This is a demolition derby of a ballot, caked with mud and soaked in ugly. We have needy Metro buses crashing up against slack-jawed yokels with Monorail fantasies. (SPOILER: We aren't siding with the Monorail fantasists this time!) We have two dueling and confusingly intertwined measures about how to educate
your stupid fucking brats your children, who are our (potentially dystopian) future. We have a bunch of judges going at each over dicks not sucked, "carpool" Corvettes, and who disbarred whom and when. (Really!) And if all that's not enough to make you glad you don't have a weapon at home, well, we also have two totally incompatible measures on access to firearms!
Wheee! But as anyone who's been within earshot of the SECB at any bar, legal pot shop, SM sex dungeon, or endorsement meeting in the last few months knows (our insincere apologies to all the candidates we got belligerent with) if the SECB were to have its way there'd only be one question on this fall's ballot. That question is this: Do the feckless, spineless, gonadless cowards who run our state government deserve to be hauled away on a prison bus right now, or soon? To which we say: RIGHT FUCKING NOW.
Even before this clusterfuck of a ballot came to be, the entire state of Washington was already in contempt of the Washington State Supreme Court for failing to fund basic education. (Which is a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT in this state.) Our state is still in contempt of court, even as we rage-type these very words, and that's because our elected leaders in Olympia are somehow capable of hustling through nearly $9 billion in tax breaks for Boeing in a span of three days—as they did in the winter of 2013—but incapable of finding a few billion dollars for basic education nearly three years after the supreme court told them to get on it.
The SECB doesn't always get our way. If we did, man, we'd all be riding the Monorail to pot shops in Ballard and SM sex dungeons in West Seattle. (And that would be sweet, right?) But even when we're an hour into our 37th meeting with awful politicians and we find ourselves staring out our dirty windows and hoping that a magic bus—or a prison bus—will come and take us away, we keep at it. Because this is what democracy looks like! (Well, it's what democracy looks like at the corner of 11th and Pine, anyway.) And if the SECB could slog through this year's endless parade of in-the-flesh candidate insanity—er, democracy!—then you can get through the paper version, by which we mean: You can fill out your fucking ballot. Check your mailbox, it should be there now or soon. Then gather up your pot cookies, your gay husbands, and the automatic weapons you purchased on Craigslist (all legal now!) and start reading. Two of the most important votes (Metro and pre-K) are at the very end.
Good luck, and don't fuck it up.
The Stranger Election Control Board is: Christopher Frizzelle, Ansel Herz, Tim Keck, Brendan Kiley, Anna Minard, Kathleen Richards, Eli Sanders, and Dan Savage. The SECB does not endorse in uncontested races, or in races that involve judges in counties we never get arrested in.
Initiative Measure No. 1351: YES
Assholes will tell you that I-1351, which mandates smaller average class sizes in Washington State schools, costs too much—$1 billion a year for four years. The state legislature, these people say, will be forced to slash social services to pay for it, and hey, the legislature's already working to improve schools via the McCleary decision. NEWS FLASH: A functional education system does indeed cost more than we're spending (our class sizes are 47th in the nation), and Republicans are always going to be slashing at social services no matter what we vote on. We need to fight them and raise revenue instead of giving in and accepting a shittier state full of stupider children. Also, let's not forget that whole contempt thing. The legislature is such a failure at funding McCleary reforms that they've run afoul of the motherfucking state supreme court and should be in jail making prison bitches out of each other already. I-1351 would do one giant, tangible, McCleary-satisfying thing to improve education. Don't let stupid Republican threats trick you out of voting for something that is THE GODDAMN RIGHT THING TO DO. Vote yes.
Initiative Measure No. 591: NO
Initiative 591 is put forward by gun nuts and aims to preempt Initiative 594, which we're endorsing below. It tries to do this by outlawing any expansion of background checks on gun sales in Washington State—in other words, by keeping the loopholes in current regulations wide open. The initiative's main backers are a handful of private arms dealers who refused to debate the merits of their proposal before the SECB, and so the question is: Do we want to trust a bunch of cowardly arms dealers to write our state's gun regulations? The answer's obvious. Vote no on I-591. (Seriously: All these brave he-men with their great big guns were too scared to sit down with a bunch of theater fags, commies, and potheads with the Dorothy Parker Quip app on their iPhones?)
Initiative Measure No. 594: YES
This initiative closes loopholes in background check laws so that people who buy guns through Craigslist and Facebook, or in garages, or at gun shows are required to undergo a quick background check, just like they would at a licensed store—thus making it harder for any ol' criminal or crazy person to get their hands on a firearm. "I-594 has the best chance of saving the most lives," says Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shooting and the initiative's citizen sponsor. According to the measure's backers, in states with universal background checks, 38 percent fewer women are killed by an intimate partner, 49 percent fewer people commit suicide, and 39 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed. These states also have dramatically lower levels of gun crime.
As we put these words to print, the first television ad against I-594 is beaming across airwaves in Washington State, thanks to the financial largesse of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Turnout in Seattle, the state's biggest and most progressive city, is going to be crucial to passing this thing. Remember the horror of the Seattle Pacific University shooting? Remember Sandy Hook? Remember shootings at the University of Santa Barbara? Remember Columbine? This shit has to stop, and if we want it to stop, we have to break the stranglehold the NRA has on the country's gun laws by enacting reasonable regulations on lethal weapons. I-594 represents a chance to do that here at home. Do it for Stumbo. Do it for the safety of your family and friends. Vote yes on I-594.
Advisory Vote No. 8 (Senate Bill 6505): MAINTAINED
Advisory Vote No. 9 (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1287): MAINTAINED
This shit again. The state offers a little explainer note about advisory votes: "Advisory votes are non-binding. The results will not change the law." Wait, what? Why do we vote on them, then? Two words: Tim Eyman. The ghost of one of his shitty initiatives forces shit like this onto your ballot. Number 8 says pot doesn't get special agricultural tax breaks and number 9 gives tribes the same tax status as any other government when they want to buy property. Okay. Vote maintained (or whatever the hell you want, doesn't matter) on both, go eat some spicy Thai food, and pick up a fresh roll of Tim Eyman toilet paper on the way home.
Congressional District No. 1
Suzan DelBene. Look deep into her eyes and you have to wonder if anything is going on in there. But! She is totally on top of virtually every issue we care about. Her political agenda reads like our DC wish list, from background checks on guns to student loan reform to a higher federal minimum wage to reining in the NSA. Her opponent, Pedro Celis, wants to repeal Obamacare and seriously says on his website that "free markets are the solution to our broken health-care system." He's obsessed with tax cuts but staunchly refuses to name any actual taxes he'd cut, so even right-wingers are making fun of him. You know you're a stupid fucking Republican when even other stupid Republicans start making fun of you. No-brainer. Vote DelBene.
Congressional District No. 7
The dude running against congressman Jim McDermott is a Republican who's pissed about "the chaos of illegals marching for $15 wages" and "open disregard for our laws." Whatever. Google "McDermott Bruce Lee" and see who you think is really ready to enforce some laws. Found it? Yeah, that's a Vine of Seattle's Democratic congressman wearing a yellow jumpsuit inspired by Bruce Lee's Game of Death and doing some sort of martial arts move. At age 77. Even in the minority, ol' Jim is still fighting to boost clean energy production, speaking out on the violence in Gaza, and working to protect the health-care-reform effort, even though he'd rather have single-payer (us too!). Vote McDermott.
Congressional District No. 8
Republican Dave Reichert is a tool of the Tea Party. He voted to repeal Obamacare and supported the disastrous government shutdown stunt. Recently, he introduced conservative dog-whistle legislation to prohibit something that's already illegal: using welfare money to buy weed at a legal pot shop. Reichert must go. His Democratic challenger, badass do-gooder Jason Ritchie, works for a company that builds ramps for disabled people. He picked up a measly 29 percent of the vote in the August primary, but he's still hoping to flip this district—which isn't all insane right-wingers. Vote Ritchie!
Congressional District No. 9
The challenger in this race is a Republican named Doug Basler. Featured prominently on his website is a bald eagle insignia engulfed in bright-orange flames. What is this supposed to signify? His website doesn't say. Somehow, this guy pulled almost 30 percent of the vote in the August primary. Adam Smith, the incumbent Democrat, is tragically bald—as one of his primary opponents bizarrely pointed out—but he's working hard for his constituents in South Seattle, one of the most racially diverse districts in the country, by fighting for a bump in the federal minimum wage, immigration reform, and higher taxes on the rich. Vote Smith.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 11
Representative Position No. 2: Steve Bergquist
Can't you just trust us sometimes? This is gonna be a long ballot, so you might wanna start now. Here, try it: Vote Bergquist. Don't ask, just do it. (Okay, fine, if you need a reason: Steve Bergquist is boring but reliable, and he's especially on point when it comes to voter-access laws. His opponent is an anti-choice, anti-tax Republican fuckstick. Done! Next!)
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 30
State Senator: Shari Song
The state senate is a battleground. If you have the slightest hope that Olympia might ever do anything useful again, you want the senate to go blue. Here to help is Shari Song, battling Democrat-turned-Republican Mark Miloscia. (Miloscia is a lobbyist for the Catholic Church and needed a party that would accept his antigay and anti-woman bullshit). Song is a badass. Sure, she always shows up at SECB meetings with baked goods that don't have pot in them, but she's also smart, tough, and all about passing a good transportation package, defending women's rights, funding education, blocking regressive taxes, and finally crushing the Republican stranglehold on the senate. YESSSSS! Vote Song!
Representative Position No. 1: Greg Baruso
Greg Baruso is a 28-year veteran firefighter running as a liberal Democrat. He'd have to be pretty odious (or be up against a massively hung male porn star with a thing for theater fags) not to get our endorsement. Negative on both counts. The odious one in this race is incumbent Republican Linda Kochmar, who voted against a house bill this year requiring health-care providers to cover abortion. What an asshole. Vote Baruso.
Representative Position No. 2: Roger Freeman
Roger Freeman hasn't accomplished much in the state house, as far as we can tell, but he hasn't done any harm either—and, hey, he supports paid sick leave. (Unsurprising, given that he recently survived colon cancer.) Former Federal Way mayor Jack Dovey, his Republican opponent, is running on the promise not to raise taxes, which, let's be honest, is fucking insane when you consider the state is being held in contempt by its own supreme court for failing to fund basic education. Vote Freeman.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 32
State Senator: Maralyn Chase
State senator Maralyn Chase is a whack job. But she's wacky like your kooky political aunt, not wacky like the guy at the bus stop who wants you to smell his skin. She won over the SECB by chanting, "I wanna go to jail, put me in jail." (By which she means she agrees with us that state lawmakers should go to jail for criminally underfunding education.) Vote Chase.
Representative Position No. 2: Ruth Kagi
Democrat Ruth Kagi has been in the state legislature since 1998, and she's used her time there to champion solid ideas like early childhood education and truck safety. (Educated kids prefer safe trucks.) Her opponent, Republican Alvin Rutledge, cites some cute experience: the Kiwanis Club, involvement in a community car show, and time as an "election poll inspector." (Hm.) But he's raised $0 and his politics are stupid. He says he cares about public education, but his only plan, aside from audits and term limits, has to do with helping wounded warriors (who, last we checked, are not usually K-12 students). Vote Kagi.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 33
State Senator: Karen Keiser
Democrat Karen Keiser is an education-reform advocate and a health-care-reform defender. Her Republican opponent is an Ayn Rand acolyte and "longtime recycler." Can we be done with this one now? Vote Keiser.
Representative Position No. 1: Tina Orwall
If Republican Michael J. Siefkes wants to convince us he can "fix Olympia," he needs to start by fixing his weird-ass website, www.fixolympia.com. (We're old enough to remember when Republicans were arguing that a buggy website was grounds for impeachment.) Tina Orwall is a foe of both the prison industrial complex and high tuition at state colleges, which means she's a friend of ours. Vote Orwall.
Representative Position No. 2: Mia Su-Ling Gregerson
Let's see... Republican challenger who, as a judge, threatened to penalize women who wore pantsuits to court? Uh, no. Rising-star Democrat who has proved she can serve as the mayor of SeaTac while at the same time rocking the state legislature on immigrant and worker rights? Yes, please. Vote Gregerson.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 34
Representative Position No. 2: Joe Fitzgibbon
We gave Joe Fitzgibbon, the incumbent Democrat, an adoring endorsement when he ran as a 23-year-old four years ago. But Olympia seems to have sucked the life out of him. It definitely sucked the spine out of him. (Let's not mention what the SECB wanted to suck out of him four years ago.) He admits that voting for Boeing's $9 billion tax break felt "shitty," but he did it anyway. FFS, Joe. His opponent, Brendan Kolding, is running on one idea that makes no sense: Fund private schools with public money in order to save public education. That idea sucks ass. Vote Fitzgibbon. (For those of you keeping score at home: We haven't endorsed a Republican yet. Will we surprise you and endorse someone with a scarlet R after their name before we're through? Anything is possible! Keep reading!)
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 36
State Senator: Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Now that pot is legal and regulated by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (no relation to the Stranger Election Control Board), it seems as if no one in state government knows what to do with that phantom limb of a pot-selling apparatus, the medical marijuana dispensary system. It's in everyone's best interest to figure this shit out—it'll bring more clarity to consumers, and potentially bring Washington more money in state taxes—and Senator Kohl-Welles has been trying to get this shit figured out. Vote Kohl-Welles.
Representative Position No. 1: Reuven Carlyle
Challenger Leslie Klein of the "Republicanspirit Party" has shown little interest in meeting with the SECB. (A prior Tupperware sale commitment prevented Klein from meeting with us during the primaries. Seriously.) Democratic incumbent Reuven Carlyle, on the other hand, will chew your ear off about how we need to rein in Washington State's billions of dollars in tax loopholes. If there's one thing our broke-ass state needs, it's less money disappearing down tax loophole rat holes (aka tax giveaways, often to big businesses like Boeing). We want Carlyle back for another term so he can keep turning his talk—which this year led to the closure of $125 million in tax loopholes—into bigger actions. Vote Carlyle.
Representative Position No. 2: Gael Tarleton
With her seat-mate Reuven Carlyle swinging for tax-loophole reform, it's good to hear Democrat Gael Tarleton saying she wants to go back to Olympia to deliver roundhouse kicks in pursuit of restructuring our state's whole damn tax system. Which is the most regressive fucking tax system in the whole entire nation. "I will fight for it," Tarleton promised the SECB. She even said the phrase "personal income tax." (For high earners, she clarified.) Vote Tarleton.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 37
State Senator: Pramila Jayapal
After totally crushing her five primary opponents with 54 percent of the vote—that's almost 10 points more than all of them combined—Democrat Pramila Jayapal looks like she's cruising to becoming the next senator from Seattle's 37th District (which runs from the Central District to Renton along Lake Washington). Good. The former organizer for the immigrant-rights group OneAmerica will be a strong addition in Olympia, and her opponent, Democratic professor and union activist Louis Watanabe, is flatlining. Jayapal says all the right things about not caving to Boeing on tax breaks anymore and fighting for a fairer tax structure. Let's see if she can deliver. Vote Jayapal.
Representative Position No. 1: Sharon Tomiko Santos
Sharon Tomiko Santos did not rush, herdlike, with her feckless Democratic colleagues back to Olympia last fall to vote for the largest corporate tax break in US history, lavished upon—we'll say it again because it's so shameful it needs to be repeated—motherfucking Boeing. Fuck yeah, Santos! Her Republican opponent, Daniel Bretzke, opposes background checks on gun sales. Fuck no, Bretzke! Vote for Tomiko Santos.
Representative Position No. 2: Eric Pettigrew
Eric Pettigrew is that turd that swirls around in your toilet. No matter how many times you flush, he's still floating there, stinking up the place. He's been in office for 12 fucking years but chairs no committees. "I don't know if I have passed any bills this term," Pettigrew told the SECB. He voted to strip legal defenses from medical marijuana patients, he didn't support raising the minimum wage, and he supported giving that nearly $9 billion tax break to Boeing. What is Pettigrew's defense? "I have no defense," he told us. But guess what? His opponent, Tamra Smilanich, is a realtor with no party or identifiable platform. So hold your nose and vote Pettigrew. Maybe we can flush him out of the legislature next time.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 41
Representative Position No. 1: Tana Senn
The bio on Bill Stinson's website begins: "As a 20-year-old Millennial Republican..." The SECB's gotta ask: What the fuck is wrong with you, Bill? You're 20, you're a student at the underfunded University of Washington, and you're a member of the party that's responsible for fucking you and your public education? When you're old enough to drink, let's grab a beer or some of that legal weed millennials like so much and talk about some things. Democratic incumbent Tana Senn is focused on gun control and stronger protections for victims of domestic violence. Vote Senn.
Representative Position No. 2: Judy Clibborn
The person who wants to unseat Democratic House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn is named Alex O'Neil, and that's all we know. Alex could be a man, Alex could be a woman, Alex could be a radical queer theorist who's done with the gender binary. Alex could be that guy who drops by once a week to suck off Dan Savage. We have no idea, because Alex offers no online photo, "no party preference," and no platform. Which means this is no contest. Down in Olympia, Clibborn has been crawling around in the wonk weeds to keep Seattle from being on the hook for tunnel cost overruns (she even dropped a "poison pill" provision into the tunnel language to make sure we won't pay for any expensive mistakes). We like her style. Vote Clibborn.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 43
Representative Position No. 2: Frank Chopp
As close readers of these endorsements may have picked up, there's a lot the SECB can't stand about the way the Washington State Legislature's been (not) doing its job the last few years. But even as we rage-type our sweeping condemnations and demands for immediate jailing of every motherfucker down there (still a good idea!), we're not so anger-blinded that we can't see how some motherfuckers in Olympia are better than others. Take, for example, Frank Chopp, the motherfucker who happens to be the Democratic house speaker.
His incrementalism drives us insane, he voted for the Boeing deal, and his inability to loudly brag, or even humblebrag, about his many accomplishments has left a lot of room for his challenger, Socialist Jess Spear, to run with the critique that he's a corporate toadie. There are two big problems with this critique. One, it's too simplistic, even for us. Two, Spear hasn't followed her critique with a convincing case for how she'd do better.
Spear promises rent control, which is currently illegal under state law, but doesn't explain how unseating a powerful house speaker and replacing him with a newbie with no legislative experience or pull is gonna move that ball forward. Chopp supports removing the state's rent-control ban so that Seattle can decide what it wants to do on that question, and in the meantime, he's focused on things that can make life for Seattle renters better right now. "I'm the strongest leader on affordable housing," he says, and he's right. Before he was a legislator, he was a low-income housing activist, and he's since used his public office to grind the ugly legislative gears in the right direction for low-income Washingtonians, getting money appropriated to build affordable housing all over this state. In Seattle, there are 70 affordable housing buildings in the 43rd District—Chopp's district—that owe their existence to his efforts. If you start counting the rest of the city, there are even more.
Spear was a leader of Seattle's $15-minimum-wage movement, but Chopp was behind a $15 wage well before it got hot in Seattle, supporting SeaTac's earlier successful effort to win a wage hike. He's also been a major force in expanding health care for the state's most vulnerable citizens over the last 10 years. What Spear has failed to explain is how Chopp's style of hard work toward meaningful, incrementalist progress in Olympia—yes, we actually typed those words—wouldn't take a hit if he's kicked out and replaced as speaker. Because let's be real: The new speaker wouldn't be Jess Spear. More likely, it'd be a "moderate" Democrat like Pat Sullivan of Covington. (As you're trying to find Covington on a map, keep in mind that Sullivan doesn't even support closing the gun show loophole—one more reason we gotta vote for I-594, people.)
When a radical candidate has a chance to wreck shop and make a difference (as Kshama Sawant has done on the nine-member Seattle City Council) it's worth sitting up and paying attention. When there's little chance of this happening (Spear would be just one voice in the 98-member state house), and when there's also real danger of progressive goals actually suffering, it's worth being pragmatic. That's a major reason Chopp beat Spear by 59 points in the primary. Sometimes an imperfect candidate is the best person for an ugly job. Vote Chopp.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 45
State Senator: Matt Isenhower
Sick and tired of Washington State's ass-backward tax structure? Fed up with the underfunding of education and transit? Us too, as you may have heard, but we gotta wrest back control of the state senate from Republicans to do anything about it. Matt Isenhower—an Amazon manager and navy vet—at least gives us a shot. In the August primary, he wasn't far behind Republican senator Andy Hill, who's been writing terrible anti-human budget proposals. Vote for a pro-human state government. Vote Isenhower.
Representative Position No. 1: Roger Goodman
Roger Goodman is pro pot-legalization, he's pro smart regulation of drones, and he sponsored a bill allowing police to seize weapons from alleged domestic abusers—a gun-control bill that passed! Republican challenger Joel Hussey has benefited from, and refused to condemn, sordid attack mailers from a political action committee that dredged up details from Goodman's divorce. (Yes, the party of Reagan, Gingrich, Limbaugh, and Sanford is politicizing divorce.) Vote Goodman all the way.
Representative Position No. 2: Larry Springer
Beefing up funding for schools? Improving housing provisions for farmworkers? Supported by environmental and reproductive health organizations? Former Kirkland City Council member Larry Springer gets our endorsement for all of this and more. His Republican challenger, Brendan Woodward, supported John McCain in 2008 and is an admitted political novice, so there's not much of a contest here. Vote Springer!
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 46
State Senator: David Frockt
Typing "stand-up guy" into Google ought to bring up a photo of state senator David Frockt. He passed the Foreclosure Fairness Act, created a rebate program for low-income public transit riders, and supports raising taxes on the wealthy—instituting a capital gains tax and an income tax, and closing corporate tax loopholes—in order to fund education. He was also the only Democratic legislator who didn't get flustered and defensive when asked to account for voting in favor of Boeing's $9 billion tax break. It was a devil's bargain worth making, he explained. We disagree, but Frockt gets props for offering a somewhat coherent argument to back up his actions. His challenger, Republican Van Sperry, didn't bother to speak to the SECB. He's running against "burdensome regulations and taxation." Vote Frockt.
Representative Position No. 2: Jessyn Farrell
Jessyn Farrell is basically the Lorax, but more attractive and more fun at parties. She's here to bring you breathable air, livable earth, better mass transit, higher wages, and delicious cocktails. Vote Farrell.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 47
State Senator: Carol Barber
We said it in August before the primary, and we'll say it again: Joe Fain is a Republican state senator who came around on marriage equality at age 31 (!!!) and voted for it. Great! Besides that, there's nothing praise-worthy that we can find about his record. He gets lots of cash from oil companies and messed with Metro's funding as one of the "four horsemen of the buspocalypse." He even helped block the Reproductive Parity Act from coming to the senate floor for a vote. So fuck him. (But invite him to your gay wedding.) Democrat Carol Barber is running a campaign on a shoestring budget (her yard signs are emblazoned with adorable little striped barbershop poles). On her Facebook page, she says corporations are not people and she believes in unions. Vote Barber.
Representative Position No. 1: Chris Barringer
Republican Mark Hargrove was voted "Dumbest Legislator in Washington State" by Slog readers in 2012. What earned him this special title? He opposes marriage equality in part because of something he saw in a Jack in the Box commercial. He said so on the house floor. Chris Barringer, on the other hand, is a solid Democrat and chief of staff for King County sheriff John Urquhart. The man needs your votes, having trailed in the August primary by 17 percentage points. Vote Barringer!
Representative Position No. 2: Pat Sullivan
"We Can't Be Sheople!" cries Republican candidate Barry Knowles on his website, which rages against the legislature for overturning a bullshit Tim Eyman initiative to limit tax increases. Knowles is endorsed by the Auburn Red Barn antique store, so if you're an antique-loving, tax-loathing dumbfuck, Knowles is your man! Sane people will be voting for Democrat Pat Sullivan, the current majority leader of the house.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT NO. 48
State Senator: Cyrus Habib
With help from this district's weasley former state senator Rodney Tom, Republicans took over the state senate and proceeded to ruin everything they could (while blocking everything they couldn't ruin). The rest is history/our messed-up present. Cyrus Habib is a solid Democrat who isn't going to play his constituents like that, plus he's willing to slap taxes on the wealthy even though he'll be representing places like Medina. His challenger, Michelle Darnell, kinda reminds us of Rodney Tom. (Who, again, we HATE because he screwed the state of Washington in pursuit of his confused politics.) If you want any hope of a functioning state senate, which you do, vote Habib.
Representative Position No. 1: Ross Hunter
All you need to know about Republican Bill Hirt is that he thinks light-rail expansion to the Eastside will create a "black hole" that will swallow up our money, our precious freeway space, and who knows what else. Whatever. That fight is over, and Democrat Ross Hunter won. For his next battle, we'd like to see Hunter, who's the house budget chair, actually get some money approved for things we care about (McCleary, McCleary, McCleary...) and then figure out a way to ram it through the state senate. If he can do that, we might forget, for a moment, that Hunter spent 17 years at Microsoft and has been instrumental in creating state tax giveaways for the company. Vote Hunter.
Representative Position No. 2: Joan McBride
Tim Turner once lived in a navy submarine (a navy submarine, a navy submarine...). He's a libertarian with idiotic ideas about preventing gun violence, for example: Just get more guns out there! Everything'll be fine then! (Here's a funny story: A man exercising his right to openly carry a gun in Gresham, Oregon, recently had his gun stolen at gunpoint by another man with a gun. Freedom!) Joan McBride is the Democratic former mayor of Kirkland, and she's not a fucking idiot gun nut. Vote McBride.
STATE SUPREME COURT
Justice Position No. 4: Charles W. Johnson
The story of how Justice Charles Johnson landed on the high court is an odd one. Back when he was 39 years old and a little-known lawyer, Johnson put himself on the ballot and—surprise!—ended up unseating the high court's chief justice. What happened? His opponent's name was Keith Callow, and Johnson's name was, well, Johnson. Seems low-information voters were just picking the name they liked better that year. Talk to Johnson, now 63, about this and he sounds humbled by the fluke. He's worked hard, he says, to become a judge worthy of the people's trust and of the huge responsibility he's held for four terms now. Overall, he's doing pretty well. Johnson is considered a relatively liberal member of the court, and he was part of the unanimous 2012 McCleary decision that told our state to start living up to its constitutional duty to properly fund basic public education. His opponent, Eddie Yoon, is an entertaining trainwreck who told the SECB to smell our urine carefully to ensure better health. Yoon looks at the current court lineup and asks: "Do you really need nine cold cucumbers?" It's an interesting question, and if elected, Yoon promises to "put a fire on their balls." (That might make a good HUMP! film, but it's a lousy campaign promise.) Yoon also says he'd rather lose so that he can continue to spend a lot of time in sunny, vibrant South Korea (where he says he teaches law) rather than being trapped in dreary Olympia. Sniff your urine carefully, then vote Johnson.
Justice Position No. 7: Debra L. Stephens
Jesus, this race. In one corner: a disbarred lawyer who used to drive a Zamboni machine at Seattle ice hockey games while pretending to bite the heads off raw fishes. Seriously. In the other corner: Justice Debra L. Stephens, who wrote the McCleary decision. Why is this really a race? Where to start... Well, one: It's a race because this Zamboni driver's disbarment was upheld by Justice Stephens and he's apparently not done fighting about it. Two, it's a race because our secretary of state's office doesn't bother to go online and make sure a candidate running for state supreme court is actually a lawyer in good standing before it puts that person on the ballot. This waste of time and ballot ink represents our system of electing judges at its absolute worst. Vote Stephens.
KING COUNTY DISTRICT COURT
Northeast Electoral District Judge Position No. 1: Janet Garrow
Janet Garrow has been a King County judge for 16 years! She's seeking her fifth term on the bench, and we see no reason to vote her out. Her challenger, Dawn Bettinger, didn't bother to show up for an SECB interview. Bettinger's one major endorsement? The King County Republican Party. Ha-ha! No. Vote Garrow.
Northeast Electoral District Judge Position No. 2: Ketu Shah
Ketu Shah is the only credible candidate in this race. Sarah Hayne, his challenger, is joined at the hip with the so-called Citizens for Judicial Excellence (CJE)—she's married to its cofounder—a political action committee funded largely by DUI defense lawyers. She has little experience as a judge and has not been evaluated by local bar associations. She worked for the King County prosecutor's office, she says, but she couldn't tell the SECB for how long. Sketchy. Shah became the first South Asian American judge in Washington State in 2013 and is highly rated by local bar associations. He's a progressive thinker who prefers alternatives to jailing whenever possible. We've seen eminently qualified individuals with unusual, foreign-sounding names lose judge elections to amateurish candidates in Washington before. Don't let that happen here. Vote for the consummate professional. Vote Shah.
Northeast Electoral District Judge Position No. 3: Lisa O'Toole
The two candidates in this race get along like the best of frenemies, each one complimenting the other's experience while saying he or she is actually the one who's just a little bit more qualified to be a judge. We like Lisa O'Toole best, and not just because she's perfected an Amy Poehler–style gaze that silently says to opponent Marcus Naylor: I'm listening to you, and I'm smiling at you, and I might even kinda like you, but I like me better, so now I must destroy you. Plus, she's right: She's just a little better than Naylor. O'Toole's been a King County prosecuting attorney. She's been a King County judge pro tem. She's well rated by local bar associations. And she seems likely to bring a little Parks and Recreation to district court, which we can get behind. Vote O'Toole.
West Electoral District Judge Position No. 2: Mark C. Chow
Challenger Phillip Tavel acted like it was a fucking crime against humanity that incumbent Judge Mark C. Chow once got into verbal fisticuffs with a defendant who told Judge Chow to suck his dick. "If a defendant tells you to suck his dick," Tavel said, "you can't stoop down to their level and start trading remarks with them. You just can't." Yeeaaaaah. We know. But go ahead and haul us in front of the Commission on Judicial Conduct or whatever because we kinda love what Judge Chow said to the asshole who told him to suck his dick in court: "I would if you pulled it out, but you can't find it." The judge has since admitted this wasn't the best move, and he's also promised not to ask any more Asian American defendants, "What flavor are you?" (He seems to have thought being Asian American himself gave him some leeway on this kind of banter, and has since thought better.) But Judge Chow asked us to look at his overall career, and what do you know: He's well-rated, he pioneered Seattle's hugely important mental health court, he has the experience of six terms under his belt, and Tavel's other major criticism—that Judge Chow isn't hip to new technology—was proved to be bullshit when Judge Chow whipped out his iPhone and showed the SECB a picture of a bruise he got while hand-blocking a mug a defendant threw at him. Vote Chow.
SEATTLE MUNICIPAL COURT
Seattle Municipal Court Judge Position No. 2: C. Kimi Kondo
"Kimi Kondo is the worst judge we've had in Seattle municipal court," claims Jon Zimmerman, a lawyer who wants to unseat the six-term judge. What's his Exhibit A to support this contention? Kondo's low ratings in the King County Bar survey. Stop right there, bud. Those surveys are totally unscientific. They don't demonstrate jack. Everyone—especially lawyers—knows this, but guys like Zimmerman keep using the surveys in attempts to bludgeon opponents in judicial races. "It's like Yelp for judges," Kondo counters. She has a solid record, having served on Seattle's mental health court and, recently, being elected by her colleagues to the court's presiding judgeship. She's also calling on the city to fund a long-overdue upgrade to the court's computer system, which is stuck in the MS-DOS (yeah, really) stone age. Vote Kondo.
Seattle Municipal Court Judge Position No. 7: Damon Shadid
Whoa, Damon Shadid is innnnnnnnntense. This guy is ready for whatever municipal court can throw at him (including that ceramic mug Judge Chow hand-blocked a while back), and our guess is we'll be interviewing him about a run for higher office someday soon. He has Hillary Clinton–style message discipline, a lawyerly thirst for argument, and a solid passion for initiatives that push toward greater social justice in the court system. His opponent, Judge Fred Bonner, was first elected to the court in 1989 and has also been a strong proponent of social justice programs. But he's been hit with the municipal-court equivalent of a scandal lately (apparently violating the rules of a city-subsidized carpool parking spot that saved the Corvette-driving judge $12,000 over the last 10 years, and also declining to attend municipal court judge meetings because he doesn't like his colleagues much). Given this, you'd expect Judge Bonner to be all over his reelection campaign, but he admitted to the SECB that he probably should have been paying more attention to this race much sooner, and that he'd probably gotten a little too relaxed over 24 years in this position. We don't think Shadid is capable of relaxing, and we don't think elected judges should ever get too comfortable with the people's trust. Vote Shadid.
CITY OF SEATTLE
Proposition Numbers 1A and 1B:
Question 1: YES
Question 2: Proposition 1B
Look, if we had to make our endorsements based on how we felt about the political side of things—and there's been a total shitshow behind the scenes on this one—we'd have to endorse just scrawling a bunch of obscenities over this portion of your ballot and moving on.
But we don't. We have to look at what these two measures actually do, not at our belief that they should never have been pitted against each other on your ballot in the first place. (It's a long story, and the short of it is that everyone's terrible.) So, now we have to choose. Prop. 1A seeks to improve pay and centralize training for thousands of the city's child-care workers. Prop. 1B would create a pilot program for publicly funded free and reduced-cost preschool for thousands of the city's 3- and 4-year-olds. Picking neither would accomplish, well, nothing. And you know who doesn't deserve to be punished for grown-ups' stupid political mistakes? Low-income kids who don't have the chance to attend a high-quality preschool on their own. It's impossible to pass up the opportunity to finally vote for public preschool, because public pre-K is one of the few proven ways to give kids a fighting chance in this world. Tons of research shows that the benefits of early education stay with kids for life. Not everyone can afford to send their kid to early learning programs, and we have a chance to start a really solid program that could help thousands of children. Vote—and good god, we can't even believe these are the real instructions—"Yes" on question 1 and "Proposition 1B" on question 2.
Seattle Citizen Petition No. 1, Creation of a City Transportation Authority for Public Monorail Transportation Facilities: NO
Let's get something straight: This is not a vote to build a Monorail. (A project that, yeah, the SECB has championed in the past, back when we were younger and hotter and a superior plan was on the table.) This is a vote to study building a Monorail—again—this time by giving $2 million a year in car-tab fees to a bunch of people who couldn't even get their shit together long enough to write a voters' guide statement. That's right: In the King County Voters' Guide, you'll find a blank spot where their "statement for" should be. Kinda sums it up. Elizabeth Campbell, the maddening civic gadfly who ran the stealth campaign to put this thing on the ballot, also couldn't be bothered to show up for an already rescheduled meeting with the SECB. She blamed her scheduler for confusion, saying: "I can't do everything myself. That's why I pay her the money." This was yet another indication that Campbell, who the fine print of this measure would place on the board of this new "study" agency, should not be trusted with public funds. At a time when we're moving, albeit insanely slowly, toward adding more light-rail lines—perhaps along the very corridor this measure would study, Ballard to West Seattle—we don't need this kind of wasteful distraction. Vote no.
Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition No. 1, Transportation (Metro) Funding: YES
We must vote to fund the city's buses. No serious debate to be had here, folks. Through the fog of Metro's budget ups and downs and the bullshit the Seattle Times keeps spewing like your confused drunk uncle, that's still clear as day. Seattle is the fastest-growing large city in the country. Ridership is higher than ever and growing. Buses reduce traffic and are great for the planet. Duh, duh, and duh! Fundamentally, buses provide everyone with a way to go places—to meet friends, to get to work, to be part of the fabric of the city. Seattle becomes a more inhospitable place with even more nightmarish traffic if we don't pass this proposition, which would raise $45 million in much-needed revenue for Metro to expand and improve Seattle bus routes.
That said: We wish we could be even more gung ho about this. Prop. 1 is a regressive tax (a 0.1 percent sales tax increase plus a $20 hike in car tab fees), meaning it hits the poor much harder than it does the wealthy. In September, the King County Council voted to suspend a slate of dramatic cuts to Metro service scheduled for next year. That means that suddenly, Prop. 1 became about strengthening Metro beyond existing service levels, rather than stopping the erosion of bus service. The sky-is-falling, Metro-is-having-a-heart-attack rhetoric from the coalition pushing for this measure—from the mayor and city council to transportation nonprofits—now seems a little disingenuous. These groups need to stop taking Seattle's willingness to tax itself for granted.
Bottom line, however: You like having buses in Seattle? Want them to be better? You want this measure to pass. It's a no-fucking-brainer. Vote yes.