Noel Frame sells herself as a scrappy fighter, and she's been proving it over the last few weeks as the race to be the next state legislator from Seattle's 36th District (Ballard, Magnolia, Queen Anne) takes on a more confrontational edge.

Consider the recent fisticuffs between Frame and her opponent, Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton, over coal trains.

Both candidates in this race are opposed to the idea of running additional coal trains from Montana through Seattle—and the 36th District—and then onward up to a port in Bellingham in order to ship more fossil fuels to China. This might seem like a political no-brainer of an issue, too obvious to even discuss on the trail, but Frame slyly took advantage of a somewhat ambiguous statement Tarleton made on the matter, which gave Frame an opening to trumpet her own determination to "not sell out our kids' future to protect the profits of a handful of rich and powerful corporations."

Tarleton had said she didn't want public money going to fossil fuels and that she supported "regional environmental review" of the coal train issue—good stuff, but not exactly clear, categorical opposition to coal trains. Tarleton also has a record of donations (including $500 this cycle) from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, which would be carrying the planet-warming cargo.

By the time Tarleton got out a categorical statement—"I don't want coal trains running through Washington State," she told The Stranger on September 13—Frame was ready to land the next hit. She'd received the sole endorsement from the Sierra Club, whose leader, Dan Schwartz, said Frame "consistently has shown more public leadership and accountability on the issue of expanding coal shipments than Port Commission president Gael Tarleton has shown throughout her two terms in office."

Ouch.

Tarleton tried to return fire by saying that Frame is actually the one who is late to this issue. She pointed to a videotape of a 36th District candidate interview from May in which Frame supposedly admitted her coal-train ignorance. ("I will be the first one to admit this is not something I know extensively," Frame says on the tape.)

But on the tape, Frame also clearly, categorically states her opposition to more coal trains—something it took Tarleton a while to do.

Winner of this round: Frame. recommended