The size queens on the Stranger Election Control Board were initially excited to hear from King County Elections that the length of the ballot for the November election is record breaking. "This 18-inch ballot is the largest ever," they said. Someone in a uniform is probably stuffing it into your box right now.
Then we learned the reason this ballot is so big—so big you're going to have to fold it FOUR times just to get it into its envelope—is because it has been penis-pumped by Tim Eyman with bullshit, meaningless, time-wasting "advisory votes." That's right: Nearly half of this ballot's historic length is due to the crooked initiative peddler's unquenchable thirst for wasting taxpayer dollars on useless, nonbinding, statewide "votes" that make Eyman feel... potent? Manly? Relevant?
He's not the only embarrassing Republican out there trying to ruin our lives—but at least the one in the White House is currently being impeached. Mix yourself an impeachment cocktail (we recommend peach schnapps, vodka, and orange juice), pour it into a beer hat, and start sucking. See if you can blaze through the consequential ballot measures at the start (yes to bringing reasonable affirmative action to Washington State, hell no to another stupid-ass car-tab measure, also courtesy of Eyman, that would screw the poor and decimate public transit) while getting a good buzz going. That buzz will help you get through what’s next: all 12 of Eyman’s stupid fucking “advisory votes.” After that, you'll finally get to weigh in on who should be running city hall. Your vote will determine whether progressive candidates can save Seattle democracy from a plague of corporate cash or the keys will be handed to the corporate stooges who want nothing more than to lick the sweat off Jeff Bezos's balls.
Oh yeah, there are important votes to cast for King County Council, local ambulance services, port commission, and the long-suffering Seattle School Board. Plus, you're going to be picking King County's elections director, and you really need to avoid voting for the "derpfuck" candidate. Don't worry, we'll tell you exactly who that is.
Can't deal with reading all of this? Check our VOTING CHEAT SHEET for a concise rundown.
The SECB is Lester Black, Chase Burns, Christopher Frizzelle, Nathalie Graham, Katie Herzog, Jasmyne Keimig, Charles Mudede, Laurie Saito, Eli Sanders, Rich Smith, and Volodymyr Zelensky. The Stranger does not endorse in uncontested races or in races we forgot.
Referendum Measure No. 88
At a time when a racist, misogynist, fake-tanned, fraudulent fuckbag is running the country—and keeping the legacies of institutional racism and sexism very much alive— this year's Referendum 88 would finally legalize affirmative action in Washington State. This would effectively correct the problem created in 1998 when voters made affirmative action illegal here.
The impacts of the wrongheaded 1998 ban are now clear: From 1998 to 2019, state contracts to minority and female-owned businesses dropped from more than 13 percent to just 3.6 percent. Minority enrollment at the University of Washington also dropped, and admission rates for black, Native, and Hispanic people are still lower than their statewide demographics.
Referendum 88 would correct this wrong by allowing government agencies in this state—just government agencies, you rabid free-enterprise fanatics!—to use race as one factor among many when making hiring, admissions, or contract decisions. Referendum 88 does not allow race to be the sole factor in decision-making, nor does it mandate that less-qualified candidates must be chosen based on race. It also explicitly makes quotas illegal.
Opponents of Referendum 88 include velvet-voiced conservative talk show host John Carlson, who told us that anti-white racism is "absolutely" a problem in Washington State. The fuck? Carlson's team claims Referendum 88 would create quotas (even though it literally makes quotas illegal) and that state contracts to minority and women-owned businesses have not decreased (even though an exhaustive state study released this summer confirmed contracts to minorities have, in fact, decreased). When presented with this evidence, Carlson's pal in being opposed to this referendum, Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, told the SECB that the measure should be rejected because it's just too divisive.
"I love diversity," Ward said, channeling her inner Trump. She didn't say she was "the least racist person you'll ever meet," but she did say: "I have one of the best track records in the room on diversity and I'm proud to say it. I've won awards for it. But when you come in and say 'quotas'"—which no one, in fact, has been saying—"that's a problem. That's divisive, it's going to pit group against group."
LOL. The facts support Referendum 88. You should, too. Vote approved.
Initiative Measure No. 976
The next most important thing any Washingtonian can do this year is vote against Initiative 976. This fecal-matter frittata would destroy funding for nearly every type of public transportation in this state.
I-976 was birthed from the anal cavity of Tim Eyman, and though it almost looks appealing, because it would save you a few bucks—it would cap all vehicle licensing fees at $30 and repeal Sound Transit's ability to collect taxes—it would create apocalyptic impacts for transportation in the state, resulting in ever more apocalyptic traffic, and a bevy of other road-repair and transportation crises. It would cost the state $2.3 billion, local governments $1.9 billion, and Sound Transit $20 billion. Sound Transit, in case you're new here, is the agency building light rail routes to get cars off our insanely clogged streets.
The impact of these cuts would be felt in every corner of the state, from pothole repairs in Spokane to light rail in Bellevue to bus service in Seattle (no joke, I-976 would cut more than 170,000 hours of bus service in Seattle every year). I-976 also cuts $1.3 billion from our ferry system, repeals funding for Amtrak trains, cuts funding for major highway projects on I-405 and I-90, and would entirely eliminate transit agencies in rural places like Garfield County.
Basically, this measure is the script for an asteroid-hitting-the-planet movie, except we'd be voting for this asteroid to hit us. And it would be a handout to the 1 percent, making the car tabs on a $300,000 Ferrari cost the same as those on a $3,000 Honda.
This initiative's reckless and unfair impacts have led to a broad coalition opposing it, including all of the state's major labor unions and environmental groups, the Democratic Party, and the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association. Even the fucking cops hate this initiative!
The only person who seems to like the idea of gutting our state's transportation system is shady, self-dealing charlatan Tim Eyman. You know, the shitstain who is being sued by the state attorney general over campaign finance improprieties, recently filed for bankruptcy, and yet magically gave his campaign a $500,000 loan to make this terrible initiative a reality. Eyman's professional life appears to be burning around him: He's currently charged with illegally laundering political donations and owes more than $200,000 in court fines for refusing to turn over documents. Eyman even got banned from an Office Depot in Lacey earlier this year after he was caught on camera stealing an office chair.
Vote no on this terrible disgrace of an Eyman "idea," and then tell everyone you know to do the same.
Advisory Votes Nos. 20–31
Just so you know, it does not matter how you vote on these. The long parade of "advisory votes" on this year's ballot is the result of an old statewide initiative created by the aforementioned chair-humping goblin whose name rhymes with Rim Hymen. His supposed aim was to show voters all the tax increases passed by the state legislature each year, and to give us all a nonbinding "say" on them. (Even though we all get a fully binding say on tax increases every time we vote for, or against, our state representatives.) The result is an endless, meaningless waste of time each election season—and a costly headache for King County Elections, other ballot-printing agencies, and Washington taxpayers, who pay for this penis-pumping of our statewide ballots. (Tim, you know penis-pumping doesn't even work, right?) Close your eyes and vote maintained on all of these items.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 8200
The state legislature passed a law this year that allows elected representatives to step in and make sure government operations are running smoothly in times of local emergencies. Essentially, what this resolution is asking you to vote on is whether current law can be amended to add some language on exactly what kind of local emergencies qualify for this kind of intervention. It's literally asking whether we should include "catastrophic incident" under the umbrella of "emergency." Duh. Easy. Vote approved.
King County Proposition No. 1,
Medic One Levy
Do you want the damn ambulance to come when your inebriated ass slips on a pot gummy? Then vote yes on this no-brainer levy, which simply renews funding for King County's long-running, very successful, and very life-saving Medic One service.
For this world-class emergency medical assistance service, which any person in King County can call into action just by dialing 911, and which is so well-trained and so well-equipped that Seattle has one of the best heart-attack survival rates around, King County voters will pay only 27 cents per $1,000 of value on their house. That's if they own a house! King County voters have been supporting Medic One levies for about four decades. Now is not the time to call the waaambulance over the cost. Vote yes.
Director of Elections
The most important thing in this race is that you don't vote for the derpfuck candidate. King County director of elections Julie Wise is not the derpfuck. She is a raging wonkaholic who, four years ago, was elected to her "dream job" managing all things vote-related around here. "I love it," Wise told the SECB, before ticking through her list of election infrastructure promises made and kept.
More ballot drop boxes? Check. (When Wise started, King County had about 10 drop boxes. Now it has nearly 70.) Enhanced election audits? Check. Ballots translated into new languages to improve voter access? Check. Enhanced security measures for the county's physical and online election infrastructure? Check and check.
"I've really proven that you can have an election in which you remove barriers, increase access for all, and still have accurate and secure elections," Wise says. Note the implicit repudiation of the nationwide Republican scaremongering about how increased voter access is going to destroy America or whatever.
Wise's opponent, Mark Greene, is the perennial candidate whom the SECB delicately described as a "derpfuck" when he made a failed run for state legislature last year. We stand by our descriptor.
On Wise's agenda for her next term: a better voters' pamphlet, a successful presidential primary election, a successful presidential election, and some determined lobbying of the state legislature to get rid of Tim Eyman's bullshit advisory votes!!!!! She agrees they are expensive and pointless. "If there was ever an election that will hopefully make change on advisory votes, it's this one," she said. Vote Wise.
Council District No. 2
Back in August, after all the primary votes were tallied, first-time candidate Girmay Zahilay led seven-term incumbent King County Council member Larry Gossett by 20 points. For an unknown challenger, that's YUUUUGE. This indicates that the people of King County's District 2 (which covers the eastern side of Seattle and runs from Skyway up to Laurelhurst) are ready for a change. So is the spoiled and soiled SECB.
No disrespect to Gossett. He's a living civil-rights legend who's served the community all his life. He's the reason we see the face of Martin Luther King Jr. on the official county seal, and recently he's done decent work on affordable housing. He also helped create the ORCA LIFT program to help low-income people ride transit with cheaper fares. But he's been disappointing us lately, too.
For a municipal relations position at the county, Gossett voted for a white guy over a qualified woman of color who was recommended by the employment committee. He also voted for the King County Council to take over local arts funding organization 4Culture, opening up a previously independent public authority to political cronyism. And he doesn't seem to be up on the latest policies for dealing with kids who commit violent crimes. This is what happens when a politician doesn't have to defend against a serious challenger for nearly three decades.
Zahilay, a lawyer who runs a nonprofit with a mission to mentor middle-schoolers, has ambitious plans for meeting the county's stated goal of zero youth detention. And he's got some good ideas for making that happen, including experimenting with close-to-home facilities for children who commit violent crimes. He also promises to fight, populist-style, for a county bank and a public investment vehicle, both of which would bring in more money for housing. Plus, he scored an endorsement from Insecure star Issa Rae! (They went to Stanford together.) As an immigrant son raised in public housing in the South End, he, like Gossett, knows firsthand how vital good public policy is for the county's most disadvantaged populations.
Gossett has earned our admiration and gratitude—and you know how hard it is for the SECB to feel either of those emotions. But District 2 needs some new energy in this seat. Vote Zahilay.
Council District No. 4
King County Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles was a solid Democrat during her 20 years in Olympia, and she's voted the way we've wanted since being elected to the county council in 2015. Her opponent, Abigail Doerr, claims we need new energy in this county council seat, too, but the SECB is a little confused by Doerr's claims. More on that in a moment.
In her first term, Kohl-Welles spearheaded countywide legislation on just cause evictions, proposed a renters commission, launched an affordable childcare task force, and proposed a law requiring the county executive to create a green jobs strategy. She and her council colleague Rod Dembowski have also introduced legislation to speed up the process for converting King County Metro's buses to a zero-emission, carbon-neutral fleet.
Kohl-Welles has also found creative legislative ways to lower transit costs for the most vulnerable. As someone with a spot on the budget committee (rare for a council member in their first term), this year Kohl-Welles added a proviso that creates an income-based fare, which would "amount to zero fare for a lot of people," she told the SECB. (Kohl-Welles also cosponsored legislation that restructured Metro's fare-enforcement practices in ways that basically led to fewer instances of harassment of homeless people.)
Doerr, her opponent, is the former advocacy director at Transportation Choices Coalition and a former legislative assistant to Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw. We liked a lot of what she had to say. Her campaign is all about improving transit and fighting climate change. She knows something about both, having run the successful campaign for Sound Transit 3 and the sadly unsuccessful campaign for last year's statewide carbon fee initiative. But if Doerr is thinking she's going to get bigger stuff done, she didn't show us how she was going to do that. She says she wants to make transit free and force big employers to provide ORCA cards to their employees. So do we! But Doerr didn't have an answer when we asked her how, specifically, she could get it done as one of nine legislators on the council.
When we asked Doerr how she typically achieves her political aims, she said she's always engaged in "coalition building." She takes the "yes, and" approach. She didn't say she was going to pack the council with protesters or engage in other sorts of messy, movement-style politicking, which is the only way major progressive change happens on that council. That was disappointing.
So were some baldly ageist swipes Doerr made against Kohl-Welles during our endorsement meeting, apparently thinking the SECB would blindly march behind Doerr just because she's younger.
In her first term on the council, Kohl-Welles didn't disappoint. She's a seasoned legislator with a long track record of helping the most vulnerable, and she knows the 10,000 tricks you need to know and the 10,000 people you need to know in order to move legislation through county government. Doerr has a bright future, but we can’t get behind her on this one. Vote Kohl-Welles.
Council District No. 6
Are you ready to get your mind blown? Claudia Balducci is a rare example of an Eastside politician who actually gets it. Based on her Bellevue pedigree (former Bellevue mayor, 12 years on that city's council), the SECB's honey-badger-like political reflexes told us we should be diametrically opposed to everything she stands for. But instead of spending her political career arguing for Mercedes-Benz parking spaces and lower taxes, Balducci has been busy defending Sound Transit's East Link extension, which will connect Bellevue to Seattle in 2023.
When millionaires on the Eastside tried to kill East Link, Balducci fought to save it. When anti-transit people tried to force the East Link route to only follow I-405 and SR-520, she successfully fought for East Link to actually go into neighborhoods where people live—and even spearheaded the creation of Bel-Red, one of the state's best examples of transit-oriented development.
Balducci's opponent is anti-transit zealot Bill Hirt, a retiree whose current hobby is a website called "StopEastLinkNow.blogspot.com," where he argues that light rail will be "a disaster for the entire Eastside." Hirt is obviously not fit for office. Vote Balducci.
Council District No. 8
In his first term, King County Council member Joe McDermott cosponsored and passed the secure gun storage ordinance, increased protections for immigrants, scored more money for affordable housing, and fought (but ultimately failed, thanks in part to fellow council member Larry Gossett) to keep 4Culture independent from crony politics.
His opponent is a Safe Seattle dweeb named Michael Neher, who has, for some reason, capitalized every word in the "Background & Goals" statement of his website, so that the vague paragraph reads: "We Must Realign Spending Priorities And Stop Funding Failing Programs In Order To Get The Money To People That Need Support. Heroin Injection Sites Should Be Banned..."
Meanwhile, McDermott has been a strong and effective leader. He recently wrote a scathing letter to the head of Sound Transit after a teen got outrageously fare-enforced on the first day of school. We here at the SECB prefer scathing letters to insanely capitalized website screeds. Vote McDermott.
Commissioner Position No. 2
Sam Cho has an impressive résumé: He was a special assistant in the Obama administration (sigh, remember Obama?), he was a staffer for state senator Bob Hasegawa (sigh, remember when you could watch Hasegawa's legendary "vape flute" performance on YouTube without worrying about vape lung?), and he's currently president and owner of Seven Seas Exports, which, among other things, does some business with eggs. (Cho brought a whole box of his company's eggs to his SECB endorsement interview, which we used for eating, throwing, and—when it came to one very confused and disappointed SECB member—nesting.)
Cho has got big ideas for how to wield the Port of Seattle's fat budget of $670 million (drawn partly from property taxes). He wants to cut down on Sea-Tac Airport traffic and South Seattle air pollution by moving cargo flights away from Sea-Tac and into Grant County International Airport. He's a champion for small business and the environment, and he was the only person in our endorsement meetings to say he supports legalizing and regulating sex work to clamp down on human trafficking at the port. He can't necessarily legalize sex work as a port commissioner (and he knows this), but we appreciate the sentiment. Also, his egg business will be handed over to someone else when he wins. No egg-sploitation here. Vote Cho.
Commissioner Position No. 5
Fred Felleman, the environmental-consultant-turned-star-port-commissioner, is the only option for this position.
Felleman is the incumbent, and in his short tenure on the commission, he created the Energy & Sustainability Committee, which keeps track of and tries to lower the port's emissions. Felleman is a lover of light rail and a defender of the southern resident killer whales, and he's committed to making the port even more sustainable. That means cutting down on idling plane emissions, fighting cruise ship scrubbing discharge (still not clear on what this is, but apparently it's bad for the environment), and so much more good shit that we were barely able to scratch the surface of it all during our one-hour meeting.
The absolute jokers running against Felleman wasted our time and are wasting precious ink by daring to put their names on the ballot next to Fred's. This guy is not only knowledgeable about the port and desperate to share that knowledge through advocacy and transparent politics, but he's actually really fucking excited by it. Seriously, we have never seen someone so excited about cruise ship scrubbing laws. Felleman was so passionate that it got us passionate. We love Fred. Don't tell our boyfriend. Vote Felleman.
Council District No. 1
How's the liquor level in your beer hat? Time for a peach schnapps refill? You finally made it past all that fucking boring garbage to the main event: the city council races! There's no better place to start than with West Seattle's incumbent council member, Lisa Herbold, who last year found herself at the center of what has become the defining moment for the current council: the 2018 "head tax" debacle.
In case you were unconscious: Last year, Herbold and all the other council members passed a modest per-employee tax on the city's largest employers, like Amazon, to fund homeless services. This so-called "head tax" (sometimes called the "Amazon tax") was a good thing! The tech giants that have made billions while exacerbating our housing crisis and deepening inequality would finally pitch in to help out. But the last thing Amazon founder and libertarian turd-licker Jeff Bezos wants to do is pitch in and help out. He fought back and, since billionaires always get whatever the fuck they want in America, the council quickly revoked the head tax.
And even though Bezos got his way—his precious lack of taxes—he isn't done kicking the rest of us in the face: Amazon, which rarely contributes anything to the civic life of the city, has dumped $450,000 into this election to try to get progressives like Herbold off the council. Herbold's opponent, two-time electoral loser Phil Tavel, got $120,000 in campaign help from one Amazon-funded PAC alone. That's more than Herbold's entire campaign has raised.
Tavel is pretty much a walking reason to vote for Herbold. He calls homeless people lazy and denies that we have a housing crisis. And just listen to what Tavel told the SECB: "Lisa cares more about the renters' rights"—sold!—"and not necessarily someone who owns a home, or is a landlord, or owns a business."
Herbold does care about homeowners and small-business owners, by the way, and there are plenty of them in West Seattle, where Herbold is quite popular. Even the Seattle Times editorial board, which endorsed Tavel over Herbold and would lick the leftover shaving cream off Bezos's scalp if he wanted them to, said the incumbent "has raised the bar for being responsive to constituent inquiries."
She's also fought for secure scheduling laws, more renter protections, and finding ways to make Seattle's tax system more equitable. Vote Herbold.
Council District No. 2
Tammy Morales has lived in public housing, she knows what it's like to be raised by a mom holding down three jobs, and she has made it her mission to "serve working families so they don't have to struggle the way my family did."
Unlike her opponent (the Amazon-backed, Seattle Police Department–employed Mark Solomon), Morales also has concrete plans to help those working families out. She wants to introduce a new city tax to make Seattle's wealthiest pay a reasonable amount to help make this place livable, and if that comes in the form of a new head tax, fine. But it could also be an inheritance tax, Morales says, or a tax on CEOs who are excessively compensated, or a tax on second homes. "We can't keep growing this city on the backs of working folks," Morales says.
Can she get it done? Well, she has a master's degree in community planning and experience working on tough issues in Texas, New York, and Seattle (which is a lot more policy experience than Solomon has). Morales is endorsed by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and she scored an endorsement—in our eyes—from Mayor Jenny Durkan back in July when Durkan tried to slam Morales for being a "socialist," as if that were a bad thing. (Morales says she's not a socialist, for the record, though she did join Democratic Socialists of America at one point.)
Durkan also said Morales would need to get above 50 percent in the primary to be viable. Blam! Morales got above 50 percent. Durkan's preferred candidate, Solomon, scored a pathetic 23 percent. Vote Morales.
Council District No. 3
Amazon's lobbying arm has selected Egan Orion as the candidate most beneficial to its bottom line—and, honestly, the SECB is a little insulted.
Really? Egan Orion? This is the guy Big Business is picking to unseat two-term council member Kshama Sawant?
Sawant wants landlords to cap our rent and pay our relocation expenses if they raise the rent so high that we have to move out. Orion doesn't. Sawant wants to reduce hate crimes by tackling the root causes of economic inequality and systemic racism. Orion's big idea is "bike chariots." Sawant wants to continue the fight for safe injection sites—a data-driven, scientifically proven solution to reducing drug deaths. Orion thinks the science isn't settled. Sawant thinks we can pay for the housing, environmental protections, and transit fixes we need by taxing big businesses that skip through the loopholes in our tax code to avoid paying their fair share. Orion thinks we can find the money in the couch cushions. Sawant is an economist and a computer programmer. Orion is an event planner and "flash mob king."
The internet tells us we live in a city with some of the smartest people on the planet, and this is the guy Big Business picks? If that's the wisdom their money buys them, they're getting fleeced.
Don't get us wrong. Orion is certainly a friendly fellow with an earnest affection for the city, but that's all anybody can really say for him. Even his most adamant supporters are really just Sawant haters.
To be sure, Sawant's brash, uncompromising, movement-style politicking tends to offend groups who have never needed a political movement to get what they deserve. But Sawant is not worried about the comfortable and the delicate, and those "movements" she's always uplifting have helped win a $15 minimum wage, progressive renter protections, $29 million for affordable housing, and more.
Sawant's opponents call her "divisive" and "ineffective." But if being "divisive" and "ineffective" means voting for all the up-zones, casting one of only two votes NOT to repeal the "head tax" on big businesses, and being the sole vote against a bad police contract, then we could use a little bit more of that kind of "divisiveness" on the council. Vote Sawant.
Council District No. 4
District 4 covers everything from the little north-end nub of Eastlake all the way up to Sand Point, with the University District, Ravenna, Wallingford, and Wedgwood all snuggled in between. It's a district of dichotomies. There are the students of the University of Washington and the single-family homes in Bryant. There are about to be three light rail stations and insane transit access, while drivers in the district just waged a successful fight to kill two bike lanes on one dangerous thoroughfare. District 4 will see a ton of change in the coming years, and this race will decide how, exactly, this area will change.
Shaun Scott will see to it that we'll all be living in an urbanist's wet dream: an equal opportunity, climate-sanity-focused, transit-driven utopia.
Does that sound too good to be true? It may be, given that his opponent, Alex Pedersen, the NIMBY and former Tim Burgess aide, already has close to half of the district's support. Pedersen told us he didn't even identify any policy positions in the primary. He just told constituents that he was the "accountable" candidate and tapped into their homelessness anxiety and ire against the current council. Pedersen has since released some policy positions. His transportation policy is unsurprisingly unextraordinary (Pedersen voted against Sound Transit 3 and light rail). His environmental platform is uninspiring (he is one of two city council candidates who do not support a Seattle Green New Deal). There's more, but let's stop dwelling on the negative.
Scott has been policy-focused since the beginning. He was the first candidate to propose a Green New Deal for Seattle. He supports housing density. He campaigns the way we believe he will lead, transparently and painstakingly disclosing every expense down to a cup of coffee. He supports municipal broadband, public housing, safe consumption sites, and bike lanes. His staff is happy and they just unionized. Like we said, he's the messiah of the hot urbanist wet dream Shangri-la! Vote Scott.
Council District No. 5
Seattle needs a vibrant North End that is more than a bedroom community for downtown and a rest stop for Interstate 5—and reelecting Council Member Debora Juarez is North Seattle's best chance for getting more housing, more jobs, and more transit.
As a council member, Juarez voted for the Mandatory Housing Affordability up-zones, brought a $75 million hockey training facility to Northgate, and lobbied Sound Transit to build a new light rail station at 130th Avenue Northeast. She told the SECB she supports even more up-zones, including allowing duplexes and triplexes in all single-family-zoned areas.
Juarez's strengths on housing make up for her other failings. She rarely talks to the media and, according to many community members, is slow to respond to constituents. She also has a problem taking responsibility for her fuckups and always seems to find a way to show how everyone other than herself is mistaken. Or, as she put it to the SECB in the midst of one long-winded, sidestepping response, "Let me just finish this, and then I'll tell you how you're wrong."
When asked about her repeal of the head tax last summer, Juarez told the SECB, "You're absolutely right, we fucked it up," while also finding a way to blame former mayor Ed Murray and King County executive Dow Constantine for not putting the head tax to the voters. Confusing! Juarez's repeal vote on the head tax is especially troubling because she has the support of Amazon in this election. However, she told the SECB she still supports a new head tax, so long as it is put directly to the voters.
While Juarez is not the SECB's favorite member of the city council, she's a lot better than her competition, Ann Davison Sattler, a Safe Seattle–aligned NIMBY who describes legalizing backyard cottages as opening the "floodgates to mindless up-zoning development." Sattler also wants to house 2,000 homeless people inside an old Sam's Club in North Seattle, which sounds like a fiasco and a human-rights violation. Vote Juarez.
Council District No. 6
Voters swept Heidi Wills out of her city council seat in 2003 after the "Strippergate" scandal broke. That story involved Wills and two other council members taking money from people who sounded like mob goons in exchange for voting to expand a parking lot at a North End strip club. Wills now says she's learned her lesson about taking money and holding meetings with shady characters, but we're not convinced.
When asked for her opinion on Moms for Seattle—a shadowy PAC that has used mailers with photoshopped images to spread fear about homeless people, and that is fronted by four extremely wealthy women—Wills ducked and dodged before admitting she'd only read a little bit about the group in ParentMap. So far, the group has supported Wills by spending more than $46,000 on her behalf—the largest outlay from an independent expenditure supporting her campaign to date—and she hasn't even given them a good Google search yet? Sorry, we're not buying it.
If all Wills did was unquestioningly take lots of money from dubious characters, we might give her a pass. After all, she's a politician, and that's what they do. But Wills goes the extra mile and actually upholds the values of her donors. Like those wealthy "moms," Wills wants to see more pointless, expensive, and dehumanizing sweeps of homeless encampments. She also opposes the construction of safe consumption sites.
The Stranger isn't particularly thrilled to endorse a dude over a woman, but Dan Strauss, aka "Ballard's paper boy," is an extremely qualified candidate and affable character. He's been a professional wonk for a decade, serving as chief policy adviser to Council Member Sally Bagshaw and as a legislative aide to state senator David Frockt. Unlike Wills, he thinks sweeps of homeless encampments are pointless and he doesn't oppose safe injection sites. He's also smart on housing, public utilities (which make up a huge portion of the city's budget), and transit, which is a particularly important issue as light rail expands to Ballard. Plus, he's an elder millennial who loves plants. Vote Strauss.
Council District No. 7
Ah yes, District 7, the downtown district where Seattleites will be forced to choose between a cop (albeit a progressive cop) and a prosecutor (albeit a union-strong prosecutor).
The difference between former Seattle police chief Jim Pugel and assistant city attorney Andrew Lewis comes down to taxes and up-zones. In a recent questionnaire, Pugel threw in with Queen Anne's dreaded NIMBYs and outright opposed up-zoning. He's also shy about taxing big businesses for homeless services.
By way of contrast, Lewis is open to legalizing apartments in places where rich white people live, despite their fear of brown people and rowdy youths moving in and destroying the "neighborhood character." And although Lewis, too, is against the head tax, in our endorsement meeting he said "there could be a scenario" where he would support a head tax. That was arguably a better answer than the one Pugel gave, though it was complete lawyer-talk bullshit.
Yes, Lewis looks like he lost his virginity on a yacht, but he's actually a renter from a long line of union workers, and he has some smart ideas. For instance, he wants to offer a "public option for housing," in which the city would buy up and set low rents for tons of housing units and then use our bonding capacity get more money for more units. Given that he was an early supporter of the Fort Lawton housing project, we believe he's not just blowing smoke up our ass when he advocates for that kind of policy.
Though the SECB strongly disagrees with Pugel on zoning and taxing issues, we're not mad at him. He's cool and dad-like. He even came into our den and rubbed CBD lotion on his knees. But District 7 needs someone who will represent the needs of renters and future homeowners—whoever those people are. Vote Lewis.
Seattle School District 1,
Director District No. 1
Much like finishing the longest fucking ballot in King County history (almost there! Fuck you again, Tim Eyman!), sitting on the Seattle School Board is a thankless task.
The meetings are boring as fuck, and you're often stuck between reality (meaning: budget constraints) and the well-meaning-but-super-fucking-annoying parents who just want the best for their kids no matter how long past dinner it is. The SECB would rather run for chief dog-shit picker-upper than sit on the school board, but, for some reason, there still exist concerned citizens who want to do it (who are you people?).
Liza Rankin, an education advocate and school volunteer, is deeply involved with and knowledgeable about navigating the Seattle Public Schools system, especially when it comes to kids with special needs (and, no, we're not talking about your precious little vegan princess). Rankin, who has kids in the system herself, has stood with striking teachers and is opposed to charter schools. She's also in favor of less standardized testing—which many teachers and every child in this city will like, too.
Rankin told the SECB that her priority is to make sure all students feel safe and valued at school (yes, even the annoying ones). To her, this means increasing ethnic studies, using restorative rather than punitive measures of discipline, and getting special education students back into classrooms instead of segregating them from their peers. She's also committed to implementing the school board's new equity agenda and increasing funding, which, when there are only nine school nurses serving all 50,000 students in Seattle Public Schools, is a big fucking problem.
Are all her plans doable? Yes, but probably not before today's kindergarteners are moving into nursing homes. The school system moves at the speed of a sloth on opiates, but we need ambitious people like Rankin to light a fire under the school board's ass. Vote Rankin.
Seattle School District 1,
Director District No. 3
The SECB hasn't had this much of a crush on a candidate since Sergio Garcia's mustache made its appearance. And, unlike Sergio Garcia's mustache, Chandra Hampson is more than qualified for the job. Hampson is also deeply familiar with the issues facing marginalized students, particularly those who are Native American, a population on the losing end of the Seattle Public Schools' racial opportunity gap. She describes her heritage as Ho-Chunk from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Anishinaabe from the White Earth Nation, and she's currently president of the Seattle Council PTSA.
Hampson wants to retain teachers and staffers of color and increase administrator accountability and transparency, which we like. But she does have a couple tiny X marks against her: Unlike the education and parenting experts here at the SECB, she's not unequivocally opposed to charter schools, which we despise with all our public-school-loving hearts. Her reason for this isn't terrible: At a meeting with the 36th Legislative District Dems, she said that while she doesn't want to see public school systems privatized, she also doesn't want to deprive parents of the opportunity to send their kids to "culturally responsive" charters like the Ashé Preparatory Academy.
Also, city council candidate Alex Pedersen gave her money (boo!), but so did Louie Gong, the guy who sells those amazing Native blankets down at Pike Place Market (yay!), so we're willing to forget the guilt by association. This time. Vote Hampson.
Seattle School District 1,
Director District No. 6
First elected in 2015, Leslie Harris is now the Seattle School Board old guard and has just finished her second term as president. She's probably (okay, definitely) not the farthest left of the candidates in this race, but for once we're going to withhold our knee-jerk support of whoever makes Leon Trotsky look like a member of the GOP and endorse the slightly more moderate candidate. Why? Because Seattle Public Schools needs someone with Harris's level of experience, full stop.
Harris is a bulldog. She's strong and pragmatic, and her eyes are wide open to all of the many (many) crises facing our city's school district, from the lack of funding and teacher shortages to a school-bus crisis that is leaving kids stranded at bus stops and parents scrambling. Harris is ambitious, yes, but more important than that, she's practical, with a wealth of knowledge on how to actually get shit done instead of just talking about getting shit done. As Harris told us, "I know where the bodies are buried." Unearth those bodies, Madame School Board President! It's time to dig. Vote Harris.
Yes, that's a lot of information to keep track of. So grab your ballot, find a pen, and click over to our handy voting cheat sheet.
This piece has been updated since it was first published.