Primary Elections in Seattle & King County, 2021!
If you're in Seattle or King County you might have noticed there's an election! You hopefully already have your ballot as they were mailed out last Wednesday (if not, King County Elections can fix that). Here are my not very detailed preferences on various races. Note this isn't all the elections on the ballot just the ones I'm voting on or care a bit about that I know anything about. This is not going to be long on explanation (well hopefully not) but a better place to dump my recommendations than a twitter thread. If you want longer discussions of candidates or other endorsement lists, my favorite sources are The Urbanist, the Transit Riders Union, 350 Seattle, or Publicola and even The Stranger is kind of okay.
I've mostly not been paying all that much attention (for me not very much) to electoral politics generally and even less so for non-Seattle races. That said, I'm getting the impression talking to friends who are paying more attention that there are a lot of incumbents being challenged by folks with really great backgrounds and experience who we haven't seen in many similar roles so if I don't mention something on your ballot, have a look at those endorsements links! You might find someone pretty awesome you weren't expecting.
King County Council
One place where I think we could use some great incumbent challengers is King County Council. I have a great council person, Girmay Zahilay, in D2, but a number of the positions have been long filled by fairly timid (at my most charitable) members who don't seem to want to really address problems. Fortunately we have some great challengers! In district 9 (parts of the east side and going to the southeast of the county), a fairly conservative incumbent has two really great challengers including Kim-Khanh Van who has a particular focus on how important housing and land use are to addressing climate change regionally and has strong ties in communities that often do not get much of a seat at the table in our region. Ubax Gardheere similarly comes from a background that are often gets name-checked as important, but not often given the stage, and has been working on equitable development in Seattle city government. While I can't vote for either, they both definitely are the kind of people I was thinking of when I wrote "Stop Voting for White Men": they are close enough to where I am on policy while coming with the background and experience that means they have worked twice as hard to get where they are and know how deeply important their work is and mean the 'bench' of people who will be running for higher offices will be larger and truly more diverse. The various endorsement links have recommendations on other county council positions but D9 is the one I've paid any attention to, so that's all you get here. :)
King County Executive
I've been for Joe Ngyuen since he announced. I met him briefly at an event at Seattle U when he was running for state senator and liked him then. He won that seat with work: organizing and getting folks new to politics out for him, despite the establishment having already anointed a candidate for the open seat. On paper, a lot of our "progressive candidates" don't seem very different, so one way I am using to think about my choices is: do they see the urgency? The incumbent has been in office for almost twelve years and we built a youth jail, still have massive amounts of criminalization county wide, a floundering "regional homelessness" organization, lots of sprawl and not enough investment in policy that will let people actually live in the region stably without increasing harm to the environment. Nguyen is running with a sense of urgency, so I'm voting for him.
Port of Seattle Commissioners
Technically this one isn't on the primary ballot, but I am so glad we have good candidates for Port that I had to mention them! The Port of Seattle is fairly overlooked. It controls vast amounts of land, multiple shipping port facilities, the airport (obviously!) and has influence on so many things. In the past, the Port has been anywhere from corrupt to incompetent. The Port commission has often been filled mostly with folks who care primarily about whatever large businesses want, not what is really good for workers or the environment (or, to the degree they care, if it conflicts with what business wants, it's usually the workers and the environment that get less). At the general, we have the chance to unseat two incumbents, both of which I've disliked and have voted against in the past due to being far too large business focused and not enough concerned about climate change. You can vote them out by voting for Hamdi Mohamed and Toshiko Hasegawa ... soon. :)
County Ballot Measure: Best Start for Kids
You like kids and want them to do well in life? Then vote for this. Note that because our tax system is so messed up, this is really a renewal of an existing property tax levy that funds already highly successful programs.
You'll have to read the endorsements linked above for ideas on school board. I just have very little opinions on school board. I am increasingly of the opinion that the way the school board and the district are structured makes it near impossible for them to effectively oversee the district and I just don't have opinions right now on who would be better for each position. Sorry. :(
Seattle City Attorney
Seattle is weird (for Washington cities) in that it elects a city attorney. Their office gives legal advice to the city, manages cases where the city is being sued or sues other entities on the city's behalf, and decides on how to handle misdemeanor offenses (criminal violations are handled by the county). The incumbent has been ... okay. But his priorities are not inline with where I am politically as far as what is justice: justice is not criminalizing poverty by putting people who commit minor offenses through the harms of the legal system (including up to a year in jail!). Justice is going after abusive landlords and employers and other larger interests that cause harm that the city has to make up for in other ways. The incumbent has done some of this but he also does absurd things like pushing to get Seattle out from under the consent decree the city has been under arguing SPD had improved enough to not need it (which lolwhut).
Fortunately, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy is challenging the incumbent with exactly the kind of platform I'd want. Vote NTK.
Seattle City Council, Position 8
Teresa Mosqueda is running for re-election. She is my favorite (sorry all my other favorites). She has gotten so much done. She didn't let the head tax repeal stop her and got JumpStart passed which to be honest I think most others would have given up. There may as well only be Mosqueda on the position 8 ballot!
Seattle City Council, Position 9
Lorena González chose not to run again for position 9 in order to run for mayor, leaving us with an open seat. While I'd be happy with either Nikkita Oliver or Brianna Thomas, I'm voting for Oliver (I gave each one of my vouchers months ago). While you can read any number of longer endorsements that talk about what Oliver is about and why you should vote for them, I think the most important for me is that they have publicly evolved on a number of policies that matter to me in a way that I think is representative of how people should consider issues and learn, while still keeping their focus on building a real community for all that has been their focus for a long time. Vote for Oliver, but if not her, vote for Thomas. :)
I know you were just skimming down for this one. We are quite blessed with choice. Unlike the year of too many mayors where I thought a number of seemingly credible candidates were superfluous or really did not understand why they were running, the candidates I consider worth voting for I understand why they all ran (and even the ones I don't want to vote for, I at least understand mostly). This race more than the others really makes me wish we had some form of ranked choice voting because then I would not be stuck with the problem where I'd be happy with three folks for sure but figuring out which one to vote for who has the "best" chance of advancing or of beating a likely more conservative candidate in the general is a fool's game. Anyway let's pretend I had ranked choice voting. If we did I would probably rank like this:
- Andrew Grant Houston
- Lorena González
- Colleen Echohawk
I would just not rank anyone else (note I gave Houston and González both one democracy voucher a while ago and hadn't really looked at Echohawk at that point). Some might be surprised to see Jessyn Farrell not on this list, but she has publicly (and, in my opinion, incoherently) supported the so-called "Compassion Seattle" charter amendment which is some anti-homeless bullshit (this is a technical term, see House Our Neighbors for more) and even sent a mailer to our house promoting her support for it, so whether she means to or not, she is aligned with people who are more interested in not ever having to see people without homes than they are in helping them find homes.
So that leaves me with three who all have good to great positions and backgrounds and all that stuff. In keeping with the philosophy behind "Stop Voting for White Men" which is more around around voting for people close to me in policy who are underrepresented in government, then Houston is probably one of the less represented, at least in part because he is an actual renter in a city where the majority of people rent and are increasingly being driven out of Seattle to find cheaper rents. Almost no elected city officials are renters (I think none since González and Mosqueda have bought homes) and I wonder how far back we'd have to go to find a mayor that didn't own (I would love to be proved wrong that there have been many recent mayors that didn't own a home!)
Of course, we don't have ranked choice voting so ultimately I have to fill out my ballot for just one. I have to decide to just vote my reasoned #1 or question which one I think will be "best" in the general. I hate that a lot. Can we just have ranked choice voting? But likely I'll just vote my #1 because ultimately I think one of these three will advance to the general and the political hacks and wonks will count the votes for the other two as being part of their support base (which I hope turns out to be true!)
Anyway we really need ranked choice voting which the county council might put on a ballot ... next year. Cannot come soon enough.