Seattle Metro Chamber members debrief after local primary elections

By: Maggie Wilson Posted: 08/29/2019

Panel of political reporters featured Simone Alicea with KNKX, David Kroman with Crosscut, and Assunta Ng with Northwest Asian Weekly


Attendees of our latest Business Issues Forum met to debrief after August's local primary elections.

Chamber members heard from Andrew Thibault with EMC Research, who gave an overview of the results and delved into an analysis of voter turnout.

Our press panel, moderated by Richard de Sam Lazaro with Expedia, featured local political reporters Simone Alicea with KNKX, David Kroman with Crosscut, and Assunta Ng with Northwest Asian Weekly.

Thibault walked attendees through major takeaways from turnout and election results. Overall, there was remarkably high voter turnout in King County, at about 35 percent. The first district elections in 2015 had record low turnout, but turnout has been rising since. 

Speaking about what the primary results mean, Thibault said, "this is a very hard election to frame, but one key takeaway is, this is definitely a change election.” Read more about Thibault's take on the primary election results in his follow-up interview with Crosscut.  

The three reporters on our panel, Alicea, Kroman, and Ng, shared insights about what their audiences best engage with during local elections. Across the board, the reporters agreed their audiences have an easier time engaging with coverage of political candidates when that coverage is connected with local issues. 

Ng highlighted what she called “the youth factor,” citing the successes of Dan Strauss, Shaun Scott, Girmay Zahilay, and Sam Cho. All four were among the top two vote-getters in their primary races. She talked about the importance of same-day registration and mentioned how she and staff at Northwest Asian Weekly helped immigrants and refugees in her community register to vote. Ng also cited the video voter guide from Seattle Channel as a great resource.

Alicea had unique insight about presenting Seattle news to residents outside of the city, since KNKX is based both in Seattle and Tacoma. She discussed why what happens in Seattle is important to the rest of the region, Washington state, and nationally. Other cities are watching what happens in Seattle to study and, at times, emulate innovation here.

On framing the election results, Kroman noted that interpretations differ depending on whom you ask. However, one thing that is clear is that candidates’ promises to listen are becoming more salient. Asked about when the general public will start to hear specific policy ideas from candidates, he answered that this is a level of detail that will likely only come up if candidates are explicitly asked, whether by the media or by voters. Alicea added that many of the candidates in the City Council races are seeking office for the first time, so they do not have a record of policy decisions from which to extrapolate. 

All three agreed it can be hard for voters to have thorough knowledge of every candidate and every issue facing the city, especially when issues, like homelessness, are complex, and when there are as many candidates as there were in the primary elections. Local news outlets like theirs (CrosscutKNKX, and Northwest Asian Weekly) help communities understand how these politics intersect with their daily lives. 

You can follow Simone Alicea, David Kroman, and Northwest Asian Weekly on Twitter.

The Chamber's Business Issues Forum is the place to learn about and discuss emerging policy issues that matter to your business and the community. A benefit available only to members, meetings include informational briefings from guest speakers and structured discussion with fellow members.