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Diversity shapes City Council and mayoral race in Seattle

SEATTLE — A changing of the guard at City Hall—older, whiter faces getting out of politics, and a council starting to look more like the town it represents.

“This is a change that we have been laying the groundwork for for many, many years,” said Sudha Nandagopal with OneAmerica Votes.

That group supports the role of immigrants and minorities in politics. Identity and policy can work together, she says.

“We need those who are most affected by the issues to be leading and making sure our democracy is truly inclusive,” said Nandagopal.

Labor leader Teresa Mosqueda continues to lead in her race to take over for retiring Councilman Tim Burgess.

Writer and political commentator Hanna Brooks Olsen said Mosqueda is another part of the wave of change.

“Really, this coming together of younger people but also traditionally disenfranchised people---people from marginalized communities coming together,” she said.

In the mayoral race, voters will only have women to choose from come November.

Jenny Durkan still leads, and Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver are jockeying for the second spot on the ballot.

Durkan and Oliver would be the first female LGBTQ mayors if they win.

Brooks Olsen says this is not just an image change for Seattle.  It's about an untapped vein of activism that's been ignored in the past

“I'm very cautious about tokenizing and saying, oh good, we finally get a woman mayor,” Olsen said.

While 2010 census data is getting a little out of date, the projected City Council would be more diverse than the city at large, which is 70% white and only 6 1/2  percent Hispanic.

As Seattle evolves, so will its politics.

“That diversity of experiences, the diversity of policy areas and the ability to hear from lots of different voices,” Nandagopal said.