News Mar 7, 2024 at 9:00 am

Ballot Initiative Success in Western Washington Shows Path Forward for Seattle Progressives

The clipboard brigades that brought higher wages, stronger worker protections, and social housing to the region say they are living proof that the left doesn’t need any friends on the council—they need their neighbors. Courtesy of Campaigns



"Don't tax you and don't tax me, tax that funny fellow behind the tree!"

In a nutshell, that is a successful initiative here. Social issues that cost no one anything, like marriage equality, etc... You got it! Upping the minimum wage, which perceptively only costs evil business owners money? Damn right, skippy! Social housing authority with a "we'll find the money later" punt? Bingo!

I suspect that when you start flooding the zone with "let's raise middle-class taxes even more for our pet issues" you'll get a different result.


"Outcast-turned-council-president Sara Nelson kicked off her tenure by firing head of central staff Esther Handy. City insiders said the unusual move suggested Nelson was exercising a political vendetta against Handy for having worked in progressive organizations. "

Context: Hardy was replaced by prior central staff director Ben Noble, a 23-year veteran staffer who was initially appointed by the most liberal city council member at that time, Nick Licata. Noble was most recently serving as the head of the Office of Economic and Revenue Forecast, and is widely recognized as an expert on city finances.

I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person, but it's silly to view replacing Handy as some sort of political vendetta. Noble is simply the better person for the job, particularly in light of the current budget crisis.


@2- you’re missing the point. The mere existence of this more centrist City Council is a per se conspiracy.


I’m glad progressives remembered we have the initiative process available at all levels of government in WA - I shouldn’t only need to deal with the wannabe Tim Eyeman’s of the world.

Direct democracy is sometimes needed but often leads to crappy law (see 2081 as a recent example). Let’s hope they channel their energies productively.


History shows that initiative campaigns are more easily bought by corporate interests than candidates are. Watch what you wish for.


What @4 said. What a wasted opportunity if the initiative can’t deliver, even if your average taxpayer isn’t footing the bill. Remember the monorail???


Yes, I’m sure after voters rejected the progressive candidates who all ran on these policies they’ll have no issues voting for those same policies made more ideologically pure. When that fails though what will be left for TS to blame for the continued rejection of progressive policies?


Nobody will miss the days when Sawant, Mosqueda, Morales, and Herbold virtue-signaled "progressive" word salads that resulted in skyrocketing homelessness, crime, rents, shootings, over-doses, and cost of living.



Nobody will miss the days when Sawant, Mosqueda, Morales, and Herbold virtue-signaled "progressive" word salads that resulted in skyrocketing homelessness, crime, rents, shootings, over-doses, and cost of living.

Except maybe The Stranger, Daniel Beeckman (Seattle Times) and Heidi Groover (Seattle Times) and other extremists who are probably going move to Portland where the 'progressive' are still driving that once nice city into the toilet.


It's cute to watch Hannah process her stages of grief as she mourns the loss of a far-lefty majority on the Council. I'm going to mark this down as anger.


I think there are a number of reasons for this:

1) The death of political parties. It used to be that parties had a particular agenda and you worked within them to achieve your goals. The party would pick the strongest candidates -- the ones it felt could advance. There are no party primaries any more. Even if there were it wouldn't matter for local races. Nationally, the Republican Party has gone from being reactionary (under Reagan) to being nationalist (under Trump). It is a toxic brand around here (for good reason). You could theoretically have Democrats, Socialists and Progressives, but without party primaries it doesn't matter.

2) The endorsements. The Municipal League used to endorse candidates based on their knowledge of the issues (not where they stood). So everyone would get a rating from "Outstanding" to "Not Qualified". Now there are only two sources for endorsements, The Seattle Times and The Stranger. They are both fucked up. They both don't give a shit if a candidate is qualified or not. In the last two elections they have both endorsed candidates that have repeatedly failed to vote! Holy shit, this is probably the easiest state in the fucking union to vote, and yet these candidates couldn't even do that? I'm not talking about missing a race (or even two). I mean most of the time they couldn't bother to vote! Selecting candidates based on their speeches and not their qualifications is a big reason that Sara Nelson was elected. For The Stranger to whine about Nelson is like Nader voters in Florida whining about Bush -- of course he sucks but you could have prevented it if you had an ounce of sense. To be clear, there are other sources for progressive information (Publicola and the Urbanist) but The Stranger (and the Seattle Times) have most of the power and they are sloppy with their endorsements.

3) Districts and winner-take-all elections. Districts basically limit the opportunity for candidates to self-select and work with other candidates to better their chances. A better system would be like the one they have in Scandinavia. You vote for a party and get represented in proportion of the vote. In Seattle that would likely mean Democrats, Progressives and Socialists splitting most of the seats.

So yeah, we aren't Sweden. The system we have here is a mess, and folks are stuck trying to do things via initiative. Oh well.


Poor Hannah! Resorting to conspiracy theories passed off as a “scoop”. Please move and don’t let the doorknob hit you…..


Increased minimum wages are nice but are quickly overwhelmed by rent increases. We need more housing to lower rents as has happened in Austin and Minneapolis. (We need rent stabilization too but by itself will not lower rents.) We need to organize to reform Mayor Harrell's reactionary One Seattle Plan that will set housing policy for the next ten years.

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