Tanya Woo is leading incumbent Tammy Morales in the race for Southeast Seattle’s City Council District 2 seat, one of seven district positions on the ballot in the general election.
Woo was leading with 54% of the vote, and 7,242 votes, while Morales trailed with 45% and 6,052 votes after initial results were posted Tuesday night.
Thousands of ballots remain to be counted in the race in the coming days.
At her Tuesday night party at Tai Tung in the Chinatown International District, Woo immediately turned to thank the crowd after initial results came in, noting soon after that her focuses of public safety, homelessness and inequality in the district found a home with residents who voted for her.
“District 2 is ready for a change,” Woo said. “People listened to our messaging and it resonated. I’m encouraged and excited, but I know we still have a week before we get final results.”
Morales is one of only three council incumbents, among the seven seats up for grabs, who chose to run for reelection.
One of the highest-profile races on the Nov. 7 ballot, the race for District 2 offers a kind of referendum on Morales’ vision for the district and her first term in office. Morales ran as one of the City Council’s most progressive members, while Woo represented a more centrist option.
At her Tuesday night party at Baja Bistro on Beacon Hill, Morales said she was still optimistic that more progressive voters turned their ballots in late and that her chances were still good.
“I think the expectation is that whatever happens tonight, we will continue to grow our returns over the next couple of days and then celebrate,” she said.
Morales, 54, said she decided to run again to continue her work tackling housing affordability, pedestrian and bike safety, systemic racism, and the root causes of violence and addiction. Before she was elected in 2019, Morales was a community advocate focused on affordable housing and food accessibility in the South End.
Her challenger, Woo, 44 and a newcomer to city politics, is most known for her work advocating for the Chinatown International District as a member of CID Community Watch, a volunteer group that patrols streets and gives aid to homeless residents. Woo has advocated for increased law enforcement to address the rise in violent crime and property crime, as well as the visible drug markets at 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street fueled by the fentanyl crisis.
Morales raised more than $176,000 in donations, while Woo raised more than $192,000.
Seattle’s District 2, one of the city’s most racially and economically diverse, represents about 105,000 people, and includes Beacon Hill, the Chinatown International District, Columbia City, Rainier Beach and Seward Park.
Morales’ and Woo’s views sharply diverge in their approach to public safety and policing.
Morales believes police are necessary to respond to violent crimes, but said more funding should go toward alternatives like social workers and community-based violence intervention groups. Morales does not support increasing the police budget to hire more officers.
In contrast, Woo supports hiring more police officers and increasing the city’s police budget, combined with a mix of alternative responses and funding for community-based groups.
The candidates also disagree on the city’s policy of removing homeless encampments. Morales opposes sweeps, while Woo supports them in some instances.
Morales was endorsed by a slew of labor unions and progressive groups, including the MLK Labor Council, UAW Local 4121, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the Seattle Education Association and Planned Parenthood.
Woo garnered endorsements from the Seattle Fire Fighters Union, the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle, Seattle Hospitality for Progress and The Seattle Times editorial board (which operates independently from the newsroom). The National Association of Realtors also spent more than $61,000 independently to back Woo.