October 2021 Endorsements for Washington state elections

It’s election time again! Ballots have dropped and I’m going to overshare my electoral decisions, since I get way too into this stuff.

For everyone in the state, the first three are easy: chant “Fuck Tim Eyman” while you vote Maintained for Advisory Votes 36, 37, and 38.

For King County, the next two are easy, too: vote Yes on Charter Amendments 1 and 2. These are the most boring trivia imaginable. The first one is to fix a typo (it’s spelled “ensure,” not “insure”), and the second one is to make the charter’s timelines for initatives, referenda, and charter ballot measures match the state laws governing them…which they have to match anyway.

King County executive is the first real decision to make. This is a huge job, comparable to CEO of a major corporation. I voted for Dow Constantine. He’s been doing the job competently for a long time, and I approve of his handling of covid. I like Joe Nguyen’s ideas and energy, but I worry that his time in the state senate isn’t enough background to run an organization this large, and I dislike how he oversimplifies issues like homelessness in the area.

Then, after an unopposed court of appeals judge on my ballot (okay, James Verellen, have a vote), we come to Port of Seattle commissioners. The Port of Seattle is the other authority that can levy taxes in the area. They control the ports, the fishing terminal, the airport, and a whole mess of other stuff.

The first one is easy: Ryan Calkins. He’s an environmentalist and knows what he’s doing. Norman Sigler is one of our perennial candidates. He’s less charming than Goodspaceguy, and we don’t vote for either of them.

Second, I chose Hamdi Mohamed over Stephanie Bowman. Stephanie Bowman has been on the Port Commission, and her accomplishments are okay. She has some decent endorsements (Claudia Balducci, Dow Constantine), and a few that hurt her (Lynne Robinson, Mayor of Bellevue). Hamdi Mohamed has basically every other endorsement you would want to see, lots of administrative experience with King County, and (what has been sorely missing on the Port forever) real connections and roots in the communities around the port and airport.

Finally, for position number 4, I voted for Toshiko Grace Hasegawa. Peter Steinbrueck has been on the commission for a long time and done a solid job. If I didn’t have a compelling candidate to vote for, I would have happily voted for him. This has been the attitude of a lot of organizations I’ve seen: they would have happily endorsed Steinbrueck again this year…but then Hasegawa. She was part of Inslee’s cabinet. Like Hamdi, she has strong roots in the south Seattle communities that are heavily based around the port. And she is heavily connected with the labor and businesses that surround the port, which is something that, again, has been sorely underrepresented on the Port Commission throughout its history.

At last, we come to my local races in Bellevue. These are the ones that I know best. I know a lot of the candidates personally (or in some cases would like to never hear their names again).

We can start with the three city council positions: Dexter Borbe, Ruth Lipscomb, and Lynne Robinson.

Dexter is running against long time councilmember Conrad Lee. Conrad’s platform is that Bellevue is fine and we just need to keep going like we are (which, really, is the only thing he could run on as a long time incumbent). Dexter points out what all of us living here know: housing is unaffordable unless you’re a highly paid engineer or the like, transportation is a mess and only slowly edging in a better direction, and the east side needs to step up and do its part in the area’s homeless crisis instead of shoving it all on Seattle. Full disclosure: I got to know Dexter during this process, and like him a lot. If you poke around his website, you’ll find my kids in some of his campaign photos.

Ruth is running against Jared Nieuwenhuis. Jared is the incumbent, and he’s okay (aside from being endorsed by all the police guilds), but Ruth is a powerhouse. She was an early engineer at Microsoft, and when you start talking turkey with her it becomes clear how well she thinks. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Her endorsement list is a who’s who of anyone you would want to be associated with in politics in the area. My kids are somewhere in her campaign photos, too, I think.

Finally, Lynne is running against Gina Johnson. I don’t feel as strongly about Lynne as I do about the other two candidates, but Gina Johnson is gross. When you first look at her she seems merely unimpressive (she promises to expand services and invest in infrastructure while lowering taxes, with no mention of how that would work), but then you go look at her endorsements. First, she declined to seek the endorsement of any reputable group in the area. Then you see who she is endorsed by. Too many of those names are associated with the School is Essential group that has harassed people and rioted in Bellevue over the last couple of years. Faye Yang and Gregg Smith in particular we will see again in a moment in the school board races. Lynne Robinson is the only choice in this race. My kids aren’t in her photos, though.

And now school board. Oh, school board. What an ugly mess this is. I’ll just copy a letter I wrote to the local paper about the candidates:

“In many elections we hold our nose and vote for the least objectionable candidate. This time we are lucky enough to have excellent candidates running for both open seats on the Bellevue school board.

The school board’s job is “to plan and direct all aspects of the district’s operations.” The board needs members that bring expertise in education, law and administration, science and data analysis, and building and maintaining community.

Jane Aras brings the education expertise. I am privileged to call Jane my friend. She got a masters degree in special education and spent years in the classroom. Some might think that, given that, she would always side with the teachers, but her behavior over the years has clearly shown otherwise. She has advised many people, including my family, on how to hold teachers’ and administrators’ feet to the fire. The only people whose side she has consistently, tenaciously been on are the students. Jane knows how the system works, sees how it’s supposed to work, and has a profound sense of right that drives her to make those two match.

Joyce Shui is an excellent complement to Jane. I didn’t know Joyce before this race, but have gotten to know her, and been overjoyed that I did. She is a very successful lawyer, but I have been even more impressed with her empathy and ability to find common ground with people. She is that rare combination of a brilliant mind and big heart.

Their opponents are unacceptable: a racist that believes blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior, and a salesman who has repeatedly alienated his neighbors with petty lawsuits. Neither have the interpersonal or intellectual skills to do the job.

Join me in electing Jane and Joyce to our school board.”

When I say unacceptable that glosses over a giant morass of filth that I have no desire to inflict on you all. I’ll be more frank here: Faye Yang is a feckless idiot. Gregg Smith is a despicable human being that I want never to hear from or of again.

Yes, my kids are in Jane’s photos. They were supposed to be in Joyce’s, but we’re running behind on taking them for her. She’s still a serious candidate despite not having my kids in her pictures.

So there we have it. My picks for the 2021 general election.