Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy ran in a general election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, on November 2, 2021. As of 3 a.m. Pacific Time on November 3, 2021, Davison led Thomas-Kennedy with 58.7% of the vote to Thomas-Kennedy’s 41.3%.
Davison and Thomas-Kennedy advanced from the primary after winning 32.7% and 36.4% of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Pete Holmes, who was first elected in 2010, received 30.6% of the vote.
Crosscut, a nonprofit Seattle news site, said the race “will be one of clear contrasts and highlights just how divided the city is over issues of crime, public safety and criminal justice.” In a Crosscut Elway poll from September 7-9 where respondents were provided with a list of issues to choose from and more than one answer was allowed, 79% chose homelessness, 47% percent chose police, and 45% chose crime.
Seattle news blog My Northwest described Davison “as more of an overt conservative, as a registered Republican who’s been vocal on her ‘tough on crime’ politics” compared to Thomas-Kennedy, whose “position as an ‘abolitionist’ in favor of ending the prosecution of low-level misdemeanors would represent a sizable shift in the City Attorney’s Office.”
Davison is a Seattle attorney and arbitrator and ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor of Washington in 2020. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and said she would “focus on improving efficiencies within the 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 governor 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. She ran on a platform of 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, former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (D), and several local Democratic Party organizations endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.
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.