Seattle Mayor Nickels Bidding For Third Term
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is facing seven challengers in his bid for a third term.

Voters in Tuesday's primary are deciding the top two candidates to advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

Nickels' opponents include city councilwoman Jan Drago, cell phone executive Joe Mallahan, Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn and former Sonics basketball player James Donaldson.

Seattle voters also will have a big say in the election of a new King County executive. Recent polling shows former KIRO-TV anchor Susan Hutchison with a commanding lead over four main rivals: King County Councilmen Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine, state Sen.

Fred Jarrett and state Rep. Ross Hunter.

Nickels has been dogged locally by criticism of the city's response to a December snowstorm that paralyzed Seattle for nearly two weeks. His opponents have challenged sometimes heavy-handed style as too gruff in a city that prizes collaboration and civility.

Nickels has raised $572,000, far more than his opponents, many of whom are political newcomers. And he's gotten key endorsements from labor and civic groups.

But dismal poll results show he may be in trouble. A SurveyUSA poll conducted for Seattle TV station KING and released Monday found only 26 percent of 644 likely voters would pick Nickels. Mallahan has 22 percent and McGinn has 21 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

Megan Ambrose, 31, a Seattle bookkeeper, said didn't vote for Nickels Tuesday because "I don't think we've progressed far since he's been in office."

She declined to say who she picked, but added that "it was a hard decision because there were so many choices." Neighborhood safety, parks and open space are top issues for her, and many of the candidates seemed to share similar positions, she said.

Myrna Peterson voted for T-Mobile executive Mallahan, who contributed about $200,000 of his own money to his campaign.

"I'm unhappy with Nickels," said the 68-year-old Peterson. "I don't agree with the tunnel. I don't agree with his ideas."

Nickels has supported a $4.2 billion tunnel to replace the waterfront's dilapidated Alaskan Way viaduct, damaged in a 2001 earthquake.

Karen O'Brien, 48, a Seattle property owner who dropped off her ballot in West Seattle Tuesday, said she had a tough time sorting through the field of candidates. "There were too many people running for mayor," she said.

She said she read and reread candidates' positions and eventually narrowed down her choices through a process of elimination. She didn't pick the incumbent but wouldn't say who she chose.

King County officials are expecting a turnout of about 33 percent, or about 350,000 ballots cast. In Seattle, turnout is expected at about 35 percent, or about 130,000 ballots.