Voters have a chance with the Nov. 5 ballot, containing many races for local government, to send a message that things are going well or need some adjustment.
Since the summer, Seattle Times editorial board members have been interviewing candidates and campaigns for statewide and local initiatives. We have started to publish our recommendations to voters and will continue in the coming days. Ballots are expected to be mailed around Oct. 17.
If you have questions about King County Elections, call 206-296-VOTE or go to kingcounty.gov/elections.
If you have questions about Snohomish County Elections, call 425-388-3444 or go to the Snohomish County Election division website.
For questions about Washington state elections, go to the Secretary of State election website.
Here are our recommendations for selected races in King and Snohomish counties and for ballot measures.
- City of Seattle endorsements
- King County endorsements
- City of Bellevue endorsements
- Snohomish County endorsements
- State ballot measures and advisory vote endorsements
- State races
City of Seattle:
The two candidates for Seattle mayor are both die-hard progressives. They identify many of the same challenges ahead as the city reaches back to economic vitality. They even share some policy platforms. But the choice becomes clear on their widely different approaches to governing. State Sen. Ed Murray offers a return of pragmatic, effective leadership to City Hall.
Seattle City Council
For Seattle City Council, The Times recommends:
Richard Conlin, position No. 2
Sixteen-year incumbent Richard Conlin fits the mold of a progressive who also brings a holistic, critical sense of balance to City Hall. As chairman of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, Conlin supports subsidies for low-income housing — while realizing that the city must mostly rely on the private market.
Sally Bagshaw, Position No. 4
Sally Bagshaw, first elected in 2009, has been quiet but productive. Once the lead attorney for King County Metro, she remains a champion of public transit and public parks. She should raise her profile when the new parks levy heads to the ballot next year.
Nick Licata, Position No. 6
Nick Licata has been a bridge between Seattle’s labor and business communities. Though on a liberal end of a liberal council, Licata lends an important voice to the living-wage movement. Instead of an arbitrary increase to $15, he supports enforcing the paid sick-leave law.
Albert Shen, Position No. 8
Of the four seats up on the City Council, only one challenger makes a convincing case. Albert Shen is the better choice over incumbent Mike O’Brien in Position 8. Shen serves on the Seattle Community Colleges Board of Trustees, having been appointed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire. Unlike O’Brien, Shen opposes putting a publicly subsidized basketball arena in Sodo.
Port of Seattle
The Port of Seattle is under threat from competitors in British Columbia and the East Coast because of the widening of the Panama Canal in 2015. In four Port of Seattle Commission races, The Times recommends:
Pete Lewis, Commissioner Position No. 1
Pete Lewis is mayor and city manager of Auburn. He’s solid. He knows the subject of freight mobility and transportation. He knows his way around state and local government and how things get done. His ideas on Port policy are not much different from Creighton’s, whose ideas on Port policy were never the problem. Temperament is the issue for Creighton, and Lewis is calm.
Courtney Gregoire, Commissioner Position No. 2
For position 2, the obvious choice is incumbent Courtney Gregoire. She was director of President Obama’s National Export Initiative at the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C., and is now an attorney at Microsoft. She was appointed to the Port commission earlier this year by the existing commissioners to fill a vacant seat, beating out other applicants.
Stephanie Bowman, Commissioner Position No. 3
Incumbent Stephanie Bowman, executive director of the Washington Asset Building Coalition, a social agency, was appointed to the Port commission in the same competitive process as Gregoire. She has a firm grasp of Port issues and Michael Wolfe, the sales manager of a cellphone-app company and a Democratic Party activist, has not made the case to replace her.
Tom Albro, Commissioner Position No. 4
Tom Albro, the Port Commission’s president. Albro has a strong civic sensibility and represents the public well. He is also rated “outstanding” by the Muni League, though it is an organization he used to lead. His opponent, Richard Pope, is a perennial candidate running on the perennial idea of ending the Port’s property tax.
Seattle School Board
Experienced, steady people are needed on the Seattle School Board as the district navigates immediate significant issues. Among them are plans to combat overcrowding in many schools with a controversial plan to redraw school-attendance boundaries. The Times recommends:
Suzanne Dale Estey
Suzanne Dale Estey has a solid track record in education advocacy, both at the school level working in her son’s classroom and at the community level with past work at the Center for Education Results. Dale Estey has extensive planning and budget experience. She has two children who attend district schools.
Stephan Blanford is a former Beacon Hill International School PTA officer and has worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, Alliance for Education and Rotary Boys & Girls Club in Seattle. A parent of a district student, Blanford holds master’s and doctorate degrees in education from the University of Washington.
Seattle Charter Amendment 19; Proposition 1
Two separate ballot measures promise improvements to Seattle City Council elections. Both are high-minded efforts to make politicians more responsive to people than to special interests, but one is a better fit for Seattle. The Times recommends:
Yes on Charter Amendment No. 19
Voters should approve Charter Amendment No. 19, a hybrid election system of seven council members elected by district and two citywide at-large positions. This 7-2 model would begin with the 2015 elections. Each council member is now responsible for more than 600,000 residents in the city’s booming population. Council members are spread too thinly.
No on Proposition 1
Proposition 1 would allow City Council candidates to join a publicly financed campaign program if they raise at least 600 contributions of at least $10 each. Supporters of Proposition 1 say it would increase competition in elections and draw more small donors. But with public financing, taxpayers foot the bill and have no choice where their money goes.
King County Executive
Dow Constantine deserves to be re-elected — and no doubt will be re-elected — as King County executive. He has done a good job even in the eyes of many who voted for his opponent. He has been an able administrator of county government during a time of prolonged economic weakness.
Metropolitan King County Council
Rod Dembowski, District 1
District 1 is ably represented by Rod Dembowski — he was appointed to replace Bob Ferguson, who was elected state attorney general last year. Dembowski, a Democrat who was once former Gov. Gary Locke’s policy adviser in the executive’s office, was ready for the job and has gone right to work. He chairs the Regional Transit Committee and takes active roles on a broad range of policy panels.
Dave Upthegrove, District 5
Dave Upthegrove, a Democrat, is serving his seventh two-year term in the Legislature. He understands the issues of King County’s most ethnically and economically diverse district. He is chairman of the House Environment Committee, is a strong advocate for transit and roads, and has endorsements from both sides of the aisle. He would be a moderate liberal voice on the council.
Reagan Dunn, District 9
Reagan Dunn is the clear choice to represent District 9 in the Metropolitan King County Council. Since 2005, Dunn has been a vote for caution on taxes, recently voting against a 41 percent increase in the parks levy — though he has supported taxes for flood control and levies for juvenile justice and aid cars. Dunn adds needed balance to an urban-dominated council, and voters should retain him.
No on SeaTac Prop. 1 for a $15 minimum wage
SeaTac Proposition 1, to raise the minimum wage for certain workers to $15, is wrong for several reasons. First, it is too high. If approved in the Nov. 5 election, SeaTac’s minimum wage next year would be 61 percent higher than Washington’s minimum wage of $9.32, which will be the highest minimum of any state. SeaTac would have the highest minimum wage in the U.S.
Approve King County Prop. 1 for Medic One/EMS levy
The survival rate from cardiac arrest in King County reached a record 57 percent this year. That same statistic varies wildly in 14 other metropolitan areas. Not one of them comes close to what paramedics and firefighters have given us here. Voters should renew a six-year $696 million property-tax levy, King County Proposition 1 in the Nov. 5 election, to protect Medic One/Emergency Medical Services.
Approve King County Charter Amendment 1 on public defense
During the past four decades, King County’s fiercely independent public-defense system has been the envy of the nation. Public defenders helped form innovative local drug and mental-health courts, and kicked and yelled until Seattle ended a plan in 2010 to build an unnecessary new jail for $200 million. A vote for King County Charter Amendment 1 on the Nov. 5 ballot will preserve their independent voice.
City of Bellevue:
Bellevue City Council
Bellevue neighborhoods and community life are evolving and changing faster than the Bellevue City Council, but two years of fighting over the future of light rail might have had a therapeutic effect. If the personnel does not change, their attitudes might have. The Times recommends:
Conrad Lee, Position No. 2
Incumbent Conrad Lee is endorsed over challenger Lyndon Heywood, whose enthusiasm for public service does not compensate for a lack of preparation. Bellevue has a full agenda with land-use reviews, selection of a new city manager, transportation planning, finance and changing neighborhoods.
Kevin Wallace, Position No. 4
The Times is stepping back from its primary endorsement of Steve Kasner to support incumbent Kevin Wallace’s bid for a second term. Though Wallace has had videotaped bouts of intemperate behavior with council colleagues, he seems to have learned and changed his approach. Significantly, Wallace has recommendations from prominent Democrats and Republicans.
Lynne Robinson, Position No. 6
Lynne Robinson’s experience and skills will be a strong addition to the Council. She is the choice for Position No. 6 over opponent Vandana Slatter. Robinson is a prepared, capable replacement for incumbent Don Davidson, who lost in the primary.
Bellevue School Board
The Bellevue School Board’s task is to meet new challenges while maintaining Bellevue’s reputation as a top district. Three seats are up in the November election. Board member Chris Marks is running unopposed. For the two other positions, The Times recommends:
Krischanna Roberson, District No. 4
Krischanna Roberson, director of operations at Bellevue College, is seeking to complete the unexpired two-year term of Mike Murphy, who stepped down in May. Roberson, a parent of four, served on the PTSA council as well as a district parent-advisory council.
My-Linh Thai, District No. 5
My-Linh Thai is a pharmacist who served on the board of the Bellevue PTSA council, organized the Math Olympiad for Tyee Middle School, and chaired Reflections, the annual national arts competition. In 2013, the mother of two was recognized for her volunteer service with the Washington State PTA Outstanding Advocate Award.
Snohomish County Council
Snohomish County Council enters a period of transition as term limits preclude two veterans from seeking re-election. Fortunately for voters and taxpayers, there is a deep reserve of qualified candidates. The Times recommends:
Ken Klein, District 1
Republican John Koster is leaving office, but Arlington City Council member Ken Klein, another Republican, is a ready and able candidate to replace him. Klein has local government experience and has served on the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He has family roots in Snohomish County and business experience with a food-service company on Microsoft’s Redmond campus.
Terry Ryan, District 4
Democratic candidate Terry Ryan would bring years of local government experience on the Mill Creek City Council, and four terms as mayor, to the County Council post. He is broadly endorsed across party lines. Ryan’s opponent Robert Reedy, who has run unsuccessfully for public office before, cannot match Ryan’s readiness to help manage county business.
Dave Somers, District 5
Dave Somers has been a steady presence on the council through budget deliberations, land-use management issues and the political melodrama of the former Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. Somers is endorsed by Democrats and Republicans alike.
State ballot measures and advisory votes:
Initiative 522, about labeling of GMOs
Efforts to label foods with GMOs have failed in Oregon and California. Shoppers want useful information not scare tactics. Initiative 522 is a clumsy, emotion-based campaign to require labeling of selective food products containing genetically modified organisms. Vote No.
Read editorial endorsement –>
Initiative 517, about initiatives
Initiative 517 is an overly broad full-employment act for the initiative-manufacturing industry. I-517 overreaches by broadening the turf for signature gathering. The clipboard armies would be explicitly allowed in any public building, including any public sports venue, and on “all public sidewalks and walkways that carry pedestrian traffic.” Vote No.
Tax advisory measures
Statewide ballots this year include five advisory votes on tax increases. Since the Washington Supreme Court struck down most of the Tim Eyman initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of legislators or a vote of the people to raise taxes, what’s left are these nonbinding advisory votes.The Times recommends:
Maintain Advisory Vote 3
Maintain Advisory Vote 4
Maintain Advisory Vote 5
Maintain Advisory Vote 6
The tax on telephone landlines amounts to $397 million over 10 years.
Repeal Advisory Vote 7
The largest of the five increases, $478 million over 10 years, is in Washington’s estate tax, which is levied at death. The increase is legally and economically wrong.
26th Legislative District, State Senate
With the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition currently holding a one-vote edge, this election has become a proxy war for moneyed interests on both sides. The Times recommends:
Nathan Schlicher, a Democrat from Gig Harbor, is the better choice for the 26th Legislative District Senate race to replace Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress. Schlicher, a 30-year-old emergency-room doctor and a lawyer, was a quick study as a temporary replacement for Kilmer last session.