Hi there, voters! As a rule, I didn’t personally endorse candidates or campaigns while I was Chair of the 43rd District Democrats—I just referred people to the 43rd’s endorsements page, and kept quiet if the district made an endorsement I disagreed with. (It would have been confusing if the 43rd District Democrats had endorsed one candidate and their leader had gone off and endorsed another, so I didn’t do that.) Last year I wasn’t Chair of the 43rd anymore, but Max was born in August and I was thoroughly sleep-deprived during the election cycle. So, announcing who I personally endorse is something I haven’t done in a while.

That said, there are several races this year that are splitting the local progressive vote, and some where I have personal ties to the races and candidates (especially given that I was a candidate in one of the races). So, here’s how I’m voting:

Any race where a Democrat is running against a Republican: the Democrat

Let’s just take it as given that any candidate who is unwilling to do the moral thing, and resign their membership in the party that chose Donald Trump as its standard-bearer, has lost my vote on that basis alone. I could sing the praises of Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Patty Murray, Jay Inslee, Cyrus Habib, Tina Podlodowski, Pat McCarthy, Bob Ferguson, Hillary Franz, and Mike Kreidler all day—but you already know this, and you’re already voting for these excellent Democratic candidates (and they truly are excellent candidates). So, let me endorse all the above candidates as a slate and move on.

7th Congressional District: Pramila Jayapal

This is a race between two good progressive Democrats, either of whom will go on to achieve absolutely nothing in Congress so long as a Republican is holding the Speaker’s gavel. I was sorely tempted to vote for Brady Walkinshaw just out of solidarity: he’s my state representative, I know him personally, he won the 43rd District Democrats’ endorsement, and I know a lot of good progressives who are supporting him.

But I also know a lot of good progressives who are supporting Pramila, and I have to give her the nod: I think she’ll do more to move the Overton window to the left, and I think that, right now, that’s what we need in Congress. Brady has highlighted his ability to reach across the aisle and be an effective legislator, and I think that’s a valuable skill—but we already have plenty of Democrats in Congress (and in the White House) who have the ability to reach across the aisle. That is not the problem. The problem is that, at the federal level, any Republican who even glances across the aisle is denounced as a traitor by his own party and hounded out of office. So, if Brady and Pramila were both running to represent me in Olympia, I’d probably vote for Brady. But, given the current situation in Congress, Pramila wins my vote for that office.

I should note that I made my decision in this race before Brady’s campaign went negative and before Pramila’s campaign responded by comparing Brady to Trump, so neither of those were a factor in my decision, except in the sense that I was equally unimpressed by both actions.

43rd State Representative: Nicole Macri

This is another contest between two progressives, and I can safely say that I’ve paid close attention to this race, seeing as how I was a candidate in it. I finished fourth in the primary, out of a field of eight, and from March to August I attended literally every forum, debate, endorsement meeting, interview, and otherwise took every available opportunity to interact with both Nicole Macri and Dan Shih on the campaign trail.

And, in my opinion, Nicole is by far the stronger of the remaining two candidates. During the primaries there were several events that I thought all eight candidates should be attending, from the Washington Won’t Discriminate kickoff meeting to the FUSE Washington seminar on effective messaging for progressive tax policies—and, more often than not, I’d look around the room at these events and Nicole was the only other candidate who’d shown up. Nicole has a wealth of knowledge on housing policy and homelessness, which are critical issues for Seattle at the moment, and in the primaries she demonstrated that she could be a leader on all the issues our district cares about.

Dan Shih is a good progressive who has an uncanny talent for raising money—for every $1 that my campaign raised, Dan raised $8—and I hope that, after the election, he continues to put that talent to work for progressive causes and candidates. But I think Nicole would do a much better job of representing my views in Olympia.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Chris Reykdal

I thought Robin Fleming was the best candidate in this race, but—alas—she didn’t make it through the primary either. (Join the club! We have yard signs!) For those who haven’t followed this race closely, candidate Erin Jones has made several controversial statements on LGBTQ issues, and has accepted a lot of money from charter school advocates. I view charter schools as a cornerstone of the radical right’s efforts to destroy public sector unions and divert funding for public education, and I think that using taxpayer dollars to fund privately run schools is both bad policy and, in our state, a violation of the state constitution.

Anyhow, Chris Reykdal seems like a good person, has Robin’s endorsement, has not repeatedly put his foot in his mouth when discussing LGBTQ issues, and is not accepting thousands of dollars from charter school advocates. That’s more than enough for my vote.

State Supreme Court: Mary Yu, Barbara Madsen, and Charlie Wiggins

Speaking of charter school advocates and billions of dollars, there’s a concerted effort underway to shower money on right-wing judicial candidates in order to reverse the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. McCleary is the case where the state legislature is being held in contempt for failing to adequately fund public schools, and apparently charter school advocates would prefer to just get rid of the judges and make that pesky ruling go away.

I know Barbara Madsen personally, some of the first same-sex marriages in our state were performed by the appropriately named Mary Yu, and Charlie Wiggin  defeated a right-wing judge to win his seat on the court. All three deserve to be re-elected.

Other Judges: Nicole Gaines Phelps, David Keenan, Helen Halpert, Cathy Moore, Anthony Gipe, Marianne Spearman

I’m opposed to the idea of electing judges, but since we’re doing it, here are the progressive options in the contested judicial races. I’ll confess that David Keenan and Anthony Gipe are the only two of these judges I know personally, and that I’m cribbing from the 43rd District Democrats and the Stranger for the rest—but the 43rd and the Stranger agreed on every one of these picks, so there’s that.

State Treasurer: Eric Miller (write-in).

Here’s a perfect example of why “top two” primary systems are a bad idea: more than half the votes in this primary went to Democratic candidates for State Treasurer, and less than half of voters wanted a Republican in this office. But there were three Democrats and two Republicans running in the primary, so the two candidates who individually had the most votes were… the two Republicans. As mentioned above, I think any candidate willing to stand with Donald Trump is morally unfit for public office. Eric Miller’s write-in campaign is a long shot, and there’s an argument that I’m throwing away my vote when I could be choosing the “lesser evil,” but choosing between a bad Republican and a worse Republican isn’t really a choice per se. Write in Eric Miller and support reforming the top two primary system.

Sound Transit, Proposition 1: YES.

Unless you genuinely enjoy being stuck in traffic, vote YES on the Sound Transit 3 package. There are three basic arguments against ST3, and all three are wrong:

  1. It’s too much money. Granted that it’s a lot of money, but it’s an investment in transportation infrastructure that will pay enormous dividends for the entire region, so it’s a lot of money well spent.
  2. The taxes used to fund it are regressive. This is true, but it isn’t unique to ST3 and isn’t a good reason to vote against it. If you want to fix our state’s regressive tax structure, and give Seattle and King County better options for raising revenue, then work to elect progressive candidates across the state who’ll make fixing our tax structure a priority. There are several of them mentioned by name on this page.
  3. It’s not a well-designed package. ST3 makes a number of compromises to political reality: it funds light rail to distant corners of King County in order to win votes throughout the region, instead of putting rail lines where the riders are (like, say, an east-west line from Ballard to UW). This is again true, but—again—not a good enough reason to vote against the package, unless you have some magical plan to convince people in Kirkland to tax themselves for Seattle’s benefit.

I live about 15 minutes’ walking distance from the UW light rail station, and it’s great. We should build more of these things. Vote YES on ST3.

Initiative 732 (Carbon Tax): a reluctant YES.

I’ve gone back and forth on I-732 for several months, because there are strong progressive arguments both for and against it. Initiative 732 is a carbon tax—a tax on air pollution—and all of us progressives agree that (a) taxing carbon is a critical and necessary step in reducing carbon emissions; (b) we are not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions;  and (c) our entire civilization, if not our species, is at risk of catastrophe if we don’t take action now to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The problem is that Initiative 732 is a poorly written carbon tax, and was poorly written due to a deliberate decision by its backers: CarbonWA, the group behind Initiative 732, thought that if they wrote a carbon tax that was revenue neutral—one that reduced other state taxes by exactly the same amount that it taxed carbon—then Republicans would come on board and they’d have bipartisan support. Apparently the brain trust at CarbonWA failed to notice that, given a choice between literally watching the planet burn and doing something bipartisan, today’s GOP will enthusiastically choose door number one.
 
Dozens of progressive organizations came together last year to draft a better carbon tax for the 2016 ballot—a revenue-positive carbon tax that would both reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change on the groups that would be hardest hit. Some CarbonWA backers have derided these mitigation efforts as “identity politics,” or as holding climate change hostage to other priorities. I think those critiques miss the point: as with almost everything in our society, climate change hits the most vulnerable members of our communities earlier and harder. So it’s not unreasonable to expect a carbon tax initiative to step up to mitigating those effects—especially if we’re relying on the votes of a progressive coalition to pass the initiative.
 
Anyhow, these progressive organizations begged CarbonWA not to go forward with their flawed version of a carbon tax, but CarbonWA threw them under the bus and put I-732 on the ballot—and, as literally everyone except CarbonWA predicted, no Republicans came forward to support a carbon tax initiative. So, now the shoe’s on the other foot: the initiative’s backers are coming back to the progressive groups they spurned, and begging them to support the initiative despite its flaws, because, hey, we all want a carbon tax, right?
 
So, most of the progressive community in Washington State is furious with CarbonWA for bogarting our opportunity to pass a genuinely progressive carbon tax in 2016, and rightfully so. But, the choice that’s actually on our ballot isn’t between a revenue-neutral carbon tax and the better carbon tax that might have been: the choice is between passing I-732 or doing nothing this election cycle. If I-732 fails, we might get another bite at the apple in 2017 0r 2018 or 2020, and might be able to pass a better carbon tax proposal then. Which would mean another year or three of no action, plus the heavy lift of putting a progressive initiative on the ballot in an off-cycle election year, and then what if that initiative fails?
 
And, to make this truly aggravating, most of the groups that would have come out hard against a carbon tax kept their powder dry this year, because they figured I-732 would fail without the support of the progressive community—and so I-732’s polling numbers are in a place where the measure just might pass if progressives get behind it. Part of me thinks that the failure of I-732 should be an object lesson for people who worship at the altar of bipartisanship when they should be focused on building progressive majorities. Another part of me thinks that anyone who’s come out against I-732 had better step up to the plate in 2017 with a revenue-positive carbon tax initiative and the votes and volunteers to pass it. 
 
And, ultimately, I’m putting myself in the “reluctant YES” column because I haven’t seen that latter commitment. I think that if I-732 fails, it’ll be 2020 before we get all our ducks in a row and try to pass a carbon tax again, and that’s too long. I’m also reasonably convinced that I-732 is revenue-neutral, at least to the level of accuracy of our revenue forecasts: if this flawed initiative were also blowing a hole in our state budget, that’d be enough to tip me into the “no” column. But I’m taking the Sightline analysis as the tie-breaker between the state’s analysis, which says the initiative’s drafters erred on the revenue-negative side, and the CarbonWA analysis, which is all sunshine and rainbows.
 
This is probably less an “endorsement” and more of a stream-of-consciousness report on how I personally am voting on this initiative, so take from it what you will. There’s a strong counter-argument that I-732 is the latest in a long line of progressive “solutions” in which we solve the problem for white people and then call it a day: a revenue-neutral carbon tax helps everyone in the sense that we all live on this planet—but an initiative that could have addressed the fact that climate change is hitting some groups harder than others, and deliberately chose not to do so, may be an unacceptable proposition for many. I’m treating I-732 as the Obamacare of this year’s initiatives: it’s badly flawed, made far too many compromises, and does far too little, all because of a head-scratching decision to try to make it appeal to Republicans. But, in spite of all that, it’s still better than what we have today. Vote YES.

Initiative 1433: YES.

Let’s go back to the easy decisions. This initiative raises the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 in stages, and requires employers to provide paid sick leave. The minimum wage would be at about $19 or so if it had kept up with inflation and productivity, and every study on raising the minimum wage—which we have done many, many times before—says that raising it has neutral to positive effects on the overall economy, and that we are nowhere close to the point where raising the wage would begin to have negative impacts. Vote YES.

Initiative 1464: YES.

Campaign finance reform would make a real difference in who gets elected, or for that matter who even gets the opportunity to run for office. I found out first-hand this year how much of a candidate’s time is spent “dialing for dollars” and fundraising—and how fundraising can make the difference between winning the primary and, um, fourth place. Vote YES. 

Initiative 1491: YES.

Initiative 1491 would allow a court to issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order, which is essentially a temporary restraining order that prevents a person from having access to firearms if the person is showing clear signs of being a danger to themselves or others. There is literally no reason to vote against this initiative. Vote YES.

Initiative 1501: YES.

There’s kind of a long story behind this initiative, and, like many travesties of justice, it starts with Antonin Scalia. In 2014 the Supreme Court made a 5-4 decision in a case called Harris v. Quinn, and ignored decades of legal precedent in order to strike a blow against unions. Again. This time the victims were in-home health care workers whose salaries are paid by the state government, and the Court wrongly decided that these workers should be allowed to enjoy the benefits of union membership without paying union dues—that is, they made a bogus ruling that collective bargaining is “speech,” and that the government couldn’t compel individual employees to pay the costs associated with negotiating for their salaries and benefits.

With the Court’s wrongly decided ruling in hand, a group of right-wing union-busting assholes have been trying to access Washington’s public records, get a list of every in-home health care worker in the state whose salary is paid by the government, and encourage each of them to stop paying their union dues. The union (SEIU) has been trying to stop them, and this initiative is their latest effort. There’s a lot of stuff in this initiative about “protecting seniors from identity theft,” but it’s all a candy coating around the real purpose of the measure, which is to exempt in-home caregivers from state public disclosure laws so that the union-busters can’t follow through on their plan to defund the union.

In principle, carving out an exemption to our state’s public disclosure laws is a bad idea—but in this case I think it’s a justifiable solution to a problem created by a rogue Supreme Court that rewrote our nation’s legal precedents for the sake of a temporary partisan advantage. Again. So I’m voting YES on I-1501.

Initiative 735: Sure, why not.

Speaking of wrongly decided 5-4 Supreme Court decisions, Initiative 735 is trying to reverse Citizens United v. FEC, which was the miscarriage of justice that gave us Super PACs and “dark money” and essentially erased the line between corporate money and speech. I-735 is fairly weak tea—it would “urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment”—and I think the actual solution to this problem is for the Senate to do its job and confirm the appointment of Supreme Court nominees who will reverse this bad decision. Meanwhile, we might as well vote YES on I-735.

Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210: YES.

This resolution moves the deadline for Washington’s redistricting commission to finish its work from December 31 to November 15, which means the commission won’t have to work straight through the holidays. I vote YES.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1: NO.

No, no, no, no, a thousand times no: this amendment would supposedly “make the elected office of King County prosecuting attorney nonpartisan.” This sounds like a good thing—nobody wants a prosecuting attorney who favors one party over another—but this amendment doesn’t magically make candidates or officeholders less partisan: it just hides information from you, the voter. The candidates are still just as partisan as before, and are still relying on one party or the other for endorsements and support, in the same way that candidates for King County Council and other allegedly “nonpartisan” offices currently do. Vote NO.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1: YES.

This would amend the King County Charter to use gender-neutral language. The only controversial thing about this proposal is that it’s 2016 and our charter still thinks there’s only one gender. Vote YES.

City of Seattle, Initiative No. 124: YES.

This initiative protects hotel workers from sexual harassment, and is the sort of thing that labor unions used to negotiate into contracts, back in the days when we had powerful labor unions. Vote YES.

Whew! I think that covers everything on the ballot, aside from a few judges running unopposed and the “advisory” votes (which are meaningless, but vote “Maintain” on them anyway), but if I missed anything let me know. And, if you haven’t already, go vote!