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Top Issues in Washington in 2024: A Comprehensive Overview

2 min read
Good Party Politics Team · Feb 27, 2024

Washington State is preparing for the 2024 election season, which will feature several significant races. Washington residents will have a say in who leads their state, from the governor's office to the state legislature, and from local city councils to congressional legislators. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the top issues affecting elections across the state, plus the top concerns impacting local elections in Washington’s largest cities.

Top Issues Across Washington State

There are several major Washington election issues facing voters as election season ramps up:

#1: Transportation

Transportation is one of the biggest issues Washington has faced in recent years. The Seattle metropolitan area has one of the most severe traffic congestion issues in Washington State and in the entire nation. In addition, the state's transportation networks, roads, and bridges require maintenance and expansion. 

Although the state has been sponsoring various transportation projects, including the replacement of the SR 520 bridge, more planning and funding are required to meet the rising demand and enhance mobility and public safety. Solving this issue will help to address various economic concerns in Washington.

#2: Behavioral Health

With high rates of mental illness, drug abuse, and suicide, Washington is experiencing a severe behavioral health crisis. Particularly in rural and underserved areas, the state has struggled to offer sufficient and prompt treatment and services for those with behavioral health issues. The intricate and varied social challenges facing behavioral health require increased cooperation, resources, and a general improvement in Washington healthcare in the affected regions.

#3: Affordable Housing

Homelessness and the high cost of housing, particularly in urban areas, are major Washington election issues. The state has been addressing the housing crisis in a number of ways, including:

  • Increasing funding and providing incentives for the development of affordable housing

  • Increasing rental assistance and eviction prevention initiatives

  • Addressing the economic concerns in Washington

  • Supporting homeless shelters and services

More support and coordination are required to address this issue and provide affordable housing for more Washington residents.

#4: Washington Education

Education is another issue that will be widely addressed during campaigns in the Washington political landscape. The state's record in education is mixed, including both strong and weak areas. Washington has been funding several education-related initiatives, including raising teacher pay, lowering class sizes, expanding technical and career education and early learning, and offering low-income students free college tuition. However, extra help and innovation are required to guarantee that every student has access to a relevant, high-quality education that will prepare them for the future and reduce future social challenges in Washington.

#5: Environmental Issues

Washington is among the most proactive and environmentally conscious states in the United States, but it is also among the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. As a result of various environmental issues in Washington, the state is dealing with several climate change-related risks and effects, including increased sea levels, melting glaciers, a rise in wildfires, a decrease in the snowpack, shifting ecosystems, and altered precipitation patterns.

In order to protect the state's natural resources and communities from the worsening effects of climate change, more urgency and ambition are required. The state has been taking a number of steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change, including reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses, promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, improving forest and water management, and encouraging adaptation and resilience planning. 

Top Issues in Washington’s Major Cities

Top Issues in Seattle 

As local elections in Seattle approach, voters will have a variety of issues on their minds, such as a high cost of living, inadequate public safety, deteriorating infrastructure, and polarizing Washington state politics. 

Seattle’s cost of living is 24% higher than the state average and 45% higher than the national average. Similarly, Seattle’s cost of housing is 112% higher than the national average, making it one of the most expensive cities to live in. This steep cost of living has led to some of the biggest social challenges in Washington. According to news reports from 2022, there were 736 recorded violent and property crimes per 100,000 people in the city, indicating a high crime rate as well.

The city's aging transport, water, and bridge networks, as well as its outdated roads, contribute to traffic jams, pollution, and other issues. Furthermore, the city has a history of having somewhat divisive and dysfunctional politics, characterized by regular conflicts and disputes between the public, the city council, and the mayor. These past conflicts will undoubtedly play a role in shaping the 2024 elections in Seattle.

Top Issues in Spokane 

With about 228,989 residents as of 2020, Spokane is the second-largest and easternmost city in Washington. There are several Spokane community issues that need to be addressed in 2024, including a lack of economic diversity, a high rate of substance misuse, a lack of affordable housing, and susceptibility to natural disasters. There is a considerable chance that the city could experience natural disasters including landslides, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires, which might seriously harm the city and its environs. 

Top Issues in Tacoma 

Public policy in Tacoma will need to address the lingering effects of pollution, the difficulties of homelessness, a lack of opportunities, and the possibility of gentrification. The city was classified as a Superfund site by the EPA in 1983 as a result of hazardous waste from several industrial operations contaminating the area's air, water, and soil. While soil cleanup has been ongoing since 2013, environmental concerns still remain a top priority in Tacoma.

According to Pierce County Human Services, Tacoma has one of the highest rates of homelessness and social challenges in Washington, with 1,851 people counted in the 2020 Point-in-Time survey. To add to the city’s list of challenges, Tacoma is seeing an increasing amount of gentrification due to rising rents, property values, and living expenses. This is forcing many minority and low-income residents out of their neighborhoods, making gentrification an important issue for the 2024 elections.

Top Issues in Bellevue 

Some of the main issues shaping the Bellevue political landscape in 2024 include the effects of the city’s rapid growth, the question of inclusion and diversity, the increasing need for public services, and challenges related to transportation. Bellevue's population increased by 18.23% from 2010 to 2020, making it one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, according to the Population Estimates Program.

With 39.3% of the population being foreign-born and 41.2% of the population being non-white as of 2020, Bellevue has seen a rise in diversity and a shift in the dynamics of the political landscape. The absence of affordable housing, a shortage of social and cultural facilities, the strain on public health and safety, and traffic congestion and pollution are some of the growing pains the expanding city has to deal with. To ensure that Bellevue can support its growth while retaining its livability and competitiveness, these concerns require rigorous and visionary planning.

Top Issues in Vancouver 

Vancouver is confronted with several important election issues, including its reliance on Oregon, competition with Portland, uneven urban development, and seismic risk. Many Vancouver residents travel to Oregon for work, leaving the city dependent on its neighbor for both jobs and revenue. Portland, which offers more employment opportunities, facilities, and attractions along with reduced taxes and fees, also poses a threat to the city. In addition, the city's development is not evenly distributed, with the east side of the city being more rural and impoverished and the west being wealthier and more urbanized.

Besides the aforementioned Washington election issues, the city also has a significant potential for seismic activity because it is close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which can produce a devastating tsunami and an earthquake of magnitude 9.0+. These are all issues that those who wish to successfully run for office in the 2024 elections will have to address. 

Get Involved in Local Politics

Want to make a difference in Washington? Here are some tips for getting involved and making an impact:

  • Stay informed. Learn more about the top issues facing Washington State and its major cities by staying up to date with local news sources.

  • Register to vote. As the 2024 election season ramps up, make sure you’re registered to vote, and then make a plan to participate in the democratic process on election day.

  • Volunteer. Find a local organization to volunteer with, and make a difference in an area you’re passionate about. You can also volunteer with national organizations like Good Party, an organization working to reform dysfunctional politics in Washington and across the country.

  • Consider running for office. Want to make the biggest impact in 2024? Explore the offices that are up for election near you, and learn more about how you can represent your community by running for office.

Photo by George Stewart on Unsplash


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By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.