What the fuck is a pangolin?
Of all the questions the Stranger Election Control Board has had to ask itself over these many years—questions like "Is 1:30 p.m. too early to have a drink if you're already stoned?" and "Why does The Stranger conference room have carpet on the walls?" and the perennial "What went so wrong with these people's lives that they want to run for school board?"—we'd never yet had to ask ourselves about pangolins. Until this year.
Because this year, it's apparently not enough that we're voting on every seat on the Seattle City Council; some important local measures addressing transportation, campaign finance reform, and police accountability; the latest Tim Eyman bullshit; the race for King County ASSe$$or; and several races for the motherfucking school board. This year, thanks to Paul Allen's vast wealth, we're also voting on whether we like pangolins enough—and we'll admit, they are cute little termite-eating mammals—to create a new statewide law so that Paul Allen can stop freaking out about threatened species that are not even native to Washington State and maybe start focusing on our state's threatened workers, renters, and school kids.
It's enough to make us want to curl up into small, impenetrable balls and point our scales outward—like a pangolin—and ignore the politicians who come into our office seeking the SECB's prized and priceless endorsement. But since we can't do that, it remains our job (and yours!) to make some decisions. It's election time, people. We're all going to have to put down our bongs, pull up our pants, and push away from the Tumblr porn long enough to vote. Stop daydreaming about whether that water they found on Mars is drinkable and how you can get there. It's not, and you can't. Go find your ballot. (Hint: It's in your actual, physical mailbox.) And then join us in casting a couple dozen votes. Seriously, it's only a couple dozen votes, and this shit is important. We have pangolins—not to mention a city, a county, a state, and a planet—to save.
The Stranger Election Control Board is Sydney Brownstone, Heidi Groover, Ansel Herz, Tim Keck, Kathleen Richards, Eli Sanders, Dan Savage, and one really persuasive pangolin that maybe we hallucinated, or maybe we didn't. The Stranger does not endorse in uncontested races or in races the pangolin forgot about. Readers of our endorsements are legally obligated to vote a straight SECB ticket.
Tim Eyman is a skid mark that just won't fade in a state that can't afford new underwear because Tim Eyman bankrupted it. And Initiative 1366 is Eyman's latest craptastic offering. Just knowing Eyman's name is behind this thing is probably enough for you to stop reading this endorsement right here and vote HELLLLLL FUCKING NO. But in case you're one of those annoying "thoughtful and conscientious" voters who needs reasons: Eyman's current con is really an attempt at winning a battle he lost more than two goddamn years ago, when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that an ancient Eyman initiative that required a two-thirds legislative majority for any tax increases was unconstitutional. (Not the first Eyman initiative to have been found unconstitutional, not the last.) This year's bullshit Eyman measure tries to blackmail the state legislature into passing a constitutional amendment that would allow two-thirds majority requirements. That's right: This motherfucker was found to be peddling unconstitutional bullshit with his two-thirds majority nonsense, and instead of going home and thinking about his sorry ass, his solution is to just change the constitution. Under this new Eyman initiative, if the legislature fails to pass the constitutional amendment Eyman wants for himself, our state sales tax—which is the main sources of funding for basic state services here in Washington—gets cut in a big way. In other words: "Waaaaaa! Give me my unconstitutional tax-slashing measure back or I'll slash money for food assistance and health care for people who desperately need it." Fuuuuuuuck you, Tim Eyman. We hope the state attorney general follows the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission's recent recommendations and prosecutes your shady self to the fullest. Vote no.
The largest donor to this statewide initiative—by far—is Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Because it turns out Paul Allen likes endangered animals. Like, a lot. And so he's put up nearly $3 million to make sure we're all voting this year on a measure that would crack down on people in Washington who traffic in the dead body parts of elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, sharks, rays, and pangolins. (PANGOLINS! GOOGLE THEM! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!) To which we say: Okaaaaaaaay, Paul. We like pangolins, too. (Seriously, google them. They are adorable, and the SECB will taxidermy the head of anyone who tries to sell us the dead body parts of one.) However. As noted above, it's crazy easy for one man to use this state's initiative process to pursue his own private fancies. Eyman's been doing this to no-good ends for what seems like our entire lives—and some of our past lives. And with Paul Allen playing the Eyman game to save pangolins, we can't help but think: Um, Paul, could you put $3 million behind a statewide initiative that would help the HUMANS of Washington State? We know you donated $100,000 to defeat a 2010 initiative that would have given us a badly need income tax here in Washington. (Right now, Washington has the most regressive tax structure in the nation because it relies mainly on the sales tax, which means people like Paul Allen don't pay their fair share to make this state run smoothly and assure basic human needs are met.) Still, if you don't like the income-tax idea, Paul, could you wrap your pangolin-obsessed head around some other human-helping statewide proposal that might help? Something to fund our unconstitutionally underfunded public school system, perhaps? Maybe a $1 billion annual excise tax on the existence of Tim Eyman? You really do owe us one, Paul. Vote yes.
An advisory vote is a vote that doesn't matter at all. And who do we have to thank for these bullshit check boxes? That skid mark Tim Eyman, that's who. So these bullshit votes are nonbinding and we have to go through these bullshit motions only because Eyman wanted to harangue people every time our democratically elected legislature democratically approved anything that might result in the state having a little bit more money to spend. Advisory Vote No. 10 requires railroads transporting highly flammable crude oil tankers to be more transparent and show they can pay for a spill. No. 11 deals with merging the medical and recreational marijuana systems and has legitimate flaws, but is also way too complicated to get into for one of these bullshit Eyman advisory votes. No. 12 is the revenue bill from the state's $16.1 billion transportation package, which simultaneously authorizes this region to ask voters for up to $15 billion for the Sound Transit 3 expansion and invests heavily in highways and car infrastructure. And No. 13 is a bill that ended a Microsoft tax break. Vote maintained on all of them, because fuuuuuuck you, Tim Eyman.
Charter Amendment No. 1
King County is threatened by thuggish armed gangs seeking to enrich themselves and operate with impunity: friggin' police unions. Charter Amendment No. 1 gives you the chance to strike a blow against that impunity by voting for expanded civilian oversight of the King County Sheriff's department. The county's Office of Law Enforcement Oversight needs to be empowered to investigate misconduct, says King County Council member Larry Phillips, because "the police guild has made it very difficult for anybody at King County to get anything done." (Brace yourselves for a choice cop joke.) This amendment, if passed, lets the county's labor negotiators say to the guild that represents sheriff's deputies: "Hey. Put down the doughnuts for a second. The public is with us. Stop holding up progress." (Bet you didn't see a doughnut joke coming, huh? HA HA. HA! Doughnuts.) The amendment would also create a committee of civilians to advise the sheriff and county council on matters of "equity and social justice" related to policing. If you agree that #BlackLivesMatter—and fuck you if you don't—you'll join Sheriff John Urquhart and eight of the nine county council members in supporting this charter amendment. You can help make sure that bad police officers can't get away with quite so much racist, brutal, stupid bullshit. (And no, unfortunately, this will not apply to the Seattle Police Department, which is separate from the King County Sheriff. We sure wish it did, because the Seattle Police Officers' Guild is a garbage organization whose core function is to circle the wagons around terrible cops.) Vote yes.
This is probably the most important measure you'll vote on this election season. Of course, this ass-backward world being what it is, it's also the measure you've likely heard the least about. It's being pushed by King County executive Dow Constantine, and it's known as "Best Starts for Kids" because—spoiler alert—it invests a bunch of money in providing a better start in life to those kids who get a hard draw in the birth lottery. If this sounds like a nice-but-maybe-expensive thing to do for your less-fortunate neighbors, check yourself. Yes, it's a nice thing to do, but it's also a great way of saving your own precious tax dollars in the long run, you stingy fuck. That's because a lot of your precious tax dollars are now spent—to pick just one pricey example—on incarcerating kids who got a very bad start in life. As Constantine puts it: "You pay dearly for the pound of cure, for want of an ounce of prevention." So he wants you to approve $65 million a year over six years in new property taxes—stop whining, that works out to only about $56 per year for the average King County property owner, you stingy fuck—in order to fund early childhood interventions. Things like helping needy first-time moms with nutrition, medical care, a safe place to have their child, and nurses who visit the new family to help assure the new child has a decent (not deluxe, just decent, you stingy fuck) first two years of life. Science shows that the more healthy and nurturing a child's first two years of life are, the less likely that child is to become—and these are now our words here, not the scientific litracha's—a fuckup who costs the rest of society dearly (in terms of expensive crisis interventions, hospitalizations, drug rehabilitations, and so on). There will still be fuckups in the world even if we pass this measure. And if history is any guide, a number of them will wind up on the SECB. Still, how about we spend some public money on trying to create fewer predestined fuckups, rather than, as Constantine puts it, spending the vast majority of our county's public dollars on "just trying to keep the house of cards standing"? Vote approved.
Wilson worked under Hara for years, so he knows how the tax assessor's office works (which is great, because fuck if we do). He even admitted that a lot of what the office does could be automated and done by robots (and iPads). Points for honesty! Hara, on the other hand, canceled with the SECB at the last second. What did he do when he was on the job? He asked the county council for a raise, which would have made him the highest-paid tax assessor in the state (they declined to give him one). Wilson thinks the current $163K in salary for our elected tax assessor is plenty. And, most excitingly, he's pledged to be an "activist assessor." He's concerned about rising property taxes (he wouldn't have raised the property assessed value ratio, he said, unlike Hara), he has good ideas on how the county tax assessor can help create more affordable housing, he promises to make sure chronic tax evaders like Microsoft pay their fair share, and he talked a good game about creating "tax equity across the board." That's what we want to hear. Want more of the status quo? Hara is your guy. Want change? Vote Wilson. (Want a medical cocaine license? Ask Savage.)
Director of Elections
In Olympia, Kohl-Welles worked on issues we care about like marijuana and paid parental leave, but she has also depended on deeply flawed anti-sex-work "research" to defend her belief that sex buying should stay criminalized instead of fighting to empower sex workers with labor rights. King County is a place with all the affordability issues Seattle is facing, plus a huge responsibility for funding the local criminal justice system, plus a budget that we've reported looks like "a slasher film." Despite all that, SECB members were sleep-drooling on the conference table while Kohl-Welles tried to explain even one concrete idea for what she would do at the county.
Don't get us wrong. You still have to vote for Jeanne Kohl-Welles in this race. Her opponent is some rabidly anti-tax nobody who told us he knows his campaign is "hopeless." But you don't have to like it. And once the notorious JKW gets into office, you're welcome to send her as many angry e-mails as your little fingers can type demanding she be a better, bolder, louder progressive now that she's working closer to home. Vote Kohl-Welles.
Claudia Balducci, the Democratic mayor of Bellevue who wants to represent the Eastside, came in and won us over with her advocacy for light rail (she sits on the Sound Transit board) and had some pretty cool ideas about coming up with a regional affordable housing plan. It might raise some people's hackles that Balducci, who used to direct King County jails, also helped shepherd through King County's controversial—but voter approved—plan to rebuild the decrepit Children and Family Justice Center (aka juvie, aka "youth jail" if you're protesting it). But Balducci says she's learned from the experience, and the activism, and now thinks the long-term goal of zero detention for youth is "absolutely the right direction." We're holding you to that goal, Balducci, and obviously professional GOP train wreck Jane Hague needs more free time so she can start returning our phone calls. Vote Balducci.
PORT OF SEATTLE
Commissioner Position No. 2
CITY OF SEATTLE
Council District No. 1
Herbold has worked in Council Member Nick Licata's office since whenever Licata moved all of his lava lamps into City Hall and refused to leave. Since then, Licata has sometimes let us down on density and transportation issues—and we'll be watching Herbold on those issues, too—but his office, thanks in huge part to Herbold, has made important things happen for vulnerable people in this city. They've supported homeless encampments, led the city's paid sick and safe time ordinance, and been some of the most aggressive watchdogs in city hall making sure Seattle's labor laws actually get enforced.
Herbold supports basically every single thing that's good for renters and low-wage workers—caps on move-in fees, protection from discrimination if you pay your rent with public assistance, the right to sue your employer if they're not paying you the right wage, bargaining rights for Uber drivers. Meanwhile, the Rental Housing Association's political arm, which has donated to Braddock, wrote an e-mail to its members urging them to oppose Herbold because she is "known to strongly favor tenants." Over here on the "uber-left," that's music to our ears. Vote Herbold.
Since we met with Harrell and Morales this summer, Morales has come forward with clear criticisms of Harrell's lack of accomplishments during his eight years on the council, as well as her own specific promises about what she'd do differently. Why she didn't have more of this in the summer, we don't know. But she's right when she now suggests, on the campaign trail, that Harrell often operates like a spineless panderer who's more interested in advancing his own political career than in any real moral compass he may or may not possess. And just in the last couple of weeks, Harrell betrayed his own weasely stupidity with some true bullshit, crystallizing for the SECB that while Morales has gotten much better as a candidate since the primary election, Harrell has somehow gotten worse.
On October 9, we found out that Harrell wanted to proclaim an Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month in Seattle—and that the proclamation would be made available for his council colleagues' signatures on Indigenous Peoples' Day. The draft of the proclamation sent to other council members used colonialist language that celebrated the racist mass-murderer Christopher Columbus by name. This was an offensive and tone-deaf move that Harrell backtracked from quickly, and he didn't end up introducing the proclamation on Indigenous Peoples' Day. Still, it was a window into the kind of politician he is. A group of Italian Americans come to him asking for recognition for their holiday and—poof—a proclamation gets sent to the rest of the council in an attempt to score easy political points without thinking critically about what the proclamation actually says. Then, when he's challenged on the timing, he tells a reporter that he was "the drafter of Indigenous Peoples' Day." Which just isn't true. (Harrell was a cosponsor of Indigenous Peoples' Day, not the drafter.) This was classic Harrell: thoughtlessly pandering and taking credit for shit he didn't do all at once.
A few days before, Harrell did the same thing on municipal broadband. At a debate in District 2, Morales spoke in support of a municipal broadband pilot project, possibly on Beacon Hill. "It was my idea," Harrell said twice in response. No it fucking wasn't, Bruce. The recommendation came from the last city study on municipal broadband. Harrell is openly skeptical of the cost of the city running broadband service. If he supports municipal broadband at all, it's lukewarm support at best—he's tight with CenturyLink, having worked as their lawyer, and received a campaign donation from Comcast this year. In any case, a municipal broadband pilot project certainly wasn't his idea. (He and Murray have advocated for a pilot project that would help private broadband companies, not anything that would help create city-run public broadband.)
All of which underlines the basic problem with Harrell: He doesn't have a solid set of progressive political values that he goes to the mat for every day. It's more like an endlessly malleable hodgepodge of conflicting promises, made in different rooms to different people and rooted in political expediency. Which is why he has precious little to show for the eight years he's been on the council. (We loved his "banning the box" legislation, which outlawed questions about criminal records on job applications in an attempt to combat hiring discrimination against people of color, who are disproportionately jailed in this country. But we expect a lot more over eight years, particularly since Harrell has known for the last two years that with district elections coming, he'd probably have to run this year for a seat representing South Seattle—which clearly deserves a lot more from Harrell and the city.) Bottom line: Harrell is a big guy who can project a lot of charisma in public, but behind the scenes he sways like a beanpole in whatever direction he thinks the political winds are blowing. He openly prides himself on being the "swing vote," as if that's a good thing. We disagree. We want elected officials who govern based on clear values, not just whatever they think is going to look best for them in that particular moment.
Plus, Harrell gets a lot of shit dead wrong: He supports the motherfucking tunnel boondoggle; as public safety chair, he hasn't done serious oversight of the police (uh, our news section has been doing that for him); and he stood with the mayor in a misguided and ultimately failed crackdown on hookah lounges.
Tammy Morales doesn't hold a candle to Harrell in the charisma department. We'll give him that. But on the issues that count, Morales has shown that she's a firebrand progressive. She's endorsed by the Sierra Club. She's pledged to push for less-regressive forms of taxation, municipal broadband, and more aggressive police reform. She wants to put a stop to move-in discounts for tech employees and supports capping move-in fees for tenants. We're eager to see her marry her rock-solid principles with her community planning and food-justice background while on the council, and we think she'd be a great addition to an insurgent, solidly progressive slate that includes Lisa Herbold (District 1), Kshama Sawant (District 3), Michael Maddux (District 4), Debora Juarez (District 5), and Jon Grant (citywide). And, in case it's not clear already: We are so fucking sick of Harrell's weaseling. Vote Morales.
Yeah, Sawant can be uncompromising with her rhetoric, and her take-no-prisoners style has caused establishment panties to permanently bunch. So what? Her tactic of staking out a far-left "fringe" position and then pulling the bunched-panties crowd toward it by any means necessary is working. (See, for example, the city's historic $15 minimum wage law and this year's council resolution calling on Olympia to lift the ban on rent control.) Sawant's critics—Council President Tim Burgess chief among them—will say that she hasn't actually passed any significant legislation and is all fiery flash with no substance. Not true. Sawant's version of a rent-control resolution didn't pass the council because Burgess, trying to neutralize a potent election year issue that could help Sawant win, put forward his own, less-confrontationally-worded resolution. It passed instead of Sawant's, but that's still a victory for Sawant's pull-'em-to-the-left strategy—not least because Burgess doesn't actually support rent control.
Pamela Banks, Sawant's establishment-backed challenger, has some good ideas but lacks anything close to Sawant's sense of urgency about the problems that continue to haunt this fast-changing city. And they are fucking urgent problems. Sawant's recent decision to piss off the likes of Joel Connelly by skipping a downtown Rotary Club debate for a protest against a Columbia City "slumlord" shows she gets that urgency, and if she can be at every big protest while also rope-a-dope-ing Burgess into backing a rent-control resolution in her first term in office (which, clearly, she can) then we can't wait to see what happens in her next term. Mayor Ed Murray endorsing Bernie Sanders? Sally Bagshaw turning her plane into a flying homeless shelter? Whatever goes down, you can be sure they'll say it has nothing to do with Sawant. And when they say that, you can be sure it has a lot to do with her. Vote Sawant.
Both Michael Maddux and Rob Johnson, the two dudes who made it through to the general, are more progressive than Godden. So now this race is about exactly what shade of progressive Seattle wants to be. Transit advocate Rob Johnson is an establishment environmentalist with a real Mormon missionary vibe. He is generally decent on the Big Issues, but he hasn't convinced us he'd be willing to stand up to the mayor or a more conservative council majority. The kind of incremental, lukewarm, go-along-to-get-along bullshit Johnson represents is part of what has gotten Seattle to where it is—still talking about maybe someday doing something about mass transit while shredding $100 bills to fill Bertha's rescue pit.
Michael Maddux is the opposite of all that. Sure, Maddux might have a secret anger problem, and we still don't believe he doesn't know what a quaalude is. But in our mind, that just makes him one of the normals—a gay single dad, a paralegal, and a parks activist who's unequivocally supportive of social services and has one of the best gender pay equity platforms in this whole general election cycle. That's normal, right? Maddux is interested in both greater density and making sure that density is affordable. (Yes, you can do both, free-marketers!) He talks—and talks—about ways to fix our regressive tax system by passing some sort of local income tax and letting opponents sue the city. If we won in court, Maddux says, that could "blow the lid off" tax policy in this state. Will it work? Hell if we know, but we need someone in there who'll try. Vote for Maddux twice.
Since August, Burgess has done some good stuff: He passed a tax on gun ammunition that's infuriated the NRA and, trying to outmaneuver Kshama Sawant, passed a council resolution calling for the repeal of the state's ban on rent control. What could possibly explain his shifting positions? Oh, right. It's an election year. Burgess remains a steadfast supporter of the Highway 99 tunnel boondoggle, but he's moving to the left on other issues in an attempt to defuse the candidacy of Jon Grant, who pulled a surprisingly strong 30 percent of the vote in the primary despite being totally outgunned in campaign contributions. Grant is a progressive nerd on all the big issues, including racial justice, police reform, and, perhaps most importantly, housing affordability—he's the former executive director of the Tenants Union of Washington State, which does yeoman's work advocating for vulnerable renters. So are you sick of astronomical rents? Want a roof over your head rather than a tent next to a freeway off-ramp? Want to not be treated like a criminal for living in that tent? You want Grant. (And you should know that Burgess opposed letting homeless people form encampments on city land, where they can band together and get social services, until very recently.) Tywin Lannister was an asshole, but at least he was consistent. Burgess, now desperately trying to pretend he's a liberal, lacks the courage of his own conservative villainy. ABB: Anyone but Burgess. Vote Grant.
Lorena González is a badass civil-rights attorney who is probably going to become governor or something someday. González grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. As a lawyer, she fought for Latino students who'd been mistreated by school administrators and sued the city of Seattle on behalf of the Latino man a Seattle cop threatened to "beat the fucking Mexican piss" out of. (Do you even need any more information? Just mark the goddamn bubble already.)
As a council member, González is promising to work on gender pay equity, push forward the tenant protections and increased density in the city's housing affordability plan, and beef up enforcement of the city's labor laws.
González is taking donations from some folks we are not into—the reform-choking police guild, the Chamber of Commerce's political arm, Tim fucking Burgess—and we'll be watching closely to make sure she doesn't fold to those interests once in office. But her past work, her broad base of support, and the fact that she is not Bill Bradburd make this choice easy. Vote González.
If someone tries to tell you that you shouldn't vote for this campaign finance reform initiative because it fails to do away with dreaded special interest spending, fails to undo Citizens United, or fails to give every voter free artisan pot brownies and blowjobs, laugh in their fucking face and leave the room. A city initiative cannot fix our entire political system, which is and may forever be stacked in the favor of the people with the most money to spend. But we can start to empower those people who don't have money so they get involved in the system, potentially leading to all sorts of structural change over the long term.
This initiative does a lot of good stuff—lowers campaign contribution limits, limits contributions from people who have city contracts or lobby city officials, improves requirements for candidates reporting the money they're getting, and more. But its centerpiece is something called "democracy vouchers." Those are paper coupons you will get in the mail—four of 'em, worth $25 each—that you can donate to candidates so they can redeem them for cash. That cash comes from a small 10-year, $30 million property tax levy (that's about 12 bucks a year for the median Seattle home). By 2019, an online voucher system will exist, too. Sound weird? Yeah, new ideas sometimes sound weird. Get over it. Candidates opting into this new game could still take private money, but they would have caps on how much they could spend. (There are no such caps today.)
Now, this is the important part: The reason we need this initiative is that right now there are basically two classes of people out there—people who can afford to donate to political campaigns and people who can't. And who do politicians court during election season and then listen to and help out once they're in office? The first group. Who gets ignored? The second group. That makes those without money feel even less invested in the process, which makes them more likely to disengage altogether, which reinforces the whole damn problem.
Right now, according to research from the Sightline Institute (a backer of this initiative), a tiny fraction of people in the city are donating all the money that's funding city political campaigns. In 2013, half of all the money donated came from just .3 percent of all adults in the city. Who are those donors? As Sightline's report puts it, "rich white people who live in Seattle's waterfront and view homes." That is the world we live in right now. We can decide to be okay with that and keep talking ourselves to death about how fucked our political process is. Or we can do something to try to shift the balance.
Critics who claim this will push more money into special-interest-funded political action committees are ignoring the fact that this very thing is already happening and that it's not something city law can undo. Those who claim the levy won't pay for the voucher system are using misleading and faulty math. Do not believe them.
What opponents of this initiative are really saying is that they're okay with the status quo. You shouldn't be. Vote yes.
Yes, this is a huge levy. At $930 million, it's the biggest one in Seattle's history. The city estimates it will increase property taxes for the median Seattle homeowner by about $145 a year or $12 a month.
And yes, property tax levies are inherently problematic and we're sick of paying for everything with them. We've already endorsed—what—40 or 50 property tax levies in this one batch of endorsements? Yes, yes: We know property tax increases affect both homeowners and low-income renters whose landlords pass the costs down to them. We wish this levy included some other sources of funding, like the business and parking taxes city council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata pushed for. But the rest of the city council blocked that effort, telling us they're saving those other taxes for some other needs. What the hell are those? NO ONE KNOWS. So this is what we're stuck with.
The problem is that we still need the stuff this levy is going to pay for—and we can't afford to wait. So you should vote yes on this levy and then immediately draft an e-mail to all your city council members telling them that now that you've opened your wallet, you want rich people and big business to do the same.
The Move Seattle levy addresses a set of unsexy but really important maintenance needs and improvements for the streets we already have. Our society's car fetish aside, making streets better also helps people who walk, bike, and bus.
The levy aims to fund half of the Bicycle Master Plan, building 50 miles of new protected bike lanes and 60 miles of greenways (those slow bike-and-pedestrian-focused streets). It is also expected to fund seven new RapidRide corridors, streets with bus-only lanes, and signal prioritization. The city plans to allocate $71 million from the levy to "Vision Zero," a program started in Sweden to change street designs and increase enforcement in order to reduce traffic fatalities. (That effort includes improving routes kids use to walk and bike to school. DO YOU HEAR THAT? Are you seriously going to vote against money that will allow children to walk to school without getting pulped by an SUV barreling through an unmarked crosswalk?)
Levy funding will likely start the process of figuring out how to make the deadly Ballard Bridge safer for bikes and pedestrians. It will likely build 150 new blocks of sidewalks and repair 225 other blocks. One other BFD detail: The Move Seattle levy can also be used to leverage state and federal money for all this stuff too, which is like getting free money to go along with the money you're paying. Because of that, the city expects to get more than $1.75 billion out of your $930 million.
A citizen oversight committee will track all this money, and any deviations from the spending plan of more than 10 percent require a three-fourths vote of the city council. One more thing: While we'll never stop complaining about how fundamentally unfair this state's lack of an income tax is, if you look at studies comparing property taxes in major cities, Seattle is near the middle or bottom. We can stand to pay more in property taxes for improvements that make this city safer for everyone. Vote yes.
Michael Christophersen comes off as an unsettled rage monkey. We're tempted to endorse the guy for the sheer entertainment value. The school board is already a shit show—why not make it a little shit-showier? But that wouldn't be fair to all the kiddies. We asked Christophersen about accusations that he'd verbally abused a district staffer at a public meeting a few years ago. He admitted to making his strongly held views known, but he denied ever using abusive language. Okay. Then he went on to say that if elected, he would tell the district administrators: "Please don't come back to me with your bullshit." The SECB finds that kind of abusive language shocking. We almost had to break out Tim Keck's "smelling salts." (Or are they bath salts? We forget.)
Anyway, Scott S. Pinkham—a parent of two girls in public schools, a Native American, member of the Urban Native Education Alliance, and a University of Washington lecturer—kept his cool. He'll be an advocate for less standardized testing, better pay for teachers, and implementing a long overdue, historically accurate tribal curriculum (i.e., getting rid of the colonialist retellings of how the United States was created). "I want to be an advocate for those voices that often get muffled," he told us. Vote Pinkham. (Michael, we're eagerly looking forward to your hate mail. Make it special.)
The SECB really liked Laura Gramer. How could we not? She came in with her two adorable boys, who, unlike most children, weren't disgusting little shits. They played under the table, bumped their heads a few times, and munched on fruit snacks while we talked boring school policy stuff. Gramer is deaf, and she'd represent the disabled community on the school board. And she's clearly engaged and informed on a host of issues, from excessive standardized testing to racial equity. But we can't advise you to vote for her, unfortunately, because every time we asked her what she would do if elected, she rambled and didn't explain how she'd wield her limited powers as a board member to change things. She kept repeating, "I'll stay on top of it and make sure it happens." You need to come with specific plans, and Gramer didn't. But we hope she develops them and runs again.
Rick Burke, the cofounder of the Seattle Math Coalition, believes the district needs an auditor's office to measure compliance with the policies created by the school board. He wants the district to invest more in good instructional materials, including historically accurate tribal textbooks. If we could, we'd marry Gramer's passion and Burke's ideas, because Burke came off as rather bland. But while Gramer has garnered very few endorsements, Burke has a ton, including from Sue Peters, the only sitting school board member who voted against authorizing the district to take teachers to court when they went on strike in August. Vote Burke.
Jill Geary is fired up. During the teachers' strike, she was out on the picket lines marching in solidarity. At a recent forum, she talked about the state's criminal, chronic underfunding of schools and called the Seattle School District the "900-pound gorilla in this state. We need to bring the state along with us." FUCK. YES. As we wrote in August, Geary seems more ready than her competitor, Lauren McGuire, "to bully her more reticent colleagues on the board into exerting meaningful oversight over the school district's administrators, whose record is one of attracting the attention of federal investigators over allegations of institutional racism and sexism and lots of other terrible crap."
We made fun of ourselves in August for thinking that Geary could actually get in there and fix much at the district, which, after all, is where smart people go to die. But, honestly, she seems like the type to handle anything thrown her way, and this could be the year that we get an insurgent, progressive majority on the school board. Vote Geary.
Also: Oh my god, please don't remind us of how horrible Marty McLaren is. It's not just that she's an incumbent zombie who wasn't able to describe much of anything she'd accomplished on the school board during her SECB interview. Post-primary election, she confirmed what a waste of space she is by voting to allow the district to sue striking teachers. "A vote for me is a vote for stability," she said at a recent debate. "Stability" that causes thousands of teachers to walk off their jobs for two weeks, delaying the start of the school year? Huh.
Leslie Harris, on the other hand, was out on the picket lines during the strike. "I stand with teachers and school staff," she said. "Am I a change agent?" she shot back at the debate. "You betcha." And the district, which is under federal investigation for racial inequities in discipline, so desperately needs change in more ways than we have space to describe. Harris is a veteran PTA volunteer and paralegal with endorsements from all the right folks—including that pangolin that whispered in our ear during this endorsement meeting. Vote Harris.