This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Contributions of Community Psychology to Urban Research and Policy.
This article currently has free access and is available to read and download.
Seattle, Washington, has recently experienced significant economic growth, but, this boom has not been felt by all city residents. Many residents have increasingly felt disenfranchised from Seattle’s social, economic, and political institutions. To address some of these issues, Seattle residents passed the “Honest Elections” Initiative 122 (I-122) in 2017, the goals of which were to shift the power of city-level political contributions toward lower-propensity donors. To implement I-122 upon its passing, a coalition, Honest Elections Seattle (HES), developed strategies that mirrored many of the values of community psychology. The purpose of this paper is to use the Honest Elections Initiative as a case study to highlight the ways that community psychology values can be applied in urban politics. Specifically, I found that HES: promoted social justice by creating a culture of powerful engagement, adopting a long-term strategy, and holding elected officials accountable; built upon an existing sense of community by embedding in organizational and community structures; fostered civic engagement by building grassroots leadership and reducing barriers to participation; valued collaboration and community strengths by constructing a representative coalition and making local leaders the face of the initiative; and respected the diversity of local communities and residents. I conclude by providing insights to researchers and urban practitioners.