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Nate Gowdy

Ian Martinez is a former journalist and political adviser in the Obama Administration, and currently Co-Slammaster and a member of the Board of Directors at Rain City Poetry Slam.

As a longtime reader and supporter, I'm writing to express my deep disappointment in your recent "dissent" endorsement article, which undermines not only the Stranger's brand but also the Stranger's crucial role in municipal elections. To be clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with the recipient of this ill-advised, counterproductive endorsement, whom I know personally and wish nothing but the best. It relates exclusively to the disservice the Stranger did the people of Seattle when it allowed the piece to run in the first place.

In a progressive city, an alt weekly's endorsement is a moment of immense social import; it represents the hard-forged consensus view of the voting members of that paper's editorial board, which in turn is ostensibly comprised of a unique collection of the city's brightest minds and best-informed reporters. Their single endorsement, even if by a narrow majority, is meant to serve as a resource for time constrained voters who may not be able to work through all the complicated issues and various campaign propaganda machines to arrive at a preferred candidate. An endorsement-in-part does not honor this civic responsibility; it is a weak-sauce attempt by a cluster of in-house advocates—whose candidate couldn't convince the full board—to cape for their own agenda, in the tone and structure of an actual Stranger endorsement. Now the Stranger's endorsements, plural, are little more than social media agitprop for each campaign; as it turns out, this is exactly how I discovered that the Stranger endorsed Cary Moon—via a friend's Facebook post linking to the ridiculous dissent endorsement. How many busy voters would even click through to learn that the latter wasn't, in fact, an endorsement? It's another example of the very worst trend in current journalism, where the media allows everyone to pick the version of reality they like best and hunker down in it.

And this complaint doesn't even speak to the occasionally absurd content of the Stranger's dissent: why the ad nauseam attacks on Democrats in an election pitting one moderate against four progressives and a radical? Why is it that these kinds of "me too" exceptions only seem to be carved out for one ideological camp on the left (I don't remember a dissent for Brady Walkinshaw* last year even though his minority support was surely just as strong on the board*)? This humble voter can't address these issues with Seattle voters because I don't have a citywide platform. The Stranger does.

You should do better by it.

*Editor's Note: Actually, there was dissent in support of Brady Walkinshaw last year—from Dan Savage.