For our endorsements in the November 2014 general election, click here.
Jesus, it's hot in Seattle right now. The Stranger office's air conditioning shat itself and died sometime in February, and we've just spent the last three sweltering weeks listening to a bunch of Olympia politicians explain why we need to send them back for another spin in the state legislature—deep breaths, it's too hot for this bullshit—right after they've just spent their last terms spinelessly handing Boeing nearly $9 billion in tax breaks while also failing to find the relatively piddling $2 billion that the state supreme court ordered them to cough up so we could properly fund basic education for the next couple school years. The motherfucking STATE SUPREME COURT. And what did Olympia do? They pretty much just sat around with their hands down their pants, taking a couple minutes here and there to sniff at their fingers with deeply satisfied looks on their faces.
Even we, the dropouts and nonfunctional illiterates of the Stranger Election Control Board, know that a basic, state-funded education is still a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT in this state, something the supreme court also understands and the crotch-sniffing dipshits in the legislature continually fail to comprehend. Which is why the supremes may be about to find our state legislators in contempt of court. (Which we hear can be punishable with actual jail time! Yes, please! Now, please!)
Honestly, "contempt" is really too light a word for what the SECB feels toward our legislators' performance lately. No $2 billion for basic education. No statewide transportation package. No funding for our beleaguered Metro bus service. No urgency about getting us more light rail. Virtually no action on ending Washington's status as the state with the most regressive tax system in the nation. No serious steps toward combating climate change. But, like we said, it's hot out, and we don't want to actually have strokes. We just want to feel like we're about to have them, because a near-death experience is the closest thing to a break from this urine-smelling summer hellscape that we can muster.
So, we fume. We fan ourselves with handouts from the well-meaning failures of Olympia, and moist pamphlets from the aspiring future failures of Olympia, and sweat-soaked missives from no-chance candidates who actually write out and print up multiple copies of amazing sentences like this: "Many celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Chris Rock, and Seattle's beloved Macklemore are even beginning to take notice of this need for freedom." (Thanks, Paul Addis, state house candidate in Seattle's 36th District! We will take notice of this noticing! And spoiler alert: We didn't endorse you.) As we fan ourselves, we watch our iced coffee turn into congealed milk-flavored water and daydream about the supreme court actually throwing all these scofflaws behind bars.
Enjoy your trips back to Olympia, endorsees! We hope you go from there straight to prison. Same for you, congresspeople! (Except the prison part. Unless you earn it, too.) And hey, everyone in Seattle, criminal and non-criminal alike: Please don't fall asleep before you get to that thing at the end of your ballots that deals with future funding for local parks. Because parks! They're what's for sleeping in. Not ballots. Good luck, mail in your ballot on or before August 5, stay cool, and please remember that these days—as a direct consequence of prior SECB endorsements—it is perfectly legal to buy a state-produced joint before you sit down to follow our excellent voting advice. (Legal notice: This voting advice is 92 percent indica; was harvested on July 4, 2014; was tested on July 14, 2014; and contains 26 percent THC.) You're welcome.
The Stranger Election Control Board is: Christopher Frizzelle, Ansel Herz, Dominic Holden, Tim Keck, Brendan Kiley, Anna Minard, Eli Sanders, and your black-market pot dealer. The SECB does not endorse in uncontested races, or in races taking place in districts that our underfunded Metro bus system can't get us to. Thanks, Republicans.
Congressional District No. 1
Suzan DelBene's impossibly fussy political consultant wouldn't allow her to come chat with the SECB, apparently terrified that she'd wind up in the same room as her patently ridiculous conservative challengers, most of whom are running to repeal Obamacare. Her most serious competitor, Republican Pedro Celis, recently compared gay marriage to polygamy. In Washington State. In 2014. So, not showing up was a dumb move because freshman DelBene is really great, and tougher than her asshat consultant seems to think. Even in a swing district, she cosponsored important gun background-check legislation (that takes guts) and has supported comprehensive, humane immigration reform. Even better, the former tech exec is passionate about net neutrality and reining in NSA data collection. Her next priorities include student-loan reform, raising the minimum wage, helping states collect sales tax on online sales (support local indie businesses!), and protecting and promoting women's rights in health care and the workplace. She makes us the good kind of hot. (But we're still bitter she didn't come talk to us.) Vote DelBene.
Congressional District No. 7
As we have for the last four centuries, the SECB now solemnly compels you: Do not tamper with the natural order of the universe. Do not tempt forces you do not understand. Send Seattle Congressman for All Eternity Jim McDermott back to DC or prepare for chaos, darkness, pestilence, and possibly the election of eternal also-ran GoodSpaceGuy, who this year paused his ramblings about space colonization and informed the SECB that, actually, he's more conservative than we ever knew. "The big thing on earth that I want to do is speak in favor of the competitive free market," GoodSpaceGuy told us, crushing any benevolent feelings we may have at one time felt for the perennial loser. "And because of this I have to recommend the abolishment of the minimum wage. It's really a tragedy when people are told it's illegal for them to work." Vote McDermott.
Congressional District No. 8
The Eighth District is considered purple, and our color wheel tells us that means it's halfway between red and blue. In 2012, the district went for Obama, so this could be the year that Issaquah small-business owner Jason Ritchie, whose company builds ramps for the disabled, wins against the powerful, smirk-happy incumbent, Republican David Reichert. Reichert, who was hit in the head with a large tree branch in 2010, voted repeatedly to repeal Obamacare and even joined the GOP in its deranged government shutdown. Ritchie is a badass do-gooder, willing even to call Edward Snowden a "hero" and criticize the Obama administration for its warrantless surveillance overreaches. Vote Ritchie!
Congressional District No. 9
Pastor Don Rivers is running for Congress (again), and he's determined to swing like crazy—like, really crazy—at incumbent congressman Adam Smith. For example, when Smith accused Rivers of pushing a "bald-faced lie" during the candidates' meeting with the SECB, Rivers's comeback was: "You're bald."
As the SECB tried to remember why we were doing this again, Smith conceded: "That's one thing we can agree on. I'm bald." Okay! Um. Anyway, guys, from what we can figure out, Rivers thinks Smith isn't doing his job, shouldn't represent the recently re-drawn Ninth District, and is "incompetent of culture" (which sounds like a racist dog whistle aimed at a white politician in a district that has a majority population of racial minorities). Yeesh. Rivers may be the only real challenger in this race, but he annoyed us with his vacuous rhetoric. Smith—who we agree is as bald as a fresh stick of roll-on deodorant—has a solid record and plenty of specifics to back him up. He says raising taxes on the rich and cutting back military spending is "a good place to start" in Washington, DC, and around Seattle; he's supported legal pot; he protested the scandal-hit immigrant detention facility in Tacoma; and he was an early backer of SeaTac's $15-minimum-wage law when many ran from the issue. Smith may not be a firebrand, and yeah, he may not have much hair (on his head, at least), but he's an effective liberal in Congress. Vote Smith.
Representative Position No. 2: Steve Bergquist
Steve Bergquist drives a giant red Hummer and owns a tennis shop, so that's pretty gross. How, then, do we explain our confused-but-prominent boners for him? Well, he's a public high-school teacher who steps up to sponsor every important voter-access bill and votes reliably progressive on issues we care about, like the Reproductive Parity Act. His opponent, Republican precinct committee officer Sara Sanoy-Wright, is anti-choice, anti-tax, pro–"family values," and pro-shitty-American-flag-decal-website-design. Barf. Vote Bergquist.
State Senator: Shari Song
Newbie Shari Song has impressed a lot of people the last couple years, including us. (And we're not easy to impress unless you show up with a strawberry chiffon cake. Oh, wait. She did that.) A fiercely pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, anti-regressive-taxes candidate who cites passing a state transportation package and fully funding education as main priorities, Song is also central to Democrats' plans for taking back the state senate—which would mean, y'know, actually moving a progressive agenda forward instead of fighting with obstructionist assholes and achieving nothing. Her opponent, Mark Miloscia (a lobbyist for the state's Catholic bishops, and no, that's not a euphemism—we think) defected from the Democratic Party to run this race as a Republican—mainly, it appears, so he could have more freedom to be antigay and anti-woman. Bleeech. VOTE SONG RIGHT NOW DO IT OHMYGOD DOOOOO IIIIIIIT.
Representative Position No. 1: Greg Baruso
Ruh-roh. Linda Kochmar, the incumbent Republican from Federal Way, voted against a House bill earlier this year requiring health-care providers to cover abortion. Immediate disqualification! Her opponent, Greg Baruso, is a 28-year veteran firefighter running on the Democratic ticket. Vote Baruso.
Representative Position No. 2: Roger Freeman
Incumbent Democrat Roger Freeman is a former attorney who supports paid sick leave—something he's terrifyingly familiar with, having recently survived a bout with colon cancer. His challenger is former Federal Way mayor Jack Dovey, a moderate Republican running on a platform that attacks the notion of raising taxes, which, um, we're gonna need to fund public transit and public schools and other key elements of the SECB's plans for an extravagant lifestyle on the public dole. So go with the moderate liberal dude. Vote Freeman.
State Senator: Karen Keiser
Democratic state senator Karen Keiser of Kent is up against über-weak competition in this year's election. First, there's Democrat Marylin Taylor, who boasts of her "professional writing skills when in 8th grade." She continues, "I desperately ask for your vote! To, make a new change in government policies and procedures." On the opposite side is Republican Martin Metz, who publishes steamy mash notes to Ayn Rand on his website: "A free market society with as little government interference as possible is best." Sure, buddy. Keiser's led the opposition to the corporate education-reform agenda and helped smooth the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Washington. Ignore the goofballs and vote Keiser.
Representative Position No. 1: Tina Orwall
Incumbent Democrat Tina Orwall sponsored legislation that would get to the core of fixing one of the worst aspects of the criminal industrial complex by providing compensation to people wrongly convicted of crimes and subsequently exonerated by DNA evidence. And she wants to freeze college tuition, which our more educated friends inform us has been ballooning lately. Her opponent, Republican Michael Siefkes, has a non-functioning website called fixolympia.com whose "account has crashed." Vote Orwall.
Representative Position No. 2: Mia Su-Ling Gregerson
The Republican in this race, former judge Jeanette Burrage, is best known for threatening to penalize female attorneys who wore pantsuits instead of skirts in her courtroom. The Democratic candidate is up-and-coming SeaTac mayor Mia Gregerson. She supports the $15 minimum wage and the DREAM Act (so immigrant youth can afford to go to college), and she beefed up protections for homeowners facing foreclosure. She is not on record, um, opposing women's skirts. So go with Gregerson.
Representative Position No. 2: Joe Fitzgibbon
Joe Fitzgibbon! Oh my gosh! We fell so hard for you four years ago. You were a "dreamy," "dashing," "swoon"-worthy (subtlety was never our strong suit) 23-year-old lefty Democrat, fresh on the scene, ready to melt the coldest hearts and shake shit up in Olympia.
Instead, Olympia killed your bitchin' vibe. You came back to the SECB this year defensive and deflated. You voted for Boeing's $9 billion tax break (and you admitted it felt "shitty," but you did it anyway). You also, um, FIBBED LIKE A LYING LIAR-PANTS-ON-FIRE PANTS. "So you lied?" we asked you, about reports that you told Mike McGinn you wouldn't endorse in last year's race for Seattle mayor, and then went and endorsed rival Ed Murray anyway behind his back. "Yeah, I guess," you shrugged. We know Olympia is a suckhole, but that was weird, and it makes us question whether your still-handsome face is a pretty mask to obscure some shitty double-dealing behavior. (Which, hey, we also might find attractive. Depending.)
Very fortunately for you, Fitzy-gibby, your opponent lacks a brain. Republican Brendan Kolding is running on an "idea": Revive Washington's underfunded public schools by, get this, diverting tax dollars to private schools. And he's "not qualified," he says, to offer an opinion about transit issues. That makes things so easy! He's not qualified for office, then. Hold your nose, keep your knees together, put on your itchiest turtleneck, and vote for the Gibberfitz man.
State Senator: Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Democrat Jeanne Kohl-Welles, first elected in the mid-Ordovician era, is a badass and you know it. Even the Washington Post knows it, ranking her as the most effective progressive member of our state senate. Her opponent, Republican Sarina Forbes, has called for amnesty for people convicted of pot offenses before pot was legalized statewide (okay), but she also opposes income taxes and was a Ron Paul delegate in Tampa. "Did you have a reporter there?" she asks. "Did you see me manning the Republican booth at Hempfest last year?" No, but maybe us *not* endorsing you will allow you time to keep on with those important activities! Vote Kohl-Welles.
Representative Position No. 1: Reuven Carlyle
The challenger in this race, Leslie Klein, refused to meet with the SECB because, he explained in an e-mail written in Comic Sans, he was "attending a Tupperware Going Out of Business Sale." Klein added: "The people who will vote for me attend these types of events, whereas NO one who reads The Stranger will ever vote for me." That's a direct quote, y'all.
Also, his party preference is "Republicanspirit." On the other hand, Representative Reuven Carlyle promises he will only attend financially solvent Tupperware parties and did show up at our meeting. A Democrat, Carlyle was behind closing $125 million in tax loopholes this year, and he's been a serviceable advocate for closing other tax breaks. (He's also been a strong advocate for adding a lot more transparency to the state tax-break game. Right on.) Vote for Carlyle and be assured of a robust Tupperware industry.
Representative Position No. 2: Gael Tarleton
Gael Tarleton burst blood vessels in our eyes by telling us she voted for Boeing's $9 billion in tax breaks and then, in the same meeting, telling us she viewed the whole thing as "a disgrace." But then Tarleton calmed us down by announcing she wants a total restructuring of the state's backwards tax system: a new personal income tax for higher earners, no B&O taxes, lower property taxes, and a special education investment tax. "I will fight for it," she promised, and at that moment you could've grown water hyacinths in our panties. Her opponent, libertarian Paul Addis, is the guy who gave us that handout about Macklemore and Chris Rock. Vote Tarleton.
State Senator: Pramila Jayapal
This race is more crowded than the Tampax aisle during a supermoon (we don't know what that means either), but only one candidate deserves a seat in the state senate: Pramila Jayapal. A former organizer for immigrant-rights group OneAmerica, Jayapal launched a campaign to register 25,000 immigrant voters, which pressured the legislature to finally pass a bill that provides financial aid for students brought to the state illegally as kids. Jayapal backs other smart, progressive policies—including an income tax on the rich, a higher minimum wage for the poor, and a refusal to let Boeing's extortion-like tactics allow them undeserved tax breaks. So vote for Jayapal, but know this: She has worried some on the SECB by at times seeming too cozy with political insiders, kissing the asses of timid, moderate politicians when she should've been kicking them. If elected, Jayapal should make sure she stays focused on representing the marginalized communities in her diverse district, continuing to apply grassroots pressure on Olympia and not getting more comfortable with the political circle-jerk. Several others in this race are good, particularly Sheley Secrest, but Jayapal most deserves your vote.
Representative Position No. 1: Sharon Tomiko Santos
Sharon Tomiko Santos is the only legislator we met who refused to come back to Olympia to vote for the special-session Boeing deal, but other than that—and yeah, that's quite something given her colleagues—it's hard to get excited about the mostly bland record of this 15-year veteran legislator. But the two dudes running against Tomiko Santos are jokes: Daniel Bretzke opposes background checks for gun purchases (WTF?!), and John Dickinson wants to wear Google Glass to Olympia. Because: "When you think of 'transparency,' what word do you think of? Glass!" Seriously. Tomiko Santos, meanwhile, supports a graduated income tax for people and businesses, something our state needs so desperately that a single mention of it can bring the entire SECB to orgasm. VOTE TOMIKO SANTOS.
Representative Position No. 2: Eric Pettigrew
OH GOD. JESUS. ALLAH. BRAHMA. Kill us now. Rain genital warts from the heavens. Rapture our pets. We deserve your wrath—we are endorsing Representative Eric Pettigrew again. Pettigrew has been in office 12 years but currently chairs zero committees, and told the SECB, "I don't know if I have passed any bills this term." He didn't support a bill to raise the minimum wage to $12 for struggling workers, but did vote for the biggest corporate tax break in US history—have we mentioned it before? It was a $9 billion giveaway to Boeing. Pettigrew also voted to strip most legal defenses from medical marijuana patients. What's Pettigrew's defense? "I have no defense," he said. Pettigrew says his biggest accomplishment since his last reelection was securing a token half-million dollars for youth-intervention programs, yet he touts his "seniority in the house" to say he's getting things done. Yet, for all his theoretical influence, Pettigrew couldn't move an assault weapons bill out of the very Democratic caucus that he chairs. What a dud. Still, at least he's not Tamra Smilanich, a realtor with no political party or identifiable policy platform. So Pettigrew is our dud. Vote Pettigrew.
Representative Position No. 1: Tana Senn
Bill Stinson is a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Washington. Yup. This Republican political science major can't even legally drink, and he wants to go to Olympia. Immediate disqualification. Democratic incumbent Tana Senn can legally drink and wants to keep pushing on gun control and tougher protections for victims of domestic violence. Send back Senn.
Representative Position No. 2: Judy Clibborn
House transportation chair Judy Clibborn took one look at the talk of Seattle being on the hook for downtown tunnel cost overruns and said, "It's not going to happen." Why? For one thing, she wrote the damn cost overrun provision herself, and she wrote it to be unenforceable, a "poison pill" necessary to get the tunnel idea passed. We never liked the tunnel or its cost overruns, but we do like Clibborn's wiliness. Her opponent, Alex O'Neil, is as elusive as Batman but not nearly as hot. Vote Clibborn.
Representative Position No. 2: Frank Chopp
The SECB loves a badass socialist. (See Sawant, Kshama.) But socialist Jess Spear didn't convince us she's ready to bring the people's revolution to Olympia, and we think longtime House Speaker Frank Chopp and his maddening incrementalism will actually do more for the issues we care about, more quickly, than a Spear election would.
That's because Spear, who sees Sawant's success on the nine-member Seattle City Council as her model for success in Olympia, seems to believe that electing just one socialist from one Seattle district to the 98-member state House will suddenly cause the rest of the House members to march behind her on rent control, a higher minimum wage, and forcing CEOs to give out free foot rubs. Yeah, we made up that last one, but really, Spear says things like, "I think electing me alone will cause many people in the legislature to understand." Wrong. If the motherfucking state supreme court can't even make people in the legislature understand, under the threat of a contempt of court finding, then how is one election in one ultraliberal district going to transform the minds of people representing Omak and Moses Lake, never mind a majority of House Democrats? Sawant moved the city council by capturing the imagination of a majority of Seattleites, which is the kind of thing that makes every other council member sit up and pay attention. Spear isn't going to capture the imagination of a majority of the nearly seven million Washingtonians with her focus on rent control. She didn't even convince a majority of the SECB that rent control is a great idea. (How's it working out in New York and San Francisco?)
Frank Chopp came into our offices and pointed out the window at affordable housing units that are under construction, right now, because of his efforts. "I'm the strongest leader on affordable housing," he says. We believe him. He did vote for the $9 billion Boeing giveaway, which is socialism of the wrong kind (corporate socialism), but he also backed a $15 minimum wage. In SeaTac. Before Seattle's wage was even on the table. And he's done more to secure free healthcare for low-income Washingtonians over the last ten years than Spear could by deposing him as house speaker. (That kind of change in house leadership, by the way, would likely usher in the reign of "moderate" Democrat Pat Sullivan of Covington—go ahead, find it on a map—who's the current house majority leader and is opposed to sensible gun control legislation like universal background checks that close the gun show loophole.) Chopp also knows what the MVET is and how it connects to saving Metro; Spear was confused on this issue during our interview, and had to e-mail later to clarify her position.
True, the SECB threatened in 2010 to pee on Chopp's lawn if he didn't get more aggressive in pushing his liberal values at the state level, and he definitely should check his front yard for dead spots. He doesn't have a Twitter or Facebook presence for his campaign—doesn't even have a real campaign website—and because of this and other shortcomings, largely fails to communicate all his "inside game" accomplishments or use his bully pulpit in a way that makes a modern citizen notice. Still, he's grinding along in the right direction, which is no small feat in today's Olympia, and the list of solid progressive bills he's ushered through the House—only to have them killed by the motherfucking Republican senate—is long. Vote Chopp.
State Senator: Matt Isenhower
This guy is a navy vet, an Amazon manager, and true-blue Dem who could help shift the balance of power in the GOP-controlled senate back to the left, particularly because the 45th District increasingly leans Democratic. The other guy is Senator Andy Hill, the chief budget writer for the GOP. In other words, the guy who writes a budget that consistently guts education and balks at even tiny, necessary taxes on moral grounds. Vote Isenhower.
Representative Position No. 1: Roger Goodman
Roger Goodman is a four-term Democrat with a legal background in drug-policy reform at the King County Bar Association. He's been good on legalization, of course, but also good on things like sponsoring a bill to limit drones (which passed the House this year) and sponsoring one of the only gun-control bills to pass the entire legislature (allowing cops to seize weapons from alleged domestic abusers). His perennial challenger, Joel Hussey, is running as a Christian businessman. We love that "Footprints" poem as much as the next endorsement board, but you should vote Goodman.
Representative Position No. 2: Larry Springer
Former Kirkland City Council member Larry Springer has represented areas of Sammamish and Redmond for almost a decade now, and he's done not too shabbily by the voters, including those on lower socioeconomic rungs: seeking funding to build more schools, for example, and strengthening housing provisions for farmworkers. He's endorsed by an array of liberal interest groups on everything from the environment to reproductive health. His young Republican challenger, former marine Brendan Woodward, supported John McCain in 2008 and is an admitted political novice. Not a contest. Vote Springer!
State Senator: David Frockt
The very serious and impressive David Frockt has done some great work standing up for the little guy, including passing the imperfect but important Foreclosure Fairness Act and creating a rebate program for low-income public transit riders that's now part of Mayor Ed Murray's Seattle Metro funding plan. He favors significant taxes on the wealthy—a capital gains tax, income tax, and closing corporate tax loopholes—to fund education, and he opposes skyrocketing tuition at UW. We wish there were more Democrats like him. His Republican opponent, Van Sperry, is a nurse at Children's Hospital who wants to take on "burdensome regulations and taxation." He also found it too burdensome to call the SECB back and tell us anything about that. Vote Frockt!
Representative Position No. 2: Jessyn Farrell
You want better mass transit, a higher minimum wage, and a planet that's still habitable when your grandkids show up? Then this one's easy because Jessyn Farrell works for all of those things. She's endorsed by the Sierra Club, the League of Education Voters, the King County Labor Council, NARAL, and everyone you've ever slept with except for the bad ones. Her opponent is a small-government, free-market-humping Republican community college student who lists his "elected experience" as being captain of his high-school football team. And he spells it as two words, "Foot Ball." Nah, brah. Vote Farrell.
State Senator: Carol Barber
The best thing you can say about Republican state senator Joe Fain is that in 2012, after being "undecided" on the issue of marriage equality (at the age of 31!!!), he came around at the last minute and was one of the Republican votes that helped pass marriage equality in this state. And... that's it. Oh, and he wore a cowboy hat on the senate floor once. But that could go either way. Aside from that, young Joe Fain has slurped up money from Big Oil companies that were backing Tim Eyman's two-thirds-majority requirement, served as one of the "four horsemen of the buspocalypse" that screwed King County on Metro funding, and in 2012 helped block the Reproductive Parity Act from even coming to the senate floor for a vote. So, no. Carol Barber, a little-known Democrat, has raised $0 and doesn't even have a campaign website, but she shares things on her Facebook page about moving to a coal-free economy and about maybe registering her uterus as a corporation so that it would have more rights. So, yes, definitely vote Barber.
Representative Position No. 1: Chris Barringer
In 2012, readers of The Stranger's blog, Slog, voted the other guy in this race, Republican representative Mark Hargrove, the "Dumbest Legislator in Washington State" after he gave a speech on the House floor explaining that he opposed marriage equality because of something he learned while watching a Jack in the Box commercial. Christ on a Sourdough Jack®. Vote Barringer, a Democrat who's not an idiot.
Representative Position No. 2: Pat Sullivan
Republican state House candidate Barry Knowles warns in a link on his website: "We Can't Be Sheople!" The resulting page rages against "incumbant" Democrats for suspending Tim Eyman's bullshit (and unconstitutional!) Initiative 960, which made tax increases contingent on a two-thirds approval in the state legislature. On the upside, he's endorsed by the Auburn Red Barn antique store. Be a smart sheep and vote for incumbaaaaaant Democrat Pat Sullivan, a solid, if totally uninspiring, liberal who's currently the majority leader in the House.
State Senator: Cyrus Habib
This is currently the most talked-about seat in Olympia. Double-crossing senator Rodney Tom held it for years as a Democrat until he effectively switched parties and handed control of the senate to the GOP two years ago. As majority leader, Tom brought Olympia to a standstill as he nixed transit options, underfunded schools, and killed women's-health bills. That era is now over—Senator Tom, after ruining everything, is quitting. Will his replacement be just as bad? One candidate is Republican Michelle Darnell, a paralegal whose vision is much like Tom's: cut taxes on business, leave high taxes for low-income workers, promote corporate-style charter schools. Asked to explain why she supports heavier taxes on the poor and lower taxes on the rich while she spouts rhetoric about helping homeowners facing foreclosure, Darnell couldn't explain herself: "I am not going to talk about specific policy," she repeated. THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU APPLYING FOR A JOB TO MAKE SPECIFIC POLICY? "I am here to facilitate creative conversation," she says. Ugh. On the other hand, Cyrus Habib has a figuratively clear vision for the state even though he's literally blind. Already a state representative, Habib has a long-term plan for paying for our underfunded schools, starting with an across-the-board increase on all B&O taxes, and eventually passing a capital-gains tax or an income tax on the rich. Habib is right on scores of other progressive issues. Vote Habib and remove the lingering stench of Rodney Tom once and for all.
Representative Position No. 1: Ross Hunter
Republican Bill Hirt wants to stop the East Link light rail expansion—the idiot. Democrat Ross Hunter favors light rail expansion and we've endorsed him before, but with the caveat that we want to see him use his post as House budget chair to stand up and DO SOMETHING about things like education funding. He has, sorta (though the dumb fuckers in the Republican-controlled senate blocked a lot of it). He says finding that supreme-court-ordered $2 billion for education is the "over-riding issue" for the upcoming biennium, and we agree. Maybe Hunter could find some of the money by taking back some of those Microsoft tax breaks he's helped to push through? (He worked at MSFT for 17 years.) Let's hope so. Vote Hunter.
Representative Position No. 2: Joan McBride
Libertarian Tim Turner is a former navy submariner who thinks more guns will prevent gun violence. He's running against Democrat Joan McBride, the former mayor of Kirkland, so, obviously, vote McBride.
City of Seattle Proposition No. 1: For
Jesus H. Christ, when was the last time the phrase "public park funding" got this controversial in Seattle? People are muttering about dark conspiracies and unelected this-and-that, and it all revolves around this wonky proposition concerning a new way to pay the taxes that fund our parks. Speaking of parks: When it's eleventy-jillion fucking degrees outside and everyone in your office looks like sweaty raw chicken, is it acceptable workplace behavior to lapse into a semiconscious stupor during staff meetings, blurting out something about having sex with a box of Fudgsicles® while simultaneously stupor-dreaming about racing to the nearest public park so that you can face-plant in the wading pool? Asking for a friend.
But, also: These kinds of glorious dreams are just what our beautiful taxpayer-funded parks are meant to inspire! (In our friend. Not us.) The question is: How do we pay for a functional parks system full of cool, clean—ha-ha—wading pools in the heat of summer?
Well, for years we've been funding a lot of it with property-tax levies, and levies kinda suck. Instead of the city having a dedicated funding source for a basic service like parks, they go to the voters every six years and run a big, long, expensive campaign to beg us to approve new funding for ongoing, necessary expenditures—everything from fixing leaky roofs to sprucing up new green spaces to filtering all that toddler pee out of the wading pool. (Um, we hope?) But we can only raise so much money that way, and Seattle's parks have a massive maintenance backlog. At the same time, we're fast closing in on an overall cap that limits how much money we can raise via levies—especially since our fast-growing city also wants to be able to tax ourselves to pay for infrastructure like quality public preschools and a functional transit system—the kind of shit Olympia will never deliver.
So, a fix: Under state law, a city can vote to create a parks district, which will authorize new property taxes that can only be spent on parks and leaves us with a little more room in our levy capacity for other fun stuff. The city council would basically double as the parks governing board, the way they do for our Transportation Benefits District, with an oversight committee added on top of that. It's true: It gives the city new ability to tax you, at a rate of around $150 a year for a $400,000 house. The horrors! Taxing ourselves to pay for important city resources!
This is why it's too hard to take the no side seriously—they're focused on whiny baby stuff about "permanent" taxes and how levies are awesome because voters have to sign off on the taxes directly. But this is how the democratic process works: We elect leaders who set taxes and build budgets and fund infrastructure, and when they fuck it up, we vote them out. Vote "for."