Our Picks for the November 3 General Election
Just before the August primary, we told you to vote for someone other than Seattle mayor Greg Nickels. We suggested a new guy named Mike McGinn. He wound up coming in first, and another new guy came in second. Mayor Nickels is out on his ass—the top two vote-getters advance to the general election—and now Seattle voters are speed-dating the dreamy Mike McGinn and the idiotic Joe Mallahan. (And we're sorry, Greg, we didn't know our own strength—honestly we'd rather have you to kick around right now than that T-Mobile idiot.)
So the lushes and potheads called it. Our enemies—and they are legion—claim it's just dumb luck and mutter about stopped clocks. Don't believe 'em. The Stranger Election Control Board is now the ultimate, divinely ordained, final, and eternally binding arbiter of electoral success in this town. Don't fuck with the lushes and potheads.
With great power comes great responsibility, and so at Stranger election headquarters we rolled a keg into the conference room, amassed a pile of voter pamphlets, and called a slew of meetings with the candidates who made it through the primary. Did Seattle city attorney Tom Carr get through our interview without having tuna thrown in his face? Did we stay awake for city council candidate David Bloom's pitch? Did Mallahan win us over? Read our endorsements, heed our city-shaking commandments, and vote, bitches, vote.
First: Fuck Tim Eyman.
His latest initiative, like all the others he's dangled in front of voters in years past, is appealingly simple. Initiative 1033 would essentially cap the amount of money that the state, county, and city governments could collect from taxpayers and base this cap on how much those governments collected the previous year (adjusted for inflation and population growth). Any surplus would go toward reducing property taxes.
Almost sounds reasonable, huh?
But this initiative would lock Washington into its current budget forever—the worst budget the state has had in decades, due to the recession—and prevent lawmakers from making necessary investments in people and infrastructure when the economy improves. Picture this lean year, when we had to lay off roughly 3,000 teachers and cut basic health services for 40,000 people, as the best it's ever going to get from here on out. Or picture Colorado. Years ago, that state passed a similar law that devastated its education and health-care funding, even eliminating vaccines for kids. Or California, which is an economic basket case thanks to initiatives like this one. We shouldn't make the same mistake those states did. Hundreds of groups—including virtually every Democratic organization in Washington—oppose I-1033. You should, too. Vote no.
And, one more time: Fuck Tim Eyman.
Earlier this year, the state legislature expanded the rights of a same-sex registered domestic partnership to include all the state-granted rights of marriage—except it's not called "marriage."
And if you thought Tim Eyman was fucked, the guys behind Referendum 71 are gaping assholes. They gathered signatures to put the state's domestic-partnership bill on the ballot—thereby allowing right-wing bigots to vote on the rights of committed same-sex partners. R-71 backers insist that they're protecting families and children. But that's a canard. This petition was the product of Gary Randall, a carpetbagging Oregonian who makes money running hate-mongering campaigns and, according to the Clackamas County recorder's office, owes $36,012 in unpaid federal back taxes. Also behind the measure is Larry Stickney, a thrice-married Christian extremist who allegedly beat his wife and refused to pay for his daughter's college education until a judge made him, according to records in Kitsap County Superior Court. The two lied every step of the way to get this on the ballot, claiming in television ads and on the petition that the measure was the same as gay marriage and that "public schools K–12 will be forced to teach that same-sex marriage and homosexuality are normal." None of that's true. Neither is their claim that this is about family: Stickney and Randall are deceptive bigotry-mongers.
But now it's on the ballot. A vote to approve R-71 is a vote to uphold the domestic-partnership bill. If passed, it gives the state's 6,000 registered couples the right to take leave from work to care for a critically ill partner, the right for public-sector employees to share pension benefits with their partners, and dozens of other rights that straight couples enjoy—and all committed partners deserve.
Vote to approve Referendum 71.
Seriously, we couldn't fit enough words into this tiny space to fully explain how much we lurv Mike McGinn. But never fear! There are about 1,000 words over here that you should check out. It's the second installment in our award-winning, million-part series, The Case for Mike McGinn. Read our case for McGinn. Admire the portraits of him we're commissioning by local artists. Buy the commemorative plate. Vote for McGinn.
Yes on All of 'Em
What fuckwit wrote the King County Charter anyway? The thing was so poorly drafted that voters have to approve an assload of amendments every goddamn November. Was it written in Tlingit and mistranslated by a room full of retards—oh, sorry. That's rude. Let's try this instead: Was the thing written in Tlingit and translated by a room full of "research fellows" at the Discovery Institute?
Okay, King County, we read all four of your stupid amendments, and the only one we care about is No. 4. It would protect 156,000 acres of natural open space that the county owns—including Cougar Mountain, southeast of Bellevue—and set a high threshold for changing the status of these "high conservation value" properties. If the county wants to sell any of these properties in the future, or change how they're used, it will require seven votes on the county council and public hearings. Good idea, since there will no doubt be pressure to develop some of these lands as the county population grows. Approve!
As for the others... Amendment No. 1 deletes references in the charter to sections that no longer exist. Approve—why do we have to vote on crap like this? Amendment No. 2 removes requirements for outdated budget procedures. Approve—but who writes budget procedures into county charters anyway? And Amendment No. 3 requires the county council to confirm appointees to the commission that writes charter amendments—you know, all those 'tards from the Discovery Institute. Approve!
Dow Constantine's opponent, Susan Hutchison, is a political lightweight, a partisan extremist, a shitty fit for the most liberal county in the state, and a blow-dried, brain-dead, lying, hypocritical, and cowardly piece of shit. Oh, and she's a closet Republican, too. You have to be a self-defeating idiot—or a right-wing douchebag, which is basically the same thing—to want her as county executive.
Hutchison is a fan of George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, Dino Rossi, and Dave Reichert. She also hates county government more than anyone—or, at least, that's her "populist" platform—and in pursuit of the votes of rural guv'mint bashers, she's been wandering around the region sounding like a Northwest version of Grover "Cut government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub" Norquist.
Dow Constantine is on the King County Council, has worked in the state legislature, and has been calling Hutchison out on her deceptive bullshit ever since she jumped into this "nonpartisan" race (which is only a nonpartisan race because Hutchison helped pay for a campaign to make it so, allowing her to run as a stealth Republican). Sure, King County has problems—budgeting problems, parks problems, and yes, we know, terrible, awful, no-good dog-catching problems—but Constantine has been in the trenches working to fix those problems and will be in a better position to do so as county executive. He's the one you want in charge of the county's forests and wetlands, its controversial needle-exchange program, and its reproductive-health services.
Vote for Dow. And when you do, consider the broader service you'll be doing for the country. Susan Hutchison, whose wide name recognition comes from her years as a local TV-news anchor, is basically Sarah Palin (minus the political experience). Only you can help prevent another Sarah Palin.
Bob Rosenberger has worked as an appraiser for the King County Assessor's office since the Tlingit first sat down to draft the King County Charter. He recently tried to retire, but then his boss drunkenly plowed into another car while driving the wrong way up I-5 (the fool resigned and got eight months in the pokey). A chief deputy at the assessor's office was going to run to replace the fool, but was hospitalized with a stroke and dropped out. Thankfully, Bob stepped out of retirement and into the race, because all the other candidates seem either inexperienced or crazy. (You'd think anyone running for KCA would be a walking abacus, all calm and rational. Not so.) Plus, Rosenberger vowed to fight Tim Eyman with everything he's got. Vote Rosenberger.
We didn't have to think too hard about endorsing Rob Holland. Holland is progressive, intelligent, and charming, and his opponent, David Doud, is a Republican and so stupid he could be a Discovery Institute research fellow. Doud cochaired King County for McCain—how'd that work out for you, Doud?—and says he's running because the job is "synergistic with my career." Gee, it's your world, Doud. The rest of us just vote in it.
And we're voting for Holland.
Um... A Greasy, Half-Empty Tub of Crisco?
Jesus Christ, this race gives us heartburn.
People hit the ceiling when we endorsed civic gadfly Tom Albro in the primary, which we did because his opponent, union-man Max Vekich, bombed in our interview. Vekich was vague, unprepared, and didn't seem to understand exactly why he was running or what he was running for. Albro spoke eloquently about the need for transparency (because the port is a scandal factory), protecting habitat, reducing fossil-fuel consumption (with specifics about taxis, tugboats, and airplanes), creating jobs, and saving public funds by overhauling the way the port manages its massive real-estate holdings (nobody even knows how much they're really worth because, unbelievably, the port hasn't appraised them all).
In the last few weeks, the King County Citizens for Port Reform campaign—which backs Holland and Vekich—kicked into overdrive, trying to put a stink around Albro. And it's working. The Port Reform people are beating their gongs about Albro taking significant contributions from folks and lobbyists who backed Pat "Scandalpants" Davis and Mic "Scandalthong" Dinsmore. Albro also gave a little money to Dino Rossi, and that sort of shit matters to us. And Albro and David "King County for McCain" Doud share a campaign manager. (Did we mention we really dislike Doud?)
We're sticking with our original endorsement... sorta... but we wouldn't blame you if you voted for Vekich. Or a greasy, half-empty tub of Crisco. We'll be fucked either way.
We have it in for Seattle city attorney Tom Carr. This clown has spent two terms in office harassing employees at bars and clubs (by Carr's own admission, his beloved Operation Sobering Thought, which swept up more than 20 nightlife workers on picayune charges, ended up undermining a far more important legislative effort to make Seattle nightlife safer), aggressively prosecuting pot smokers long after Seattle voters in 2003 made busting them the city's "lowest law-enforcement priority," and throwing the book, Mark-Sidran-style, at everyone from a guy who makes racy balloon figures at Seattle Center to a troubled man who shoplifted a $1.72 can of tuna. (When we brought the tuna case up in our meeting with Carr, he accused the SECB of "bad lawyering." What the fuck, dude?)
Pete Holmes, Carr's first serious opponent in eight years, is the former chair of a city board designed to hold police officers accountable. He's also an experienced civil litigator and an advocate of the idea that the city attorney should represent the people of Seattle rather than representing some self-serving interpretation of the city's best interests (which is how Carr operates). Moreover, in a clear break with Carr's policies, Holmes has promised not to prosecute one more person charged inside the Seattle city limits with simple marijuana possession. To quote: "Under my tenure, I will not charge another minor marijuana-possession offense—either in conjunction with other charges or standing alone. Period."
Vote for Holmes.
Richard Conlin is the current city council president and—wonder of wonders—pretty sane about what's really the most urgent council business. (Though he is remarkably proud of writing the legislation to legalize pygmy goats.) The guy should have run for mayor. He probably could have slipped through the primary, given how disgusted voters were with Nickels, and if he'd done that he'd be the man in the race with the most political experience. If Dan Savage had followed through on his run-for-mayor-then-resign-and-make-the-council-president-mayor plan, Conlin might still have a shot. But that was then.
On to his good decisions! Conlin spearheaded last year's parks levy, supported a light-rail extension to Ballard, and stood up to the bullying tactics of Greg Nickels. Conlin's opponent, David Ginsberg, is a former "solutions architect" at Washington Mutual—there's a record you can run on, huh?—with zero political experience and a campaign platform that, as far as we can tell, consists mainly of vague opposition to the construction of the downtown tunnel. (We prefer Mike McGinn's specific opposition to the downtown tunnel.) Ginsberg couldn't keep track of time well enough to show up as scheduled to the Stranger Election Control Board's endorsement interview. And did we mention that he was a "solutions architect" for Washington Mutual?
And did you know that Conlin decriminalized the possession of itty-bitty goats for personal use in Seattle? He did! Vote Conlin!
We wanted to love David Bloom, a man-of-the-cloth progressive with a long history of advocating for the poor and the homeless. But while Bloom's bleeding heart is in the right place, his head is up his ass. Bloom opposes streetcars ("they replace buses"), rejects light rail to Ballard and West Seattle ("no extension of light rail"), and dislikes any major investment in infrastructure ("if it comes down to a capital project or people, I will invest in people"). He would, however, invest in rebuilding the motherfucking viaduct! (Psst, David? People ride in streetcars, people take light rail, people rely on infrastructure for clean water, electricity, transportation, etc.)
Bloom's vision of Seattle is a city packed with buses spewing diesel plumes over throngs of fat-and-happy homeless people. In interviews, Bloom repeatedly said new construction should require a "one-for-one" replacement every time less expensive housing is demolished. Asked when—if ever—this idea has worked, Bloom cited one housing development in Washington, D.C., and a neighborhood in Vancouver, BC. But those aren't citywide rules, which he wants for Seattle, and it appears that widespread development would remain economically feasible with the rule in place. He's fine with increasing density, he says, but in order to build, you have to do something economically unfeasible. Uh-huh.
So we're endorsing Sally Bagshaw, a former attorney in the civil division of the King County prosecutor's office. She isn't the best, either, frankly. When we asked what she has done to help the downtrodden, Bagshaw told us about the time she helped victims of a Metro bus accident. The moral of her tale: "Because they were so well taken care of, they didn't sue us." Touching. But Bagshaw has a résumé of effective work for the county, lives downtown, and gets urban Seattle life. She's also created legal clinics for indigent women and helped create accommodations for homeless women at the YMCA—so she's done more for the downtrodden than she can recall. In addition to being smart, practical, and progressive-ish, she supports investing in rail transit and other municipal infrastructure projects. She likes itty-bitty goats. Vote Bagshaw.
Nick Licata joined the city council at a key turning point... in the American Civil War. Yeah, yeah: He's been in there a while. But he's still alert and effective. In his most recent term, Licata has delivered on key issues of social and criminal justice.
In 2006, he sponsored and passed legislation to increase transparency of police records—even though the police guild challenged the legislation. Licata also created a group to study whether the city could avoid building a new $200 million jail. The group supported diverting low-level, nonviolent offenders into less expensive, more effective treatment programs. Licata also fought to provide better public defense for indigent people in the municipal court system while raising standards for judges.
When considered along with his entire career on the council—he secured funding for pre-arrest diversion programs, led the first council discussions on reforming drug policy, and called City Attorney Tom Carr on his bullshit—Licata has proved to be the strongest council member on issues of civil rights and smarter criminal justice, and a stalwart ally for nightlife. In the last few years, he's passed bills to provide more workforce housing, increase standards for pedestrian safety, and get more police on the street.
He is wrong about the viaduct, though, and he knows it. Because we told him.
We're less impressed with Jessie Israel, a King County Parks employee, who has strong ties to conservative police and fire unions and has constitutionally dubious proposals for dealing with panhandling. Israel wouldn't bring the innovation to handling criminal-justice issues to the council that Licata has pushed for years—and we don't want the council to forget those issues. If Israel wins, she'll morph into Sue Donaldson faster than the American Chemistry Council can buy an election. "Sue who?" you ask. Exactly, we say.
Mike O'Brien, who answers phone calls while riding his bike, has a granite ass. If he doesn't die in traffic before November 3, we want to see his granite ass sitting on the city council. He's an environmentalist (former chair of the local chapter of the Sierra Club) and a business wizard (got his MBA from the University of Washington). O'Brien's mix of idealism and realism in city planning is refreshing, and we think his approaches to building a dense city and funding transit represent the vision Seattle needs. But just as much as we love O'Brien's big brain and granite ass, we fear his opponent.
Robert Rosencrantz, a high-end real-estate broker and apartment landlord, is disconcertingly conservative. Rosencrantz has favored new roads and paving projects at the expense of building new transit, he backs heavy-handed law-enforcement measures, and he prizes NIMBY complaints over a vibrant nightlife. And on the issue of abortion, Rosencrantz believes parents should be notified when a minor seeks an abortion and he has refused to answer questions about abortion rights, instead quoting Obama's statement that we need to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion." Yikes.
And, yes, yes, we know: The city council doesn't handle abortion issues. But city council seats—like heading up county government—can launch someone into a political career that eventually puts that person in a position where they are making decisions about women's reproductive freedoms.
O'Brien is more progressive on almost every issue—on density, pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and removing parking requirements—than his opponent. He believes Seattle will become more hospitable to residents and businesses by expanding transit systems and making livable neighborhoods. We agree. Vote O'Brien.
We didn't endorse David Bloom, but we support people! Up with people! Especially poor people who don't have homes! We want to get them into homes built out of infrastructure using our tax dollars! Because, hey, we're not heartless!
It might seem like a terrible time—with this recession and all—to approve a $145 million property-tax levy to fund low-income housing. But we think now is the best time for it. A vote to approve is really a vote to renew the housing levy passed in 2002. And today, many of the construction projects funded by that levy are moving forward—creating construction jobs, getting people off the street. This levy would maintain the same level of affordable-housing production and assistance as the levy voters passed in 2002, while increasing the median property taxes from $39 a year to $65 a year for inflation and increased building costs. Most of the money would build about 1,670 housing units for the lowest-wage earners in Seattle, with other portions going to provide emergency rental assistance and help for first-time home buyers. We'd be getting people off the street, which saves money on emergency services, while keeping workers near their jobs and creating new construction jobs. Vote yes.
Beverly Harison Tonda
Oh, Bev Tonda, flaxen Cleopatra of Maple Valley, coy queen of the Cedar River: How ardently, how loins-burstingly, we endorse thee. Woe betide the foes of Tonda—wastrels and heathens and pederasts all—when, wild of eye and foamy of mouth, army of loyal she-beavers at her back, Tonda bursts forth from her watery den to crush and sweep aside the enemy like a cleansing rain. In the name of all that is sacred twixt heav'n and earth, vote for motherfucking Bev Tonda. VOTE THE FUCKING SHIT OUT OF HER.
We identified two clear front-runners in this race during the primary, and they both made it through to the general: Mary Bass, the "dissident" incumbent board member and a longtime advocate for Central District residents, and Kay Smith-Blum, co-owner of a "European specialty store" called Butch Blum and a longtime fundraiser for public schools.
Both of them are batshit crazy.
Which is exactly as it should be: You have to be nuts to want to sit on the school board, grind your teeth through its decision-making processes, and believe that someday, if you can just pass one more resolution, you'll beat a bunch of intractable problems that are mostly beyond your control anyway.
The question, then, is who is the best kind of crazy for this job, and while in the past we've been impressed with how successfully bonkers Bass can be, her bonkers hasn't produced enough tangible results. Plus, we were blown away this year by Smith-Blum's new style of nutso. As we wrote in our primary endorsement: "Smith-Blum is holy-shit-she's-probably-right-and-she's-going-to-chew-my-face-off-if-I-disagree-with-her crazy. And that fresh brand of crazy—plus Smith-Blum's track record of strong public-school advocacy—is just what this position needs."
Yes, we know, it's since been revealed that Smith-Blum claimed a double major in marketing and statistics from the University of Texas when all she really had was a major in marketing and some statistics courses under her belt. Um. Who gives a shit? And we rest our case.
Also, the way Smith-Blum reacted to the news—by using it as an opportunity to remind voters that she took a lot of statistics classes and has always been committed to "data-driven" leadership—was pretty slick. Like we said, don't fuck with Smith-Blum. Also: Vote for her. (Full disclosure: Smith-Blum's business advertises in The Stranger. The SECB does not take advertising into consideration when making endorsements. If we did, we'd be running a write-in campaign for the Rad Dyke plumber for county executive and backing a slate of nearly naked American Apparel models for city council.)
Just like Smith-Blum, Betty Patu, a three-decade veteran teacher in Seattle public schools, stepped into a little bit of a résumé scandal around the time of the primary election. Patu had claimed a master's degree in education from Antioch University in Seattle when, in fact, she didn't yet have one. Well, in late September, Patu finished her master's degree at Antioch and put the scandal behind her (all while showing the children—think of the children!—what you can achieve if your white lies involve a truth that just hasn't quite happened yet). Anyway, we still have love for Patu. She's a retired teacher from Rainier Beach High School, has that rock-ribbed confidence that comes with toiling in the trenches for 30 years, and aims to represent Asian/Pacific Islanders and other minority groups, all while—yes, this really happened—wrestling guns away from students with her vocal chords.
Patu's opponent, Wilson Chin, seems like a nice enough guy and has been involved in public-school matters for some time. But not as long as Betty Patu has. And when has he ever stopped a bullet with his voice? Never. Vote for Betty Patu. Obviously.