Your vote counts. In the September 16 primary, Seattle voters took the Stranger Election Bowling League's advice on a slew of issues and scored. Stranger readers helped pass the pro-pot initiative, I-75; you sent maverick Democrat Bob Ferguson to the King County Council--ousting stale Democrat incumbent Cynthia Sullivan, who had been endorsed by the middle-of-the-roaders at the Seattle Times (of course) and the dullards at the Seattle Weekly (natch); you saved rabble-rouser Judy Nicastro's ass, getting her through the primary; and you sent the school board reformist slate to the general election with better numbers than the incumbents. Nice job!

But that was just the primary--which means your work isn't done! November 4 is the general election. There's another important initiative to pass (changing the city charter so that city council members are elected by districts--a no-brainer); there's the unfinished business of ousting conservative council members Margaret Pageler and Jim Compton--not to mention keeping Nicastro on the council. And you've got to finish off that lame incumbent school board.

The Stranger Election Bowling League does not make endorsements in uncontested races, but in case the Democratic establishment didn't hear you the first time, vote for the unopposed Ferguson again. And in that same spirit, we would urge you to vote against drug-war-lovin' liberal Kollin Min again--but we don't have to. You wisely booted Min in the primary. Again, nice job--now finish the job on election day.

The Stranger Election Bowling League: Erica C. Barnett, Josh Feit, Amy Jenniges, Sandeep Kaushik, Tim Keck, and Dan Savage.

Seattle City Council Position 1


Populist Judy Nicastro has a long list of accomplishments: She made it easier for tenants to take on vindictive landlords, got rid of onerous parking requirements for low-income housing citywide, pushed for zoning changes that would create more density, and took a controversial stand against the low-income housing levy, which she opposed because it included too much for middle-income homebuyers and not enough for the neediest tenants. Her votes haven't always made her popular (low-income housing developers bailed on her during the primary because of that levy vote), but Nicastro's independent record shows she always votes her convictions--not always with donors.

Nicastro's opponent, former Seattle Times gossip columnist Jean Godden, would like you to believe she presents a "mature" alternative to Nicastro. Don't buy it. Godden is a liberal in the Seattle Way tradition: pro-process, antidensity, and painfully nonspecific. Pressed to say how she would vote on Mayor Greg Nickels' development proposals, Godden would offer only that she would bring all sides to the table before making any big decisions. She was similarly vague on budget cuts, transportation, and creating jobs. We need a populist firebrand, not a wishy-washy, vague, let's-bring-everyone-to-the-table-and-get-nothing-done liberal. The Stranger Bowling League says: Vote Nicastro.

Seattle City Council Position 3


City Council President Peter Steinbrueck hardly has a challenger. His opponent, Zander Batchelder, is running mainly to promote the districting initiative. That's fine with the Bowling League--we're for the districting initiative. And besides, we like Steinbrueck.

Steinbrueck is one of the more progressive members of the council, advocating for low-income housing and defending vulnerable social services (he restored services axed from the 2003 budget, and pledged to spare them next year). He's also a solid ally to lefty council member Nick Licata. Though Steinbrueck's got his faults--his unwieldy ego temporarily stalled the teen dance ordinance repeal--overall, he's a good guy. Vote Steinbrueck.

Seattle City Council Position 5


We've called Tom Rasmussen "bland," "mousy," and a "yawn." Nonetheless, the Stranger Bowling League thinks Rasmussen offers a progressive alternative to Pageler's stick-in-the-mud nanny-state conservatism. He wants to repeal the Pageler-backed impound ordinance, supports safe injection sites(!), and opposes a wacko plan to build two monorails converging on downtown, a costly, monkey-wrench proposal that would require the monorail agency to build two maintenance bases. (Monorail saboteur Pageler says she's "intrigued" by the downtown chamber-backed proposal.) And Rasmussen says he'll vote against the asinine 15-year-old strip club moratorium (i.e., ban), which Pageler has supported.

We are concerned that Rasmussen will become ensconced in the council's controlling faction of mushy liberals, sacrificing growth at the altar of process. He wouldn't commit when we asked him about raising building heights, whether he'd support Steinbrueck's parking tax, or adding density around monorail stations. And although Rasmussen rightly derided Pageler's recent call to institute a four-foot rule at strip clubs as last-minute electioneering, he wouldn't say flat out he opposed such idiotic nannying. (By the way Margaret, city records show that The Sands strip joint--where you made your recent pitch--has substantially lower incidents of prostitution, assault, drug abuse, rape, and burglary than in directly adjacent neighborhoods, or when compared to the city average. In summary: Pageler may have defamed a local business with her campaign temper tantrum.)

Ultimately, a box of cock rings would be better than three-term incumbent Pageler, who supported every one of Mark Sidran's "civility laws" (including the poster ban and the teen dance ordinance), set in motion decisions that led to electricity rate increases, and looked for another job--with the chamber of commerce(!)--while on the city's payroll.

Vote Rasmussen, a progressive with a record (as head of the mayor's senior citizens office) of sticking up for the vulnerable.

Seattle City Council Position 7


We've had run-ins with incumbent Heidi Wills, who we dubbed a "Prozac Democrat" when we first encountered her treacly feel-good "charm" during her '99 campaign. We went on to call her Heidi "Whitey" Wills when she backtracked on repealing the suspect impound ordinance. We looked on in horror as she pushed to overturn the first monorail initiative. And we noted her resemblance to Tracy Flick, the ambitious ass licker in Election, thanks to Wills' you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours relationships with Democratic pols like Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims--relationships that lead her to bad decisions like reconfirming Seattle City Light Superintendent Gary Zarker and wimping out on the aforementioned impound ordinance.

But when all is said and done, we like Wills' progressive agenda. She's one of the council's leading civil rights watchdogs. She's a fierce advocate for environmental protection. And she's been instrumental in forging intricate compromises that preserve or expand low-income housing.

Her media opponents attack her as one of the council's kids, lacking substance and experience; opponent David Della has run a relentlessly negative campaign unfairly tagging Wills as "Rate Hike Heidi" for her stewardship of City Light. Both are wrong. Wills knows her issues and fights for them, and the bad decisions at City Light were made during Margaret Pageler's tenure as energy committee chair. Don't believe the anti-Heidi hype. Reelect Wills.

Seattle City Council Position 9

Vote for John Manning

We sorta endorsed John Manning in the primary: "Vote for [Jim] Compton's opponent, John Manning." That was all the enthusiasm we could muster then. But this is now--and we're endorsing Manning for real.

First, a recap on conservative incumbent Compton: He's timid on cop reform, a red light on renters' rights, a brainless cheerleader for Paul Allen, ethically challenged, and God, are we tired of Compton's cloying mea culpas about needing to be more sensitive about this and more aware of that. You've had four years to "get it," Jim; learning-curve time is up.

Meanwhile, Manning is intent on restoring trust between neighborhoods and police. We like the idea of having this former cop with a neighborhood sensibility heading up the council's police committee. (He gets that neighbors feel excluded from the accountability process.) It helps that he's still got some cop in him too. "Black teenagers are smoking crack not pot," he scolded the Election Bowling League after we tried lecturing this black man with our white liberal analysis about black kids getting unfairly busted for weed.

But Manning's not a simplistic tough-on-crime guy. He told us he'd vote to repeal Mark Sidran's impound ordinance because it unfairly hits the poor. In fact, Manning's got a flair for common sense: Running the monorail through Seattle Center is "a natural," he said emphatically, while Nickels' plan to fix Mercer is a waste of money.

Manning did resign from the council in 1996 after two domestic violence arrests, but we're confident he's come out on the other side of counseling and reflection a changed man. Manning: highly recommended.

City of Seattle Charter Amendment No. 5 Vote by Districts


Backers of this initiative, who collected nearly 30,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, are asking Seattle to change the way it elects its city council. Currently, all nine council members are elected citywide--which means that you don't have a specific rep in city hall. It's a recipe for a politically homogenous city council. In other words, Margaret Pageler must please the same voters that Jim Compton, Judy Nicastro, Heidi Wills, and Peter Steinbrueck must please. To win those votes, they gotta say and do the same thing. Oh, and by the way, that's the same bloc of votes the mayor has to win over.

This initiative would change all that. Starting in 2005 city council members would be elected as they are in 45 out of 50 other major U.S. cities (not to mention in our state house and in the U.S. Congress): by geographic district, giving you somebody to call in city hall when you want that pothole fixed. This is what democracy looks like: Diverse interests hash out legislation that the mayor--who provides the citywide perspective--vetoes or signs into law.

Ironically, conventional wisdom on districts is that it will empower the mayor over the council. Hmmm? Seems to the Bowling League that we've got a seriously weak council right now, a council that has a big-time aversion to taking on the mayor. Again, that's because they've got the same constituency as the mayor. With the strong backing of neighborhoods, an individual council member can battle the mayor with more legitimacy (i.e., more effectively).

The Bowling League wants to see the council members empowered. Vote yes on districts.

City of Seattle Proposition No. 1 Fire Levy


The Stranger has a long-standing policy of opposing elected officials' efforts to shirk their responsibilities for funding basic services by looking to voter bailouts. We hated, for example, the county parks levy, which Ron Sims snuck onto the ballot earlier this year and passed in a low-turnout election.

So we're tempted to urge you to vote against Mayor Nickels' $167 million fire levy, which will sock the average homeowner with $73 extra in taxes for the next nine years in order to replace or renovate 32 of the city's 33 fire stations, purchase a fire boat, build a firefighter training facility, new emergency operations, and fire alarm centers. However, due to the no-brainer question at the heart of this plan--disaster preparedness--the Bowling League extends our support.

The mayor argues, convincingly, that if Seattle gets hit with a big earthquake, many of our aging stations are at risk of being knocked out of operation, which could cost countless lives.

We have questions about whether money for the fixes could have been found by means other than a levy (councilmanic debt?), and some of the stuff in this package--a new training facility?--seems like a luxury rather than a necessity. But the bottom line is that in the event of an emergency, we need our response system intact. This is the plan that the mayor and the council came up with. Vote for it.

Seattle Monorail Authority Board

Vote for Cindi Laws, who occupies one of just two seats on the board up for election (the other seven are appointed by the board itself). Laws has been a consistent voice for openness and transparency. As a steadfast monorail supporter, she's been one of the agency's toughest (and most convincing) dissident voices--and, at the same time, one of the monorail concept's biggest backers. Attorney Cleve Stockmeyer, who played a critical role getting the monorail initiative on the ballot and in establishing these few elected seats, also deserves your support.

Seattle School Board

Vote for the reformist slate, which stars standout candidates Darlene Flynn and Brita Butler-Wall; solid reformer Irene Stewart; and also Sally Soriano--who's at least better than timid incumbent Barbara Schlag Peterson. Among other things--like squarely confronting academic achievement gaps--reformers like Butler-Wall amd Flynn are better equipped to tackle the budget and hire a new super, two things the sitting board botched.

Port of Seattle

Vote for Alec Fisken, a smarty-pants City of Seattle financial planner. He'll be a sharp addition as the port wrestles with nearly $2 billion in debt. Fisken also promises to be a watchdog on the port's potential mixed-use development at the 82-acre Terminal 91 that Fisken calls "risky." Also: Send Bob Edwards back to the commission--the lone dissenter on last year's port-approved 37 percent property tax increase.

Initiative Measure 841 Ergonomic Rules


I-841 is an evil plot by homebuilders to roll back reasonable workplace safety regulations enacted by the state Department of Labor and Industries. Therefore, unless you own a homebuilding company or are an evil person (or sit on the Seattle Times editorial board), you should vote no.

At issue is whether to repeal a comprehensive set of ergonomics rules that require Washington businesses to try to cut down on employee injuries caused by heavy lifting, repetitive motion, or awkward body positioning.

Proponents of repeal fought the rules in the legislature and the courts and lost. Now they're pushing I-841, claiming the rules are a needless and costly job killer championed by power-mad union bosses.

That's a crock. Even Governor Gary Locke, a card-carrying Republicrat--and no friend of big labor--supports the rules.

These standards are reasonable, and they let businesses off the hook if making changes would be too expensive. Meanwhile, passing I-841 will let unsafe employers off the hook. Vote against it.

There are two other lower-profile measures on the ballot. King County Charter Amendment No. 1 would allow the county to shift to a two-year budget cycle. House Joint Resolution 4206 is a minor change to the state constitution about filling political vacancies. Vote yes on both.

Metropolitan King County Assessor


Noble, a three-term Democratic incumbent known for leading the fight against Tim Eyman's anti-property tax I-772, which was thrown out by the courts, is running against perennial Republican outsider candidate Richard Pope. Reelect Noble.

Metropolitan King County Council District 8


Constantine, a bright and able Democratic rising star who combines number-crunching substance with campaign-trail charisma, faces Libertarian Michael Nelson. It's no contest: Dow by a mile.