Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan took a big lead in the Seattle mayoral election with almost 87,000 ballots counted in early returns.

Durkan had 27,579 votes (32 percent) when initial ballot returns were released about 8 p.m. on Tuesday with about 19 percent of voters reporting.

“Everyone knows it was never about me,” Durkan said. “It was about what you people believe in. What the voters believe in. It’s about the future of Seattle. It’s about Seattle leading and the future of our country.”

Urban planner Cary Moon (13,583 votes; 16 percent) and attorney Nikkita Oliver (12,126 votes; 14 percent) were in a tight race for second place.

Only the top two finishers make it through to the November ballot.

“Tonight is about celebration,” Oliver said. “It’s about looking at the work that we’ve done and acknowledging the power of our movement. We often say when we organize we win. But what I say is when we organize we thrive.”

Moon said she was “tremendously grateful” for the initial returns and her strong performance.

 “I fully expect things to shift a lot in the next few days,” Moon said. “I’m ready for anything.”

Rounding out the top six candidates, former State Rep. Jessyn Farrell has 10,308 votes (12 percent), former State Sen. Bob Hasegawa has 7,526 votes (9 percent), and former mayor Mike McGinn has 6,247 votes (7 percent).

Twenty one candidates are vying for Seattle’s top job in what could be one of the most competitive races for mayor in recent history.

The race for mayor took a dramatic turn in May when Mayor Ed Murray announced he would not seek re-election, facing a civil suit alleging sexual abuse in the 1980s.

The mayor’s accuser has since dropped the suit, saying he wants to wait until Murray is out of office to pursue the case. Murray has denied all wrongdoing.

Prior to the allegations surfacing, Murray was considered a strong favorite to win a second term. After briefly weighing a write-in campaign in June, he decided to instead endorse Jenny Durkan.

Related: Will endorsements make a difference?

The six top candidates have spent the past several weeks on a tour of candidate forums, community events and on the campaign trail in all corners of the city.

Candidates have also raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions. Durkan leads the money race with more than $458,000, followed by Moon at nearly $152,000, Farrell at nearly $123,000 and Oliver with nearly $121,000.

Related: Behind the scenes look at frontrunners on the campaign trail

The top issues in the race include homelessness, housing affordability, transportation, and police accountability and reform.

© 2017 KING-TV