Election shit was amazing this time last year. We were about to reelect our Socialist Kenyan Muslim Overlord, legalize pot, and make gay marriage mandatory. We've spent the 12 months since doing bong hits through holy water in celebration. But it turns out elections happen every year. And this year, what do we get? Eleven incomprehensible ballot measures, a bunch of candidates no one has ever heard of, and a bunch of incumbents everyone is sick of.
Duty called, and the SECB put down our bong long enough to answer the call. We held countless candidate "interviews," convened roughly three dozen staff meetings (aka binge-drinking sessions), and now we're proud to present Seattle with our most coherent voters' guide ever. This election may not come with the glamour of reinstating the Antichrist as president, but it will decide who's mayor and whether we can elect young blood to city hall—seriously, Seattle City Council meetings look like The Real World filmed at Horizon House—and it will be the final word on whether labels will explain that your tasteless tomatoes have trout genes spliced into 'em.
As for mayor, do you want Mike McGinn, who's backing a citywide light-rail network? Or do you want Ed Murray, who, we shit you not, recently held a fundraiser that used destroying bike lanes as its main tactic to raise money? We're sticking with pro-transit, pro-bike Mayor McGinn, thank you.
We're also telling you to vote against city council member Richard Conlin, whose biggest accomplishment is legalizing miniature goats (perhaps for gay-marrying purposes), and to instead vote for Kshama Sawant, a socialist economist who wants to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And, even more important, we want more challengers like Sawant to run for office so we don't have the same washed-up, goat-loving, Metamucil-swilling incumbents dying at city hall after fruitless multi-decade careers. (We expect to see a levy on next year's ballot to provide Life Alert systems for all city council members.) That's why we're supporting an unprecedented measure for election reform that provides public financing for council races.
You're welcome to think for yourself and make your own choices, of course, but you would be better off—and the city would be better off—if you voted the way we're telling you to.
This initiative is another steaming turd from right-wing profiteer Tim Eyman, who makes a nice living for himself running initiatives that pander to voters by promising to reduce taxes (then pissing off voters because those initiatives wind up gutting stuff people love, like money for schools). And I-517 is Eyman's most self-serving initiative yet: It makes it cheaper and easier for him to run even more initiatives! I-517 would double the length of time allowed to gather signatures from six months to 12. It would also force sensible people who want to ask gullible people not to sign one of Tim's stupid initiatives to stay 25 feet away from his signature gatherers. Even business owners could be thrown in the slammer for attempting to bar aggressive signature gatherers from private property! It's stupid, it's unnecessary, and it will just lead to more stupid, unnecessary Eyman initiatives making it onto your ballot. Vote no on I-517.
For months now, we've been getting angry, self-righteous e-mails from people on both sides of I-522, the statewide initiative that would mandate labeling foods with genetically modified ingredients. The people on the yes side sound like your hippiest-dippiest Birkenstock-wearing aunt, and the people on the no side sound like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. Whee!
Under I-522, about 60 percent of all packaged foods would carry a label on the front announcing that they may contain genetically engineered ingredients. The state would have the right to enforce the law, and third-party legal cases could be brought through the sort of no-damages lawsuits that only appeal to public interest attorneys.
The no side argues that the labels are misleading and would cost the average consumer an additional $490 a year. That's bullshit. There is zero compelling evidence that adding GMO warnings to food labels would cost the consumer a dime. The yes side argues that it is merely interested in providing consumers with the information they want. That's bullshit, too. The whole purpose of a GMO label is to get companies to stop using GMOs, and yet the overwhelming scientific consensus is that GMO crops are entirely safe to eat. So you shouldn't necessarily be concerned about eating GMO foods—but you should be concerned about the way GMO foods are grown on giant factory farms that use tons of pesticides (usually, hey, made by Monsanto, one of the main financial sponsors of No on 522).
So what to do? Err on the side of too much information.
Give consumers a label they might not need (like country of origin or previously frozen), and then let the GMO and processed foods industries defend the health and safety of their products. God knows they have the cash. Out-of-state giants like Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow, along with the powerful Grocery Manufacturers Association, have already spent a stunning $17 million trashing I-522, filling the airwaves with lies. If GMOs are as safe and beneficial as they say they are, let them run ads selling that message to consumers instead of the anti-522 bullshit they're currently flinging at voters.
Advisory Votes No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7
What a stupid fucking waste of time. These measures are the zombified corpses of another Eyman initiative, which required a two-thirds majority of the legislature for any tax increases. That initiative was struck down in court as unconstitutional, but the part of the law requiring a nonbinding "advisory vote" every time the legislature passes a tax increase, or even closes a tax loophole, stumbles on. That's what these are: nonbinding advisory votes. They're totally meaningless. But they're compelling reading! Take, for example, No. 5: "The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, the insurance premium tax to some insurance for pediatric oral services, costing an amount that cannot currently be estimated, for government spending." Then you're asked if this law should be repealed or maintained. But even if "repealed" takes 100 percent of the vote... the law will be maintained. Don't give Eyman the satisfaction of sending an antitax message. On all of them, vote "Maintained." And fuck Tim Eyman.
Charter Amendment 1: Public Defenders
You should pass this boring-sounding charter amendment to help prevent politicians from meddling with the business of King County's courtrooms (which would be great for lawbreakers like us, who have also pissed off every local politician). The measure concerns public defenders, i.e., lawyers who represent defendants that can't afford to hire a lawyer. It would enshrine the newly formed Department of Public Defense as an independent body and declare that the department's director can't be fired for making unpopular decisions. Why's that matter now? Our local public defenders, who have historically been controversial activists to reform the criminal justice system, became county employees earlier this year pursuant to a court decision (they have always been publicly funded but used to be fully independent). This measure will allow them to keep pursuing innovative programs—like scrutinizing racial disparities in drug arrests and diverting offenders into treatment programs—without facing political pressure of losing their funding. "This will give King County the strongest public defense system in the country," explains Christie Hedman, executive director of the Washington Defender Association. We agree. Vote yes.
An entire endorsement without a single "fuck." Yes we can!
Proposition No. 1: Emergency Services Levy
King County's Medic One provides some of the best emergency medical services in the nation, with a nearly unprecedented cardiac arrest survival rate of 57 percent—that's four to five times higher than in most other communities! And at only $107 a year for this six-year renewal levy, the average homeowner will actually pay less than they did back in 2008. It's a no-brainer! Vote approved.
King County Executive
During his first term, Dow Constantine and his swoop of silky hair guided the county through recession-era budget cuts by fixing structural financial problems and investing in upgrades—including new technology systems for data entry and payroll (he's got some talented hair). Constantine's bland personality also makes him suited for building bipartisan coalitions, like the ones he helped assemble to fix the South Park Bridge. Constantine occasionally takes a swan dive into a soupy pile of shit—censoring Metro bus ads, for example—but he's proven himself a competent manager. Alan Lobdell is a civil engineer with no political experience (and unimpressive hair) running on a vague platform to improve "customer service" within government. Vote for Constantine.
Council District No. 1
Rod Dembowski calls himself a "recovering lawyer" and is charming in a Leave It to Beaver sort of way. More importantly, in his short time in office, he's been a chief advocate to strengthen the public defense system. He lobbied Olympia for local taxing authority for much-need transit that the state won't fund, and he talks smart about green spaces and suburban poverty. Opponent Naomi Wilson has little experience and a spotty voting record, and is running on the platform of not being an "insider." Pick Dembowski.
Council District No. 5
As a representative in the state house, Dave Upthegrove... zzzzzzzzzzz. Fucking county council races. IS ANYBODY READING THIS? Nobody cares about the fucking county council—and no one cares about dull-as-derp Upthegrove—but we're stuck in these motherfucking endorsement meetings and where's our bong, anyway? Yeah, yeah, Upthegrove wants to help update FEMA flood maps and he loves transit and some other crap. But we suspect the real deal is that Upthegrove is running to escape the dysfunctional legislature, where he only makes $42,000 a year, and work instead for the county council, which is equally dysfunctional but pays $135,000 a year. Riddle us this shit: Do you even know what King County does? If so, you're in like the top zillionth percentile of people who can tolerate boring shit. Upthegrove's opponent, Andy Massagli—who didn't even show up for our meeting (neither did Stranger publisher Tim Keck), even though we have a sweet bong (it's Keck's bong, actually)—responded to a recent transit riders' survey by stating that mass transit should be funded by "an alcohol or gang tax [which] would target the riding demographic beautifully." Or, hey, how about a 100 percent asshole tax? We could fully fund transit around here with the money we'd raise just off Tim Eyman, Richard Conlin, Reagan Dunn, and this Massagli douchebag. Vote Upthegrove.
Council District No. 9
Okay, this one is actually important: Shari Song is a Korean immigrant and a successful businesswoman running on a meat-'n'-potatoes platform of paying for parks, attracting living-wage jobs, and improving transit and roads. She's also the first Democrat with a serious shot at winning this seat. This is the second-fastest-growing district in the county, an area where the white population dropped by 14 percent from 2002 to 2012, while those identifying as an ethnic minority jumped by 66 percent. Song has worked for decades as a community advocate for immigrants—in the early 1990s, she started a bilingual preschool program to prepare immigrant children for kindergarten. Song also plans to show up for her goddamn job. That's better than Council Member Reagan Dunn, who has the council's worst attendance record with 491 votes missed. When he did show up, Dunn, a Republican, tried in his last term to gut the health department's funding while attempting to give raises to the sheriff's office. Dunn is a shitbag. Vote Song.
Commissioner Position No. 1
You know who just sent us an e-mail touting how much "we need Pete Lewis" on the Port of Seattle Commission? Rob "Different Kind of Republican" McKenna! That's right, the same Republican attorney general who sued to overturn Obamacare, who ran for governor on a platform of balancing the budget through a calculated strategy of ignoring the mathematical effects of compounding, and who didn't want to let gays marry—that same asshole now insists that "we need" Auburn mayor Pete Lewis to help oversee the port's $600 million annual budget. Other editorialists have dinged incumbent commissioner John Creighton for being "notoriously uncivil," but you know what? Folks in Auburn tell us that Lewis can be a dick, too. Worse yet, Lewis is a Republican dick, whereas throughout his two terms, Creighton has proven himself to be the most reliably pro-labor and pro-reform member of a commission that, before his arrival, had a sorry reputation as a den of corporate cronyism. "The Port of Seattle needs an experienced, proven leader," writes McKenna. We agree with Rob! And that's why we're urging you to reelect John Creighton.
Commissioner Position No. 2
Okay, we need to come clean. Nobody knows what port commissioners actually do—besides huff embalming fluid and whine about how sports arenas are bad for freight mobility. Courtney Gregoire is clearly huffing embalming fluids: Even though she's campaigning on strengthening port jobs, she is simultaneously refusing to support SeaTac's $15 minimum wage initiative. She dodged the question about the minimum wage initiative three times. Have we mentioned that she's former governor Chris Gregoire's daughter? She is! Still, as the former director of the National Export Initiative, Gregoire has some experience with ports. That's more that we can say for her Havana-humping challenger, socialist John Naubert, who talks about "building a fighting movement" but lacks the experience with or knowledge about ports to convince us he could build a model ship, let alone a movement. Vote Gregoire, because what other choice do you have?
Commissioner Position No. 3
Stephanie Bowman was appointed by her fellow commissioners in May, after she served five years managing federal governmental affairs at the Port of Tacoma. Between huffs of embalming fluid, she talks a good game about forging a joint operating agreement between Seattle and Tacoma's ports to ensure our region remains competitive. Michael Wolfe touts his travel industry experience as providing balance to the commission, which we agree is lacking, but he can't compete with Bowman's experience.
Commissioner Position No. 4
We once endorsed "a greasy, half-empty tub of Crisco" over Tom Albro—seriously, you can google that shit. The smooth-talking closet Republican is too conservative for our taste, admittedly, but he knows his way around the airport, the seaport, and a keg of embalming fluid. He's also intent on collaborating with the Port of Tacoma, which would help Seattle be more competitive against larger, more innovative ports to the north and south. Richard Pope, on the other hand, has been called "a wart on the ass of democracy." (We said that!) Faced with a choice between a greasy, half-empty tub of Crisco (icky but useful!) and an ass wart (icky and useless), we say go with the Crisco: Vote Albro.
Proposition No. 1: Public Campaign Financing
The average age of a Seattle City Council member is 64—sixtyfuckingfour—and that's 16 years older than the council's average age was in 1990. Our elderly "leaders" have shown little gumption for the most pressing needs of a growing city: accelerating the completion of light rail across Seattle, funding the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans to safely connect our neighborhoods, or encouraging developers to build microhousing, workforce housing, and low-income housing so working-class people can live in this town. One possible reason they've turned their backs on the real needs of people who live in this city: The same roughly 20 donors max out contributions to council incumbents every election, and the same council members are safety reelected and reelected and reelected—thanks to the prohibitive cost of running citywide for a council seat. As long as they adhere to the agenda of the wealthy folks who do business at city hall and fund their campaigns—developers, major real-estate owners, people with contracts with the city—city council incumbents have lifetime job security.
In this environment, qualified newcomers don't even run for office because they can't raise the quarter million dollars needed to compete.
This measure would smash that dynamic.
It would establish a public campaign financing system in which participating political candidates must raise at least $10 (and no more than $50) from 600 Seattle residents. Those funds would then be publicly matched six-to-one, giving each candidate no more than $245,000 to spend on his or her bid for office. It would be paid for by the smallest property tax in Seattle history (averaging less than $7 annually for a $400,000 home). In other cities, public campaign financing has led to more women, young people, and minority candidates running for office. Approve this measure, or resign yourself to watching another decade of our current council members suckling at their caviar feeding tubes as they slowly die on the dais.
Proposed Charter Amendment No. 19: Districts
This may have been the most divisive issue the SECB drunk-texted each other about this whole election. But we thought (and drank and smoked) long and hard, and we say yes.
Much like the public financing measure above, this measure would make it easier for less wealthy, less politically connected candidates to run. Right now, all nine council members are elected citywide, which means they all answer to the same set of lobbyists and donors. This charter amendment would create seven districts that elect one council member each, while two other council seats would be elected citywide.
This would make running for office more affordable and make council members more accountable. Instead of appealing to the city's population of 600,000 people with expensive glossy mailers, a candidate could run in a district of only about 88,000 people. That could be reasonably accomplished with a good ground game. In other words, the kind of progressive, grassroots candidates we dream about could actually have a shot in a district. And Seattle denizens would always have at least one representative at city hall designated to hear them out.
We hear the concerns of people wary of the measure (hence our drunk-texting). They're afraid this could hand over power to another evil: The campaign is run by "neighborhood activists" who have opposed density, have opposed transit, and basically want to send Seattle back to 1972. We don't want the council beholden to those backward activists. And if this districting measure passes, it will conflict with the public financing measure, possibly requiring the city council to send voters another ballot measure next year to reconcile the two.
But the benefits outweigh these criticisms. Right now, the council mostly suckles at downtown business's rich, creamy teat; one solid representative would be an improvement for nearly everyone in the city. Best of all, this measure would mean the whole council is up for reelection in 2015, and half of 'em would have to run against each other, finally forcing them into competitive campaigns. Our dream come true! Vote yes.
Mike McGinn was handed a shit sandwich when he became mayor four years ago. The city council had spent down the rainy day fund; the recession zapped prospects for revenue; the police department was infected with a violent culture, particularly against people of color; and plans for expanding the light-rail system to Ballard and West Seattle were on the back burner. As for the deep-bore tunnel, a controversial megaproject, state law insisted Seattle—which was struggling with its own bills at the time—would have to pay for any overruns.
McGinn tackled those problems, despite opposition from an obstructionist city council that refused to work with him (they even twice froze money for transit planning that would extend light rail). The Seattle Times opposed his transportation agenda at every turn, claiming McGinn was pushing cars off the road for bike lanes. (The daily paper continually launched smears at the mayor, even praising a school-attendance program while refusing to acknowledge that McGinn created it.)
Some people hate McGinn. The problem is, they struggle to put a finger on what their problem is. Critics say he's divisive and can't collaborate. But the people who say that are council members who unsuccessfully ran for mayor, business lobbies that wanted special favors, and reporters who rely on those aforementioned folks as sources. No wonder people in Seattle look at the mayor's term through a fun-house mirror. But McGinn is the superior candidate on policy, vision, and record.
Look at facts instead of smears. Crime is down, including through most of downtown. That's in part due to good policing and a downtown roundtable that seeks new strategies for making the city be and feel safe (the roundtable is made up of a group of unlikely reformers and business interests). Violent crime dropped by one-third in Belltown since McGinn took office, and serious crimes are down in Pioneer Square and the International District by 27 percent since last year. In the retail core, crime is roughly steady despite thousands of new residents and workers. Crime across Seattle is at a 35-year low.
We acknowledge that McGinn dragged his feet reaching a settlement with the US Department of Justice after prosecutors accused our police of excessive force—but what's come out of it since is unprecedented. McGinn's settlement includes a five-year reform plan that imposes tough new requirements on police using force, he brought along the radically conservative police union (getting it to drop a lawsuit to oppose reform), and he was the architect of a Community Police Commission that, again, brings together unlikely downtown business lobbies and progressive reformers.
In the same collaborative vein, McGinn has led the charge to oppose 18 toxic-coal-dust-spewing trains plowing through Seattle every day by helping to create the Leadership Alliance Against Coal, which includes lawmakers from state, county, and local governments. He's laid out plans to divest the city's holdings from fossil-fuel investments, and now 16 other cities are doing the same thing.
On improving Seattle transportation, McGinn has accelerated planning for light rail to reach Ballard, so that when voters consider another light-rail measure, hopefully in 2016, Seattle will likely have a nearly shovel-ready project. And McGinn has also pledged to fully fund the city's bicycle plan and has begun building protected bicycle lanes along key routes. On the controversial tunnel, McGinn successfully pressed the former governor to go on the record saying the state would cover overruns (which is great, because the project is already behind schedule and short on funding).
The city's economy is also booming. The Downtown Seattle Association reports $2.8 billion in construction investments, a "level not seen since 2008," while the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7 percent, more than two points below the state average. McGinn also restored the rainy day fund.
Ed Murray, the other candidate in this race, has been short on details and consistently negative. He continually calls McGinn divisive, but Murray knows from his 18 years in Olympia that accomplishments come with controversy. Murray divided the legislature—as he should have—to pass gay marriage.
We're also concerned about honesty problems with the Murray campaign. He claimed recently there was a "public safety crisis" because crime was up across the city when, in fact, crime is down. Murray's campaign claimed the city's economy would atrophy under McGinn when, in fact, it's downright muscular. Murray insisted earlier this year that he opposed new fines for aggressive panhandling—fines that the human rights commission said violated city standards and may be unconstitutional—but now Murray says he might support that law if elected. Murray also said the mayor didn't create the police commission—and that's just untrue.
We're also concerned that Murray is positioning himself as an anti-bicycle-lane candidate. The driving force of a fundraiser this month "Paid for by Ed Murray for Mayor" were people who sought to "oppose Mayor McGinn's cycle track" on Westlake Avenue. "This is a narrowly focused event," said an invitation to Murray supporters by Peter Schrappen of the Northwest Marine Trade Association. "The sole focus should be around articulating the Westlake interests."
We oppose anti-bike, anti-transit lobbies. And even though we like what Murray did for gay marriage, we don't need gay transit or gay traffic.
We need a mayor who understands how to build light rail, reform the police, kindle economic prosperity, reduce crime while respecting the city's human rights standards, and protect us from coal trains. We already have that mayor: Mike McGinn.
Council Position No. 2
Omigod, omigod, omigod: Kshama Sawant is a socialist! She's coming to collectivize your P-Patch and seize control of the means of producing overpriced espresso drinks! Even worse: She's talking about rent control! What could be worse for Seattle's skyrocketing rental market than reining in the rent?
Listen to her critics, and you'd think Sawant was running for the office of Dear Leader. But she isn't. She's running to be one out of nine members of the city council—a stagnant, homogenous, business-toadying body that would benefit from a genuine lefty flanking its ideological left. And when it comes to the types of issues that actually come before the council—a minimum-wage hike, transit expansion, universal preschool, police accountability, city-sanctioned homeless encampments, building more affordable housing, and more—Sawant's policy positions fit comfortably within the mainstream of Seattle's broader progressive values.
No wonder Sawant has four-term incumbent council member Richard Conlin running scared. An immigrant woman of color, an Occupy Seattle organizer, and an economics instructor at Seattle Central Community College, Sawant has been wowing candidate forum audiences with a cogent economic-justice agenda.
"There is nobody in the political leadership in Seattle right now who comes into work every day with a sense of urgency to really fight for people's standard of living," argues Sawant. "That's why voters are engaged in our campaign, because they are hearing a voice that they have been wanting to hear for years."
It's a voice that voters certainly haven't been hearing from Conlin, who during his 16 years on the council has mostly distinguished himself by growing 16 years older. Conlin campaigned to build the $4.2 billion transit-free deep-bore-tunnel project, while using city resources to attempt to block an anti-tunnel referendum from the ballot. He twice froze money for the city's Transit Master Plan, while underfunding the Bicycle Master Plan by 75 percent. He supports creating new fines for aggressive panhandling (which is already illegal) but opposes regulations that would make homeless encampments safer. And he was the only member of the council to vote against Seattle's paid-sick-leave ordinance. It's time for him to go.
Not surprisingly, Conlin's campaign contributors are a "who's who" of wealthy special interests. Seattle's business establishment already has the ear of the other eight members of the council—now it's time to give the rest of us a voice. Vote for Kshama Sawant.
Council Position No. 4
We have to apologize: We endorsed Sally Bagshaw in 2009, and she's been mostly terrible. Four months after being elected, she voted for a bill underwritten by the Downtown Seattle Association to fine aggressive panhandlers, even though the city's human rights commission found it violated the city's human rights standards. Bagshaw recanted her vote in our endorsement meeting this year (a little late?), saying, "That was wrong." She said she voted for it because it funded community court. But we went back and looked it up—and guess what? The bill had zero money for community court. Did Bagshaw have a brain fart? Has she been huffing Courtney Gregoire's embalming fluid? Who knows? More Bagshaw bullshit: She refused to support a resolution opposing the surge of anti-LGBT violence in Russia, even though the Russian consul asked the city for its position. On urban planning, she's been the council's leader for a waterfront design that—instead of a thoroughfare for pedestrians with lots of businesses—will create an empty, windswept plaza with a new eight-lane highway. Bagshaw was also the only council member to oppose public campaign financing. Wealthy herself, she calls public financing "too rich" and says it will help unqualified candidates—missing the point that public financing of campaigns is proven to recruit candidates who are more diverse and more qualified.
Bagshaw has gotten some stuff right: She supported so-called greenway cycle paths in neighborhoods, she was on the right side of a vote to make homeless encampments safer by regulating them, and, as chair of the council's parks committee, she backed more funding for parks and community centers. Most relevant to this endorsement, though, is that Bagshaw isn't her dumbshit opponent.
Sam Bellomio (pronounced "bella-me-o," not "blow me, oh") is best known for delivering pointless tirades during public testimony at council meetings. But the council should ignore him. Last winter, Bellomio called the council "terrorists," and last week he told the city council that their meeting was "worse than Nazi Germany."
We're regretfully endorsing Bagshaw, even though she's sucked (here's hoping she gets better), and we're enthusiastically endorsing public campaign financing—again—because Bagshaw deserves a real challenger next time.
Council Position No. 6
Nick Licata first ran for Seattle City Council in 7600 BC, narrowly defeating Kennewick Man. In his first three thousand years in office, Licata was considered a progressive, blazing trails for the poor to work, the youth to dance, and the police to not physically attack racial minorities. But these days, making Seattle equitable for the poor and working class doesn't just require Licata to be good at providing social services. It requires ensuring the working class can afford to live in Seattle at all. On those issues, Licata is not progressive. In his most recent term, Licata voted against allowing buildings six stories tall next to a light-rail station, he introduced legislation that would prevent car-tab revenue from connecting our streetcars network, and he refused to oppose a ban on microhousing (market-based housing that workers can actually afford). Licata's positions effectively shunt Seattle's poor and working-class citizens to the exurbs—and that's not progressive. And Licata sucks gangrenous gopher ass on transit. "I've been a longtime skeptic of fixed rail, because of the heavy cost," Licata told the SECB. Licata says building light rail is "a question of timing." When? After you leave office? Hey, Nick, the rest of us would like a motherfucking light-rail network before Seattle becomes a country club and the rest of us are stuck on bus rides to Kent.
Still... sigh... we're endorsing Licata.
We honestly love that Licata sponsored a bill mandating paid sick leave, killed a draconian anti-panhandling bill, and has been a police-accountability watchdog. And his opponent, Edwin Fruit, is clueless. "I don't have a particular agenda," he told the SECB.
Licata, like Bagshaw, needs real competition—someone to press him into the current century and to get progressive on city-building, not just social services—and that won't happen until we pass public campaign financing. So vote for Ye Old Licata and vote for campaign financing (vote the fucking shit out of it).
Council Position No. 8
Typing this makes our fingers burn, but...
The Seattle Times already wrote every- thing you need to know about Council Member Mike O'Brien. He "has strayed beyond the leftward boundary of the reasonable too many times," the daily paper wrote in endorsing O'Brien's opponent, Albert Shen. But Shen—who received 58 percent of his campaign money from outside Seattle, according to city records—lost the primary by a stunning 24 points. If the Seattle Times taught us anything, it's that its suburban, brain-dead, out-of-touch editorial board is the one that's strayed beyond the rightward boundary of Seattle. And O'Brien, who has a healthy lead going into the November race, is squarely inside the city's mainstream.
O'Brien has been the most effective council member in city hall. In his freshman term, he passed a bill to ban plastic bags, thereby reducing the city's waste. He sponsored legislation that prevents incumbents from rolling over their war chests of cash from one campaign to the next, thereby giving political newcomers a better shot at being elected. He was behind a bill that allows homeless people to sleep in their cars outside churches, and he's supported paid sick leave and a bill helping people with criminal records get jobs. We even love his fuckups: O'Brien created a registry that lets us block phone-book delivery, but it was struck down in court. At least he tried.
In meetings, Shen has revealed that he's an ill-informed, anti-pot, anti-bike-lane, and anti-streetcar candidate who's fuzzy—at best—on the functions of the city council. He also says he wants the city to pass a law to arrest panhandlers. But guess what, you clueless dolt? Aggressive begging is already a criminal offense in Seattle. No wonder Shen's biggest supporters are the wankers at the Seattle Times and donors who don't even live in Seattle.
Director District No. 4
Dear god, it's school board time. Kill us. The Seattle School Board is the most brain-liquefying thing short of embalming fluid. No matter what interesting outsiders and concerned parents and magic space aliens we send to the school board, the board somehow absorbs them into a giant blob of uselessness and continues operating like the tone-deaf, institutionally racist, mathematically illiterate shit-stain it's been for years. Despite being fed up with that, and despite most of us believing that having children should be illegal anyway, we endorse in these races because children are technically our future, etc.
Here's what you need to know in this race: Sue Peters is a smart school-district activist and blogger who opposes the corporate education reform agenda (an agenda to build private charter schools with public money and standardize everything!) and is deeply skeptical of many status quo policies in the district, especially when it comes to moneyed interests that want to influence public schooling. She's supported by most other board members, the teachers union, and national education activist Diane Ravitch.
Opponent Suzanne Dale Estey claims to support many of the same policies, but she's backed by supporters who suggest a different agenda: Dale Estey raised four times as much money as Peters, from people including Microsoft CEO (and anti-income-tax dickwad) Steve Ballmer and developer Matt Griffin, and she is supported by a PAC that raised $76,000 to elect more corporate reformers to the board. Plus, she's endorsed by the sponsor of last year's charter schools measure. Block that crap. Vote for Peters.
Director District No. 5
Stephan Blanford is just fine. He's deeply familiar with Seattle schools and has been a paid consultant for the district before. But he's supported by some of the same bums as Dale Estey, so why are we endorsing him over his opponent, LaCrese Green? Among other things, because we think Green is a bigoted piece of shit. She sent a letter last October to former school board member Cheryl Chow—who was dying of brain cancer and had recently come out of the closet—saying the fact that Chow was a "lesbian is troubling" and "it won't go well for you in the hereafter." Right, are we done here? Vote Blanford.
Proposition No. 1
We don't usually endorse local ballot measures outside of Seattle, but we saw the first few letters of "SeaTac" and got confused. This groundbreaking "Good Jobs" initiative would guarantee a $15-an-hour minimum wage, paid sick leave, and other benefits to certain hospitality and transportation workers in and around Sea-Tac International Airport. It would not only restore a living wage to airport workers who have seen their wages decline since Alaska and other airlines outsourced their jobs nearly a decade ago, it would also strike a huge symbolic blow on behalf of low-wage workers who are fighting similar battles in Seattle and throughout the nation. The whole world is watching tiny SeaTac! Vote hella yes!
The Stranger Election Control Board is Bethany Jean Clement, Paul Constant, Christopher Frizzelle, David “Goldy” Goldstein, Jen Graves, Dominic Holden, Tim Keck, Tom Rasmussen, Cienna Madrid, Anna Minard, Eli Sanders, Dan Savage, and the O’Dea High School Marching Band.