11/04/2008 – Primary Election – Redmond, King County, Washington

I guess I got lucky because all the folks I voted for made it to the general election so I don't have to go back and revisit those choices. The big choices then were President, which I covered in a separate article and the various initiatives which I cover below.

  • President/Vice President- Ralph Nader/Matt Gonzalez

  • United States Representative – Congressional District No. 1 – Jay Inslee

  • Governor – Christine Gregoire

  • Lieutenant Governor – Marcia McCraw

  • Secretary of State – Jason Osgood

  • State Treasurer – Allan Martin

  • State Auditor – Brian Sonntag

  • Attorney General – Rob McKenna

  • Commissioner of Public Lands – Peter J. Goldmark

  • Superintendent of Public Instruction – Randy Dorn

  • Insurance Commissioner – Mike Kreidler

  • State Representative – Legislative Dist No. 45 – Position 1 – Roger Goodman

  • State Representative – Legislative Dist No. 45 – Position 2 – Larry Springer

  • State Supreme Court – Justices of the Supreme Court – Position 3 – Mary Fairhurst

  • State Supreme Court – Justices of the Supreme Court – Position 4 – Charles W. Johnson

  • State Supreme Court – Justices of the Supreme Court – Position 7 – Debra L. Stephens

  • Court of Appeals, Division No. 1 – District No. 1 – Judge Position 5 – Lau, Linda

  • Court of Appeals, Division No. 1 – District No. 1 – Judge Position 6 – Ann Schindler

  • Superior Court – Judges of the Superior Court – Position 1 – Tim Bradshaw

  • Superior Court – Judges of the Superior Court – Position 22 – Julia Garratt

  • Superior Court – Judges of the Superior Court – Position 37 – Jean Rietschel

  • Initiative Measure No. 985 – No

  • Initiative Measure No. 1000 – Yes

  • Initiative Measure No. 1029 – No

  • King County Charter Amendment No.1 – No

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 2 – Yes

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 3 – Yes

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 4 – No

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 5 – Yes

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 6 – Yes

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 7 – No

  • King County Charter Amendment No. 8 – No

  • Sound Transit – Proposition No. 1 – No

President/Vice President

See my dedicated article on the subject.

All other elected positions

See my article from the primaries. It lists all the positions, reviews the candidates and explains who I am voting for and why.

Initiative Measure No. 985 – No

This bill seems to be about putting more money into roads. But it does so, amongst other ways, by removing investments in public arts (currently 0.5% of the cost of any construction project must be spent on public art), restricting the hours that HOV lanes can be restricted for HOV use and most tellingly, would redirect 15% of all sales tax monies for building roads. The act explicitly bans the use of the moneys it collects for bike paths, wildlife crossings, landscaping, park and ride lots, ferries, trolleys, buses, monorail, light rail or heavy rail. I really think this act should be called the "pave Washington under" act. And, I know this will sound weird, but it turns out that building more roads doesn't solve traffic problems. The world envisioned by 985 is literally a concrete/asphalt choked waste land filled with idling cars. No thanks.

Initiative Measure No. 1000 – Yes

I believe that each of us has a fundamental right to control our lives and that includes ending our lives if we so choose. Initiative 1000 would allow people who have been diagnosed as having 6 months or less to live the right to get a prescription for a deadly dose of drugs so they can end their lives. I actually don't think the act goes far enough since it only covers people who are still physically capable of taking the drugs on their own, doctors can only provide a prescription and but no one can assist the ill person in taking the drugs. But I do believe that Initiative 1000 is a step in the right direction. I am concerned about potential for abuse of the act (e.g. relatives pressuring someone to kill themselves in order to reduce bills) but the experience in Oregon with a very similar law has not shown any substantive abuse. I will therefore be voting yes.

Initiative Measure No. 1029 – No

The measure requires increased training and background checks for long term home care workers. This might sound like a good thing but it's unclear that the additional training provides any actual benefits, the background checks are often redundant with other ones already performed by the state and the bill's main sponsor is apparently the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Near as I can tell the main purpose of this bill is to raise the barrier to entry to becoming a long term care worker. One suspects the initiative is especially pointed at foreign care workers who would find it hard to overcome the language barrier of the training even though language is not a major issue in their day to day work of changing adult diapers, helping people to brush their teeth, etc. This measure seems to be less about providing quality care and affordable prices to our rapidly aging population and more about helping the SEIU to keep out foreigners and build up their union. Given the burdens this bill would put on care providers, especially parents taking care of their own children (which even the bill's sponsors admit that at least 25% of those families would fall under the bill's extensive training provisions), the $30 million plus unfunded costs to the state and the lack of what I believe to be compelling evidence of any real benefit, I am voting no.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 – No

Context is, alas, everything. This bill is being pushed by a bunch of Republicans who realizing that saying "Republican" is a death wish on the ballot in western Washington and so want to create positions that don't need party affiliation to be declared. Don't believe me? Pull out your voter pamphlet and look at what party Dino Rosi is affiliated with, surprise, not Republican, no, it's the GOP. Now yes, the GOP is a synonym for Republican but it isn't the party's official name and this is the kind of game playing that has motivated this initiative. So I'm voting no more to stop Republicans from playing games than because I necessarily disagree with having an elected non-partisan official manage elections.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2 – Yes

This measure would add disability, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the existing sex, race, color, national origin, religious affiliation or age as things that can't be used to discriminate against county employees or people who work for contractors who do business with the county. This is actually already state law and this initiative just 'tidies' things up a bit.

King County Charter Amendment No. 3 – Yes

The King County Council size was reduced from 13 to 9 members several years ago but there are three regional committees which are 50% made up of county council members and 50% made up of city representatives. This bill would change the math so that only 3 instead of six county council members would need to sit on the committees and give the committees additional powers which boil down to giving the cities' representatives the ability to initiate legislation that the council has to consider. This seems to basically be a trade off. The council gets more time to focus on other issues and in return the cities get slightly more power. I say 'slightly' because this amendment would give the 3 council members on the committees two votes instead of one so the power balance been county and city would remain essentially the same. Not an ideal situation but not horrible so probably worth voting for.

King County Charter Amendment No. 4 – No

This amendment would allow the council to add mandatory qualifications to certain elected positions like assessor. My feeling is that if you are going to make a position an elected position then you trust the people to make a reasonable choice. If someone runs who is not qualified for the position then it is the job of the electorate to reject the person. My suspicion is that what this amendment would really be used for is to put road blocks in front of candidates a majority of the council doesn't like.

King County Charter Amendment No. 5 – Yes

Today King County financial forecasts are made by the executive office, not the legislature which puts the legislature at a disadvantage in understand King County's financial state and voting on the budget. This amendment would create a n executive/legislative economic council that would jointly appoint a chief economist to provide unbiased financial information. Apparently Washington State adopted this approach 24 years ago and generally everyone is pretty happy with the results so now King County wants in on the fun. This all seems very reasonable so I'm voting yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 6 – Yes

This amendment would require county agencies and the county executive to submit their budgets 20 days earlier than the current dates set in 1971. The idea is to give the legislature 20 additional days to review the $4.9 billion county budget. Given that when the original dates were set in 1971 the budget was 43 times smaller, the population 600,000 people less and the county had less responsibilities this amendment seems to make lots of sense.

King County Charter Amendment No. 7 – No

This initiative would increase the requirement to get a citizen initiative to amend the King County Charter from 10% of the people who voted for the King County executive in the last election to 20%. It would also simplify the process of getting an amendment adopted by replacing the current system (which first requires having either the council accept the proposal or having a public vote on if the proposal should be accepted and then requires a second vote on the actual issue) with a simple up or down vote. I like the simplification but I don't like raising the threshold. It means that only people with a lot of money to pay a lot of signature gatherers have any hope of getting an issue on the ballot. Lots of folks made the argument that the King County charter is like a constitution and should be hard to change. I don't buy that. Constitutions get their power by being rare and brief. A federal and state constitution is, in my opinion, quite enough, I believe that the county can be run by normal laws subject to normal modification.

King County Charter Amendment No. 8 – No

This initiative would make the King County executive, council and districting committee members non-partisan positions. This sounds nice in theory, after all, can't we all just get along? But the reality is that nobody can seriously run for office in our current electoral environment for an office in King County without serious cash and that almost always means that some party is behind the candidate. So the only real effect of this amendment is to let Republicans hide their affiliation. It will do nothing to reduce party's place in politics because the parties will still be there, they will just be able to hide themselves. This amendment seems like a bad idea. This is especially the case given that no one seems to have any real proof of party bickering on the council and that with Washington's top 2 primary system now approved by the U.S. Supreme Court each party now has to run reasonable candidates instead of lunatics playing to the hardest of the hard core base. Nevertheless I must admit that I could see myself eventually changing my mind in regards to future amendments under the heading of removing parties from politics all together but for now, as with King County Charter Amendment No. 1, I think the true motivation for this Amendment is more about allowing the Republicans to hide themselves than getting parties out of politics. So I'm voting no.

Sound Transit – Proposition No. 1 – No

A year ago we had another proposition 1 with the same price tag, $18 billion. It seems like that's some kind of magic number. But this time it's all mass transit (light rail and buses) and no extra roads. Which is a good thing given that, as I said above, building roads for cars doesn't reduce traffic. However $12.1 billion of the funding is to go to light rail, and we should probably triple or quadruple that figure to get anything like the real bill after the inevitable cost overruns. Furthermore most of the rail won't even start to be available until 2020 providing thus the bulk of the spending does nothing to help the situation right now. But what adds insult to injury is that all this money spent so far into the future will seem to make no substantive impact on the number of people using mass transit. We would literally be spending the money for basically nothing. Meanwhile the proposition will increase the sales tax in King County by 0.5% pushing total sales tax rates to 10% in many places. Sales Tax is pretty much the most regressive form of taxation around. We are basically sticking it to the poor, providing no substantive benefit for mass transit and enriching whole legions of contractors. From what I can tell this bill is too much for too little. If you want my vote for a transit plan the first place to start is with lots of buses running on dedicated bus lanes. This plan isn't that, nor does it seem to be a reasonable alternative to it, so I'm not voting for it.

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