Lawyer, activist and poet Nikkita Oliver enters Seattle mayoral race

Artist Nikkita Oliver onstage at “Stories of Finding Home,” a Seattle Globalist event at the Rainier Arts Center. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)

This story originally ran in the South Seattle Emerald and is being republished with permission.

Add mayoral candidate to Nikkita Oliver’s striking resume. On Wednesday the scholar, organizer, educator, lawyer, poet and boxer officially announced her candidacy for Seattle’s highest executive office on behalf of the Peoples Party.

Well respected in both Seattle’s artist and organizing communities (she’s represented the city in national Slam Poetry competitions and been at the forefront of the city’s No New Youth Jail and BLM movements), Oliver says she is running a grassroots campaign to restore a “true public servant” in City Hall, one whose interests align in lockstep with residents increasingly priced out of Seattle by skyrocketing rents, marginalized by city policy, and wanting Seattle to be progressive in practice, not only pronouncement.

A frequent face at City Hall meetings, public demonstrations, and South Seattle high school classrooms, Oliver was initially hesitant to run for office but was convinced by the persistent urging of elders and others from the community dissatisfied with the city’s current direction. She also received a boost by the endorsement of King County Councilmember and local civil rights legend Larry Gossett.

Oliver promises a truly grass roots campaign that rejects corporate donations and is based on accountability, transparency, and humility. “No representative can know everything, and they need to really listen to the community instead of pretending to,” she shares.

Her campaign staff currently consists of nearly 20 volunteers ranging from Muslim to Christian, black to white, cis-gendered to trans, “an updated Rainbow Coalition” she jokes. She’ll be leaning on this growing number of supporters to combat the grueling tasks that await the first-time candidate in making it through the mayoral primary in August, which currently features six other declared contenders, and to ultimately dethrone Mayor Ed Murray next November.

“Underdog”, however, isn’t a label she’s too keen on adding to the pile of hyphens preceding her name, nor is “protest candidate.”

“I’m running to win,” she says bluntly when asked about her campaign’s viability.

The Emerald spoke with Oliver about her reasons for running and why Seattle is ready for an innovative “artist-leader” in the age of Trump.

Read the Q&A on the South Seattle Emerald.

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