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Originally published November 3, 2009 at 10:10 PM | Page modified November 4, 2009 at 12:22 AM

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Pete Holmes easily defeats incumbent Tom Carr in Seattle city-attorney race

Pete Holmes was handily beating two-term incumbent Tom Carr in Seattle's city-attorney race Tuesday night.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle is getting a new city attorney: Pete Holmes.

Tuesday's count showed Holmes, with 62 percent of the vote, comfortably beating two-term incumbent Tom Carr, with 38 percent. The result followed a theme of change in this election that began when Carr's friend, Mayor Greg Nickels, failed to advance beyond the primary.

"I'm elated. Stunned. I thought this would be a closer race," Holmes said. "I'm humbled by the honor, but recognize we have a big challenge ahead."

Holmes said his first priority will be trying to stop a new jail from being built in Seattle. During the campaign, Holmes also promised to stop prosecuting people for simple marijuana possession. And he said he would consider moving the city's nine domestic-violence advocates out of the attorney's office.

Holmes began the race as a relative unknown. A bankruptcy lawyer, he served five years as chairman of a board that reviews internal police investigations. While on the board, Holmes criticized the police chief for overturning or changing discipline recommendations without giving a reason — clashing with Carr in the process.

During the campaign, Carr and Holmes argued over a fundamentally different interpretation of the role of city attorney. Carr said his mandate was to serve the municipality. Holmes said his most important client would be the people of Seattle.

Center stage also was Carr's record — including his handling of the Sonics trial, government transparency issues and a nightclub sting operation. The race became bruising and ill-tempered, with each accusing the other of lying.

"I think it was an anti-incumbent year," Carr said Tuesday. "It's what we were always afraid of."

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com

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