It all began with Dow Constantine.

As you may have noticed, last year Constantine ran for King County Executive and won, leaving his spot on the King County Council open. Into that political void stepped state senator Joe McDermott of West Seattle's 34th District, who decided to make a run for Constantine's old county council seat.

Which left its own political void. And into that void stepped state representative Sharon Nelson (D-34), who is now running (unopposed) for McDermott's state senate seat. Can you guess what happened next?

Another political void. Someone has to fill Sharon Nelson's seat in the state house, and as it happens there are a number of people who would very much like the job.

Joe Fitzgibbon
  • Joe Fitzgibbon
At the top of the list is Joe Fitzgibbon, the 23-year-old former legislative aide to Nelson and veteran of the Burien Planning Commission. He's got over $17,000 in contributions so far—including $250 from his former boss, Nelson—and is running, somewhat ironically given his age, as the only candidate with the experience to get the job done.

“I certainly have more experience working in government than my opponents do," Fitzgibbon told me recently. "I’ve been in Olympia and seen how things do and don’t get done down there.”

He's been endorsed by ten state house members, six labor unions, the Washington Conservation Voters, the Young Democrats of Washington, and Fuse.

“The conservation voters saw, and to some degrees the unions have also seen, that I’m not learning about their issues for the first time," Fitzgibbon said.

On the issues, Fitzgibbon, who majored in political science and history at Principia College in Illinois, said he doesn't think the University of Washington should have the authority to raise tuition at its own discretion (a huge point of contention in the current legislature). He credits his age with his attention to the impact of tuition hikes, and to his support for a less car-centered urban environment. “People my age are more likely to be interested in having good infrastructure for bikes, pedestrians, as well as cars,” he said.

He's in favor of staggered bar closing times (“I think the Liquor Control Board, on that, and some other issues, could be more flexible"), public financing of campaigns (“I think that public financing of campaigns is ultimately a step that we need to take”), and a state income tax (“The fact that the legislature has failed to act on the income tax—big missed opportunity”). And he's opposed to Seattle being on the hook for downtown tunnel cost overruns (“I’m certainly opposed to the provision requiring Seattle to pay for cost overruns on the tunnel; it’s an unprecedented thing to ask of a local government”) even though he grudgingly supports the tunnel project (“I think the decision’s been made, and I think we should go ahead with it at this point").

Marcee Stone
  • Marcee Stone
Not quite as clear on the tunnel: Marcee Stone, 57, a legal secretary at a downtown law firm who says she has loaned her own campaign $5,000 and, with that included, is currently reporting a total of $18,633 in contributions.

Asked about the tunnel, Stone—a longtime member of the 34th District Democrats (who have endorsed her) and a fixture in fights against cell phone towers and statewide pushes for campaign finance reform—seemed unclear on some of the basic details of the tunnel project.

"The tunnel is a hard one," she told me. "I didn’t vote for it." But now that it's nearing reality, she said she wants it to be built by in-state employees and an in-state contractor. “If they do that, then I’ll support it," she said. That last one, the in-state contractor, seems highly problematic. One, it's widely assumed that the only firms with the know-how to build the planned deep-bore tunnel are from out of state (and very likely out of country). Two, limiting the job to Washington tunnel contractors, whoever they might be, would work against the idea of a competitive bidding process designed to drive down costs for the state.

Stone said her main issue with the tunnel is finding the money for it. "If we can get the funding," she said, "then that’s the main thing." Which seemed to ignore the fact that the tunnel already has funding from the state legislature. But, she's against Seattle being on the hook for cost overruns. “It seems unfair to me that the legislature put that in there for the city," she said.

Stone, who has lived in the 34th most of her life and raised a family there, has endorsements from 19 "elected officials" (though she includes former City Attorney Tom Carr on the list, and he probably doesn't count as an elected official at this point); 10 labor groups; the 34th Dems; and the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington.

She's refusing all PAC contributions as part of her dedication to campaign finance reform (something Ftizgibbon is not doing), and says her top issue is the economy. “Number one we need jobs," she said. "There’s a lot of people in my district who are hurting.”

She's for the income tax (and the elimination of the sales tax), and the formation of a state bank, but unlike Fitzgibbon, doesn't know where she stands on staggered bar closing times. “I’ve been reading about it," Stone said. "But I don’t think I have a fully formed opinion about it yet... It’s a little provincial of us to have these laws that say everybody has to close up by [2 a.m.]." She added that as long as public safety is taken into consideration she'll support a pilot project to test out the idea.

As for Fitzgibbon's claim that he's the more experienced candidate, Stone said: "I have never worked in government, but I know how to work with government… I have relationships down there—and it’s not as an assistant to anybody.”

Mike Heavey
  • Mike Heavey
Apparently so experienced he doesn't need to respond to our interview request: Mike Heavey, son of a former state senator from the 34th, current King County Council staffer, and on the issues... "Coming soon!"

Heavy has $23,611.73 in donations—the highest of anyone in the race—and is endorsed by seven current and former politicians including state senator Ed Murray (D-43).