8/21/2007 – Primary Election – Redmond, King County, Washington

Since I do not associate with either the Democratic nor the Republican parties I don't vote in either of their primaries. So I will only be giving my opinion on non-partisan positions and various measures. I went to the King County Voter Guide which generates a custom on-line guide just including positions/issues I'm eligible to vote for. I then checked the voter guide candidate text, check the candidate's web site, check the PI, the Seattle Times, the Stranger, the Municipal League of King County and searched the net.

  • Port of Seattle – Commissioner – Position No. 2 – Thom McCann

  • Port of Seattle – Commissioner – Position No. 5 – Alec Fisken

  • City of Redmond – Mayor – John Marchione

  • King County – Proposition No. 1 – Yes

  • King County – Proposition No. 2 – Yes

  • City of Redmond – Proposition No. 1 – Yes

  • City of Redmond – Proposition No. 2 – Yes

Port of Seattle – Commissioner – Position No. 2 – Thom McCann

The port commissioners run the port of Seattle an enormous multi-billion dollar state owned company that runs the Seattle ports, airports, etc. The position is supposedly part time and pays all of $6,000 a year.

  • The-Anh Nguyen – His website doesn't seem to actually say anything about what he would do (although his voter pamphlet entry, towards the end, does mention a few things). But there wasn't enough here to make me comfortable voting for him.

  • Gael Tarleton – Wow, I have to admit that her background, on paper at least, looks really impressive. The Pentagon, the CIA, helping SAIC (a military related contractor who does business with the port) get into Russia. But fundamentally I don't want someone with this kind of background running on the port. Yes, security is critical to the port but security experts can be hired. But in this time of security insanity with our civil rights being shredded left and right and with the airports in particular being the epicenter for much of this destruction I want a candidate who doesn't have conflicts of interest (including taking money (via employees) and holding stock in a company that does business with the port not to mention raising the most money of any candidate much of it from SAIC related people) and who is going to be focused on protecting citizens from government, not the other way around. I'm afraid I can't vote for Ms. Tarleton. One can fairly accuse me of bias, why should her background be held against her when it provides so many positive qualifications for running the port? And the truth is that if he campaign material addresses these issues directly along with her conflicts of interest I might have changed my mind. But she didn't even talk about it until reporters started asking questions.

  • Wen Wu Lee – A candidate who cannot be bothered to post a candidate statement in reasonably fluent English (even if they need someone else to check it for them) isn't someone I can seriously consider voting for.

  • Jack Block Jr. – Mr. Block's background as a longshoreman does worry me in the sense that it makes it difficult for me to believe that he can act in the interests of all citizens, not just the employees of the port. It also appears that Mr. Block is an employee of SSA Marine, a major customer of the port. His website doesn't address any of these issues. His Muni questionnaire however did provide some interesting background on him in terms of challenges he faced as a politician and how he handled them. But in the end I see too many conflicts of interest to feel comfortable voting for him.

  • Bob Edwards – Mr. Edwards is the incumbent and seems to have a solid record. The main downsides noted against him are that he has taken donations from companies that do business with the port (SSA Marine) (although near as I can tell just about all the candidates have taken money from port related interests) and that he was somehow involved in a $340,000 severance package for former port CEO Mic Dinsmore. Personally I like the fact that he voted against increasing the Port's tax levy and I liked his answers to the Muni's questions. He seems like an extremely reasonable and effective port commissioner. On the other hand his actions around the Lora Lakes apartments looks like grand standing intended to garner attention before the election. So much for his consensus building ways. I think in the end I am more voting for Mr. McCann than against Mr. Edwards.

  • Thom McCann – His position is that the port should be able to run without a tax subsidy, a position that certainly attracts my wallet. But all of his talk of family wage jobs worries me, I like my government small and I like job creation to come from the private sector. His experience as a former Microsoftie and restaurant owner doesn't really match Mr. Edwards or Ms. Tarleton's background and as a business owner who was apparently negatively affected by the port's actions he has his own conflicts of interest. Of all the candidates McCann at least stands for something I like, getting rid of the port tax and seems to have the smallest conflict of interest (e.g. according to the PDC he has taken very few contributions and none of those seem to involve any conflicts of interest).

Port of Seattle – Commissioner – Position No. 5 – Alec Fisken

  • Bill Bryant – I really like his background in international trade and business but I don't like the fact that he supports the port tax levy. The port should fund itself, not suck money out of tax payers. On top of that he supports replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a bored tunnel, something I personally think will turn into a multi-billion dollar badly managed boondoggle. And just to add insult to injury Mr. Bryant is also apparently a long time donor and active supporter of the Republican party. Not a party I currently have much love for. While I am impressed both with Mr. Bryant's background and his general 'go getter' attitude I disagree with too many of his positions to vote for him.

  • Alec Fisken – With one exception Mr. Fisken's positions are near and dear to my heart. Get rid of the port levy, focus on profitability, the environment and openness. But Mr. Bryant's point about Mr. Fisken weighs heavily on me, while it's clear what Mr. Fisken is against it isn't so clear what he is actually for and if he has the ability to deliver anything. Just voting No on everything doesn't actually accomplish much. I also don't know that I'm convinced that Mr. Fisken's idea to combine the ports of Seattle and Tacoma is necessarily the best plan. Having single ownership can just as easily lead to inefficiency as to efficiency, competition tends to be the best solution. But in any case of the candidates I find Mr. Fisken to be the most compelling and it looks like there might just possibly be a majority of reformist commissioners next term if Mr. Fisken gets elected. So this is a good chance to see if he can turn his views into action.

  • Catherine J. Perkins – According to the Municipal League of King County Ms. Perkins' campaign is not active. She also apparently isn't attending candidate forums or returning phone calls or e-mails so I'll just assume she isn't interested in the job.

  • Stephen Symms – Mr. Symms seems a bit of a one trick pony focusing on the security issues of the port with a mention of the need to have multiple airports for King County. I actually agree with the later contention and I think the former issue is a very real one but I am wary of candidates who focus on security above all. Such a focus tends to result in real destruction of civil rights for dubious security benefits. Besides Mr. Symms apparently couldn't get the candidate questionaire returned to the Municipal League and he doesn't even seem to have a website.

City of Redmond – Mayor – John Marchione

  • John Marchione – His background both professionally and in the community seem great and his ideas around a high density downtown that acts as a destination also seem just dandy. I also like the fact that he kept the line in the past on making sure the city lives within its means. But I am concerned that no where in his website did he every explain any actual details about his plans nor about how he intends to pay for them. Hand waving isn't leadership. Still, in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king so he gets my vote.

  • Jim Robinson – I must admit I have a bias against Mr. Robinson because of his role in last year's budget fiasco where the previous Redmond mayor proposed spending more than the city actually had. While Mr. Marchione, as a member of the Redmond city council, stepped in to stop this, Mr. Robinson, who was also a member of the council, supported the previous mayor's budget. I don't like spending beyond our means. Besides if Mr. Machione's website is light on details Mr. Robinson's is positively mute. His Muni questionnaire didn't provide much more information and the Muni council rated him 'good' while both of his opponents got 'outstanding'.

  • Holly Plackett – Her website was more detailed than the other candidates but that didn't seem to make a difference in terms of real content. About the only real issue I came away with is her desire to attract a college branch to Redmond. Frankly I like Mr. Marchione's vision better. Her Muni questionnaire had a bit more detail but the idea of having a deputy mayor doesn't excite me at all, that last thing we need is an even bigger government.

King County – Proposition No. 1 – Yes

This proposition would increase the current park levy from 4.2 cents per $1,000 in home value to 5 cents but then index the levy to consumer price inflation for six years before expiring.

I deeply dislike purpose specific levies because they excuse irresponsible behavior by King County Council. Parks, roads, hospitals, police, fire, etc. should be paid for out of the general fund and each year as income changes trade offs should be made. But instead the council just cuts off the 'showy' bits that everyone supports, like parks, and puts them into their own dedicated levies so that the council doesn't need to make really painful decisions. The end result is higher and higher property taxes without any real responsibility.

That having been said our park system is an enormous and critical asset, in my opinion, for King County. We have some amazing parks and I think it makes the quality of all of our lives much better. My wife and I are now regular users of a number of the local parks and we are really impressed. So yes, they are going to get my money. But I'll make myself feel better by voting against every King County Councilperson who voted for this proposition.

King County – Proposition No. 2 – Yes

Did you just notice the park levy double? It used to be 4.2 cents but Proposition No. 1 will make it into 5 cents and this proposition will add another 5 cents. So now the park levy will be $10 for every $100,000 of home value. I wonder how many people in King County would voluntarily spend say $40 (for a $400,000 home) on a one year voluntary park membership? But how many people will now vote for this proposition?

That having been said I actually think that purchasing land to expand our parks is an excellent idea, but again, it should be coming out of the general fund as part of each year's general budget battle. And if the proposition doesn't pass the council will, I suspect, use this as an excuse to do little or nothing. So I'll vote for it but as with Proposition No. 1 I'll make myself feel better by voting against everyone on the King County Council who was associated with these irresponsible measures.

City of Redmond – Proposition No. 1 – Yes

I really want to see some actual proof that we couldn't pay for these positions from the existing budget and/or we shouldn't just increase the general tax levy rather than have special one offs. It's just too damn easy to take critical services and declare that they can't be paid for because it's a given that voters will approve special funds for them. The end result is that hard trade offs don't get made. On the other hand unless I'm willing to dig into the city budget and show where the money could come from then I really don't have much choice but to believe what I'm told. Put another way, it's cheaper for me to vote for this proposition then to do the work necessary to find out if it really is a waste of money. Sad but true. So it gets a yes. And I do feel like the frog being boiled.

City of Redmond – Proposition No. 2 – Yes

The frog continues to get boiled.

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