The Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee (SEAMEC), a nonpartisan group that rates candidates for local elections based on their positions on LGBTQ issues, is revoking its rating of state superintendent of public instruction candidate Erin Jones.
The group rarely revokes ratings, which often serve as de facto endorsements. But Jones, who originally scored straight "A's" in all of SEAMEC's interviews as well as a 5/5 score for leadership on LGBTQ issues, has since run into trouble with the LGBTQ community over statements she made earlier in her campaign.
SEAMEC began to reconsider its rating last month, when Jones was confronted by LGBTQ activists at Equal Rights Washington (ERW) over troubling statements on gender identity and sexual orientation that Jones made to a right-wing blog. As a result of Jones's interview with ERW, that group decided to endorse Jones's opponent, Chris Reykdal.
When SEAMEC then looked back at its candidate questionnaire from June, group leaders realized that Jones had also stated to SEAMEC that she was against a ban on conversion therapy for minors—in other words, that she was against banning a widely debunked and harmful practice that attempts to force LGBTQ youths into being straight or cisgender. In early August, two months after Jones submitted her SEAMEC questionnaire, Seattle banned conversion therapy on minors.
(Read Jones's SEAMEC questionnaire answers here. Conversion therapy is question 19.)
"The more we learned, the more disturbed we are by this candidate," Herb Krohn, SEAMEC spokesperson, said. "We have revoked her rating, and we have voted to endorse Chris Reykdal. I don't know if we settled on what her final rating would be, but it will be substantially lower, and we'll probably be putting a comment next to her numerical grade because of her enormous inconsistencies about her statements in so many venues."
Jones, who has been working closely with LGBTQ advocates to educate herself after her earlier statements on gender identity and sexual orientation came to light, has since reversed her position on conversion therapy.
"Conversion therapy is not appropriate under any circumstances," Jones said in an October 16 e-mail to The Stranger. "I absolutely support [Seattle's] ban and hope other cities will follow suit."
Jones has also attempted to clarify her earlier comments on sexual orientation and gender identity—somewhat. In late August, after I reported a piece looking at some of her controversial statements on LGBTQ issues, the candidate issued a public apology. But then, not long after the apology, Jones also sent an e-mail to her funders to tell them that I twisted her words. Jones did not respond to a request for comment on SEAMEC's ratings reversal.
But how could SEAMEC have missed Jones's original answer on a conversion therapy ban? Krohn, SEAMEC spokesperson, says it should have been glaring, but the members of the group just didn't see it.
"We go through 180 candidates in two days," Krohn said. "We overlooked it. Mistakes happen. We're human. But what's important to us is making sure the record is correct and putting out accurate information to the constituents."
This post has been updated.