July 2021 Endorsements for Washington state elections
It’s that time again, time to pull out your laptops and do your duty as a citizen to cast informed votes in our election. And as usual, I will let the world benefit from my screed on how I’m voting.
Remember, these are the primaries. The two candidates who get the most votes in this round go on to thunderdome in the main election because we still use one of the worst voting algorithms available. And that algorithm will have consequences for us as we go through this list, as you will see.
Remember, when it comes to how you vote: Randomized Condorcet. Accept no substitutes.
So, let’s start from the top with the King County Voter’s Pamphlet.
King County Proposition No. 1: Approved
This is a renewal of a levy from 2015 to provide money for investing in childhood programs. Complete no brainer. Pay for this now or for jails later. The Stranger has a more detailed writeup.
King County Executive: Dow Constantine
This is the person who oversees the day to day running of King County. It’s not a policy position. The executive is supposed to implement the policy of the King County Council. And King County is big. This isn’t your first management job, kiddos. You need to have been mayor or executive of one of the cities in King County, a King County Councilmember, or have some similar experience with bureaucracy and staff for a few terms before you tackle this one.
Which means that Bill Hirt and Johnathon Crines aren’t serious candidates for the position. Johnathon Crines does not have the experience for the job. Bill Hirt is a “perennial candidate” — he’s one of the candidates, like Goodspaceguy, that you use as a drinking game when you’re filling out your ballot. If you do that.
And I will never forgive Trump for turning Goodspaceguy from a lovable eccentricity on our ballots into a garbage spewing nutcase.
But we’re left with two good options! Dow Constantine has been doing the job for 12 years. Joe Nguyen is a state senator who is running against Constantine.
If this were a policy position, I’d be voting Joe, no question. But this is a day to day executive position, and, frankly, Dow is really good at it.
Starting this ballot with two real candidates in a race? It gives me hope…
King County Council District 3: Sarah Perry
I thought we might have two real candidates for this race, too. Someone to replace Kathy Lambert, who is…horrific. The Stranger has a pretty good collection of her worst hits.
So, Sarah Perry and Joe Cohen. And digging through their websites and statements, you can’t get much. So we need to start looking for other information. Endorsements are a good place to start, if you know how to read them. I’ll let you in on the secret.
Not all endorsements are created equal. Joe Schmoe, community leader, endorsing someone? Whatever. Lisa Wellman, state senator endorsing someone? Again, meh. What you want is an organization that forces the candidates to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire and then interrogates them mercilessly on the results.
In King County, all the Democrat organizations use the same questionnaire, and then separately interrogate candidates. King County Democrats, Young Democrats, every legislative district, they all take a shot at them.
Alliance for Gun Responsibility is a tough one to get. They will just not endorse if they don’t have a candidate that they find acceptable. For King County wide races, the labor unions vet people pretty closely. The Stranger is an excellent resource (far moreso than the Seattle Times, which invites the candidates in, but doesn’t do their homework beforehand).
Finally, look for the folks that will have to work with them, the other King County and local officials. Do the ones you think are okay endorse them? Do the ones you think are slimeballs not endorse them? A single name isn’t meaningful here, but if there’s a landslide of everyone you think is competent in the connected offices, then that means something.
And when we do this, it’s really, really clear. Two local Democrat legislative districts endorsed Joe Cohen. Sarah Perry…it’s a lot. A lot of people have taken a shot at these two and Sarah Perry is the clear choice.
But hey, we had two real candidates! We’re on a roll! Can we keep it up?
King County Council District 7: Saudia J. Abdullah
District 7’s incumbent, Pete von Reichbauer, is most concerned about sports. His statement is all about youth sports fields and pools for athletes, and he supported big handouts for the Mariners. So it’s time to let him get back to his real interest in life: sitting on the couch in his underwear watching sports.
So who else do we have? Dominique Torgerson hasn’t even filed full financial disclosure.
Oh, financial disclosure. All candidates have to register their campaign finances with the PDC and report how much the campaign received in donations and loans (including from the candidate themselves), and itemize the campaign’s expenditures. You can go look up the finances for any candidate in any race in the last few years.
There’s a loophole, though. Our ballots are full of fun eccentricities like Goodspaceguy, so we have a “mini” filing to the PDC for campaigns that spend under $5,000 so they can go on the ballot without having to do all this paperwork.
$5,000 doesn’t get you far. You can go check what the races actually cost on the PDC website. It’s a lot more than $5,000.
So we have the mini filing for Goodspaceguy and our other charming perennial candidates. Because, admit it, we’re all going to be sad the day Goodspaceguy is no longer on our ballots. But we’re not going to vote for him.
So we’re down to Lydia Assefa-Dawson and Saudia J. Abdullah. Two plausible candidates! They both have experience. Lydia is a federal way councilmember. Saudia is the community corrections director for the King County Department of Detention. That could go both ways, but her statement includes “Reallocating budgets to include behavioral health clinicians so officers can focus on community policing is essential.” And at that point we’re down to the endorsement game again.
And that one’s easy. Lydia doesn’t list any. Saudia has a clean sweep of every organization in south Seattle that matters.
King County Council District 9: Kim-Khanh Van
We have here another incumbent to be kicked to the curb. Dunn tells us that we should be afraid of rising crime and that the President of the United States appointed him as a prosecutor. So obviously we should all vote for the one the Führer has blessed, should we not? Yeah right. Let him go jerk off to his security clearance at home instead of in a public office.
So, the three challengers. Three plausible candidates! And as I dig…they’re all excellent. Which is a problem, because we use a horrid voting algorithm. In a sensible system, everyone would rank these three according to their best guess, and that would be that. So what will probably happen is that we will split our votes among them, the people who long to be enslaved to the Führer in our county will vote for Dunn, and we’ll get one of these three candidates running against Dunn in the main election.
So because we vote like idiots—remember, randomized Condorcet, accept no substitutes!—we have to be strategic.
Strategically, Chris, who looks white and is a former US Army captain and paratrooper, seems like the strategic choice to run against Dunn, until you remember that Kim-Khanh is already on the Renton City Council, which is district 9, which proves that she is already electable for this seat.
Urbax and Kim-Khanh both have more impressive records than Chris, so this boils down to: does this seat need someone who looks white to win it? If so, Chris. If not, Kim-Khanh.
Bellevue City Council Position 2: Dexter Borbe
I’m going to focus on Bellevue now, since it’s where I live. If you have races you want me to investigate and rant about, let me know and I’ll have a look. Or take what I’ve taught you—PDC filing, endorsements—and go let me know what you find.
Meanwhile, back to the fray! Christie Sanam Lo is a mini filer. Go sit with Goodspaceguy, Christie. Thank you for running. Johan Christensen filed but has no contributions and no expenses reported. So I guess he’s not actually running. Go sit with Christie and Goodspaceguy, I guess?
Which leaves us with Dexter Borbe and the incumbent, Conrad Lee.
Conrad’s platform seems to be that Bellevue is great, and if we just maintain the status quo and lower taxes, all will be well. And then Dexter’s platform proceeds to blow that up: precise statistics about cost-burdening of residents from housing shortages, and about traffic engineering.
This is a no brainer.
Bellevue School District Position 5: Jane Aras
Full disclosure: I was almost talked into running for this position. There was no way I could allocate the time it would need, but I’m pretty tuned into these races.
School board is an interesting position. It’s the first step on a political ladder that can end with US senator (our beloved Patty Murray). But people tend to run if they think their darling child isn’t getting enough preparation for Harvard, so you get really clueless folks.
In this race we have four candidates. Three are mini-filers. Caroline Smith, go sit with Goodspaceguy. Thank you for running.
Valeri Makam and Gregg Smith are both certainly over the $5,000 limit and in violation of campaign finance law. Not a good look for people running on “financial responsibility” and “transparency.” Go sit with Goodspaceguy, you two. Seriously. And, Gregg, take the KKK pillowcase off your head while you’re at it.
So we’re back to one viable candidate, Jane Aras. More disclosure: Jane Aras is my wife’s oldest friend, and I know her well.
She also spent many years teaching special education and general education, substitute teaching, has a masters in special education, raised three disgustingly brilliant, well adjusted children, and the major change in what she’s been doing for the last few years if she gets elected is that she’ll be sitting on the board instead of trying to explain to the board what’s going on.
Bellevue School District Position 3: Joyce Shui
Three candidates. Well, two. Leo Novsky didn’t actually file his financial disclosure with PDC, so his candidacy is probably illegal, and a vote for him is a vote wasted.
So we have Faye Yang and Joyce Shui. They both filed their PDC transparency properly. I don’t know why Faye has a mushroom cloud on her signs—oh, that’s supposed to be a tree?
Both candidates have kids in the schools. This is a weird thing: people want the school board members to have kids in the schools. Because parents have all the time in the world, right? Are there any newly retired grandparents that want to run for schoolboard? Please?
Faye is a clinician, whose main involvement with the schools is a campaign to extend the BSD allocated school lunch time. Which I approve of.
Joyce is a lawyer who also runs an educational organization called the Purple School that offers language immersion instruction in various subjects.
My read on their materials is that Joyce is somewhat better qualified. And then we look at endorsements. Faye doesn’t list her endorsements, only saying that she has more than 350+, 90% from Bellevue residents. But what about the ones that matter, the ones that grilled the candidates mercilessly? Clean sweep for Joyce.
(Edit: Faye Yang turned out to be a profound racist who claimed that any achievement gap between ethnicities in schools was genetic and there was no point putting money into black and Latinx children.)