Last Minute Voter’s Guide

Photo by Omar Willey. CC-BY.

The weather has been too nice. You’ve waited this long. You’re still undecided.

It’s common this season. Choices are difficult in some races. In other races there is nothing compelling at all. No matter: do your duty by letting someone else tell you what to think! Here are our choices.

Advisory Vote No. 16

Our choice: Maintained

Because of a Tim Eyman initiative, the state legislature is required to submit any bill it passes that closes tax loopholes or raises revenue to a non-binding advisory vote. That’s why we have these absurd advisory votes. This one is an excise tax that protects fish and wildlife by raising money through commercial fishing license fees and streamlining wholesale fish dealing, buying, and selling requirements. It passed the House 92-2 and the Senate 46-3.

Maintain, obviously.


Advisory Vote No. 17

Our choice: Maintained

Engrossed House Bill 2163 was more contentious, passing the House 51-42 and the Senate 33-16. Why? Largely because it expands the B & O Tax and eliminated tax exemptions for some things like bottled water and certain kinds of fuel. This extra money is supposed to go to funding public education because clearly our idiot lawmakers can’t figure it out. It won’t solve the problem, but it helps. This should not, however, be a reason not to light a fire under your local legislator if they clearly deserve it, and we mean that metaphorically. Do not let them off the hook for screwing up public education in Washington State. And seriously, stop encouraging disposable water bottles that wind up in the landfill.



Advisory Vote No. 18

Our choice: Maintained

Engrossed House Bill 2242 actually drew a line-item veto from the Governor, because it’s the kind of headache-inducing bill that funds public schools by raising property taxes. The mechanism for this is broken, but unfortunately we’re stuck in Warshington State which steadfastly refuses to stabilize this kind of nonsense with a state income tax. So we’re also stuck with property tax increases.

Maintain, but tell your legislator that “this unchecked aggression will not stand, man.”


King Proposition No. 1: Levy Lid Lift for Veterans, Seniors and Vulnerable Populations

Our choice: Approved

This has been on the books already for twelve years. In that time it has proven an admirable fundraiser for Meals on Wheels and other programs that well serve an ever-aging population in King County, at the cost of about $4 per month. Since we happen to believe that veterans and seniors are the first to get screwed whenever people talk about “progress” and “growth” we see no reason why it should not continue.


King County Executive

Our choice: Dow Constantine

Eight years ago several massive and expensive projects like Brightwater threatened to sink the county even farther. While we’ve occasionally found him a bit harsh and even authoritarian on certain issues, he has righted the ship of state over those eight years in impressive fashion. There is much more to be done, certainly, but Mr. Constantine has given us no reason to vote otherwise.

Bill Hirt, by contrast, has given us no reason to vote for him. It’s not enough to hate light rail. We need real plans with real practice.

Dow Constantine for the win.


King County Sheriff

Our choice: Mitzi Johanknecht

Reigning Sheriff John Urquhart’s office has been starting to show cracks in the armor. He has been caught behaving badly on camera and chastized by the county ombudsman for blocking investigations into unproven allegations that he raped a colleague some fifteen years ago.

We hope he comes to his senses and starts to polish the tarnish off his badge and his office. But we’re far from optimistic about local law enforcement. Thus we encourage you to vote for Mitzi Johanknecht, a current major in the sheriff’s office. We disagree with her on multiple issues, such as needle exchanges, but we have no doubt of her character and consistency. Sheriff Urquhart has been outspoken and passionate on many issues dear to us, but for some reason he’s been less than compliant with the law himself. He needs either an ouster or a serious reminder. Mitzi Johanknecht should serve as both.


Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1, Position No. 2

Our choice: Michael Spearman

Nathan Choi is simply not good enough. He may be in another four or eight years. Michael Spearman has served well, and we see no need to usher him out the door yet. Vote Spearman.


Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1, Position No. 5

Our choice: Write-In

Nothing against David Mann, but no one should run unopposed in a democracy. Write in your friends.


Port Commissioner, Position No. 1

Our choice: Ryan Calkins

John Creighton still stinks of the old Port of Seattle. We believe that Ryan Calkins is committed to greater openness and transparency throughout the entire operations of the Port. We believe still that he will do everything that John Creighton said he was going to do, only better and further and longer lasting. Also, as our friends at Seattlish say, “So yoked.” It’s nice to have someone running who looks like he works with his hands, especially running for a Port that is all about working with your hands, and not just greasing them. Vote Calkins.


Port Commissioner, Position No. 3

Our choice: Ahmed Abdi

We repeat our primary endorsement.

Incumbent Stephanie Bowman has, to her credit, done some useful things, such as forging a tighter alliance between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, where she used to work.

But it hasn’t been enough. Despite her expressed desire back in 2015 not to move forward with the status quo, Commissioner Bowman has been the very definition of steady-state. We supported her in 2013 because she promised transparency, fiscal responsibility, and environmental acumen. We are still waiting on those promises. It’s not good enough.

Ahmed Abdi comes from the roots. He has spent his time actively fighting against the Port’s more ridiculous positions, and heading up the fight for Sea-Tac’s $15/hour minimum wage for hospitality workers at the airport via Proposition 1. He will bring a social conscience and a perspective on labor that the Port of Seattle currently lacks. We find this the easiest choice for Port Commissioner on the ballot.


Port Commissioner, Position No. 4

Our choice: Preeti Shridhar

Very few people love Peter Steinbrueck as much as we do. So it’s with all due honesty we ask, “How can you possibly do your best work in this job?” He has not yet given us a satisfactory answer. Don’t misunderstand: We have no doubt Mr. Steinbrueck can do anything. But why here and why now?

Preeti Shridhar brings her experience in public affairs and her strong environmental record to the table. If there’s anything the Port of Seattle needs right now, it’s better public affairs. The stench of corruption and patriarchal crap at the Port is so thick right now you’d have to fumigate with explosives. Ms. Shridhar will use her skill to help realign the Port with its stated principles, and to help them communicate with the general public. Some might even call it transparency.

We know what Mr. Steinbrueck’s voice will bring, and we are okay with it. But Preeti Shridhar will give the Port a new voice. She deserves the chance.


Seattle City Council, Position 8 (at-large)

Our choice: Teresa Mosqueda

We’re still okay with Jon Grant, but we’ve reversed our position on this one after two meetings at which both Mr. Grant and Ms. Mosqueda spoke.

Teresa Mosqueda is intelligent, perceptive, ethical, and ambitious, with clear plans and goals. We’ve said that before. But now we’re ready to go further. We believe those goals are not only more far-reaching and important, but also likelier to be achieved.

What most impressed us with Ms. Mosqueda’s session in PhinneyWood was how clearly she understands that all of Seattle’s current ills are interlocked. Jon Grant understands the issues of rent and housing, and shows a grasp on the issue of wage living. He seemed a little less interested in other social matters that are part and parcel of the houselessness problem: family leave, which often ends with a spouse losing a job, or retirement security, which often puts seniors and veterans out on the street. Her response to the Pathways Home report in particular was considerate and practical.

It’s probably sensible to have a skeptical attitude toward Ms. Mosqueda’s relationship with what Jon Grant calls “Big Labor.” Big Labor is broken. That does not change the fact that the working classes need to see their problems as related. We believe Ms. Mosqueda understands this rather better than Mr. Grant.


Seattle City Council, Position 9 (at-large)

Our choice: Lorena Gonzalez (with reservations)

About that police department…

We’ve supported Ms. Murakami in the past, and while we did not endorse her in the primary, what we said then is true: her issues are certainly our issues. After hearing her speak multiple times over the past three months, we’ve gotten to know her better. We’ve softened on her a bit as she has addressed some of our concerns.

But not enough. We still side with Lorena Gonzalez.

We are still concerned about whether Ms. Gonzalez will ever take a stand on police issues. We are still unimpressed with her work on HALA. But we are willing to give her more time. Given our druthers, we’d have Ms. Gonzalez as City Attorney in place of the problematic Pete Holmes, and Ms. Murakami as Councilmember, but we are rarely given our druthers.


City of Seattle Mayor

Our choice: Cary Moon

We did not put forth an endorsement in the primary. We certainly will now. Vote for Cary Moon. Period.

If that doesn’t convince you, we give you our publisher’s thoughts — and we all know he’s the real conservative at The Star.

Everyone who knows me knows how I complain Seattle has never had a native-born Seattleite for mayor. Even though it’s the first really good chance to make that happen, I still can’t vote for Jenny Durkan. Socially and privately, Jenny Durkan is a beautiful, warm, brilliant person. Even though she has terrible taste in live music, I would hang out with her at any party. When she’s speaking off the cuff, from the heart, to friends, she’s wonderful to be around. In official capacity, however, forget it. She prides herself on being publicly “tough” and definitive. Those qualities make her an excellent lawyer and activist. They also make her an incredibly bad politician, and probably an even worse mayor.

As Benjamin Barber notes in his book If Mayors Ruled the World, cities cannot get away with the stuff that goes on in Washington, because potholes have to get filled, because the trains have to run, because kids have to be able to get to school. They have to get things done, they have to put ideology and religion and ethnicity aside and draw their cities together. And yet Jenny Durkan has spent most of the year talking about Trump. That’s not where it’s at yet, sister. We need practical solutions for all of Seattle, not just the Seattleites who donate money and piss and moan about why they and their personal safety and growth are so much more important than everyone else’s.

I’m not the biggest fan of Cary Moon for many reasons. But she has run a campaign based exclusively on addressing practical problems. That is what a mayor must do. While she has lacked definitive solutions, I find this a strength rather than a weakness. Having no definite solutions to definitive problems means that she is likely to listen to multiple viewpoints and choose what is best. I’d rather have that in my chief executive than someone who already “knows” what is best: homeless sweeps, tax incentives, etc. Trump had all the answers, too. Where has that gotten us?


City of Seattle City Attorney

Our Choice: Pete Holmes (with reservations)

Ugh, Pete Holmes. But his opponent Scott Lindsay is just that much worse. Hold your nose and vote for Holmes.


Seattle School Board Director District No. 4

Our choice: Eden Mack

There is no question on this one. Eden Mack is eminently qualified and dedicated to education for all. We wouldn’t even consider anyone else. Herb Camet Jr. is a forceful, authoritarian candidate. While we share his reformist streak, we’re unimpressed by gruffness or by his insults of Eden Mack as “a local 45-year-old too typical zombie schooling system female bureaucrat.”

Vote for Eden Mack.


Seattle School Board Director District No. 5

Our choice: Zachary DeWolf

In our primary endorsement, we noted that “The choice in this race seems to be between fresh, new perspective and solid, steady leadership.”

That is no longer the case. The choice is now between two fresh, new perspectives. Alas, the fresh new perspectives here are not equal. Omar Vazquez is a firm believer in education for all — we do not doubt this for an instant — but his vision of education is not ready for launch. Mr. Vazquez sits on the board for a charter school, and therefore certainly believes charter schools are a good thing when they are “non-profit.” Unfortunately the structure for charter schools is so incredibly poor that there is currently no such thing as “non-profit.” It is also clear to the youngbucks on our staff that online education at the secondary level needs great improvement. But there is no substitute for human interaction. Not all students learn well online. Online learning furthermore does not overcome problems of access or indeed the secondary function of socializing students.

We continue to support Zachary DeWolf in this race.


Seattle School Board Director District No. 7

Our choice: Betty Patu

Unlike District 5, the choice here is “between fresh, new perspective and solid, steady leadership.” But the solid, steady leader here is a local legend. It’s been three months since the primary, but we have not yet heard Chelsea Byers make a stronger case for her fresh new perspective. We remain concerned about her position on allegedly not-for-profit charter schools, online learning, and her emphasis on STEM STEM STEM (sung to the tune of Monty Python’s “Spam” song).

Our publisher being a great optimist believes that Ms. Byers will learn, and refine her ideas over the next few years to become a more inclusive and thoughtful candidate. We have no doubt of her intellect, but optimism is for the future. Right now, we must side with Betty Patu.


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