You can relax about one thing this Election Day: Obama is going to win Washington State. It's the rest of the ballot Seattle progressives need to worry about.
This election is your chance to have your say on the people and proposals that will have a real, tangible impact on your daily life here in Seattle—from how you get around to how much say you have over your own body and medical decisions.
But you won't be able to do any of that if you just vote for Obama. In fact, the stuff that actually affects Seattle voters the most is buried at the bottom of the ballot. Pay attention: This election matters. Here are some of the races that matter most.
• Proposition 1. The Sound Transit expansion measure is important not just because it provides 36 new miles of light rail, and not just because it's a chance to repudiate the road warriors who said transit wouldn't pass without roads. It's important because it gives Seattle-area voters the chance to chart a course away from the auto-dependent legacy of the past 50 years and toward a city where living car-free is an option, not a fantasy.
• The governor's race. Republican Dino Rossi almost beat progressive Democrat Christine Gregoire four years ago. Now he's back—stronger than before, but with the same anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-gay agenda as last time. Rossi opposes abortion rights, embryonic stem-cell research, gay marriage, and women's access to basic health care. And since governor's mansions are often stepping stones to higher office, the legacy of a Rossi governorship could extend far beyond the next four years.
• Parks and Pike Place Market. These two levies are separate, but they're arguably of equal importance to the city. The market levy would pay for overdue maintenance at Pike Place Market—and, proponents argue, protect downtown Seattle from yet another big-box, Banana Republic–anchored megamall. The parks levy would extend an existing tax that created 30 new neighborhood parks. If you support density, like shopping at farmers markets, or think you shouldn't have to live in the suburbs to enjoy a little outdoor space, you might consider supporting both.
• Initiative 985. Tim Eyman's latest would open carpool lanes to everyone, remove local control over transportation decisions, siphon $127 million a year from state funding for health care and education, and transfer voter-approved transit money to roads. This colossally stupid idea will probably pass, but the lower the margin, the easier it will be for the state legislature to overturn its worst aspects.
• Your local legislative races. Local legislators are the people who get things done for you in Olympia. They're the closest thing any of us have to elected neighborhood representatives. Find out as much as you can, read The Stranger's endorsements (coming out soon!), and don't forget to vote.