Washington

The Stranger’s Endorsements for the November 8, 2022, General Election

For once, we’d love to cover a chill midterm election where the future of American democracy didn’t depend on the whims of suburban voters in states gerrymandered by racist psychopaths, but unfortunately this is not one of those years. 

At the federal level, we need to make sure Democrats hold both chambers of Congress, or else ogres will take over the Capitol, attempt to seize every womb in the country, and waste two years trying to impeach some man named Brandon. 

Closer to home, Washington must reinforce its blue wall in Olympia so we can finally make some fucking progress on the housing crisis, the behavioral health crisis, and the climate crisis. We also need a strong bloc of progressives to prevent the concern trolls on both sides from rebooting the failed War on Drugs.

Meanwhile, King County will decide whether or not to expand democracy, save green spaces for all forever, and reduce crime through smart, data-driven strategies. Similar decisions need to be weighed here in Seattle, where tech bros (no offense) and progressives are duking it out over competing proposals to change the way the city votes in primaries, and where reformers face off against prosecutor-pilled judges. 

That’s a lot of big decisions! Some of which are very difficult to make! And they all appear on this kinda weirdly designed ballot that switches between state and county and city offices a couple times in a way that some may find confusing!!! 

But that’s why the Stranger Election Control Board is here. We spent the last two months grilling candidates through a cloud of wildfire smoke, reading bone-dry research on election systems, harassing lawyers, digging through records, gossiping, and endlessly debating amongst ourselves to produce a (legally binding) election guide that makes your voting life easier. 

With our endorsements in hand, you can spend less time panic-flipping through the voter pamphlet and more time constructing a shrine to Julio Rodríguez. Priorities, people!! All we ask in return is that you vote The Stranger ticket and, if you have the budget, contribute to our efforts so that we have enough money to eat after transferring most of our paycheck from our boss to our landlord. All contributions go directly to our journalism.

Below, you’ll find all the arguments supporting our endorsements. If you’re short on time, jump straight to our Cheat Sheet

Your ballot should arrive in your mailbox by Oct 21 or Oct 24 at the latest. If it doesn’t arrive, then call King County Elections at 206-296-VOTE (8683) and ask what’s up. If you’re not registered to vote, then register here. If you’re uncertain about your registration status, then check on VoteWA

Once you get your ballot, fill it out using any pen color you like–we like black to match our bile. Then seal it, sign it, and drop it in your nearest drop box by November 8 at 8 pm. Want to slip it in the mail instead? Great idea! You don’t even need a stamp! But the elections department recommends you mail in the ballot on the Friday before election day (11/4) to make sure it gets postmarked on time.

The Stranger Election Control Board is Matt Baume, Will Casey, Jas Keimig, Hannah Krieg, Charles Mudede, a Negroni … Sbagliato … full of blood, and Rich Smith. The SECB does not endorse in uncontested races or in races we forgot.


Advisory Vote 39
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5974

Maintained

Again with this shit. 

Every time you see an advisory vote on your ballot, we recommend you do two things. First, call your state representatives and tell them to pass the bill to abolish these useless, manipulative, conservative push polls THIS SESSION. Tell them you’re tired of wasting your taxpayer dollars just so state Republicans can clutter the ballot with MEANINGLESS–we repeat–MEANINGLESS non-binding results. That’s right. No matter how you vote on this measure, it doesn’t change anything. 

The second thing you must do is curse Tim Eyman. He’s the grifter who devised this wasteful “advisory vote” scheme to make you feel bad about your democratically elected leaders passing taxes to solve large problems we can only solve through collective action. This particular “advisory vote” refers to one such large problem: namely, climate change. As part of the massive transportation package the Legislature passed last year, lawmakers increased the tax on aircraft fuel from $0.11 per gallon to $0.18 per gallon. The money goes into an account that the state uses to fund grants for the maintenance of public airports. That’s good! Vote maintained.


Advisory Vote 40
Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2076

Maintained

Boiling rage forced us to go long on that last one, so we’ll keep this one short. 

Republicans want you to feel bad about lawmakers cutting a deal with the local Teamsters union and ride-hail companies (aka “transportation network companies”) such as Uber and Lyft. As we reported earlier this year, the drivers wanted higher wages and benefits. The ride-hail companies wanted the state to classify drivers as independent contractors so the companies could continue to skirt federal labor laws. This bill caved to the corporations in exchange for forcing them to pay higher benefits and wages for the drivers, which is what the local drivers wanted. Lyft and Uber backed this bill. The drivers backed this bill. The only reason you’re looking at this text is because it’s technically a premium imposed by the Legislature. Vote maintained.


Yes

Most “One Neat Trick” policy proposals don’t work, but this one does. 

Approving this measure would move elections for 12 county offices from odd years to even years, including the executive, the assessor, the elections director, and all nine county council members. 

According to a King County Council staff memo, this one move could increase voter turnout by as much as 30% on average in those races, which is fucking bonkers. Elections officials do so much to increase turnout by a bit here and bit more there, but, as it turns out, simply holding elections on years when everyone’s talking about elections can expand the electorate by a ton, amplifying the voices of young people, people of color, people with low incomes, and other “low-propensity” voters. 

Expanding the electorate is good because it will encourage elected officials to listen to people they usually don’t need to listen to in order to win under the current rules. King County Council President Claudia Balducci, who’s part of the group leading the charge on this measure, admitted that she only realistically needs to appeal to seniors who own homes to win. “But if this gets passed, I’ll have to care a lot more about renters, people of color, and young people,” she said. “Caring more” about those groups means passing more legislation to support those groups, which could kick off a virtuous cycle of people in those groups caring more about politics.

None of the potential drawbacks of making this switch even come close to touching the benefits. The elections department says the move won’t cost any more money in terms of operations, so funding isn’t a problem. The ballot length will only increase by one or three boxes depending on where you live in the county, so “voting fatigue” shouldn’t be a problem. And, sure, The Stranger’s bottom line might take a hit with fewer campaign ads circulating around on odd years, but you’ll help with that. Right? Please help with that—it’s hard out there. Then vote yes.


Approve

In practical terms, approving Prop 1 will refresh a property tax the county uses to buy up land to preserve urban green spaces, forests, rivers, trails, and farmlands forever. You like all that stuff, right? You didn’t move here or stay here on account of that good-old-fashioned Pacific Northwest hospitality, did you? We ask, but you’re reading The Stranger, so we know.

Anyhow, approving this measure will cost homeowners 6.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which works out to a mere $22 more per year for owners of median priced homes. If you can afford a house in Seattle, then you can afford this. (If you can’t because you’re house-rich but cash-poor, then the County has you covered.)

In the past, the County tapped these funds to preserve parts of Tiger Mountain and Cougar Mountain, and to restore parts of the Green River, the Cedar River (where Seattle’s water comes from), and Bear Creek to improve salmon habitat. 

Passing this levy now will help fully fund Executive Dow Constantine’s plan to preserve 65,000 acres of open space, which includes a $160 million pot to buy and build out green space in south King County, where there’s a massive shortage due to systemic racism. 

The benefits of preserving this land in perpetuity are obvious and hard to overstate, but detractors do exist, and we talked to them, though we wished we hadn’t. In fact, the level of swaggering stupidity and casual bile spewed by the opposition to this measure serves as a perfect rejoinder to calls for more “intellectual diversity” on college campuses. 

Michael Fisette, who runs a financial services firm in Issaquah, co-authored the “statement in opposition” to the levy in the voter guide. For starters, the first claim in his statement is false. King County does not, in fact, already “control/own 61.2% of the land.” That much land in the county is public, but King County only “controls/owns” 4.1% of it—cities, the state, and the federal government own the rest. The “land grab” this levy would allow would increase the county’s holdings by a few percentage points.

In the endorsement meeting, Fisette went on to compare city-dwellers to rats (“…when you put too many people close together they get violent, like rats,” he said in defense of sprawl), suggested that the levy essentially served only to advance a communist plot to buy all private land (we wish!!), called homeless people living in the woods “woodsies,” claimed that the county’s failure to pick up some trash near publicly owned land abutting his property proved that governments had no incentive to maintain land for all, and embarrassed himself on arcane matters of real estate investment. 

These are the shallow, fitful arguments of a baby. An apparently rich baby. But a baby nonetheless. But even dumb rich babies deserve open space. Vote approved.


Sen. Patty Murray has represented the great state of Washington for 30 years, and we want her in D.C. for another six. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court decided to strip bodily autonomy from half of the population, abortion access became a top issue on the national stage. Murray has been hip to the cause all along, voting against abortion restrictions since the 1990s. But she hasn’t just been playing defense. Most recently, she voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 to protect health care providers who perform abortions. 

Sure, she hasn’t found a way to codify Roe v. Wade, but at least she’s one vote in favor. That’s more than we can say for her Republican challenger, Tiffany Smiley, who would probably be heckling pregnant people outside a Planned Parenthood right now if she weren’t so tragically under-caffeinated.

Okay, we haven’t seen Smiley personally trying to guilt someone into a forced pregnancy, but she’s definitely anti-chioce. Though she claims she doesn’t support a nationwide abortion ban, she supported the Dobbs decision from a states rights perspective–a classic (and bullshit) argument for depriving people of basic health care. We bet she’d fall in line if the GOP wins back the chamber. After all, like every other Republican, she’s anti-trans, and anti-worker, and anti-environment. Murray’s on the right side of all those issues. Vote Murray.


United States Representative
Congressional District 1
Suzan DelBene

We don’t expect much from Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Microsoft), who leads the corporate wing of the Democratic caucus. No matter which party ends up controlling the chamber, she’ll likely find some success in blocking meaningful data privacy protections, extolling the virtues of Pokémon GO tech, nudging forward a bill to make a few pro-industry tweaks to Medicare, standing up for abortion rights, and maybe proposing some tax credits for affordable housing construction. 

We’ll take that mixed bag over her competition, Vincent Cavaleri, a Trump-loving cop (yikes) and current Mill Creek City Council Member (double yikes), who refers to the FBI as “a corrupted arm of the justice department”—and not for cool reasons. When not apparently slathering his dome with vaseline, he’s on television describing immigrants as an “invading” force, and he’s on the internet describing Democrats as Marxists. If only! Vote DelBene.


United States Representative
Congressional District 7
Pramila Jayapal

Probably the easiest choice on the ballot. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal knows how to motivate progressives when Republicans hold the House, she knows how to play hardball with centrists when Democrats take charge, and she somehow manages do all that while dodging assholes with weapons at home and in the workplace

Returning Jayapal to Congress means returning a politician who will continue to push the President to cancel more student debt, advance Medicare for All, work with Republicans where possible, and hopefully-maybe-please-lord replace one of the octogenarians (no offense) leading the Democrats deeper into the wilderness. 

Though her opponent, Cliff Moon, has a sweet name, he’s also a Republican who repeatedly describes himself as a “normal American”—whatever that means. If elected, he wants to wage culture war against the PC police who defunded common sense and brainwashed our children, etc, etc, etc. See ya on Facebook, Cliff. Vote Jayapal. 


United States Representative
Congressional District 8
Kim Schrier

Washington state will give two MAGA dorks an opportunity to help seize power in Congress. One of those dorks, Matt Larkin, hopes to do his part by toppling Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier here in this central WA seat. The two-term incumbent failed to crack 50% in the primary, and her redrawn voting district includes new rural territory that could sink her. That’s scary. 

But Schrier knows all this, which is why she has spent a chunk of her $8 million war chest on TV ads that praise the police (yawn), that press Biden to suspend the gas tax (lol), and that pitch herself as a protector of abortion rights (yay). But she’s not just a TV ad. If elected, she vows to help create “sustainable forests,” and to make incremental progress on health care affordability. 

All that inoffensive, purple-district nothingness sounds better than the conspiratorial nonsense Larkin spouts whenever he opens his mouth. Larkin, who works as an attorney for his family’s pipe manufacturing business (bootstraps, baby!), wouldn’t tell the Seattle Times whether Joe Biden beat Donald Trump. He plays cute with that question even around his fellow Republicans. He also supports a national abortion ban. WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson humiliated Larkin with a 13-point defeat in his statewide race back in 2020. Schrier likely won’t do that well with less territory, but let’s try, huh? Vote Schrier.


United States Representative
Congressional District 9
Adam Smith

On domestic issues, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith puts up a progressive front. Recently, he cosponsored bills to help shore up pay for airport workers, introduced a bill to open up federal funds for Behavioral Crisis Care Centers around the Puget Sound, and he supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. 

That’s all well enough and good, but that’s not where he spends most of his time. He spends most of his time holding down the so-called liberal international order from his position as chair of the powerful House Armed Services Committee. 

From that perch, he’s overseen the staggering increase of the Pentagon’s budget, which currently sits at $840 billion. Most of his work in that area involves negotiating with hawks, doves, and conservative Senators content to stomp on any deal that doesn’t include enough contracts for weapons manufacturers in their states, or else one that goes too easy on whomever they consider a terrorist this week. As we mentioned in our primary endorsement, Smith has weaseled his way around that aviary to the general satisfaction of the defense contractors who line his campaign’s pockets, even if he objects to buying death machines of dubious value more often then the next four or so Dems in line for his job.

While we still long for a lefty challenger who can pose a serious challenge to Smith, we’ll take him over prolific Republican loser Doug Basler. As a perennial GOP candidate, he is running the perennial GOP playbook. Immigrants bad. Democrats crime. Yada yada. Vote Smith.


 Regular Stranger readers know of our longstanding beef with Steve Hobbs, a former state Senator who Governor Inslee appointed as Secretary of State (SOS) in a transparent political ploy to overcome Hobbs’s objections to key environmental legislation. Like Inslee, we also want Hobbs as far away from Senate committee chairs as possible. Luckily for voters, he boasts plenty of relevant experience for this job.

His work as a lieutenant colonel in the Washington State National Guard prepared him to run large operations, such as the August primary he just administered–apparently without much of a hitch. His education at the Department of Defense’s information school gave him skills to combat misinformation and disinformation, skills he’s already had to employ as the current SOS. And as a centrist power-player in Olympia, he knows where to find the money to fund the kinds of programs he wants to support, which include efforts to increase turnout in underserved communities. 

His opponent, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, is an experienced elections administrator who is running as a nonpartisan. We like her experience and we love her desire to set statewide standards for ranked-choice voting, but we don’t like her position on nonpartisanship. 

If elected, she really wants to make the SOS a nonpartisan office, and she really wants to increase the number of nonpartisan county auditors. We think those are bad ideas. 

Though making a race nonpartisan sounds like a good way to restore faith in elections, it only rewards the latest crop of anti-democratic Republicans. A 2007 study found that nonpartisan races benefit the minority party. Since Republicans represent a minority in Washington, making the SOS nonpartisan would likely help them win back this seat at some point. And when partisan cues don’t appear next to candidate names on the ballot, white supremacy can fill the information gap. Remember when WA State Supreme Court Justice Steven González was in danger of losing his race to an unqualified candidate just because of his last name? We do.

Rewarding Republicans by making it harder to identify them on ballots is a dangerous move, especially as they continue their attempts to overthrow our democracy. Vote Hobbs.


Legislative District No. 5
Representative Position No. 1
Bill Ramos

Democratic Rep. Bill Ramos’s strong showing in the August primaries proved that thoughtful leadership on issues that matter to people, such as improving pedestrian safety along State Route 169 and trying to address congestion in growing towns, plays pretty well in the suburbs. Who could have guessed?

Ramos’s incremental approach to legislating probably wouldn’t turn any heads in Seattle, but he’s a reliable ‘yes’ vote on issues like funding our schools, improving our roads, and trying to help people financially recover from the pandemic. Meanwhile, all his anti-mask, Loren-Culp-loving opponent has to offer is some garden-variety Republican fare about resisting new taxes. Vote Ramos.


Legislative District No. 5
Representative Position No. 2
Lisa Callan

Lisa Callan teaches the density-phobic, corporate drones on the Eastside how to stop worrying and love ideas like “affordable housing,” which should help get some desperately needed housing legislation passed next year. Those Eastsiders listen to her because she’s delivered for her district. 

From her seat on the House’s capital budget committee, Callan leveraged her expertise to snag funding to renovate the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, upgrade the sewer system in Fall City in preparation for more population growth, and help a senior center that provides affordable housing in Snoqualmie. 

Are those issues sexy? Not in the slightest. But no-nonsense, competent governance is in short supply, and she’s got buckets of it. Her opponent–a Dino Rossi wannabe who says he’s campaigning for “re-election” despite not holding the seat since 2016–does not. Let’s live in the present. Vote Callan.


Legislative District No. 11
Representative Position No. 1
David Hackney

Rep. David Hackney may have only just completed his first term in Olympia, but he’s already chalked up some meaningful accomplishments, especially on climate issues. 

This year, he landed $37 million in the budget to help weatherize low-income homes. He also helped pass legislation to reduce harmful methane emission in landfills, and he sponsored a bill that prevents condos and homeowners associations from banning electric vehicle charging stations. 

If you give him another term, he promises to decrease the energy burden for low-income communities by passing bills to help poor people buy heat pumps and to electrify diesel-glugging drayage trucks. 

You’re not going to get such pro-planet legislation from his Republican challenger, Stephanie Peters, who copy/pasted the same “election-integrity” boilerplate that the MAGA people are running with this year. Vote Hackney.


Legislative District No. 11
Representative Position No. 2
Steve Bergquist

The SECB would love to have fewer landlords, corporate shills, lawyers, and outright demons in the State Legislature and more high school Social Studies teachers such as incumbent Rep. Steve Bergquist. Though we technically prefer gay English teachers, Social Studies teachers still get points with us, so long as they don’t call the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression.” 

Bergquist doesn’t forget about his students when he’s in Olympia. This last session, he won funding to restart the before/after school programs in Tukwila, and he helped tinker with the education funding formula to secure more funding for nurses, counselors, social workers, and psychologists.

If we keep him, he’ll expand eligibility for our College Bound Scholarship program to help students who didn’t get a 2.0 GPA find more opportunities to succeed. He’ll also work with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to double the size of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council, which would give students more power to advise lawmakers, so that those oldheads at least have to feel a little bad when they vote on something that will make the future worse. 

Besides, what’s his competition, Jeanette Burrage, gonna do if we pick her? Slap a six year-old autistic kid on a bus again? We’re all for restorative justice, but, sheesh. Vote Bergquist.


Legislative District No. 30
State Senator
Claire Wilson

We wish there were a higher bar to clear in 2022 than refusing to fearmonger about homeless people causing a crime wave, but we do not live in a good country. We live in a country where someone like Republican Federal Way City Council Member Linda Kochmar vilifies homeless people to try to score political points with wealthy homeowners in the suburbs.

In a good society, we’d recognize that people living unsheltered and struggling with substance use disorder need housing and harm-reducing medical care, not scorn or disdain. Incumbent state Sen. Claire Wilson is working on bringing us closer to that society by pushing for more money for crisis recovery centers, recruiting more skilled workers to treat people struggling with addiction, and repairing our tattered social safety net. This one’s not complicated. Vote Wilson.


Legislative District No. 30
Representative Position No. 1
Jamila E. Taylor

Despite only having a single term in Olympia under her belt, Rep. Jamila Taylor has already earned quite the reputation among her fellow House members. Her colleagues selected her to chair the Legislative Black Caucus, where she’s helped the body’s most diverse group of legislators in history navigate a system built for the comfort of those with lots of money and/or time while also getting a ton of good shit done for her district.

In just two years, Taylor helped pass major renter protections that helped prevent a wave of evictions from hitting during the pandemic. If we send her back, she aims to build more housing and to un-fuck our tax code so that the people struggling to stay housed don’t get stuck with the bill. Meanwhile, her Republican opponent appears to be a walking personification of a cop union. Vote Taylor.


Legislative District No. 30
Representative Position No. 2
Kristine Reeves

We entered our primary endorsement interview with Kristine Reeves, an equity consultant and a former State Rep, skeptical about her commitment to passing badly needed renters protections. But her time in the wilderness since she last represented this district appears to have changed her mind. She now says she’s ready to back bills that would lift the statewide ban on rent control and cut down on rent-gouging, which makes sense given South King County’s housing affordability crisis.

To eventually end that crisis, Reeves wants to sanction cities that consistently fail to meet affordable housing targets, but she’s only “open to the concept” of legalizing more housing near mass transit stops. Her constituents should keep badgering her on this issue, but we’re confident she’ll be more receptive than her opponent, a career hack for the Washington State Republican Party. We’re also confident Reeves is the only one of the two who would prioritize banning scammy “crisis pregnancy” centers that try to mislead women seeking abortion care. Vote Reeves.


Legislative District No. 32
State Senator
Jesse Salomon

If you’re a progressive living in Shoreline who knows at least three of your neighbors, you should seriously consider running for this seat in 2026. Start hitting those farmers markets and summer festivals, because we need better talent in this office than the two people on this ballot. We’re backing the incumbent, Sen. Jesse Salomon, even though he mostly sucks, but only because his opponent struggled to give any specifics about her policy agenda. 

Salomon’s main (and only) claim to fame in Olympia is protecting salmon habitats. He’s supposed to be working on an important police accountability bill, but he wants more buy-in from the powers-that-be among the unions, which means that bill won’t see the light of day unless someone else takes it up. Sadly, that someone else isn’t on this year’s ballot. Vote Salomon.


Legislative District No. 32
Representative Position No. 1
Cindy Ryu

Yes, six-term State House Rep. Cindy Ryu works as a commercial landlord in Shoreline, but she’s generally okay on some housing stuff, and honestly we love her style. She gives it to us straight. And what she’s been giving lately has been medium-good! 

She carried the legislation that allowed King County to transform empty hotels into shelters and permanent supportive housing. She also sponsored legislation to cut down on catalytic converter theft by imposing new rules mostly on scrap metal buyers. That seems like the right approach, but we certainly don’t like everything in the law. 

If we send her back to Olympia, she aims to find funding for the catalytic converter theft bill and to fight for legislation that would make it easier to finance more affordable housing. Though she opposes strict rent controls (we told you she’s a landlord), she’s open to anti-rent gouging legislation, which could help keep that affordable housing she wants to build affordable for a little longer.

She’s also 1,000 times better than her competition, Lori Theis, a Trump “election integrity party” clown who loves telling news outlets how divisive Democrats are for impeaching her own personal Jesus. In the voter’s pamphlet, she describes herself as a “trainer of homeless youth and their animals,” which sounds pretty divisive to me. Go fuck yourself, Lori. Vote Ryu.


Legislative District No. 32
Representative Position No. 2
Lauren Davis

Rep. Lauren Davis might be the fastest talker in the House Democratic caucus, but that’s only because she’s got so much shit to do and so little time in which to do it. In a state with an ongoing homelessness emergency and a behavioral health crisis, Davis has done yeoman’s work in gathering all the pieces we need to finally stand up a non-cop crisis response system, and Shoreline voters should send her back to Olympia to make sure none of her less-informed colleagues fuck up the implementation of those bills.

If she keeps her job, Davis will spend her next term figuring out a permanent “fix” to the state Supreme Court’s Blake decision, which decriminalized simple possession of drugs, without resuming the failed mass incarceration policies of the 1990s. She’s also got a long checklist of additional ways the state needs to support kids dealing with anxiety and depression. Those sound like worthy goals to us. 

Her opponent doesn’t even have a functioning campaign website. Vote Davis.


Legislative District No. 33
State Senator
Karen Keiser

Twenty-six-year incumbent state Sen. Karen Keiser often presides over the chamber during votes in her capacity as President Pro Tempore, and she chairs the Senate labor committee. Those positions give her a lot of power. We’d love to see her use that power to push through truly transformational bills, such as a statewide universal health care system or the Worker Protection Act, but … she hasn’t. 

That’s not to say she’s NOT doing good work to make living with a human body more affordable. She is. This last session she lowered the cap for the cost of life-saving insulin on state-funded insurance plans from $100 to $35 a month, which will help three million Washingtonians. If re-elected, she said she’ll help get frontline service workers better wages. Sounds like a plan!

The only person who showed up to challenge Keiser is some random crank who is “appalled by the sexualization of our children and the disrespect of parental rights,” which is Republican-speak for opposing books for queer kids and accurate U.S. history lessons. Vote Keiser.


Legislative District No. 34
State Senator
Joe Nguyen

In case you haven’t noticed a clear pattern, we like Joe Nguyen. Like, a lot. In fact, one dork on the SECB once called him “an AOC of the Washington Senate.” But we’re still waiting for him to fully live up to that title by wearing the controversial “tax the rich” dress to some fundraising event with the city’s “Seattle is Dying” contingent. 

Haha, jk. He doesn’t have to do any silly virtue-signaling for our endorsement. He’s gotta actually work to correct Washington’s upside-down tax structure. And the man has!

Down in Olympia, Nguyen helped to nudge the long-awaited Working Families Tax Credit over the finish line, and he pushed for the capital gains tax. If we send him back to Olympia, he’ll keep fighting for the little guy with tax reform, zoning reform, and criminal justice reform.

You’re not going to get any of that with his opponent. Republican challenger John Potter hates everything cool. In his short voter’s guide statement, he equated protests to tantrums, called gender affirmation surgies “genital mutilation,” referenced the War on Christmas, and asserted that the libs only care about Black people after they exit the womb. Needless to say, even if you’re not as smitten with Nguyen as the SECB is, he’s definitely better than that dumpster fire. Vote Nguyen.


Legislative District No. 34
Representative Position No. 1
Emily Alvarado

West Seattle has the good fortune of getting to choose between two tenacious, smart, and progressive candidates. Because the options are so good, that choice is incredibly difficult. 

After one of the most heated SECB meetings of the summer, the board decided to endorse former Seattle Office of Housing Director Emily Alvarado. In the context of our ongoing housing crisis, we know Alvarado will bring her expertise to the fight alongside other SECB favs, such as Reps. Nicole Macri and Jessica Bateman. After all, you can thank Alvarado–at least in part–for the eviction moratorium during the pandemic.

Alvarado is great, but this wouldn’t be a fair assessment of the race if we didn’t mention that we also love Leah Griffin. Griffin is a librarian, but she’s a familiar face down in Olympia who is known for her fierce advocacy for survivors of sexual assault. Not only did she work with Rep. Tina Orwall to address the state’s rape kit backlog, she also pushed U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to introduce the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act, which Congress incorporated into the new and improved Violence Against Women Act. And she did all that without using survivors as political pawns to further entrench us in a police state. 

With another great candidate on the ticket, we endorse Alvarado with high expectations, especially when it comes to protecting renters, changing zoning laws, and increasing the state’s stock of affordable housing. If Alvarado switches up on us and smuggles in some former Durkan-staffer bullshit, we will eat our words. Literally, we will print out this endorsement and eat it. 

So far, she’s given us no reason to doubt her commitment. Vote Alvarado.


Legislative District No. 34
Representative Position No. 2
Joe Fitzgibbon

As chair of the House’s environment committee, 12-year incumbent Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon was instrumental in pushing through the state’s massive cap-and-trade program, its plan to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels, and its strategy for making buildings more energy efficient. All that work should help WA reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

If we give him another round in Olympia, he plans to keep his eye on the implementation of those big climate bills as he refocuses his energies on one of the other intractable problems facing our state: the housing crisis. He’s already helped move a slew of little bills to streamline the permitting process, but now he’s joining forces with a core group of lawmakers dedicated to addressing the supply shortage and to stabilizing rents. For starters, he wants to remove onerous parking regulations for housing construction, and we want him to do that, plus propose the “30 or 40 different housing solutions” he claims to have in the hopper. 

After losing to Fitzgibbon by a mile in 2016, standard-issue Republican Andrew Pilloud is back with his vow to protect “unborn babies” and his fact-free approach to crime. Dumb, boring. Vote Fitzgibbon.


Legislative District No. 36
State Senator
Noel Frame

Rep. Noel Frame is the Legislature’s progressive revenue queen. As someone who just led a five-year-long, bipartisan effort to study ways to completely restructure our state’s regressive tax code, she knows more about the issue than anyone else. Those corporate drones in the Senate will need her leadership in this discussion if we’re to make this place even just a little fairer any time soon. 

Meanwhile, her challenger, Kate Martin, who is running as a Democrat for reasons we do not understand, scoffs at the implication that our tax structure is messed up at all. That kind of thinking only makes sense if you believe that forcing poor people to pay a much larger share of their income on taxes than rich people isn’t messed up. 

To make housing more affordable, Frame supports lifting the ban on rent control and changing zoning laws to promote density. Martin doesn’t support those policies because she thinks the answer to the housing crisis lies in everyone living in shared homes with a trailer in the backyard, like she does. We’re, uh, not sure if that scales. 

Martin also all but laughed when we asked what the state could do to shore up abortion access, arguing that we’ve already done enough. She then repeated the Republican talking point about abortion as Black genocide in a just-asking-questions kind of way. 

“The predominance of women having abortions, they’re Black, they’re in their thirties, they already have a couple of kids. Why is that happening? … Is this some kind of weird genocide?” she said, having clearly never satisfied her curiosity by reading a single article. She then asked her question again, but in a more insulting way. “People know where babies come from. These women getting abortions have already had a couple. So, it’s curious why all this is happening. We’ve got a lot of people … a lot of men getting women pregnant,” she added, before proposing a policy to offer money to men to get vasectomies. 

We’re all for men getting snipped, but Martin’s invocation of ignorant, harmful tropes in an attempt to hide her ignorance on abortion policy is inexcusable. We wouldn’t want these weird, racist, genocide theories floating around Olympia any more than they already are, especially when actual Democrats are trying to keep religious hospitals from limiting reproductive rights. Vote Frame. 



Legislative District No. 36
Representative Position No. 1
Julia G. Reed

Equity consultant Julia Reed wants to tax the rich, protect abortion rights, lift the ban on rent control, decriminalize sex work and simple possession of all drugs, and finally secure universal health care in Washington.

That progressive platform somehow also won her an endorsement from the Seattle Times Editorial Board (STEB, lol), which made us a little nervous about our read on Reed. Was this a moment of true unity from Seattle’s dirtbag left and a Homeowners Association posing as an editorial board, or did Reed play us?

After some poking around, we learned she used some code to appeal to the STEB–she wanted to make business “part of the solution,” and she wished Dems didn’t beat up on the Catholic church so much. In a follow-up, she told us she still wanted to tax those businesses, and that she didn’t defend the child rape and homophobia, which was enough for most of us. 

That’s more than we can say for her opponent, Jeff Manson. He works as an administrative law judge and served as the former chair of the 36th District Democrats. He agreed with most of the policy positions that made us like Reed, but he said he doesn’t want to eliminate single-family zoning. You know what single-family zoning is, right? The modern-day version of redlining that keeps us from adding the critical housing stock we need to solve the crisis that is putting Seattleites on the streets? Yeah, he’d rather have bungalows, we guess. 

His loss! Vote Reed.


Legislative District No. 37
Representative Position No. 1
Sharon Tomiko Santos

As chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos spends much her of time fighting the good fight against Republicans who confuse accurate instruction of American history with critical race theory, a branch of graduate-level scholarship that is, incidentally, correct in its view of racism—particularly anti-Black racism—playing a foundational role in our legal and cultural systems. To that end, in the last couple years she’s carried or helped advance bills to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion training among teachers and staff. 

If elected to her 13th term in the House, she’ll continue that work while trying to pass legislation to address the teacher shortage. She also plans to check in on some task forces studying ways to better integrate inclusive learning practices that help special needs kids learn, and also implement standards-based systems that help all kids learn.

By no means do we love everything Santos has done in office. Her initial opposition to the sex ed bill fucking sucked. But she’s better than John Dickinson, who is unfit for office despite possessing impeccable style and a campaign website that a black-pilled, post-vaporwave Gen Z dork would die for. Vote Santos. 


Legislative District No. 37
Representative Position No. 2
Chipalo Street

Chipalo Street, a tech manager at Microsoft, doesn’t just hold the right policy positions, he’s got life experience that should be helpful in keeping swing-district Dems from watering down those policies.

While we’d love to see another abolitionist replace former Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley in this seat, Street bluntly framed his commitment to police oversight in his experience of getting beat by the cops in college after refusing to show them his ID. He’s also dealt with the difficulty of our current mess of zoning laws when trying to add density to a property he rents out, an experience we’re counting on him to relate when squishy moderates in his caucus start whining about the fates of craftsman-style homes to undermine bills geared at increasing housing density statewide.

We also admired King County Equity Now’s Emijah Smith, a longtime advocate for the community who showed zero hesitation for taxing the rich to pay for social services. Having to choose between these two when other districts feature such mediocrity kept us up at night, but we rested easier after realizing that Smith will provide a strong opponent in two years if Street backtracks on his commitment to working against his own class interest. Vote Street.


Legislative District No. 41
Representative Position No. 1
Tana Senn

Unless you want some Trump dick-rider from the “election integrity party” to join the small but extremely annoying hyper-conservative faction in the State Legislature, we suggest you vote to keep Rep. Tana Senn around for another term. Need we say more?

Okay then, for the record, we will. Senn is all about gender pay equity, making child care more affordable, and preventing gun violence. 

In our assessment, she’s experienced a few hiccups on that last priority. Senn said she used to think creating new felonies for gun possession would reduce gun violence. That take fails to acknowledge that such laws extend and deepen the injustice of mass incarceration by leading to the over-policing of Black men. But after someone called her out on that, she killed a bill that would perpetuate that problem. She said her future gun violence prevention policies slap people with misdemeanors with “learning components,” which is an improvement. She also said she wants more funding for programs that address the root causes of violence, which is often poverty. 

We like a lawmaker who’s willing to adjust her views based on new research and community voice. Vote Senn.


Legislative District No. 41
Representative Position No. 2
My-Linh T. Thai

We don’t mean to simp, but if every State lawmaker woke up tomorrow as a Rep. My-Linh Thai clone, Washington would have the funniest law-making body on the planet, and we’d probably end all poverty and suffering in a few years. Rep. Thai is that good. 

Okay, okay enough flattery. Here’s what she’s done for us lately. 

In her most recent term, Thai helped pass the Working Families Tax Credit, which her predecessors had been working on since the Obama administration. Not only did she tie up those loose ends, but she also worked proactively to expand abortion access by passing a bill that required student health plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortions. Last session, she championed the Affirm Washington Abortion Act, which aimed to incentivize qualified health care workers to offer abortion care and changed some exclusionary language to extend bodily autonomy to people of all genders. 

If elected, Thai will fight for better, more complete health care access and mental health coverage, address behavioral health problems in school, and make this hellish state more affordable for renters. Vote Thai.


Legislative District No. 45
State Senator
Manka Dhingra

Manka Dhingra has no time for anyone’s bullshit. As chair of the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee, she refused to mince words about taking on the Supreme Court if those circle jerks tried to force Washington state to help prosecute pregnant people seeking abortions here. 

In our endorsement interview, she also refused to take the latest iteration of bad-faith copaganda seriously. Though the cops suggest otherwise, she’s not convinced that people with criminal histories in Washington gathered at the annual Crime Conference or whatever and decided to start fleeing more often after she and her colleagues made our roads safer by restricting the police’s ability to engage in vehicular pursuits. She’s right to be skeptical. Cops often juke their stats to suit their political goals, and they also lie all the time. (So do politicians, but Dhingra hasn’t pulled any of that on us…yet.) 

Given the chance to return to Olympia, Dhingra will continue leading the charge to build out the behavioral health care system we need to achieve real public safety across the state. She’s already passed sustainable funding for the state’s new 988 crisis hotline through the Legislature, and she is playing a key role in making sure that local governments don’t accidentally bungle the rollout. She also plans to use her experience as a King County prosecutor to lend some steel to her colleagues’ spines when the cop lobbyists try to roll back common sense police reforms or oppose new oversight measures.

Her opponent is barely even campaigning, having only cashed in two donations in the entire month of September. Honestly, we get it. This isn’t anywhere close to a contest. Vote Dhingra.


Legislative District No. 45
Representative Position No. 1
Roger Goodman

Voters should return Roger Goodman to Olympia so that his sonorous speaking voice may continue to resonate beneath the Capitol dome for at least another two years. The man’s velvet baritone, even in casual speech, soothes the soul in these trying times. It may even, by the sheer virtue of its gravitas, convince cop lobbyists to listen to reason, though we have our doubts. 

As chair of the House Public Safety Committee, Goodman helped manage the dozen police accountability bills the Legislature passed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, which was good! But he also managed the Democratic effort to roll back some of those accountability measures, which fucking sucked. Next year, he plans to revisit a bill to make it easier for cops to engage in deadly vehicular pursuits, which also fucking sucks. We sure hope he doesn’t put too much credence in that cop data, which they often manipulate!!!

But when he’s not trying to navigate his party’s soft-on-crime nonsense, he’s pretty good on criminal legal issues. “I want a more cost-effective, evidence-based justice system. I don’t like the whole retributive, vengeful, pound-of-flesh approach. I think we should be more compassionate, and restorative, and reduce our racial disparities,” he said during our interview.

To realize that vision, in the upcoming session he wants to pass a bill that makes law enforcement at agencies such as the gambling commission and the liquor and cannabis board subject to the same accountability standards as city cops. He listens to the science on drug possession and addiction, and he wants to majorly overhaul the state’s sentencing guidelines, which is way overdue.

His competition, Cherese Bourgoin, is a Republican and the president-elect of the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce. She would essentially just be a pawn for big business, and Kirkland already has that in Rep. Larry Springer. Vote Goodman.


Legislative District No. 45
Representative Position No. 2
Larry Springer

It is with a heavy-heart that we once again endorse the truly milquetoast Rep. Larry Springer. Feels bad. 

We have shamed the lawmaker so much that he nearly turned us down for an interview because we gave him “the most non-endorsement endorsement” he had ever seen two years ago. 

In possibly the last interview he’ll do with us, he marketed himself as the “most bipartisan legislator in the state.” So basically, he plays for both teams: the team that doesn’t care if you live or die, and the Republicans, who only care if your fetus lives or dies.

In that bipartisan spirit, Springer’s bill to spend $125 million every two years to suppress wildfires garnered unanimous support from both sides of the aisle. But he’s also used his moderate approach to help kill a modest bill to allow developers to build more types of housing near transit, which avoided what he called “civil war” within the Dem caucus. Yikes.

He’s running against  a no-name Republican. The dude still cares about that sex-ed bill from literally years ago. Get a fucking life. 

At least Springer pretends to be a Democrat. Vote Springer. 


Legislative District No. 46
State Senator
Javier Valdez

Rep. Javier Valdez impressed us with a strong commitment to racial justice and a willingness to embrace restorative justice revisions to some otherwise well-intentioned bills he championed, but otherwise we expect him to more or less toe the slightly-left-of-center Democratic party line in the State Legislature. 

His competition, King County Deputy Prosecutor Matt Gross, talked a good game on housing, but his funding pitches were hazy, and he has less experience than Valdez. Vote Valdez.


Legislative District No. 46
Representative Position No. 2
Darya Farivar

Darya Farivar, the public policy director for Disability Rights Washington and the daughter of Iranian immigrants, impressed us with her willingness to push no-brainer Democratic policies into more progressive places, which is exactly the kind of energy the Legislature needs more of. 

Northeast Seattle primary voters saw something in her, too. Against better-connected, more funding-savvy opponents, Farivar took the top spot in that contest. As we suspected, she now faces off against Lelach Rave, a well-funded candidate who held the most conservative policies on housing of the bunch. Rave fucked up her chance at our support when she asked for “more nuance” on inclusionary zoning reforms and used the phrase “mom and pop landlords” unironically. No thanks! 

Think we’re being a bunch of puritanical lefties? The other candidates from the primary don’t want Rave, either. Literally every other candidate in the primary consolidated around Farivar, the clear progressive candidate. Join the club. Vote Farivar.


Legislative District No. 47
State Senator
Claudia Kauffman

Of all the alleged swing districts in King County, the 47th LD, which covers Kent and Covington, might be the toughest one for Dems to hold even after winning by promising margins in the primary against incompetent Republicans. That’s why we’re glad primary voters honored their contractual obligation to vote for SECB-endorsed Claudia Kauffman in August. Her history of representing this community as the first Native American woman in the state Senate back in 2006 should give her a leg up in November’s contest.

Kauffman promised to speak out against new highway construction and to lift the statewide ban on rent control, which would make her district a more affordable, less polluted place to live. She also has her finger on the pulse of the district’s public school parents, siding with their desire to have alternatives to police in schools so that kids don’t get sucked up into the school-to-prison pipeline after a scuffle on the playground.

Her opponent on the general election ballot presents the toughest challenge among GOP swing-district recruits, so keeping this seat blue won’t be easy. Republican Bill Boyce overcame North Carolina’s segregated school system to become the first Black man elected to the Kent City Council. However, that life experience hasn’t led him to value systemic change to ease the pathway to the middle class for the next generation of kids of color. He has fully embraced the cops’ political support, and he talks a lot of shit about WA Cares, a first-in-the-nation benefit that helps the elderly afford nursing homes and at-home caregivers. 

Since the rest of their challengers went down in flames in the primary, look for the GOP to pour resources into this race to save face. To overcome that deluge of bullshit political ads, the district needs someone with a track record of getting shit done in Olympia. Vote Kauffman.


Legislative District No. 47
Representative Position No. 1
Debra Jean Entenman

We rate Rep. Debra Entenman highly for sponsoring legislation to stand up the state’s Office of Independent Investigations, which should eventually reduce bias in investigations of police killings once it really gets going. We will rate her even more highly if she maintains her commitment to standing up an independent prosecutors office, which would further reduce the criminal legal system’s favoritism toward cops. Her support for a sex ed bill and gun safety legislation—both relatively tough votes her in district—give us confidence that she’ll push through the Blue Lives Matter crowd to get it through despite their inevitable histrionics. 

We do not rate Entenman highly for her support of charter schools, which sap resources from public schools that need every dollar and every good teacher they can find. 

Reviewers on Angi rate Entenman’s Republican opponent, Kyle Lyebyedyev, highly for his flooring work, though a few people alleged scheduling issues. We think far less of his platform, which amounts to Republican copypasta. Nor do we value his experience in government, which amounts to nothing. Stick to flooring, Lyebyedyev. Vote Entenman.



Legislative District No. 47
Representative Position No. 2
Shukri Olow

To borrow a couple phrases from an email written by Republican House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, it’s been months since three “selfish candidates” from that “unserious party” split the conservative vote roughly evenly and allowed two Democrats–Shukri Olow and Auburn City Council Member Chris Stearns–to advance to the general election in what’s supposed to be a hotly-contested swing district, and we’re still cracking up over the clusterfuck. 

We like Olow in the race because she took a hard stand against more climate-killing highway expansions, which is a bold position in a largely suburban district. 

Olow impressed us with more than just her climate bonafides, though. She’s got plenty of professional experience working with city and county governments that will be crucial in crafting legislation to speed up affordable housing construction, fully fund our schools, and cut childcare costs. After all, it doesn’t matter how much money Olympia appropriates if local governments slow-roll the spending and implementation. 

We believe Olow’s in-the-weeds knowledge of how those sporadically cooperative “partner” governments operate will serve the 47th’s historically marginalized people well and create a safer, more affordable community for all. Vote Olow.


Legislative District No. 48
State Senator
Patty Kuderer

Sen. Patty Kuderer continues to exceed our expectations for a Bellevue lawmaker who represents Medina. Before COVID hit, she beat landlord lobbyists in the trenches to pass modest reforms to our state’s backward-ass eviction regime. When COVID hit, she and her compatriots in the House acted to prevent a tsunami of evictions by giving low-income renters facing the boot access to an attorney. 

Now we want to send her back to the state Senate to take the fight to the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), a lobbying group that represents the biggest roadblock to our housing shortage. In our interview, she said current talks pit AWC’s need for “flexibility” with our need for a fucking house to live in. She added that the Legislature has “a lot of work ahead of us,” but she’s set on establishing “a statewide floor” for housing density. 

Besides working to solve the housing shortage, Kuderer also plans to carry the bill to ban assault weapons. She’s aware of the limits of a carceral approach to the issue and says she’s exploring other, more effective consequences for breaking that law, should it pass. 

Her opponent, perennial-libertarian-turned-perennial Republican challenger Michelle Darnell, is yet again running to lose this seat. Darnell has long sought to burden poor people with a relatively heavier tax code, and she continues carrying that mantle to this day. As the planet melts, she stands firmly against light rail and “bike lanes and all that other stuff” proven to reduce emissions. Vote Kuderer.


The person who voters pick for this seat will determine whether or not King County reboots the War on Drugs and perpetuates the failed policy of mass incarceration in the coming years, which makes this probably the most important race on the ballot. But the choice here isn’t hard. 

Though Leesa Manion and her opponent, Jim Ferrell, are both basically cops, they’re two different breeds of cops. 

Manion, who worked as the chief of staff to the current King County Prosecuting Attorney for 15 years, understands that 30 years of research shows that jail has no effect on recidivism, and that it can even make people more likely to commit crime. She’s spoken out in defense of data-driven diversion programs that Ferrell has attacked without evidence, and she’s earned the support of reformers such as King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay as a result.

By contrast, Ferrell, who’s the mayor of Federal Way, has his head stuck so far deep in the sand of 1990s era law-and-order politics that he couldn’t understand why forcing “criminals” into small cages with other criminals might not “hold people accountable” so much as it makes them better criminals who are more reliant on crime, since the current system makes it nearly impossible to find a job and housing upon release. Trying to explain that simple, well-documented concept to him during our endorsement meeting felt like trying to explain to Joe Manchin why continuing to burn coal will kill the planet. He’s simply so deeply embedded in the status quo that he can’t seem to grasp that the policies he’s pushing will lead to even worse overcrowding at our fucked-up jails and, in turn, even more crime.

We don’t want to elect someone who will create more crime. Instead, we want to elect someone who favors solutions that actually reduce crime, and who would be the first woman of color to have the job. Vote Manion.



Northeast Electoral District
Judge Position No. 6
Michael Finkle

Judge Michael Finkle deserves another four years on the bench, mostly because his opponent, former Issaquah City Council Member and Assistant Attorney General Joshua Schaer, didn’t give us enough of a reason to trade his ambition for Finkle’s experience. 

Schaer, who also has years of experience as a fill-in judge, says the right stuff about wanting to act more quickly on reforms to our unjust criminal justice system. But when pressed about which reforms he wanted to move on, he mentioned a pledge to donate $10,000 of his personal salary to civil aid programs, and also an idea to screen clients for public defenders in criminal cases immediately. Not exactly big structural change. Finkle did a little better with his suggestion to mandate cultural competency training for all judges. They both want to expand therapeutic courts, and other nice stuff. All told, kind of a wash there.  

But Finkle helped build the therapeutic courts that he and Schaer want to expand, and he trains attorneys and judges on them all the time, so we’re going with Finkle. 

Finkle did have a red flag, though. In this year’s judicial survey, the lawyers who have tried cases in his courtroom rate their time in front of him in the low fours on a scale of 1 to 5. His worst mark (3.8) was in the “administrative” category, which accounts for promptness and control of the court. Finkle blamed his low marks on the time he takes to “make sure everyone getting sentenced or signing a deal knows what rights they’re giving away,” which is worth the wait. Vote Finkle.


Pooja Vaddadi will be the exact kind of judge you’d want handling the case if a cop arrested your kid for shoplifting, or if someone stole something from your small business. She boasts years of criminal trial experience as a public defender in Snohomish, King, and Pierce County courtrooms. She also brings a comprehensive vision of public safety to the role, one that includes making sure the cops, the prosecutors, and the defense attorneys all do their jobs without corruption or bias.

Despite coming off as a generally nice guy during our endorsement interview (he volunteers with high school mock trial nerds!) Adam Eisenberg’s record as a Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) judge leaves a lot to be desired. More attorneys who practice in his court made the effort to rate him than any of his colleagues, and they gave him the lowest score on impartiality of any judge in that court. (In this context, impartiality measures whether a judge seems to favor the defense or the prosecutors more when it comes to stuff like admitting possibly sketchy evidence or addressing each side’s attorneys or witnesses.) We were ready to dismiss that critique as a bunch of whiny public defenders exercising a grievance against a judge who rubbed them the wrong way, but then those public defenders came with receipts.

Given Vaddadi’s years of experience watching people get fucked over by biased rulings from the bench, we believe that she’ll make both the prosecution and the defense earn every conviction or acquittal, fair and square. Just as importantly, her lack of hesitation in affirming that jail doesn’t reduce recidivism (as the research proves) gave us confidence that she’ll avoid reflexively siding with prosecutors when they ask to lock people up before trial. 

Impartiality is especially important in a court like SMC, which is full of baby lawyers dealing with misdemeanor crimes, which carry a maximum punishment of less than a year in jail. Many of those cases hinge on discretionary decisions made by the judge about which evidence to admit, and we’d prefer an umpire with a bit more skepticism of our Republican City Attorney’s latest hardline approach. Vote Vaddadi.


This isn’t a close call. Judge Damon Shadid believes in using the legal system to secure services for people accused of committing low-level crimes instead of repeatedly locking them up for brief stints of pointless punishment, which, as we will keep screaming until everyone reads the data, does nothing to reduce recidivism. 

Shadid stood by his principles as the only judge on the court to speak out against Republican City Attorney Ann Davison’s move to categorically bar people she classifies as “high utilizers” of the criminal justice system from accessing Community Court, which connects those people with supportive services instead of sending them to jail. 

We think Shadid’s move showed courage, and we think Davison’s move there was dumb. Though some people on her naughty list really aren’t good fits for Shadid’s harm-reduction court, he was already screening out most of those people from the program anyway. 

Considering the fact that a majority of the people on her list struggle with mental illness and are likely homeless, we’re backing the guy with a plan to create a new jail release toolkit to help those people get stably housed so they will actually stop committing low-level crimes instead of further complicating their recovery with minor jail sentences.

But wait, you might be thinking, why are you all framing this contest as a race between Ann Davison and Shadid, when his opponent is a totally different person? 

Well, Nyjat Rose-Akins has worked at the City Attorney’s Office for the last several years, and she declined every opportunity we gave her in our endorsement meeting to distance herself from her latest boss, or to disagree with Davison’s policies. We specifically asked her whether she disagreed with any of Davison’s criticisms of Community Court, and she told us she did not. We further asked if she had literally any criticisms of her boss, or a single example of when the office had done something she disagreed with, and she told us that saying so would be “awkward” since she still works for Davison. That lack of independence doesn’t give us much confidence that Rose-Akins would be a fair and impartial administrator of justice from the bench. Vote Shadid.


1. No
2. Proposition 1B

The wording on this two-part ballot question sounds technical and confusing, so let’s just start by stating its meaning plainly. Question 1 essentially asks whether you think Seattle should change the way it votes in primary elections at all. Question 2 refers to two different voting systems–approval voting (AV) and ranked-choice voting (RCV)–and asks which system you think we choose, regardless of whether you think we should change it up at all. 

After much deliberation and many annoying manifestos sent via Slack, we recommend you vote No on the first question and Proposition 1B on the second question.

We know, we know. Voting ‘No’ on the first question aligns us with a bunch of odious conservatives who drop tens of thousands of dollars on local elections every year in an attempt to hoard their treasure. We know those same oligarchs dropped a bunch of money to back the ‘No’ campaign on this very measure, too. But they’re voting ‘No’ because they don’t want to learn new tricks. We’re voting ‘No’ because we want the best form of ranked-choice voting, and we want to make sure it sticks. 

The short version of our argument goes like this: We love ranked-choice voting, and we vastly prefer it to approval voting, and so we really really really want you to choose Proposition 1B on the second question. That would send a clear message to state and local politicians that you want RCV. 

But choosing this particular version of RCV in this particular way could create more hurdles to implementation than need be. We think taking a more *plugs nose* orderly approach to changing our electoral system could bring the best of all possible RCVs to Seattle with fewer headaches, and we think we could still do it on a timeline that more or less tracks with the 2027 deadline that this measure would impose. If that’s enough reasoning for you, then vote ‘No,’ and then vote ‘Proposition 1B,’ and then move on with your beautiful life. 

If you want the longer version of our argument, then grab a machete and join us in the weeds. 

First, let’s go over the basics. Approval voting allows people to vote for all the candidates they “approve” of in a given race. Do you like the Dem, the radical socialist, and the libertarian stoner? Then fill in all those bubbles, you freak. Conversely, ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. You like the radical socialist but fear you might “spoil” the election and wind up with the libertarian? Then rank the socialist #1, the Dem #2, and write in Ralph Nader. 

Both of these systems aim to solve the problem presented by our current system, which forces some people to vote “strategically” or else risk “wasting” a vote, leading to winners that large swaths of the population don’t like. For example, let’s say the top-two winners in a crowded city council race won 43% and 32% of the vote. That means 25% of the people in that district are effectively disenfranchised in the general election, in that they have to pick between two people they probably don’t like even a little bit. That sucks. 

Both of the proposed systems get rid of that problem by allowing voters to express approval of multiple candidates or else rank their favs, which can lead to candidates that more people generally like. That said, both systems have major potential benefits and drawbacks worth considering. 

Seattle Approves, the campaign that brought the approval voting option to Seattle, used hundreds of thousands of dollars from California tech bros (no offense) to pay signature-gatherers to put their pet system on the ballot. It’s difficult to prove the positive claims the campaign makes about AV outside of a few theoretical models because so few jurisdictions around the country have actually dared to try it. The fact that Fargo, North Dakota and St. Louis, Missouri are the only two cities that have done so is enough to make us pass. 

Early-adopter skepticism aside, AV may also dilute the voting power of minority voters. In St. Louis, one analysis found that voters in majority white wards cast multiple votes more than voters in majority Black wards, effectively drowning out the “approval” of Black voters. Though a Black woman won that race in Missouri, we could see that same scenario playing out with different results in Seattle. We also see approval voting in the hands of Seattle’s primary voters as a recipe for getting not one but two centrist corporate simps through to the general election every cycle. Fuuuuuck that. 

That leaves ranked-choice voting on the table. There are several different strains of RCV, but the particular strain on your ballot asks voters to rank candidates in order of preference. When it comes time to tally the votes, elections departments use software to eliminate candidates with the fewest number of first-choice votes and then redistribute each voter’s next choice up the chain until only two candidates remain. Those two candidates would then advance to a general election, where voters would choose either option.  

There’s some evidence that the version of RCV on your ballot would make campaigns nicer, and also some evidence that it will encourage more people of color to run for office by fixing the “spoiler” problem. And though RCV sounds more complicated than just picking one candidate, survey data shows that high percentages of people from all ethnic and racial backgrounds claim to understand the system when they use it. All of that sounds nice.

However, there’s also evidence that campaigns might seem nicer under RCV, but then PACs spend more money going negative, so it might be kind of a wash. As for the diversity claim, one study shows a 9% increase in POC candidate participation but no increase in women candidates. And though one study shows that RCV cities increase turnout by nixing the primary and just holding a general election with RCV, another study points to a small turnout decline (3 to 5%) in RCV cities compared to non-RCV cities.

If we vote ‘Yes’ on this measure, then Seattle would not reap the benefits of increasing turnout (and saving money on election administration) by collapsing the primary and general election. That’s because Washington state law prevents cities from nixing their primaries. However, in this upcoming session, lawmakers in Olympia will likely consider legislation that would allow local governments to combine the primary and the general into one November election and use RCV if they’d like.

We’d like to wait until the state gives Seattle and other jurisdictions that green light. If we jump the gun, a whole bunch of unknowns present themselves. If the state doesn’t pass the bill, then we’d be stuck with a version of RCV that could cost the city millions in voter education efforts but not lead to higher turnout or the other benefits. 

If the state does pass the bill, then the City would need to do something to combine the primary and the general elections, but lawyers gave us conflicting answers about what that something would be. It could be something as simple as the City Council passing an ordinance to make the change, or it could require another citywide initiative vote, which would mean more money and time–and what if the voters rejected it? 

What if we took a beat to review a few of the different versions of RCV to figure out what works best for Seattle? Right now, Portland is considering changing its election system to multi-member districts with proportional RCV voting, which seems … intriguing. If we press state lawmakers to pass the local options bill, and then press Seattle and/or King County to take a year to study and recommend some options, then the City could feasibly set up a better RCV on a timeline similar to the one prescribed in this measure. 

We know–we hate the task forces and the process, too. Especially when it comes to stuff like passing progressive taxation for social services or changing zoning laws to make way for housing. But changing a city’s entire election system seems worth it in this case.

After all, we only have to answer this question with these options right now because the approval voting campaign used its tech money to get the issue on the ballot, and in doing so they supplanted a growing movement advocating for RCV at the state and local levels, which prompted the Seattle City Council to put RCV on the ballot so that voters could have a choice. 

Voters should choose RCV. But we’re not convinced we need this particular version using this particular process. Vote No. Then vote Proposition 1B.


City of Tukwila
Initiative Measure No. 1

Yes

The minimum wage should be $30 per hour, but, in lieu of that, raising the minimum wage in Tukwila to somewhere in the range of its next-door neighbors, SeaTac and Seattle, is a no-brainer. 

Honestly, some of us thought the historic 2013 SeaTac initiative sorta swept in Tukwila as well, but unfortunately that is not true. 

What is true is that many of the corporate chains at the Westfield Southcenter Mall—one of the area’s big employers—only pay the state minimum wage, which will hit $15.74 in January. At that same time, Seattle’s wage will rise to $18.69 (nice) and SeaTac’s wage will rise to $19.06. That disparity will leave workers in Tukwila—where most people rent, and where most people speak languages other than English at home—losing out on $3 per hour just because they work across the street. Nonsense. 

The research is pretty clear. Raising the minimum wage helps lift people out of poverty without killing jobs, and it closes wage gaps. This particular measure exempts small businesses (those under 15 employees with less than $2 million in gross revenue), gives medium-sized businesses a phase-in period, and tells the big boys (500+ workers) to start paying up by the summer of 2023. The legislation also includes a clause that prevents businesses from cutting worker hours to avoid paying benefits. This should have happened years ago. Vote yes.



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