Pete Holmes, the incumbent Seattle city attorney, conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on August 6, 2021, in the top-two primary election held August 3. As of August 10, the latest election results showed Thomas-Kennedy with 35.5% of the vote followed by Davison with 33% and Holmes with 31.2%. Davison and Thomas-Kennedy will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021.
Davison is an attorney and arbitrator and attended Willamette University College of Law and Baylor University. She ran for lieutenant governor as a Republican in 2020. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and that she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Former Gov. Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison.
Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney and attended Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and Seattle University School of Law. She described her policy priorities as decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her campaign website said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” The Seattle newspaper The Stranger endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.
Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote to Lindsay’s 25% and ran unopposed in the 2013 general election. Although he led in fundraising leading up to the primary election, The Cascadia Advocate‘s Andrew Villeneuve said that Davison and Thomas-Kennedy were “right behind Holmes as voting begins in the August 2021 Top Two election, with 53% of likely voters not sure who they’re voting for.” In a poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute from July 12 through July 15, 2021, 16% of respondents chose Holmes, 14% chose Davison, and 14% chose Thomas-Kennedy. David Kroman of Crosscut called Holmes’ concession “a tectonic political upset that sets the stage for a stark and divisive race to succeed him as the city’s top lawyer.”
In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.