Things are so unbelievably fucked right now—Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas, racism, guns, Trump—that the race for superintendent of public instruction may not seem important.
BUT IT IS. (Everything Is More Convincing in All Caps™.)
We're not telling you that the choice between Donald and Hillary isn't world-shapingly important, or that this cleaving, violent country of ours doesn't require both your attention and a time-out. But clink clink—that's the sound of us tapping a dirty fork against one of our dusty office bongs—our big national issues, along with big national politicians, cable TV news hosts, keypad shouters, et al., are all gonna have to SHUT THE FUCK UP for just one second. Because we've got some big-ass local problems to address and a few badass local leaders to elect—as well as the normal number of passable milquetoasts who are nominally-to-far better than the alternative—right here in Washington State.
Local elections are important, yes they are. Excuse us: IMPORTANT YES THEY ARE. (Everything Is More Convincing In All Caps™.) Because local leaders become national leaders and national leaders make our national problems better or they make them worse. So if you care about national problems, dear reader (clink clink), then you better be voting in local races—and, yes, you will be voting for who we tell you to. (SECB endorsements are legally binding. Please read the fine print on your pot menu or the arbitration clause on your condom wrapper if you have questions.)
What you are about to read is the product of a solid month's worth of face-to-face/palm-to-forehead/head-to-desk interviews with congressional wannabes and the nerds who dream of becoming our motherfucking state auditor. We would much rather have spent the last month lying next to you on a beach towel or sitting with you in a shiny new light-rail car or listening in the next room while you and your SO busted some bedsprings. But we didn't do any of that. We did this. For you.
And now you owe us, dear reader. We would whisper our endorsements into your ear if we could, creepily hold your hand while you marked your ballot, and then personally lick your stamp—not a euphemism! Unless you want it to be!—but we can't do that. So you will have to find your own ballot (it's in your mailbox, stoner), get your hands on a black pen (it's the black one, stoner), read our endorsements (it's the text below, stoner), vote for who we tell you to (it's legally binding, stoner), and mail your ballot in by August 2 (it's the day after August 1, stoner).
And right after you vote in these local races—right after you vote for who we tell you to—you can turn your focus back to our unfolding national meltdown.
The Stranger Election Control Board is Sydney Brownstone, Heidi Groover, Ansel Herz, Tim Keck, Ana Sofia Knauf, Tricia Romano, Eli Sanders, and Dan Savage. The Stranger does not endorse in uncontested races—which for this primary election, means races with two or fewer people in them. We also don't endorse in races we forgot to issue endorsements for.
This meeting was a rough one. Democratic incumbent Patty Murray didn't accept the SECB's request for an audience—how dare she!—but a bunch of her Republican challengers did, including one who believes "the scientists are out" on climate change (WRONG). The SECB was treated to a freewheeling conversation about the glories of the free market until we were all curled up in the fetal position on the floor.
After Murray's Republican challengers left, we crawled back into our seats and voted to endorse Murray. As insulted as we were that she couldn't even find time to call in—and although nothing short of a video of Murray lip-synching Adele's "Hello" is gonna make it right—it was not a hard decision. Murray has been a champion for women and working people. She has introduced legislation to increase federal protections against wage theft, she's fought to defend Planned Parenthood, and she's worked on a deal with Senate Republicans to find funding to fight the Zika virus. In an e-mail—which is not an in-person meeting or a phone call! Hello?—Murray pledged to keep working on those issues as well as marijuana policy. She's also promising to protect Washington doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and get marijuana businesses better access to banking—a key shortfall in this whole state's legalize/Feds look the other way scheme. A+ pandering, Patty! But you are still not forgiven!
Murray's main opponent is Chris Vance, a #NeverTrump Republican who, compared to the rest of his party, does not come across like a total lunatic. But Vance is just another gun-of-the-mill conservative, especially on the issue of taxes. And guns. Vance also had Carly "Planned Parenthood is aborting fetuses alive to harvest their brains!" Fiorina headline a fundraiser for him on July 11 and claimed that was okay because he agrees with her on other issues. Yeahhhhh. No. Vote Murray.
US Representative Congressional District 1
We nearly endorsed Alex Storms, a proud Bernie Bro with predator-looking facial hair because snoozy incumbent Suzan DelBene was SO FUCKING WISHY-WASHY. She's the human equivalent of the goddamned shrug emoji.
Should we abolish the superdelegates, Suzan?
Should our state tax carbon, Suzan?
Should Congress vote to recognize the Duwamish Tribe, Suzan?
Should all drugs be decriminalized, Suzan?
We hated Storms, but at least he was willing to say where he stood. Abolish superdelegates: Yes. Carbon tax: Yes. Duwamish recognition: Yes. Drug decriminalization: No. The only thing DelBene seemed remotely enthused about was an obscure sales tax measure that would reclaim money from remote transactions for the state. Zzzzzzz.
DelBene's crushing dullness almost led us to endorse a fuckwit candidate who has no business running for office. But we can't hate her just because she's boring. We have to give props to DelBene for her efforts to protect women's abortion rights, restrict the purchase of guns, and provide funding for a number of resources for drug users including housing, job placement, and treatment. She may have nearly bored us to death, but DelBene has a history of actively working on progressive issues. Storms, who is a Boeing engineer, is all talk. Vote DelBene.
US Representative Congressional District 7
DO! NOT! VOTE! MCDERMOTT! (Everything Is More Convincing in All Caps™.)
We have to put this in all caps because one of the candidates in this race wants you to be confused. Jim McDermott is the lefty Democrat retiring after representing über-liberal Seattle in Congress for nearly three centuries. He will not be on your ballot. Joe McDermott is a King County Council Member. He will be on your ballot. Many voters—because many voters are idiots (a few SECB members, too!)—will vote for Joe on "name recognition" alone. But not you! You won't vote for Joe, because he's astonishingly boring and nearly devoid of ideas. (In other words, a perfect fit for the county council, where he should stay!)
Pramila Jayapal is the one you want. The SECB initially had a tough time making the call between Jayapal and Brady Walkinshaw, a hot gay urbanist who's represented Capitol Hill in the state legislature and has a truly impressive track record of actual accomplishments. Those Seattle cops stopping fatal heroin overdoses with Naloxone spray? Thanks to a law Walkinshaw got passed. We hope he keeps doing great things in the legislature, and we expect great things from him in the future. (Mayor? City council? Think about it, Brady.) Jim McDermott was nudged into retirement, too, by Walkinshaw launching a challenge against him. After Walkinshaw made his bold move, the other candidates jumped in.
But Jayapal is simply in a class of her own: a fierce, deep thinker who's been called the "next Elizabeth Warren." She wants to remake the Democratic Party into the truly progressive, pro–working class, pro–racial justice party that it claims to be. Jayapal went toe-to-toe with the Bush administration after 9/11, founding "Hate Free Zone" (now OneAmerica), stopping the deportations of innocent Somalis, and registering thousands of immigrant families to vote. As a Washington state senator representing South Seattle, she took a stand against members of her own party who tried to push through shady laws at the behest of payday lenders and launched a campaign to get rid of the state's racist landmarks.
FUN FACT! Jayapal doesn't live in the 7th District. She lives in the 9th District, and could have and should have challenged incumbent Adam Smith—just like Walkinshaw challenged McDermott. And if she had challenged Smith, we might've sent two feisty progressives to DC. But Jayapal didn't challenge Smith for reasons.There's no rule that says she has to live within the district she wants to represent—and there's no rule that says we have to endorse someone who does, either.
ANNOYING FACT: Jayapal refused to endorse Clinton after she clinched the nom—she also refused to give us a straight answer about why, annoying some SEBC members. That was then: Bernie endorsed Hillary, and now Jayapal has, too.
Still! Jayapal is the right person to take Seattle's signature "far-left" policies, including the $15 minimum wage, national and mainstream. If—retch—Trump manages to win, then we'll need Jayapal in the trenches. If Clinton wins, then we'll need Jayapal to keep the party grounded in the principles of its base. Vote Jayapal.
US Representative Congressional District 8
UPDATE: Wow, we totally fucked this one up. Vision blurred by our years-long dislike of idiot congressman Dave Reichert (or maybe it was by that “very special” hit someone gave us to get us over the depressing realization that anti-choice, pro-gun, empty suit Reichert is probably going to win again), we fixated on Democrat Tony Ventrella. He’s a former KING TV sportscaster, people like sports and sports guys, and we thought: “Maybe in the purplish 8th District, they like sports and sports guys better than guns and trying to control women’s bodies?” But, uh, then we realized… a short time before our deadline (don’t tell our boss)… that Ventrella dropped out of the race weeks ago for “personal reasons.” (Really, don’t tell our boss. He still thinks Ventrella is in the race.) Then, for reasons that are now lost to time and that “very special” stuff, we thought it would be funny to endorse Ventrella anyway, since he’s still on the ballot because he dropped out so late. WHICH WAS A FUCKING STUPID MOVE because there’s another Democrat in the race, Santiago Ramos, who has the support of many local Democratic organizations, Congressman Adam Smith (who the SECB likes a lot, see below), and a number of Democratic state legislators. Our bad. Ramos faces an uphill battle, but if you’re voting in the 8th District, there’s no reason to throw your vote away on Ventrella. Whoever told you to do that should be slapped. (Don’t worry, we promptly formed a circular slapping squad and took care of it.) Ramos is a self-made immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico, who went from knowing only three English words to becoming a US citizen, an intern for US senator Maria Cantwell, a graduate of the University of Washington, and (for his MBA) a graduate of Western Washington University. During recent redistricting, the 8th District was rejiggered to include a bunch of brand-new conservative fuckwits in Eastern Washington, making Reichert’s seat safer. But that redistricting also drew in a lot of brand-new Latino voters who Ramos should definitely be able to win in a contest between a conservative empty suit and a sports guy who’s no longer in the race. Sorry we initially biffed this one so bad, 8th District. Vote Ramos.
US Representative Congressional District 9
We wanted to love Jesse Wineberry. But the former state representative wasn't able to pinpoint one specific policy that incumbent Adam Smith either supported or ignored that had hurt or benefitted his South Seattle district. Instead, Wineberry made repeated jabs at the congressman for his poor attendance recently—due to Smith's recovery from three fucking hip surgeries.Low blows. The SECB is not above low blows—or mile-high blows, or horizontal blows, or maintenance blows—but we expect more from a congressional challenger.
Yes, Smith is a white dude representing the most diverse district in the state. (And, yes, Pramila Jayapal coulda and probably shoulda challenged Smith.) But in his 19 years in Congress, Smith actively worked with and advocated for communities of color. In the last year, he has ensured local Somalis could send remittances to their families back home, introduced legislation to improve conditions for detainees at the Northwest Detention Center, and supported initiatives to make it easier to prosecute police for use of deadly force.
Smith has fucked up, too. In June, he voted on the wrong side of a weapons amendment that would have blocked transferring devastating cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. Smith told us he and his staffers misunderstood the bill. That's a bullshit excuse.
Smith has been good, but we want to see him be better. No more "leading from the background," Adam. Communities of color—the people of your district—are disproportionately affected by police violence and discriminatory policy making. They don't need a wallflower. We want to see Smith be bold and rise to the occasion. His head is mostly in the right place, but his voice needs to be there, too. Vote Smith.
Oh, Jay. We're so sorry. The SECB always invites every candidate who files to run for an elected office to our endorsement interview. Every. Candidate. This year's un-illuminating shitshow of gubernatorial endorsement interviews made us question that approach.
When Governor Inslee showed up at 9 a.m. on a Friday morning, so did Bill Hirt, a candidate campaigning solely based on his opposition to light rail, along with James Robert Deal, a Lynnwood attorney concerned with fluoridation of the water supply and the tyranny of vaccines. Hirt eventually became so frustrated with what he perceived to be the SECB's lack of interest in his moronic platform (he was right!) that he stormed out of the meeting (hooray!).
Meanwhile, the only guy who actually has a chance against Inslee didn't show at all. Bill Bryant, a smarmy Republican businessman-turned-port-commissioner, isn't speaking to the SECB. Bryant is promising a moratorium on all regulations until we justify the ones we currently have, as well as a promise to restructure every department by giving them a "strategic objective" (and then dissolving departments that don't meet said strategic objective). Bryant refuses to say whether or not he's voting for Donald Trump. He also never clarified whether he was a supporter of the anti-trans "bathroom law" that, thankfully, failed to get enough signatures to make this year's ballot.
As port commissioner, Bryant threw the federally unrecognized Duwamish Tribe under the bus when he helped remove artifacts discovered on port land from the Duwamish Longhouse. (Fuck you, Bill.) He also mocked Seattle's public process (something he was supposed to be participating in transparently) after protesters criticized the port's quick-and-dirty decision to host Shell's Arctic drilling rigs. Meanwhile, Bryant says Inslee's carbon tax will do "nothing to protect the environment" and kill jobs. That's bullshit. Bryant uses labor as a shield when it's convenient to him, but he also takes money from maritime executives who fight dockworkers. He calls himself a conservationist, but he's getting support from industry giants attempting to build America's largest coal export terminal on Puget Sound.
Jay Inslee hasn't been perfect. (And, hey, neither has the SECB.) Inslee thought he could get a carbon tax through the oil-soaked, Republican-dominated state senate. Jay! These shitwads don't even believe in climate change! The carbon cap was a clever way to produce $1 billion in new education funding for the state, but the plan fell flat on its face. Since then, Inslee has used his executive powers to order a cap on state carbon emissions—one that enviros say won't make much of a dent—and has appealed the ruling of a judge who put the state on a court-ordered deadline to get that carbon cap done. That's weak shit for the nation's supposedly "greenest" governor.
On the upside: Inslee implemented the Affordable Care Act, expanded Medicaid, and saved the state more than $38 million. He oversaw the passage of a $16 billion transportation package. He's one of the nation's most solid progressives when it comes to social issues and calls bullshit on senate Republicans. (Inslee called Trump a "millionaire with a million insecurities." Burn!) We'd like to see what he does to fund education in the next four years, hopefully with a Democratic majority in the senate at his back. Vote Inslee.
What the fuck does the lieutenant governor even do? No one seems to know. There are three serious Democrats in this race, and their biggest fight is over what they could do if they won this office.
The SECB wasn't sure what a lieutenant governor does, either, so we bummed some uppers off a high-school kid and started googling. It turns out the lieutenant governor presides over the state senate, sits on the rules committee (which helps determine which legislation moves forward), chairs a committee on economic development and international relations, and fills in for the governor when he or she is out of state. In other words, it's kind of a parliamentary thing, half legislative and half executive, but it's elected in a partisan race separate from either the senate or the governor.
What the actual fuck?
Anyway, some people believe the lieutenant governor should be focused on fairness and diplomacy—it's "not an 'in your face, my way or the highway' job," says Brad Owen, the guy who has the job now but isn't running for reelection (and thank God for that, because Owen is a useless tool)—and others believe it should be more of an activist position used to push for progressive policies.
That's where our pick, Cyrus Habib, comes in. Habib is up against a couple of formidable Democrats—we particularly liked Karen Fraser—but he's the most enthusiastic about using the office as a bully pulpit and a check on Republicans.
The child of Iranian immigrants, Habib lost his eyesight as a child and then attended Columbia, Oxford, and Yale. In Olympia, he has supported paid sick leave, allowing public testimony by video, improved political representation for minorities, regulating ride-share companies, and improving education access for students with disabilities. He believes guns should be banned in the entire Capitol, including the senate chambers.
Owen warns Habib that too much partisanship in the lieutenant governor's seat can "cause rancor and political mistrust." Maybe, but Owen's evenhandedness hasn't stopped senate Republicans from running amok, wasting time on anti-choice, anti-trans legislation, dragging their feet on education funding, and abruptly firing the state's pro-transit transportation secretary because they were mad about toll lanes. Even if the lieutenant governor can't stop their bullshit, he or she can loudly speak up against it. Maybe Habib will cause some "rancor," but rancor is just what the state senate—both unhinged Republicans and sleepy mainstream Democrats—needs. Vote Habib.
Secretary of State
This is an easy one, so we'll keep it quick.
Tina Podlodowski brought us cupcakes. So she gets our endorsement. We can be bought. (In fairness to the SECB: Joe McDermott brought us beer, and we didn't endorse him. So maybe we can't be bought after all? Or maybe our price is sugar and not booze?)
Also a factor: It's time for a change in who runs our state's elections. Kim Wyman, the incumbent Republican, won't condemn Trump, her party's bigoted presidential nominee, and has resisted passing the Washington Voting Rights Act (perhaps because it would enable minority communities in Eastern Washington to kick out lifetime Republicans and elect people who might, you know, actually represent them). Podlodowski, a Democrat and a former Seattle City Council member, supports postage-free ballots—hallefuckinglujah!—same-day registration, and the Washington Voting Rights Act. "If [supporting] the Voting Rights Act is not the job of the secretary of state," she asked, "then what the heck is?" Wyman had no answer. Vote Podlodowski.
Senator Marko Liias made headlines—in this here paper—when he came out as the prime sponsor of a bill aiming to jack up the already insanely high interest rates on payday loans. Liias, who'd received donations from payday lenders, eventually withdrew his support for the bill, which would have made it damn near impossible for folks who borrow from payday lenders—already poor, already struggling—to ever repay the money they borrowed.
What kind of person works like hell to get his sorry ass elected and then thinks, "I came to Olympia to help those poor, oppressed payday loan companies." This guy did—this guy that we're endorsing in his current race for an even higher office. Liias's response when we pummeled him with questions about his payday loan debacle: "I fucked up on that."
You sure did, buddy. And if you had drawn a stronger challenger in this race, we would've endorsed that person instead. But you didn't draw a stronger challenger, and so here we are—endorsing a dude who is best known for wiggling his tongue up the filthy rear end of the payday loan industry! But Liias is the strongest Democrat in this race, and so here we are—wiggling our tongue up his rear end! We can rim Liias with a semi-clear conscience, however, since he swears to God that he's going to apply his millennial policy ideals to the treasurer's office. Instead of anilingusing payday lenders, Liias wants to tackle reducing student-loan debt across the state, and with a related bill delayed in the Republican-controlled senate, Liias said he believes he can effect more change for his fellow millennials from the treasurer's office.
Someone has to run against the Republican Party's candidate in this race—Michael Waite, an evil human version of the Geico gecko who is backing that shitstain Bill Bryant. Do we want a Bryant crony in this or any other statewide office? Fuck no. Vote Liias.
We felt a little emotionally manipulated when Jeff Sprung sat down and told us that his parents barely survived the Holocaust and that's why he was running for state auditor. (Maybe our empathy was all tapped out that day, or maybe we're just terrible people. You decide!) Anyway, despite the initial awkwardness, his passion for the most mind-numbingly boring but still absurdly important office swayed us.
As a Seattle-based attorney, Sprung has busted shady banks, health insurance companies, and accounting firms for fraud and has made himself known for advocating on behalf of whistle-blowers and consumers alike. He's even snapped up endorsements from Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Planned Parenthood Northwest's legal arm. As state auditor, Sprung says he wants to work with the Department of Health to ensure the public, particularly those on Medicaid or Medicare, are actually getting the best prices on life-saving drugs.
We've spent the last year watching the state's current auditor, Troy Kelley, being paraded through court for swindling millions of dollars from consumers—you know, the main thing his office is supposed to work against. (Full disclosure: We endorsed Kelley. In our defense, he brought a case of Little Debbie Snack Cakes to the interview.) Sprung will be able to anchor the auditor's office with his dedication to protecting the public from greedy bastards like his predecessor. Vote Sprung.
Commissioner of Public Lands
We don't know what kind of uppers Hilary Franz is on, but dear GOD, can she please send a care package over to the Stranger offices ASAP? This lady is I-N-T-E-N-S-E. She's the executive director of Futurewise, the statewide environmental group, and in an endorsement interview with three of the other people running for the open seat of public lands commissioner, she swooped in riding on a dragon and incinerated them all. (Seriously, at one point, when we started talking about urban sprawl, she started breathing heavily, gripped the table, and said, "I'M DYING. I'M DYING. THIS IS MY ISSUE, BABY!")
Also, check her rhymes: Hilary Franz for Public Lands. Done!
But here's the deeper deal. If you care about a third of the land in the state of Washington, including forests, streams, saltwater tidelands, and even the bottom of the Columbia River, you need to give a fuck about who our public lands commissioner is. The Department of Natural Resources, which the commissioner of public lands runs, regulates the timber industry. It fights wildfires. It regulates surface mining. It maintains forest health. It has a geology unit to prevent another catastrophic mudslide like in Oso. If you want to make sure Washington State doesn't turn into a charred, bald, and chapped wasteland, you need someone smart and passionate in charge of the DNR.
The SECB walked away from the smoking remains of our windowless conference room convinced that Franz is the person for the job. She was an environmental attorney for 20 years and served on the Bainbridge Island City Council before taking the statewide position at Futurewise, a nonprofit that helps protect shorelines and thousands of acres of farmland across the state. She helped create a publicly owned water bank in Kittitas County to protect local communities from drought. She helped launch a Bainbridge energy conservation campaign that gained national accolades. She says she wants to promote jobs in clean energy and opposes lax standards for transporting crude oil by rail. Franz also gets that the DNR needs to manage its working forests better, which includes selective thinning. She says she's willing to stand up to the timber industry regarding logging in ecologically and geologically critical places. AND HOLY SHIT, SHE IS EXCITED ABOUT IT. Vote Franz!
Superintendent of Public Instruction
UPDATE: We have rescinded our Erin Jones endorsement and will be backing Chris Reykdal for the general election.
Washington is officially the state for horrific, rampant, daily child abuse. The state is criminally underfunding its school system, depriving 1.1 million children of a basic, adequate level of education—and thereby hurting their developing brains and their prospects in life. This is according to the 2012 Washington State Supreme Court McCleary ruling. The court has been fining the legislature $100,000 a day, but this abuse goes on, and on, and on. It's fucking sick.
Erin Jones, our choice for superintendent of public instruction, cannot put an end to this state of affairs on her own. But she talks a good game about developing a multiracial coalition to push for more funding and more equitable outcomes for students. Too often, as Jones pointed out, who gets what in our under-resourced schools is determined by wealthy white parents with time on their hands. Jones's eyes positively lit up when we asked about delivering the tribal curriculum that Native American students deserve. A mother and career educator who worked for the current superintendent, she would be the first African American woman elected to statewide office.
The Washington Education Association, the statewide teachers union, has endorsed Chris Reykdal, the next-strongest candidate in the race—surely because of Jones's connections to charter schools. She once testified in favor of Rainier Prep, a charter school in South Seattle, but her testimony doesn't reveal her to be an ideological devotee to charter schools generally. Jones said she testified in order to support a longtime friend and former public school teacher who was opening the school. Plus, charter school backers have given her a moderate amount of campaign cash. But Reykdal couldn't pin Jones down as a charter-school nut during a debate in front of the SECB. (And, as a state legislator, Reykdal voted for loading students with even more standardized testing, though he argues against that trend now.) "I voted against charter schools [in 2012]," Jones told us, "because... I don't believe they guarantee success for students of color." We want to see Jones get in there and tear shit up, holding the line against privatization and bringing a civil-rights-movement approach to fixing our schools. Stop the child abuse. Vote Jones.
Democrat Mike Kreidler has held his seat for the last 16 years. But instead of napping in his cushy office chair, he's been busy making sure Washingtonians don't get grifted by greedy insurance companies.
In 2002, Kreidler made waves by requiring insurance companies to cover women's contraceptives along with other prescription drugs. In our interview, Kreidler said he would support pharmacies allowing women to pick up 12 months of birth control at once. In a landmark decision in 2014, Kreidler banned insurers from refusing health-care coverage to transgender people, which was critical for those seeking transition-related medical treatment as well as mental-health resources. "Insurance companies never want to be first. So I made them all first," he said, like a motherfucking boss.
Kreidler's opponent is Republican Richard Schrock, who is Snohomish County's fire commissioner. Schrock isn't a boo-hiss Bad Republican™. But, in the end, we could not endorse someone who associated themselves with the party being led—over a cliff, we hope—by Donald "Racist Baby Hands" Trump. Vote Kreidler.
Legislative District No. 32, Representative Position No. 1
Democratic state representative Cindy Ryu immigrated to the United States when she was 12, became a naturalized citizen when she was 19, and served as the mayor of Shoreline (first-ever Korean American woman mayor in the United States!) before she went to the state legislature. She supports safe consumption sites for drug users, up-zoning single-family zones in urban areas to decrease urban sprawl, a capital gains tax to fund education, and closing corporate tax loopholes. She opposes charter schools. Most importantly: She's a big proponent of police reform. Hell. Yes.
One of Ryu's challengers, independent Keith Smith, says that with no prior political experience, he will "come in and find ways to make things more efficient." He doesn't want to raise taxes, and he'll just find those efficiencies. Find 'em. The efficiencies. Somewhere. Okay, dude, how about this efficiency: BAN. MEN. Ban them all. Seriously, what would happen if, for like, just... one election season (just one!) men couldn't run? Because only a man would come to an endorsement interview thinking that he can somehow find all the efficiencies others can't. And only an entitled efficiencies-finder of a man would think he represents the change people want.
Sorry. The SECB—which, to be fair, has not yet taken a vote on whether to ban its male members—just had to get that off its chest. Vote Ryu.
Legislative District No. 32, Representative Position No. 2
Oh boy. This was a tough endorsement interview—not because it's a tough choice among the candidates, but because all the candidates together seemed to represent everything wrong with politics in 2016.
The lineup: establishment incumbent Democrat Ruth Kagi, Bernie organizer Wesley Irwin, no-show libertarian Alex Hart, and Republican David Schirle.
You cannot not vote for Kagi. She's been serving in the legislature for 18 years, and she has made families and children her cause. She created the Office of Homeless Youth in the state, chaired the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee, and wants to pass a capital gains tax to help fund education. Generally, she checks off all the other boxes on progressive causes in the state legislature when it comes to abortion and guns and the rest. But where she's not so great? Charter schools. She voted to siphon funds from the state lottery to the privately run institutions at a time when Washington's public schools are already unconstitutionally underfunded. (Remind us: How does privatizing our public school system create more public accountability?) Charter schools represent a major split in the Democratic Party: Gates-idolizing reformers support them, but the state party officially opposes them. Suburban Republicans who want to see schools run like businesses support them. Representative Cindy Ryu, Kagi's fellow state representative from the 32nd, voted against the bill to preserve them, and Governor Jay Inslee avoided taking sides when he allowed that bill, buoyed by bipartisan votes, to become law.
Kagi's opponents included Wesley Irwin, an educator who rightly criticized her on charter schools. Irwin is a 36-year-old teacher turned Bernie Sanders organizer, and he blasted Kagi for voting to give Boeing a tax cut way back in 2003. But while Irwin had the right critiques, it seemed he had few ideas on how he would get a Republican-dominated state senate to actually roll back corporate tax cuts and implement an income tax as well as a capital gains tax. Plus, Irwin's a Bernie or Bust-er. When we asked him whether the possibility of Trump becoming president and rolling back progress for people who weren't white men might change his mind about not supporting Clinton, this Bernie Bro stayed resolute. (Fuck you, Wesley.)
And finally, we received a string of text messages from David Schirle, a Republican candidate who could not make our endorsement interview but told us that "our founders knew that man could not be free in a society where the government is powerful." He told us that he wants to reconcile with Democrats, but also that he has "no grand platform with 'new' laws." He just likes individual freedom. "We are all Americans," Schirle texted us. "Not hyphenated!" (Fuck-you-too, David.)
Legislative District 34, Position 1
Representative Eileen Cody is a progressive badass. The short spiel is that Cody, a Group Health nurse who has served in the legislature for 22 years, has long been a champion of left-wing causes. Changing the law to treat substance-abuse disorders like mental-health problems, fighting to make health-insurance policies that offer maternity coverage also cover abortion, fighting for better forms of gun control, and supporting compensation for people who have been wrongfully imprisoned are just a few.
Cody's opponents include a 19-year-old Republican promising to tackle debt and decrease regulation, as well as a 33-year-old sergeant in the Seattle Police Department who wants to pass legislation to "incentivize donations that support private schools" in order to solve our state's criminal underfunding of public schools. (Really, dude? Really?!)
Cody, on the other hand, came out against preserving charter schools—a position that splits centrist Dems—and she's got her lasers focused on the upcoming legislative session, where the battle to fund education will come down to raising taxes. She wants a capital gains tax and a tax on the sale of stocks and bonds, and she thinks Republicans will ultimately have to give in. Yes, she's been in the state legislature a long time. But Cody's not there to hold the line—she's there to fight for progressive policies, particularly in health care. Like when Republicans wanted to take some disabled populations off state-funded managed care and make them pay for service? Cody threatened to go to the press, and the GOP backed down. Cody for the win!
Legislative District No. 43, Representative Position No. 1
This region's homelessness crisis is one of this state's most massive injustices, and our legislature gives less than a tenth of a fuck about it on a good day. This must change. The way we change it is to send a brilliant, fearless housing wonk to represent Capitol Hill in the state legislature.
Nicole Macri is that wonk.
Macri is deputy director of the Downtown Emergency Services Center, a vital homeless services provider that runs a housing project known as 1811 Eastlake. That program, which allows chronically homeless residents to drink while receiving housing and services, faced intense opposition from neighborhoods, but it has since proven massively successful, transitioning residents into permanent housing and lowering emergency room costs for taxpayers. Macri knows how to take on a hard fight and win. She supports safe drug consumption sites, upzoning single-family neighborhoods, and housing first, the policy embodied by 1811 Eastlake.
The other Democrats in this race are fine—particularly environmental advocate Sameer Ranade—but Macri, a lesbian and the only woman in the race, is undoubtedly the best qualified and most exciting. (There's also an earnest young Republican running to represent Capitol Hill. HA-HA-HA-HA-HA. So cute.) One more thing: As Macri points out, the 43rd's other house member is Frank Chopp, but, as speaker of the house, Chopp acts as a moderate in order to work with house members from across the state. That means the other rep we send from Capitol Hill should be bold, and Macri is promising to be hella bold. Vote Macri.
Flip the State Senate!
Legislative District 17, Vancouver: Tim Probst
Legislative District 25, Puyallup: Karl Mecklenburg
Legislative District 28, University Place: Marisa Peloquin
Legislative District 41, Mercer Island: Lisa Wellman
Progressives in Seattle are really good at sending our people to the state legislature in Olympia. We send Democrats to Olympia, and often they're fiery super-progressives with vape pens in their desks. Meanwhile, the suburbs where our parents/coworkers/high-school friends/mistaken Tinder matches live send moderate Republicans who don't seem that bad until they show up in Olympia and caucus with the not-at-all-moderate/totally batshit Republicans sent over from Eastern Washington. That turns the legislature into the deadlocked, bigoted, tax-allergic disaster it is.
We've got to help elect Democrats in these districts.
Republicans have a slim majority in the state senate: They hold 25 seats and one "Democrat" (Tim Sheldon, Potlatch) caucuses with them, effectively creating a 26–23 Republican majority. That gives the Rs the ability to block good stuff (like new taxes, police reform, and the Washington Voting Rights Act) and introduce terrible stuff (like abortion restrictions and anti-trans "bathroom" legislation). To accomplish anything good, we have to change that.
But you're not gonna change it by volunteering in your Seattle district that's guaranteed to send a Democrat to Olympia no matter what. And you're probably not gonna accomplish much driving over to Eastern Washington and trying to unseat some gun-toting Tea Partyer, either. Instead, focus on the purple districts that could swing Democratic this year. You may not be able to vote in these races, but you can volunteer, phone bank, knock on doors, send money, or harass your friends and family who live in these districts. (You are, in fact, legally obligated to do so. Read the fine print on your last HIV test.) If you're a progressive who cares about good ideas actually becoming reality, you can't afford to not get into these state senate races.
STATE SUPREME COURT
Justice Position No. 5
Fuck Barbara Madsen.
In 2006, Madsen wrote that the state's Defense of Marriage Act was "constitutional because the legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, is essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children's biological parents."
So fuck her—but vote for her, too, because we have no other choice.
After getting his bullshit initiatives struck down repeatedly, initiative idiot Tim Eyman is on a mission to yank the Washington State Supreme Court to the right. He thinks he can replace the judges who are on the court now with über-conservatives and get his way the next time he has an unconstitutional initiative to peddle. Don't let this happen.
Barbara Madsen's opponents are a disbarred lawyer running over a grudge against Madsen that we still don't totally understand and the Eyman-supported Republican prosecutor in Kittitas County, Greg Zempel. Zempel complains that the supreme court has "picked fights" with the legislature and is too "political" and "unpredictable." That's code for "Eyman sent me," and it's bullshit.
Madsen is a competent judge who's part of a bench that has, just in the last few years, ruled charter schools unconstitutional, struck down Eyman's harebrained anti-tax nonsense, and ruled that the state is criminally underfunding K–12 schools. Madsen screwed the pooch on marriage equality—she fucked that dog to death—but she's been right on a lot of other issues. Vote Madsen.
Judge Position No. 44
Is anyone still reading this? E-mail us at email@example.com with "Still reading!" in the subject line. The first five people to write in get $20 apiece. Okay! On to Cathy Moore...
If you ever end up in court, Cathy Moore is exactly the kind of judge you want to see there. She's passionate about equity, alternatives to incarceration, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline—essential values for the superior court, which handles not only violent felonies but also family law, juvenile justice, and mental health and involuntary commitment cases.
Moore has the right combination of experience as a judge, lawyer, and advocate to serve on the court, and impressive endorsements including three state supreme court justices.
During her time on the Seattle Human Rights Commission from 2012 to 2014, Moore advocated for better police oversight and the release of three prisoners who were locked in solitary confinement after refusing to answer a federal prosecutor's questions about the political leanings of local leftists. In a letter she cosigned, Moore called it "Kafkaesque to suggest that keeping them in an environment known to cause serious and lasting psychological harm is for their own protection."
Best of all, Moore has good ideas for the court, like sending text message reminders for court dates and requiring judges and juries go through implicit bias training. She says as a judge she would set a "no tolerance policy" for "dog whistle" language often used by prosecutors. Vote Moore.
CITY OF SEATTLE
Initiative No. 123 (Viaduct Park)
Oh, for fuck's sake, this thing.
Here's the deal: The city has been trying to figure out how to get rid of the Alaskan Way Viaduct probably since before some members of the SECB were born, but definitely since 2001, when the Nisqually earthquake almost knocked it down, and super definitely since 2010, when the city council approved a plan to dig a tunnel to replace it (and that plan almost immediately became an unmitigated civic nightmare from which we may never wake up). When the viaduct finally goes—either at the hands of the city or the Big One—the city has a years-in-the-works plan to rebuild the street and add overlook points along the waterfront.
This initiative would derail that plan to save a little "architecturally interesting glimpse of the old [decrepit, deadly, ugly] viaduct" and then build a new, smaller, single-column viaduct in its place with a park on top. (They're trying to call this a "garden bridge," but come on.) This suicide spot park would hover in the sky at the same height as the current viaduct. Why? They say those views from the viaduct are just too good to lose.
We'll save our takedown of that nostalgic preservationist bullshit for another time. What you need to know is this park is never gonna happen. Supporters say they would fund it by redirecting the city funds planned for the waterfront to this project. But the viaduct park has no support from city hall, where people have spent the last several years gathering public comments on the waterfront plan. (Comments like: Get rid of that structure that physically separates downtown from the waterfront.) Major waterfront players like the aquarium—which I-123 supporter Kate Martin claims is secretly on her side but just can't say so publicly—are opposed. And the whole thing would likely face a fight that would mire the waterfront in even more years of delay. And, for those of you who really do care about the views up there, the city's waterfront park plan includes a large overlook offering the same views of the water and skyline. I-123 is a half-baked non-plan that has had no meaningful public input or support. Vote no.
Proposition No. 1 (Affordable Housing Levy)
Nobody is against this levy. No, we mean it. There's no "No" campaign. The person who showed up at the SECB to argue against it identified herself as "just a homeowner" and claimed both that property taxes are too high and that the city should make this levy bigger. (She also wore perhaps the hugest rock on her finger the SECB has ever seen.) Okay, lady.
So this thing better fucking pass. Proposition 1 is a renewal of the last housing levy passed in 2009, but, in a reflection of the current housing crisis, it's double the size. The $290 million levy would build or save 2,150 units of affordable housing for people making less than 60 percent of area median income, most of them for people making less than 30 percent, or around $27,000 per year for a family of four. (We're not thrilled that the city can't specify how many of those units will be new and how many will be saved. Vigilant oversight will be necessary.) The levy will also spend $11.5 million helping people on the verge of homelessness and $9.5 million helping low-income homeowners. (Seriously, how could you vote against this? Do we even need to keep going?)
Across Puget Sound, rents increased by 11 percent just in the final quarter of last year. In Seattle, renters need to make $23.56 an hour—!!!!—to afford a one-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to a recent report. At last count, 3,000 people were sleeping on the streets of Seattle. This is an emergency, full stop. Solutions like fees on developers and massive rezoning to encourage more dense housing throughout the city will help. But there's a certain level of low-income housing the free market will never provide. Instead, so long as we want to avoid becoming a city of only rich assholes, we must provide that housing. Poor assholes need a place to live, too, people. Hell, half of the SECB needs a place to live. Vote yes.