councilmember Tammy Morales, one of the council's most progressive members.

  • They're far apart on police funding, among other things.

Read more: Where District 2 council candidates stand on key issues

Seattle City Council District 3

Photo illustration of Joy Hollingsworth and Alex Hudson.
Joy Hollingsworth (left) and Alex Hudson (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

Joy Hollingsworth, a cannabis entrepreneur and food bank worker, is competing against Alex Hudson, the former executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, for the council seat being vacated by socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

  • The candidates are aligned in some ways, but have different views about the city's new law that allows the city attorney to prosecute low-level drug offenses.
  • Watch the candidates debate here.

Go deeper: Voters to pick Sawant's successor in District 3

Seattle City Council District 4

Photo illustration of Ron Davis and Maritza Rivera.
Ron Davis (left) and Maritza Rivera (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

Ron Davis, a tech entrepreneur who now advises other startups, is up against Maritza Rivera, the former deputy director of the city's Department of Arts and Culture.

  • They disagree on who should be prosecuted for drug offenses; whether new taxes are needed to pay for social services; and how to approach removing encampments of people experiencing homelessness.

Read more: District 4 council candidates clash over drug policy and taxes

Seattle City Council District 5

Seattle city council candidates Cathy Moore and ChrisTiana ObeySumner
Cathy Moore (left) and ChrisTiana ObeySumner (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

ChrisTiana ObeySumner, a social equity consultant and former social service worker, faces Cathy Moore, a former judge and public defender, in this North Seattle district.

  • They're vying for the open seat being vacated by Council President Debora Juarez, and disagree about criminalizing drug use and removing encampments, among other issues.

Go deeper: Where Seattle's District 5 council candidates differ most

Seattle City Council District 6

Photo illustration of Dan Strauss and Pete Hanning.
Dan Strauss (left) and Pete Hanning (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

First-term incumbent Dan Strauss is being challenged by Pete Hanning, executive director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.

Go deeper: Strauss and Hanning square off over experience

Seattle City Council District 7

Photo illustration of Bob Kettle and Andrew Lewis.
Bob Kettle (left) and Andrew Lewis (right). Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of both campaigns

Of the three City Council incumbents on the ballot this fall, first-term Councilmember Andrew Lewis got the smallest share of the vote in the August primary.

  • He's being challenged by Bob Kettle, a former naval officer who thinks the City Council needs to have a "reset" and repair its relationship with the local police guild.

Read more: Seattle's District 7 candidates spar over public safety

Seattle housing levy — Proposition 1

Illustration of a pen filling in a ballot checkbox in the shape of a house.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Seattle voters are being asked to pass a new property tax levy that would raise about $970 million for affordable housing, rent assistance and more over the next seven years.

  • If approved, the levy's tax rate will be higher than under the previous levy that is being replaced.

Go deeper: Seattle voters to decide on $970 million housing levy

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