We have two paths out of this endless, still somehow deadly, Republican-driven, billionaire-enriching pandemic.
We can vote for a mayor and a city council who will tax wealthy corporations to build housing for the poor, or we can vote for candidates who will protect corporate profits and ramp up mass incarceration. We can chart a more progressive and equitable course at the port, or we can stick with the status quo. We can boot the last few Republicans off the county council, or we can continue watching them gum up the works for another million years.
The school board races are actually pretty boring for the most part, though one doofus did gallop through a primary on a crusade to stop instructors from teaching kids about oppressive systems, but he’s a long shot, so it’s hard to get too worked up about it. (If you’re in the mood for batshit school board races, then grab a bowl of popcorn and look to the east. Shit is fucking wild.)
ANYWAY, even though the bad president isn’t sitting at the top of the ballot this year, the results of the November 2 election will determine the future of this bright little capitalist jewel that none of us can really afford to live in.
We know that’s a lot of pressure to put on your shoulders, but that’s why we’re here. We interviewed and/or cussed out and/or researched all of the power-hungry maniacs running to represent you in local government, and then we sifted out the ones who suck the least. Though pure scorn drives us more than money ever will, we do welcome tips for serving you this perfect list of endorsements. Thank you.
Your ballot should be on its way to your mailbox. If it’s not there by the week of the 18th, then you can get it replaced. If you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote, then check here. If it turns out that you’re not registered to vote in Washington, then you have until Oct 25 to do so online. You can also mail in your registration, or you can register in person at a vote center through election day if you keep forgetting.
Whatever the case, once you get your ballot, immediately rip it open, pull up The Stranger’s legally binding Cheat Sheet, and fill in the bubbles we tell you to fill in using whichever color pen your heart desires. Then slide the ballot into its protective sleeve, and pop it in the drop box closest to you by 8 pm on November 2. If you wanna mail it, then mail it! No stamp required! But if you take that route, then make sure you drop your ballot in the post before you spend Halloween weekend walking down Broadway wearing a slutty caramel apple costume and drinking pumpkin spice White Claw like some inglorious queen of autumn.
The Stranger Election Control Board is Matt Baume, Chase Burns, Nathalie Graham (RIP), Jasmyne Keimig, Charles Mudede, the condescending note Durkan left for the next mayor in her desk drawer, and Rich Smith. The SECB does not endorse in uncontested races or in races we forgot.
As many of us know by now, and as the Thurston County Superior Court hath decreed in so many words, Tim Eyman is a sneaky-snake scammer who can’t even allegedly fucking steal a chair without getting caught. Unfortunately, he can get an initiative passed, which is why you’re looking at this stupid, meaningless, expensive “advisory vote,” which is a waste of your time, our time, spacetime, and what little time our trees have left. Your vote on this doesn’t matter, but Republicans use the “results” of these votes to argue that people don’t want the state Legislature to tax the rich to pay for services. That said, you won’t catch us afraid to defend some taxes, so let us pop a mushroom cap and tell you why you should vote “maintained” on HB 1477 real quick.
To make calling a suicide hotline easier, in 2020 Congress designated “988” as the national number — it's just like 911, but for behavioral health issues. That legislation also authorized states to tax phone lines to help staff up crisis response centers across the state and streamline operations. So, yeah, in a state with an absolutely fucking MISERABLE behavioral health system, the Legislature did the least it could do and passed this bill to join the rest of the country in an effort to help people in crisis, and Tim Eyman is out here rubbing our faces in it. So call Tim Eyman on his newly taxed phone line, tell him you voted “maintained,” and then tell him to fuck off.
After nine fucking miserable fucking years, the Democrats finally scrounged up enough votes from the proto-corporate lobbyists who run the Senate to impose a 7% tax on the profits of a few different kinds of capital gains over $250,000. If it survives a legal challenge, the tax will raise nearly $6 billion over ten years from the wealthiest people in the state. If you regularly cash in stocks for more than $250,000 per year — you know, like Seattle’s very own space cowboy — then this tax will skim off a negligible amount of the money you did nothing to create. If you don’t regularly benefit from large capital events, then this tax will only make childcare more affordable for you. Cross your fingers for a court victory, vote maintained, and, once again, fuck Tim Eyman.
Until a few years ago, we were essentially handing out massive tax breaks to companies with captive insurers because we didn’t realize those kinds of insurers were operating in this state until then. This bill fixes that by regulating captives as we would any other insurance company. You probably don't want to know this, but “captives” are insurance companies created and wholly owned by non-insurance companies when they want to insure a thing for which they can't find regular insurance. (Think: Microsoft trying to insure its cloud, or airlines buying terrorism insurance.) SB 5315 requires captive insurers to register, pay an annual fee, and pay a 2% tax on all premiums, just like other insurers have to do. Captives affiliated with public higher ed institutions are exempt, and the tax revenue goes to the general fund. This bill passed nearly unanimously with little opposition at committee hearings along the way, but, because Tim Eyman is a human stain, now you have to think about captive insurance. Vote maintained.
For some reason we can’t fix a typo in the preamble to the county’s constitution without voting on it, so here we are. This charter amendment corrects “insure” to read “ensure” (lol), updates some language to be more inclusive of undocumented immigrants, and adds other language to ~ ensure ~ that the county counts “equity” and the “promotion of a superior quality of life” amongst its goals. The King County Council unanimously voted to put this question on the ballot following a recommendation from the county’s charter review commission, which meets every ten years to propose these kinds of things. Last year we voted on the commission’s more consequential recommendations — such as switching to an appointed Sheriff and allowing the county council to define the duties of the Sheriff’s department — and this year we’re just sweeping up this little stuff. Vote yes.
This is another housekeeping item, and it’s somehow even more boring and inconsequential than the other amendment on the ballot. Charter Amendment 2 changes the county constitution to align with changes the county council already made regarding the kinds of paperwork initiative campaign managers must file, as well as some other minor changes to the process — if you just fell asleep, please wake up, we’re getting to some fun stuff soon — to align with state law. Since we like things that match, and since this proposal didn’t stir up any shit among the review commissioners, a yes vote seems prudent. Vote yes.
State Senator Joe Nguyen should replace three-term incumbent Dow Constantine because he’ll act with a "fierce sense of urgency,” as he likes to say, that the current exec hasn’t exactly demonstrated on criminal justice and equity issues. Also, running for a fourth term as an executive is tacky, and the SECB aims to discourage that kind of behavior.
Aside from his desire to speed up the county’s work in those two policy areas we mention above, Nguyen’s connections with the county’s marginalized communities give him insight on other issues the current administration has dragged its feet on.
Nguyen, for instance, generally supports transferring funds from bloated law enforcement and jail budgets to invest in community programs that interrupt violence and provide behavioral health services. Constantine is a firm “no” on spending cop money on that stuff.
Nguyen also wants to finally realize the (unsexy-sounding but very kewl) dream of a public infrastructure bank. With that kind of bank, we could loan out money to local jurisdictions to fix — among other things — the wildly high percentage of sidewalks and curb ramps that don’t comply with ADA requirements. He also vows to champion public broadband so that all underserved kids in our so-called “tech hub” can access high-speed internet. He also wants to pilot a basic income program, which aligns with his work on TANF at the state Legislature.
Yes, Constantine acted quickly to snap up hotels the pandemic (presumably) rendered cheaper. And, yes, he and every other local Democrat spearheaded the measure to (eventually) expand light rail over to the Eastside, up to Everett, and to add stations down in Tacoma.
But it took a nationwide upheaval (and a very public campaign from a newly elected county council member) to spur Constantine to propose meaningful, direct investments in Skyway, the area where the state’s largest African American population lives. It took years of #NoNewYouthJail protesting to get him to commit to ending youth incarceration. Who knows what it’ll take to get him to make transit free for all, to raise wages for social workers so we can hire and maintain critical staff, or to run a bond measure scaled to the size of the housing crisis we’ve faced for the last decade.
Nguyen wants to do all that and more, and it doesn’t sound like he’ll need twelve years to do it. Vote Nguyen.
Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 1
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski has represented the fine people up north for the last eight years, and you should let him do that for another four years because the person running against him doesn’t appear to have much of a campaign. At all.
But there are other good reasons!
Though his name makes him sound like a rookie cop with a chip on his shoulder, he’s actually a lawyer who’s been good on police reform and climate stuff.
He helped strengthen the 2020 charter amendments to reform the county’s law enforcement and oversight divisions, and then campaigned hard for their success. He told the SECB he’s “excited” to see those reforms through in the coming years.
Dembowski also led the effort to electrify Metro’s transit fleet, and if reelected he plans to stick his neck out there on a meaningfully large (~$1-2 billion) climate bond measure next year. He’s not quite sure what will end up in the proposal yet, but he says his priorities include speeding up the electrification of the bus fleet and adding more bus service, accelerating the implementation of the county’s land conservation initiative, and decarbonizing our buildings, “all wrapped in an equity lens.” We needed to do all that shit yesterday, so we’re turned on by Rod’s big bond, to say the least.
If someone named Sally Caverzan is actually running against Dembowski, she is not doing a very good job of it. The entirety of her online presence amounts to a semi-public Facebook page, where she introduces herself as a former long-term care social worker and “a Girl standing in front of a World, asking It to Love more..” Her background image features an illustration of four sad-eyed sea otters holding some garbage. Sick vibe, but no campaign. Vote Dembowski.
Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 3
Though her opponent would have you believe otherwise, Issaquah nonprofit director Sarah Perry does not tick all our boxes.
Perry doesn’t want to fund police alternatives with money from the Sheriff’s department by like next week, she doesn’t want to stop the cops from going after people who buy sex, and she’s constantly talking about needing to bring in “stakeholders” who may disagree with her on certain issues and then find some common ground with them and bunch of other Eastside moderate Dem nonsense.
But Perry does burst with enthusiasm for treating addiction like the public health problem it is, for funding affordable housing, for ending fare enforcement, and for adding more bus service in her transit-starved district — which adds up to plenty of ticked boxes for us.
Most importantly, she wants to rid the King County Council of longtime Republican Kathy Lambert, who is a consummate obstructionist and — perhaps worst of all — a shitty coworker.
When not spending her time throwing wrenches in bills to protect tenants, Lambert is paying for racist mailers that attack her own colleague, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay; claiming she supports Black people in her district by “supporting two children in Africa” and by allegedly having Black friends; voting against making Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples’ Day paid holidays; voting against forcing anti-abortion centers to stop purposefully mislabeling themselves; stanning Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos; claiming you’re too stupid to understand ranked-choice voting; and caping for Republican redistricting commissioner Joe Fain by saying, “When I was younger, slapping a woman on the butt was a compliment.” Fain was accused of raping a woman in a hotel room in 2007, but he denies the allegation.
Electing Perry will replace a Republican with a pro-transit, pro-data Democrat who has spent years organizing in the community she wants to represent. Not exactly a head-scratcher. Vote Perry.
Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 5
If only to avoid a potentially unpleasant phone call later, the SECB would like to say up front that we did not decide to endorse Shukri Olow just because her opponent, eight-year incumbent Dave Upthegrove, is a white guy.
We decided to endorse Olow because Upthegrove essentially accused other organizations of endorsing her just because he was a white guy, and then, more troublingly, threatened to withhold his support in two instances, which we found needlessly petty to say the least!
Upthegrove, who was the first out gay politician outside Seattle in Washington’s history, claimed he doesn’t believe in reverse racism, said he never threatened to withhold support from any org, added that he will continue to support the goals of the orgs that called him out, and that basically he was just venting. Okay. Regardless, we’d prefer the person representing Kent on the county council to not waste time bullying political directors over the phone.
Backroom shit aside, we also didn’t take kindly to Upthegrove helping to lead the charge to take over 4Culture so that the council could have more say on who gets arts funding, nor did we appreciate his stance on safe injection sites. He supports them, but he wants to see Seattle do one before his district so that we can prove that “the sky won’t fall” if we ever get around to establishing one. That’s not leadership on an issue that was at one point killing more people every week than COVID-19 in King County. Olow wants to leverage her connections among communities in South King County to bring people along on that issue faster. And if the opportunity works out to place one in her district, she said she’d advocate for it even over the inevitable objections from the anti-science crowd in her district.
Other than that, they both offer the same progressive line on every policy. But Olow also brings the experience of a mother who fled Somalia as a kid, spent six years in a refugee camp in Kenya, and then made her way to the USA, where she’d eventually earn a doctorate in Education and spend 14 years working in the public sector to help kids and to do outreach in refugee communities. Vote Olow.
Metropolitan King County, Council District No. 9
With our first choice out of the running, it falls to Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khanh Van to boot Reagan Dunn out of office. Dunn is a Republican who has lorded over southeast King County for 16 years despite his obvious desire to run a cheesy roadside steakhouse off the side of State Route 164. Seriously, just look at his corny ass riding a Texas longhorn down the street in Enumclaw. He loves it.
We’re not sure how Van feels about steers, but we know she’s into solving the affordability crisis, helping seniors stay housed, veterans’ issues, developing a “holistic approach” to public safety, solving transportation issues, and strengthening diversity initiatives — which is why we like her.
As a council member, lawyer, and organizer, she’s led on a number of those issues. On the council, she was one of two members to vote against evicting over 200 homeless people from the Red Lion hotel later this year. Though she’s been wishy-washy in the past on safe injection sites, she told us she’s “not against them,” she just needs to “look at it in more detail,” which is probably the best we’ll get out of someone running to represent Maple Valley. And after the pandemic and the spa shooting in Georgia spurred waves of anti-Asian violence across the country, she organized #StopAsianHate rallies and volunteered with King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias to fight institutional racism.
After his humiliating loss to Bob Ferguson in the 2012 Attorney General race, Dunn mostly spends his time trying to get news coverage for his garbage ideas. His big plan to tackle homelessness involved giving people bus tickets out of town so that they could go be homeless somewhere else. He voted against declaring racism a public health crisis, and so it was no surprise that he took a day-and-a-half to demand his GOP colleague, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, apologize for disseminating a racist mailer that demonized their other colleague, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. Dunn also went out of his way to call for prosecutors to charge a 15-year-old girl as an adult after she ran over a runner with her car, despite all the brain science that says kids are still developing at that age. Fuck that. Vote Van.
Commissioner Position No. 1
If every endorsement was as easy to make as Ryan Calkins, we’d be out of a job. An ambitious environmentalist, Calkins has a passion for wonky policy, data-driven decisions, and big ideas like leveraging the Port’s resources to deploy municipal wifi or to create a manufacturing hub for sustainable energy tech.
Calkins also maintains a strong focus on the Port’s more mundane challenges, such as shifting airport-passenger traffic away from private vehicles to public transit. (One of his suggestions: Airlines should provide passengers with free ORCA cards like some sports teams already do. Groovy idea, Ryan!) He wants to work with federal officials to reign in Customs and Border Patrol’s use of privacy-violating biometric technology. And he’s not afraid to wade deep into the nitty-gritty science of climate change, calling for a carrot-and-stick approach to make cruise ships not just reduce air pollution but to eliminate their pollution altogether.
Calkins’s opponent, an executive consultant named Norman Sigler, does not appear to be running a serious campaign. He has raised and spent almost no money, has virtually no community endorsements, and has barely even mentioned the Port in his very infrequent communications. Calkins, in contrast, has subject-matter expertise and the drive to execute on big ideas. Vote Calkins.
Commissioner Position No. 3
Our concern began when incumbent Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman patted herself on the back for proposing golf carts as a short-term fix to speeding people along the criminally long path from the light rail station to the terminals at SeaTac airport. We agree that the $28 million price tag on a moving walkway feels a little prohibitive for a perk, but we’re not thrilled with a golf cart highway replacing a pedestrian path. We’re sure they’re clutch for the people who need them, but why gloat about making us play frogger on the way to the planes???
We also weren’t thrilled with her vote to allow Shell Oil to park its arctic drilling operations in Seattle, nor her vote to rush the approval of the deal — but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Bowman and her challenger, Hamdi Mohamed, agree that the Port’s areas of focus should include social justice, climate change, and job creation. But a stark difference between them is — as Mohamed put it in our interview — “the lens we bring.”
On every issue, Mohamed demonstrated a focus on the communities and individuals who work, live, and visit Port property, whereas Bowman’s attention clearly prioritized major business interests. Of greatest concern was Bowman’s vote to challenge SeaTac’s Proposition 1, which established a $15 minimum wage. As other elected officials from around the region urged the port to apply SeaTac's new minimum wage at the airport, Bowman was using the oft-cited dog whistle of "there's no one-size-fits all." She went on: "So just saying, ‘Go ahead and enact Prop. 1 as is’ is not the answer for me." Though Bowman told the SECB that she supported a $15 minimum wage and the challenge was a matter of process, we're in line with Mohamed’s position: Any challenge to Prop 1 equaled a challenge to workers.
Mohamed also pledged to personally meet with community groups, such as the anti-occupation protestors who attempted to block an Israeli cargo ship from docking at the Port earlier this year. (Bowman chose not to meet with them.)
Mohamed has a clear grasp on problems affecting people whom the Port currently underserves, promising to focus on issues such as broken elevators, a lack of bathroom access for workers, and a failure to communicate clearly with Port neighbors about local pollution. Perhaps most importantly, she also wants to introduce culturally competent snacks to the airport. And if the sambusas and nafaqo she dropped by the office were any indication, then SeaTac is about to get a lot tastier.
But seriously, as a policy advisor on equity and social justice for King County, Mohamed has built an entire career around listening, community engagement, and respect. By contrast, in discussions with the SECB, Bowman displayed an attitude regarding Port staff that was at times surprisingly dismissive. A final clincher: Mohamed has the endorsement of trustworthy environmental groups and labor groups, and also Representative Pramila Jayapal (for whom Mohamed worked as Deputy District Director). Vote Mohamed.
Commissioner Position No. 4
The difference between incumbent Peter Steinbrueck and challenger Toshiko Hasegawa was most apparent when the SECB asked about their visions for Terminal 46, a waterfront property currently being eyed for new development. Hasegawa had an immediate answer, calling for specific infrastructure changes to reduce emissions, create jobs, and accommodate cargo traffic. Steinbrueck hemmed and hawed and offered no specific vision. Oh well!
Hasegawa is an accomplished leader of numerous civil rights and social justice organizations with multiple degrees, and she has an impressive “Blue New Deal” plan for the Port (basically a Green New Deal with an emphasis on union jobs). She also comes with endorsements from numerous labor, environmental, and Democratic groups (some of which endorsed Steinbrueck in previous years).
In contrast, Steinbrueck’s unambitious business-as-usual approach elicits yawns, to say nothing of his many red flags: Claims about opposition to cruise expansion that are contradicted by video of Port meetings; a needlessly personal feud with a colleague; insisting on Facebook that he is “from the ‘Hood” (good grief). Hasegawa has a fresh, bold approach that the Port needs, and a close connection to the communities surrounding Port property. Vote Hasegawa.
In Lorena González and Bruce Harrell we have two lawyers, two city council presidents (one current, one former), and two people of color who’ve fostered deep connections with marginalized communities in Seattle — but the contrast in this race couldn’t be clearer.
González wants to create a city that works for workers. Harrell wants to create a city that works for corporations. If you need more than that, then please continue reading. If that’s all you need to hear, then vote González and move on to the next endorsement.
González wants to build a vibrant city with walkable, bike-able neighborhoods knit together by rapid transit. She plans to relegalize apartment buildings in residential neighborhoods, tax big business to construct more housing for people who can’t afford it, bring in chronically homeless people rather than simply sweep them out of the way, ensure workers emerge from the pandemic as whole as possible after nearly two years of exploitation, make progress toward the city’s own Green New Deal, and invest in alternatives to the cops.
We’re confident she’ll follow through on all those plans because she’s done so in the past. Since becoming the first Latina elected to the council in 2015, González helped pass laws to give hourly workers more reliable scheduling, increase renter protections, ban “conversion therapy” for minors, and set aside funds to protect immigrants under attack from Trump. Though she caved on the 2018 head tax and police contract, she made up for those missteps by sponsoring the new payroll tax and by beginning to trim SPD’s budget.
Harrell gestures toward some of those goals, but on the campaign trail he can’t stop revealing himself as a corporate simp obsessed with addressing cosmetic concerns rather than root causes.
His campaign attracted boatloads of cash from real estate moguls and landlords — including the largest Trump donor in the state — because, to quote a BP exec and a couple Republicans, “He’s known to us and listens to us.”
From siding with Mayor Jenny Durkan and Amazon on the head tax to refusing to commit to raising the new payroll tax for affordable housing, nothing he’s done on council or on the campaign trail makes us think Harrell would ever stand up to corporate power.
Hell, Harrell couldn’t even stand up to former Mayor Ed Murray after five men accused Murray of raping them as kids. The day González called for Murray’s resignation, Harrell equivocated, saying Seattle residents “did not ask us to judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn’t happen.” That response didn’t surprise former Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) board member Lola Peters, who claimed Harrell advised the CAMP board to “launch a campaign to discredit accusers” after a supervisor at the nonprofit was accused of sexual harassment. We asked Harrell's campaign for comment on this a while back and never heard an answer.
Harrell makes a big show of his “data-driven” policies, but many of his core plans directly reject the data and expert consensus. That’s especially true of his plan to address homelessness. His plan, which he cribbed wholesale from a failed proposal written by downtown business groups, would merely sweep homeless people around the city and impose undefined “consequences” for those who “refuse” an offer of shelter, even when those offers don’t meet peoples’ needs. To solve our massive housing deficit, he thinks we just need to cut some “red tape” and look in the couch cushions for the extra $1 billion per year the city needs to raise for affordable housing. It should go without saying that cutting red tape won't be near enough, and that our couch isn't that big.
Though we love confidence in a politician, Harrell’s hubris is off the charts. He routinely suggests that his mere presence will “change the culture” at SPD, and he genuinely seems to believe cops will stop their biased policing after they watch the George Floyd video and then sign a pledge never to be bad again. He thinks philanthropists will just open their wallets to help him solve the city’s problems. And he was clearly looking to flex his power when he called up the Office of Labor Standards and hassled them about investigating a wage theft allegation against an exclusive club he leads.
Which brings us to our final point: Perhaps above all else, Seattle needs González for Mayor because this city needs local government to function smoothly for at least one fucking term. Electing Harrell would mean four more years of bickering and subterfuge between a mayor bought by big business and a progressive council. The problems the city faces are too big and too urgent to maintain this dynamic for another second, let alone another four years. Vote González, and watch shit get done.
You may have heard that electing Nicole Thomas-Kennedy as the City Attorney will trigger torrents of blood and heroin needles to fall from the sky. That’s because Fox News and the suits who back her Trumpian opponent spent a lot of money making histrionic claims about the perils of not throwing poor people in jail (at a cost of $176 per night) and pointing to some allegedly NTK-involved tweets that say pee pee poo poo on the cops. Now don’t get us wrong — nobody loves wild theatrics more than the SECB, especially when there are drugs involved — but let’s all calm down for a second.
The City Attorney’s office defends the city against lawsuits, advises City Hall on the legality of certain policies, and makes decisions about prosecuting misdemeanors and traffic infractions. That’s the scope.
NTK’s opponent, Ann Davison, who became a Republican during the Trump administration, thinks NTK will unleash chaos by declining to prosecute most low-level crimes. To make her case, she points to a recent increase in the rates of some felonies, which the office doesn’t handle. When challenged on that point, Davison falls back on the theory that jailing more people for misdemeanors will prevent felonies.
Though every system is a little different, recent research and data analysis on similarly-sized cities that have stopped or steeply reduced prosecution of low-level crimes shows the opposite. Overall crime in San Francisco went down. Boston saw a significant decline in recidivism and a reduction in other crime. Baltimore saw a 20% reduction in violent crime, a 36% reduction in property crime, and much lower recidivism rates relative to the state. Seattle’s diversion program, LEAD, led to 60% lower odds of arrest for six months after a first arrest and 39% lower odds of catching a felony case over the next two years.
To deflect from the fact that Davison is — and we really can’t stress this enough — a fucking Trump Republican, she points to endorsements from former Democratic Governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke. Yes, that would be the same Christine Gregoire who served as a reference for former Republican state Senator Joe Fain when he applied to be CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, a position he took after losing his seat in the Legislature following a rape accusation. (He denies the allegation.) And, yes, that would be the same Gary Locke who sits on the Bellevue Chamber’s board. These “Democrats” are happy bench-building for the Republican Party because they’ve long since abandoned public service to enjoy life as corporate tools.
So, yes, the difference between the candidates in the race for City Attorney may be “stark,” to borrow a phrase journalists will not stop using for some reason, but the choice is easy.
You can pick someone who vows to shield the city’s revenue streams and renter protections from constant assault, or you can trust a Trump Republican.
You can pick a defense attorney with over five years of experience working in the system she aims to oversee, or a transactional attorney who hasn’t seen the inside of a courtroom since the Obama administration.
You can pick someone who wants to divert more people through community programs that have been shown to reduce recidivism, or someone who wants to continue cycling poor people in and out of jail.
You can pick someone who wants to house the homeless, or someone who wants to warehouse the homeless.
Allergic to abolition? Tough shit. In this race, you must pick between someone who wants to abolish and rebuild a demonstrably racist criminal legal system from the ground up, or someone who wants to abolish the Lt. Governor’s office to save a little money.
You can pick someone who wants to hire more attorneys to prosecute wage theft — a crime that drains three times the amount of money from Americans than all other forms of theft — or someone who wants to ramp up prosecutions on poor people who steal clothes from Goodwill.
But sure, we understand, the tweets ARE bad. So bad. Perhaps even the naughtiest tweets we’ve ever seen. NTK says they were satirical. We don’t care.
What we care about is choosing a City Attorney who will follow the data and make Seattle safer for everyone. Someone who will join Boston, San Francisco, Baltimore, and other jurisdictions that saw positive results after spending less time going after petty crime. Vote Thomas-Kennedy.
Council Position No. 8
The SECB is shaking with anger that we even have to write an endorsement for Teresa Mosqueda. Mosqueda, the incumbent, pulled in nearly 60% of the vote in the primary. Her closest competitor got 16%. Should have been an automatic victory. But, UGH, whatever, I guess we’ll do some democracy.
As the scoreboard suggests, most of the city already understands that Mosqueda is an unstoppable force of progressive change. When COVID kept everybody home except for health care workers and grocers, Mosqueda led the way to bump up pay for grocery workers.
When big business conspired to kill the head tax, she bounced back up and introduced the JumpStart tax, which saved the city’s financial ass during the pandemic and created a dedicated fund to spend on affordable housing.
Her work to create walkable, bike-able neighborhoods for all continues apace, with plans to invest $100 million more in bike, pedestrian, and transit projects in the offing. She has a knack for saying she’ll do something and then getting it done, and we’d like to see more of what she does, please.
Because he didn’t even secure a quarter of the vote in the primary, we didn’t waste our time interviewing Mosqueda’s opponent, Kenneth Wilson. We did feel guilty about that, though, so to give him a fair shake we took three-and-a-half years to read every manically formatted sentence on his website, and we watched a few of his awkward performances at candidate forums.
All that homework revealed that he’s basically a NIMBY who cannot wait to retire from his long career as a structural engineer so he can spend the rest of his life licking cop boots clean. But of course, we all knew that the second we saw him enter the race with the energy of an overbearing IT guy who’s here to tell those silly little ladies running the council how to fix their computer. (Seriously! His assessment of the council: “Most lack training in understanding day-to-day operations required for a thriving city.” How the fuck would you know, Kenneth? You’ve never fucking run a city, have you?)
Kenneth spends most of his time grousing about how the city could open up the West Seattle Bridge sooner than they plan to, but SDOT says they can’t. We don’t know who’s right, but we do know you don’t need to be a council member to complain to SDOT about the fucking bridge.
To his credit, he did work on the John Lewis Memorial Bridge, which we like a lot. Keep building bridges, Kenneth!
Not even a contest. Vote Mosqueda.
Council Position No. 9
Nikkita Oliver is the only candidate in this race offering practical solutions to the problems Seattle faces.
People who want Seattle to remain a tax haven for the wealthy paid a lot of money this cycle to trick you into thinking that Oliver is an ideologue and that Sara Nelson is a “practical progressive,” but, as it turns out, the opposite is true.
For decades radical white activists stormed city council meetings to defend racist zoning laws that maintained segregation and led to a massive housing deficit. In response, Oliver proposes re-legalizing apartments all over town, taxing wealthy corporations to build the kind of housing the market won’t build for poor people, and protecting tenants so they can keep the housing they already have.
Nelson’s proposals? She stands against more tenant protections, only accepts real density along street sewers, and waves away studies commissioned by those socialists over at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce that say we need to spend between $400 million and $1 billion a year more than we already spend to solve the problem.
A decade of tech companies “disrupting” industries created tens of thousands of freelancers and gig workers hustling for a paycheck without benefits. In response, Oliver proposes a Freelancer’s Bill of Rights that includes portable benefits and a new law to make sure bosses pay on time.
Meanwhile, Nelson’s “small business” perspective led her to initially resist no-brainer policies such as a $15 minimum wage, secure scheduling, and paid family leave. That “perspective” also led her to claim Fremont Brewing, which she runs along with her husband, didn’t lay off anyone during the pandemic, when in fact they laid off seven employees a week before Thanksgiving even after receiving nearly $2 million in PPP loans.
Decades of cops jailing disproportionally high numbers of Black and brown people for low-level crimes doesn’t seem to be improving public safety issues, and so Oliver proposes reallocating current city resources from underperforming agencies to alternative programs that show promising results.
Nelson thinks we can reform a system that has resisted reform every step of the way, reform a “thin blue line” culture at SPD that produced the largest contingent of cops at the Jan 6 insurrection of any other department in the country.
Seattle has seen enough of the ideological bullshit Nelson and her wealthy backers have been pushing. It’s time we tried some practical solutions. Vote Oliver.
Seattle School District No. 1, Director District No. 4
Vivian Song Maritz is a first-generation Asian American with a legit background in finance, a hearing disability, and a kid with special health needs. In the face of a $70 million budget shortfall next year, the Seattle School Board needs all of that lived and learned experience to ensure the district continues to make (agonizingly slow) progress on its mission to bring kids closer to educational justice.
Though she appears to spend a little too much time in Facebook swamps full of rich parents who spew anti-union views, and though she enjoys enough wealth to move now three times just to run in this district, Maritz would make a better director than her competition, Laura Marie Rivera, an arts educator and PTA Secretary at Coe Elementary.
When Seattle Public Schools ran into a bus driver shortage, Maritz proactively worked with a group of parents to write a white paper on ways the district could improve its transportation policies, and the ideas they came up with seem worth pursuing.
She also promises to recruit and train more teachers of color, and to push the state to fully fund special education. Given her personal experiences with both issues, we’re convinced she’ll have the drive to accomplish those goals.
The major difference we see between Maritz and Rivera involves their support for the district’s five-year plan, Seattle Excellence, which sets broad goals for all students to meet and then instructs schools to create strategies to help students reach those goals.
Both Maritz and Rivera expressed general support for the “intent” behind the plan, but their explanations were… revealing.
Maritz said she doesn’t yet see a budget that creates specific line-items to meet one of the district’s new broad goals — like, for instance, getting all 3rd graders to read at a 3rd grade level — and she can’t wait to start connecting those dots.
Rivera, on the other hand, argued that the district’s approach of using targeted universalism is not “taking into account the intersectionality of all of the other kids.” She added: “We’re talking about the Black and the brown students very often in our district, and trying to get to that point so that we’re addressing the needs of those furthest from educational justice, but when we’re doing that sometimes we’re forgetting about the other kids. What about the kids who are having trouble reading? The dyslexic or dysgraphic, anything else, and how are we going to bring them up to plan?”
The generous read of Rivera’s response here is that she doesn’t actually understand the district’s approach, which explicitly attempts to seek out all of the reasons a kid—including disabled kids—might not be producing certain outcomes, tries to craft policy solutions to address those needs, and then uses metrics to determine if those solutions are working to lift all boats. The ungenerous read here is that she’s pitting the needs of Black and brown kids against disabled kids while assuming there’s no overlap between those demographics for… reasons.
We’ll go with the technocratic candidate who wants to help the district hit its marks, rather than the self-described lifelong learner whose lessons on intersectionality apparently need a little more time to settle in. Vote Maritz.
Seattle School District No. 1, Director District No. 5
King County Public Health program manager Michelle Sarju spent most of her life in the Central District working as a social worker and a midwife. During that time she raised three Black kids in Seattle Public Schools, and so she’s intimately familiar with the kinds of challenges students of color face in our schools.
To help address the opportunity gap and eliminate other elements of systemic racism, Sarju vows to create a K-12 ethnic studies curriculum, boost mental health supports for students, and suspend and eventually replace standardized testing, which only seem to show whether or not a kid lives in poverty.
Sarju’s opponent, Dan Harder, is an anti-anti-racist (isn’t there another word for that?) who’s riding in on his white horse to save the district from the evils of his extremely limited understanding of “critical race theory,” an idea he thinks drove Black Lives Matter protestors to “tear society apart” in the summer of 2020. Our reporting shows that cops tear-gassing the neighborhood for a week straight seemed to be the primary motivating factor there, but, to be fair, breathing in all those chemicals may have clouded our judgement on the matter. When it comes to this race, though, the answer is clear: Vote Sarju.
Seattle School District No. 1, Director District No. 7
We don’t know what incumbent School Board Director Brandon Hersey sprinkles all over his Wheaties in the morning, but whatever it is, we could all use ten pounds of it. Hersey sounds like a sunbeam bursting out of a rainbow made of butterflies even when he talks about education policy. Though we’re distrustful of any feelings of happiness, we consider Hersey’s ebullience an asset given the level of seething anger that Very
Wealthy Concerned Parents are capable of spewing at school board meetings.
Since his appointment to the board in 2019, Hersey, a former educator who now works as the political director for the public sector union PROTECT17, has tapped his considerable store of energy to champion major policy designed to make all students succeed, especially those furthest from educational justice.
He focuses most of his thinking on community engagement, working under the premise that those closest to the problems are also closest to the solutions. Toward that end he led the way to add three student-elected members to the board, and he hopes that number rises to seven over time. Though the students won’t have a vote on the board, Hersey said they’ll have “a significant role to play in developing and making decisions on policy.”
His work with Director Chandra Hampson on the participatory budgeting initiative runs in the same vein. That initiative turned over a portion of the district’s discretionary funds to the community, who then decided to prioritize restorative justice. Hersey and the board hired a restorative justice manager to coordinate next steps, which marks a welcome turn away from the district’s more uhhhh hands-on approach to discipline.
And thanks to Hersey’s efforts alongside directors Hampson and Zachary DeWolf, kids in Rainier Beach who’d rather make a living building schools than writing bratty endorsements now have better access to union jobs in the district through the new Student and Community Workforce Agreement.
Hersey’s opponent, Genesis Williamson, does not seem to be running a campaign. Williamson hasn’t appeared at any forums, hasn’t responded to emails, and Hersey said he hasn’t heard much from her. LinkedIn says a student named Genesis Williamson studies philosophy and global African studies at Seattle University. We assume her studies have kept her away from the campaign trail, and we commend her for apparently prioritizing a life of letters. Vote Hersey.
Hot damn! You made it to the end of this thing. Go buy yourself a special brownie. Buy us one, too.