Jenny Durkan leads in early results for Seattle mayor

Jenny Durkan addresses crowd after early result show her leading Seattle mayor's race, Aug. 1, 2018. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE – Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and urban planner Cary Moon were leading a crowded primary field to become Seattle’s next mayor on Tuesday.

In all, 21 candidates filed to replace incumbent Ed Murray. The top two finishers will be on the November ballot.

After the first batch of ballots was counted, Durkan, 59, U.S. attorney in Seattle from 2009 to 2014, was winning with almost 32 percent of the vote. Moon had about 15.6 percent, followed closely by Nikkita Oliver, who had more than 12 percent.

WATCH: Jenny Durkan speaks on her lead in Seattle mayoral race:

Trailing them were former State Rep. Rep. Jessyn Farrell, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa and former Mayor Mike McGinn.

"Are you fired up and ready to go?" Durkan asked her supporters, quoting President Obama.

"I think it looks good for us all the way to November," she said in an interview. "Our message, our campaign was really connecting with people.

If the trends hold, Seattle will have its first woman mayor since Bertha Knight Landes was elected in 1926.

Oliver is a teacher and poet, an activist with Black Lives Matter and leader of the city's newly minted Peoples Party. Cary Moon is a self-admitted policy wonk, engineer and urban planner.

WATCH: Cary Moon, second behind Durkan, speaks on Seattle mayoral race:

Moon said in an interview that she plans "to build a true coalition of progressive .. because that's what we're going to need to beat the establishment candidate."

Oliver told her supporters that "tonight is about celebration ... and acknowledging the power of our movement."

Murray seemed to have an easy road to his second term until he was sued by a man who claimed the mayor paid him for sex as a teenager in the 1980s. Murray denied the allegations, and the lawsuit was dropped.

Still the allegations dogged Murray, who decided not to seek re-election.

The primary came as the city is booming but also worried that the economic growth is driving way middle- and working-class people .

The debate among candidates has focused on taxes and inequality among residents in a city that has seen median house prices double over the last five years to more than $700,000. Several leading candidates want to ask big corporations to pay more taxes and to invoke a city-wide income tax targeting rich residents — even though the legality of such a levy is in question for Washington state.

While advocating tax hikes is politically risky in many other parts of the U.S., voters in the Pacific Northwest's largest city have consistently backed money-raising initiatives and have elected a very liberal city council that approved a $15 minimum wage in 2014 and includes among its members a Socialist who has said big corporations like Boeing Co. should be owned by its workers.

Last month the City Council unanimously voted to impose a 2.25 percent tax on the city's highest earners. The measure faces court challenges from opponents who call the tax proposal illegal and unconstitutional. Washington is one of seven states without a personal income tax, and a state law passed in 1984 prohibits local and regional governments from imposing taxes on income.

City officials estimate the income tax would raise about $140 million annually. Supporters have said the revenue could be used to lower property taxes and pay for public services such as transit and public housing. The majority of taxes in Seattle and Washington state come from sales and property taxes, which critics say unfairly targets those of lesser means.

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