11/5/2013 – General and Special Election, Seattle, King County, Washington State

It’s voting time again. As I have explained previously I don’t vote for Republicans or Democrats, including those running for nonpartisan offices (with the exception of Jim McDermott). I did loosen the rule a little for the school board. The good news is that there are some really juicy things to vote for! On the position side there is 522 to label genetically modified foods, Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council, Sue Peters for Seattle School District and Seattle Proposition No. 1 to give us public campaign financing! There are even good things to vote no for like Initiative No. 517 (the Tim Eyman employment act) and Seattle Charter Amendment 19 (the Gerrymandering act).

Initiative Measure No. 517 - No

I give major kudos to the Washington Secretary of State whose website listing this initiative now links directly to who donated to the campaign! That is just awesome! So who hates this initiative? Anyone and everyone who sells anything in Washington State! We have super markets, home improvement stores, etc. The reasons, one suspects, for their dislike is that the centerpiece of this initiative involves drawing a 25 foot circle around anyone collecting signatures and giving the signature gatherer effective control over that space, even if it is, say, at the front of a store (or someone’s house for that matter). The reason for this is ostensibly to protect signature gatherers from harassment. To be clear, the existing law protects signature gatherers from harassment. What this new law does is create a financial incentive to prosecute anyone who gets within 25 feet of a signature taker since this initiative would level civil, not criminal, penalties against those who harass signature takers.
I can imagine circumstances where the preponderance of the evidence might support an initiative like this but given that it comes from Tim Eyman you will have to excuse me if I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt.
The initiative would also extend the period of time over which signatures can be gathered and would require that votes be held if enough signatures were gathered on a petition (over the years various initiatives have been blocked by lawsuits from the legislature and others).
Honestly if this wasn’t Tim Eyman I might vote for this but given his long history of ill thought out initiatives I just don’t trust him or this initiative.

Initiative Measure No. 522 - Yes

This is a bill with some really focused enemies. So far the no campaign has raised almost $18 million versus $7.6 million for those in favor. And who hates this bill? Grocery stores and companies developing genetically modified foods.
What the bill requires is that foods and seeds containing genetically modified ingredient be labeled clearly as such. My own concern about GM isn’t so much food safety as the horrendous economic effects that terminator seeds, monopoly control over our crops and dangers to the environment from the overuse of pesticides. Have foods clearly labeled as GM lets us have a debate about GM foods that isn’t possible with a government that I feel is paid off to make the issues go away.
BTW, I did actually visit the No on 522 site to read what they had to say. Their ’facts’ on 522 were a collection of assertions with no meaningful data behind them. The ’arbitrary’ exemptions in 522 aren’t actually arbitrary although I do agree they should be more aggressive. But I’m fine starting small. As for the ’cost’ arguments, not a fact in sight just a bunch of assertions. Here’s the reality. Farmers know what’s in the food they produce (or damn well should) and they already have to have labels. So the actual cost here is going to be peanuts. The real issue is the shock that many consumers have when roughly 60% of the foods they buy suddenly sprout ’GMO Inside’ labels.
If consumers want GMO, fine, let them have it. But hiding GMO and its issues shouldn’t be an option.

Advisory Vote No. 3 - Substitute Senate Bill 5444 - Maintained

Advisory Vote No. 3 - 7 are the result of a Tim Eyman initiative that required that any tax increases be put to an ’advisory’ vote of the people. The vote is meaningless. The initiative was stupid. And only idiots who voted for it should have to read these damn things. Alas I was one of those idiots so here goes. This one gets rid of a tax break for people who lease public property.

Advisory Vote No. 4 - Senate Bill 5627 - Maintained

A $500,000 tax over 10 years (yes, we are all getting to vote on an issue worth approximately $50,000/year for the entire state of Washington) that levies an excise tax rather than a property tax on commuter air carriers.

Advisory Vote No. 5 - Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1846 - Maintained

A tax on insurance premiums for pediatric oral services that no one can estimate. Is it just me or is the House just screwing with us?

Advisory Vote No. 6 - Second Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1971 - Maintained

Removes a sales tax exemption for telephone and telecommunications services. At least this one raises around $400 million over 10 years. Of course given the size of Washington State’s budget (around $40 billion a year) that’s noise.

Advisory Vote No. 7 - Engrossed House Bill 2075 - Maintained

This one I like! It increases the state tax on property/estates over $4 million. Yes! No hereditary rich please.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 - County Department of Public Defense - Yes

The story here is apparently until now those needing public defense council (e.g. they couldn’t afford their own) in King County got it from independent contractors hired by the county. The county did this to save money by not providing things like benefits to those contractors. But there was a lawsuit and those contractors won status as state employees in court. Which honestly sounds about right. Providing defense for the indigent should be a job for state employees, not private contractors looking to maximize profit. So I’m happy to vote yet for this bill which would create a formal office for public defense where all these new employees the lawsuit produced would work. It would also give that department substantial independence which I strongly suspect is a good thing.

King County Proposition No. 1 - Medic One - Emergency Medical Services Renewal of Existing Levy - Approved

This renews a property tax used to pay for emergency medical services in King County. Property tax is one of the few progressive taxing mechanisms available to us in Washington State and is certainly preferable to a regressive sales tax (the other major taxing mechanism for Washington State). So while I don’t generally like ’special’ taxes I am supporting this one. Hopefully some day we’ll have a sane income tax (that doesn’t exclude everything under the sun) and we can move away from property taxes levies as a primary taxing mechanism.

King County Executive - No vote

I don’t vote for Democrats (Dow Constantine) or fundamentalists (Alan E. Lobdell) so I’ll be leaving this entry blank. Lobdell is particularly interesting because during the primary he had a lot of right wing Christian theology stuff on his website but now that he survived the primary (presumably with his right wing base) his website has less data on his beliefs and is more centrist, even with anti-CISPA stuff. This is a great example of why our electoral system is so fundamentally broken. Lobdell had to take hard right to get enough votes to get into the primary and then he pretends to be centrist to try to get through the general. So you can’t be sure what he really believes. And of course all those people who got him through the primary are expecting some kind of reward. Sigh.

Sheriff - John Urguhart

The only candidate is John Urguhart who I voted for in 2012. I can’t find much on his record other than his testimony to the Congress on the failure of the drug war.

Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1 - Judge Position No. 3 - No vote

My usual source for information on judges is the absolutely outstanding votingforjudges.org website. Unfortunately because judicial elections are usually in even years they aren’t up and running right now. Judge Verellen was appointed last year and this election is to complete his 2 year term (e.g. he will be up for election again next year). However a judge of all people needs to be non-partisan and when he proudly boasts on his website of his endorsements from the 46th and 37th legislative district Democrats not to mention a former Democratic governor you understand who he works for.

Port of Seattle - Commissioner Position No. 1 - No Vote

Pete Lewis His candidate statement promises candy for everyone. His website is content free saying literally nothing about what he would do on the port commission. Apparently however he is supported by the Republican party but that’s something he carefully hides on his website. You can find endorsements for him in places like here or here. So no vote for Mr. Lewis.
John Creighton Mr. Creighton lists his record on the candidate statement. Obviously I have no idea if it’s actually good or bad but at least it’s factual. Facts that Mr. Lewis could have taken on, say in his website, but chose not to. Mr. Creighton’s blog reads like a bunch of press releases. But one interesting fact is that Mr. Creighton is supported by every Democrat for 50 miles for a supposed nonpartisan position. I don’t vote for Democrats or Republicans so no vote here.

Port of Seattle - Commissioner Position No. 2 - John Naubert

Courtney Gregoire She couldn’t even wait past her candidate statement to flash her Democratic party credentials. The Stranger also mentioned that when asked on three different occasions if she supported a $15 minimum way for port workers she refused to answer. Next.
John Naubert I have to give Mr. Naubert credit. While he is a socialist (sorry, still not my cup of tea) instead of having the usual lunatic rant he actually had a rant that was spot on for the job he is running for. In other words he wasn’t just saying ’change the world’ he was saying things like help the unions and raise the minimum wage for port workers. That’s actually refreshing. He seems to be paying attention to the position rather than just using it as free publicity. In more sane times I wouldn’t vote for Mr. Naubert, more than anything else because I’m unclear if he is qualified for the job and because his website is actually just the website for the socialist newspaper The Militant. But these aren’t normal times so I’ll give him my vote.

Port of Seattle - Commissioner Position No. 3 - No Vote

Stephanie Bowman Her candidate statement actually says things like family-wage jobs (what does that mean btw?) and finding alternatives to shipping coal. She is also supported by some really odd bedfellows, Eastside Business Alliance & Longshoremen & Sailor’s Union? That’s interesting. But then, on her website, she has a long list of Democratic party endorsements. Next.
Michael Wolfe His claim to fame is his experience in the airline industry which is relevant since most of the Port of Seattle’s revenue is from SeaTac. But his long list of Democratic party endorsements makes me lose interest.

Port of Seattle - Commissioner Position No. 4 - No Vote

Richard Pope Sigh... mister Pope is somewhat famous for constantly running for positions, year after year. To be fair his candidate statements have been getting much better but he can’t even manage to keep his website registered even thought he advertised it in his candidate statement. Next.
Tom Albro His candidate statement doesn’t say much. His website doesn’t say much either. But at least he doesn’t list any endorsements from political parties (getting endorsed by public officials is a bit iffy). That likely means he’s a Republican and sure enough he is supported by the local Republicans. I don’t normally hold endorsements the candidate doesn’t advertise against them but Republicans trying to hide that fact is a Seattle tradition. So next.

City of Seattle Mayor - No Vote

Although the position is non-partisan both candidates are Democrats. Next.

City of Seattle City Attorney - Pete Holmes

Supported legalizing Marijuana and won? Dealing with the Policy Union and won? Staring down the mayor and won? His endorsements don’t call out any Democratic party units and he doesn’t appear to be a closet Republican? Wow... is he really an actual non-partisan? I suspect he is a closet Democrat but as someone running for a non-partisan position he is supposed to keep that hidden in the closet which he seems to be doing. He gets my vote.

City of Seattle Council Position No. 2 - Kshama Sawant

Full disclosure, I actually donated to Kshama Sawant’s campaign. I’d have to look up the last time I ever contributed directly to a politician’s campaign. Maybe never. As I said in my primary coverage I don’t agree with a lot of what she thinks but I think she is a lot better than the alternatives and we really need people like her on the council. Vote for Sawant!

City of Seattle Council Position No. 4 - Sam Bellomio

Sam Bellomio I bet my tin foil hat would fit him just fine. He is the VP in charge of Standup-America whose focus is on corruption in America. What have they done? Um... I looked at their site and I’m not sure. But oh well, odd times call for odd choices. So he gets my vote.
Sally Bagshaw She was kind enough to list her Democratic party endorsements right on her candidate statement. Saves me time. Next.

City of Seattle Council Position No. 6 - Edwin B. Fruit

Nick Licata Listed his Democratic Party endorsements in his candidate statement. Saves me time. Next.
Edwin B. Fruit Unfortunately his candidate position doesn’t say much that is relevant to the position he is running for. Compare his statement to Kshama Sawant who is also a socialist but is actually running for her position with focused issues and positions. Still, he’ll get my vote since he doesn’t seem completely nuts. How’s that for a voting bar?

City of Seattle Council Position No. 8 - No Vote

Both candidates are Democrats. Next.

City of Seattle Proposed Charter Amendment No. 19 - No

This would change how we elect council members in Seattle so that 7 of the 9 members would be elected by newly drawn districts and 2 would still be at large. The theoretical benefit of this action is to make it less expensive for people to run for a council seat since all but 2 would only need to run in their district. It would also allow people in a district to have a strong vote in government. I like the idea of better local representation but I can see how trivially easy this measure can be used to gerrymander the living daylights out of districts. Yes, the amendment has restrictions on district size (e.g. no district can be 1% larger than any other by population) but that leaves infinite room to gerrymander districts. And worse the district drawing process is completely political. I think the flaws here outweigh the benefits. Gerrymander, especially in the day of house by house level data collection, is too big a danger. If there was a truly non-political districting process I could imagine liking this proposal. But there isn’t.

City of Seattle Proposition No. 1 - Yes

This proposition allows candidates running for city council positions to get most of their campaign costs from the city via a new property tax (yeah progressive taxation!). The idea is that if a candidate can get at least 600 donations of $10 each then they qualify for city funding. This proposal isn’t perfect but it’s about as close as you can get given the legislators sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court. It can’t block PAC money or rich candidates but it should help to level the playing field and provide more access to city wide seats for those who aren’t bankrolled by billionaires.

Seattle School District No. 1 - Director District No. 4 - Sue Peters

Suzanne Dale Estey A typical ’candy for everyone’ candidate statement with Democratic party support to boot. She is also supported by a bunch of executive types who have an explicit agenda of sucking public money into their private ’charter’ schools that they can run for profit. These are the same folks who bring us high stakes testing since putting kids in boxes (no matter how ill fitting) is all their corporatist agenda can understand.
Sue Peters Another ’candy for everyone’ candidate statement. That having been said she is part of Parents Across America which appears to be fighting school privatization and high stakes testing. So that’s good. She is also involved with the Seattle Math Coalition which seems dedicated to killing Discovery Math. That’s great! Unfortunately she does list Democratic party endorsement but honestly I am not sure that matters for School District directors. At the city council level? Yes. At the school district level? I’m not so sure. Ms. Peters seems to have a desire for her kids that is the same for mine, good schools with real math. She gets my vote.

Seattle School District No. 1 - Director District No. 5 - No Vote

Stephan Blanford His candidate statement doesn’t even have candy for everyone! It says pretty much nothing other than taking (an entirely appropriate) dig at his opponent for being rated by the municipal league as not qualified. I went to his website and it says nothing. Oh and surprise, he is supported by the same corporate types as Suzanne Dale Estey. Next.
LaCrese Green Her candidate statement is a bit scattered but the key point is to avoid privatizing schools. And then I read her website. There is no American dream without God? On the other hand her objection to standardized testing, Discovery math, etc. gladdens my heart. But her belief that homosexuality is a sin that sends you to hell crosses the line. In a way I kind of admire her for at least holding to her beliefs. She sent a letter to Cheryl Chow, a Seattle city Councilwoman and Seattle School Board member who was dying of cancer. Chow, on her death bed, had declared she was a homosexual. In her letter Green expressed concern that Chow’s homosexuality wouldn’t help her in the hear after. No she didn’t say that Chow was going straight to hell but that was the obvious implication. In Green’s mind (and as she is quoted) she was offering Chow a way into heaven. Green, one hopes, had to understand that this letter was political suicide. But she wrote it anyway and probably in the nicest way you could given her beliefs. But I don’t believe that someone with those beliefs belongs on the school board. All of our children need to be loved and nurtured, regardless of their sexuality, not told they are going to hell. I recognize that Green is sincere in her beliefs but our beliefs differ and part of the point of voting is putting people in office whose beliefs align with yours. So I won’t be voting for Green.

Seattle School District No. 1 - Director District No. 7 - No Vote

Betty Patu She is running unopposed but her candidate statement says nothing other than she likes ’strong test scores’. Really? Test scores? She doesn’t have a website. She has been on the school board for several years and if she has left a meaningful mark I can’t find it. Of course if she took her election seriously and had a website that explained what she had done that would have been easy to fix. But she didn’t.

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