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November 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM
Socialist Kshama Sawant’s momentum has all but scared the fleece off the trademark vest of Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin.
With Conlin clinging to a steadily shrinking lead over Sawant, the four-term incumbent emailed supporters Saturday, telling them to “make sure every vote is counted.”
The usually unflappable Conlin asked supporters to make sure their ballots had been verified and counted, by checking with the King County Elections. He told supporters they might have forgotten to sign their ballot envelopes, or there might be a problem with their signatures. If so, he urged them to be on the lookout for a form from King County.
“Please sign the form and send it in immediately to ensure your vote is counted!” he wrote.
He also asked for phone-bank volunteers to check on ballot problems.
Conlin led 53.6 percent to Sawant’s 46.1 percent on election night. After Friday night’s ballot count, Sawant was up to 49.5 percent and trailed Conlin by 1,237 votes.
A Seattle Times anlaysis indicates Sawant must take about 53 percent of the roughly 20,000 uncounted ballots to win.
The next vote tally won’t come until Tuesday.
November 5, 2013 at 7:08 AM
UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.:A measure to largely finance Seattle City Council candidates with property taxes was trailing by eight percentage points in initial results Tuesday.
ORIGINAL POST: Seattle voters today will decide whether future candidates for City Council are eligible to receive public property tax dollars to help their campaigns.
Under Proposition 1, if candidates raised 600 private contributions of at least $10, they’d receive a $6 match in taxpayer funds for every $1 raised in small contributions, up to a maximum of $210,000. If approved, the program would collect $2 million from taxpayers next year.
Proponents said the cost of council campaigns keeps good candidates from running. They said taxpayer funding would decrease the influence of private contributors in City Hall, while also increasing the diversity of candidates.
But opponents said Proposition 1 was misguided, and that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to finance candidates they don’t like. They point to research that shows public financing has not made election races more competitive in jurisdictions that have adopted it.
November 5, 2013 at 7:06 AM
UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: Faye Garneau felt pretty good Tuesday night about the commanding lead held by a measure to elect Seattle City Council members by geographic district.
“I’m on my second martini,” Garneau said from the districts-election campaign party at the 125th Street Grill.
A North Seattle business advocate, Garneau contributed $232,447 of the $262,860 raised by the campaign for Charter Amendment 19. She said she had no regrets about spending the money.
Seattle voters had rejected council districts in several previous elections, most recently in 2003.
This time, though, advocates created seven specific districts and showed voters a map with the boundaries for each – something they didn’t do in 2003. The remaining two council members would be elected citywide.
“I think the map made the big difference,” Garneau said. “People could see what district they’d be in.”
Garneau also believes Seattle’s growth played a part. “This was the time to make the change. As we’re growing we need a way to know what the needs are in every section of the city and this is the best way to do it.”
UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: A measure to elect most Seattle City Council members by geographic district was leading handily in Tuesday’s initial results, 64 to 36 percent..
ORIGINAL POST: Most Seattle City Council members would represent districts of the city under a proposal before voters today.
Charter Amendment 19 seeks to create seven council districts, with two council members representing the city at-large, as all council members now are.
Each of the seven districts would have about 88,000 residents. The districts roughly follow geographic boundaries with West Seattle one district, for example, and South Seattle another.
Proponents said selecting council members by district would give every area of the city a representative familiar with local issues. They also said district candidates would not have to campaign citywide, making it cheaper to run and giving grass-roots candidates a better shot at election.
Opponents say district elections result in divisive politics where every member is looking out for their own district with less focus on citywide problems and priorities. They say the current city council is diverse — three women, two gays, one minority — and its strength means it can be an effective check on the mayor.
Seattle voters had rejected districts in previous elections, most recently in 2003. But unlike the failed 2003 proposal, Charter Amendment 19 showed voters a map of just what the districts would look like, and it retained two at-large seats.
October 18, 2013 at 1:53 PM
There was significant pot news out of California Thursday with the announcement that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is heading an ACLU panel that aims to put a legalization measure before Golden State voters during the next presidential election in 2016.
If such a measure passes in the country’s largest state, pot advocates have predicted it could effectively end federal prohibition of marijuana.
Alison Holcomb, the chief author of Washington state’s legal pot law, is on the panel along with at least one skeptic, Keith Humphreys, a former White House drug policy advisor. The panel includes 13 others, including medical, legal and law enforcement experts.
California voters rejected a legalization measure, Proposition 19 in 2010. But Prop. 19 lacked a plan for statewide regulation and taxation of legal pot. Only 46.5 percent of voters supported it.
October 14, 2013 at 4:15 PM
But money from the biggest donor to Fair Elections Seattle itself is not transparent.
Washington Public Campaigns (WPC), a local nonprofit group, has contributed $10,000 to Fair Elections Seattle — almost one-quarter of the cash received by the campaign backing Prop. 1.
An average voter can’t tell, though, who contributes to WPC. The group is not registered as a political committee with the state and has not publicly detailed the donors behind its campaign spending.
Doesn’t that seem ironic? “Yeah, I can understand that,” said Alice Woldt, a longtime peace Seattle activist and executive director of WPC. “I guess I could’ve sent letters” to donors, Woldt said, asking donors if WPC could disclose their names. “I didn’t think of doing that.”
Donations tended to come from WPC board members such as Evelyn McChesney, according to Woldt. She also said there was a $5,000 donor whom she didn’t feel at liberty to disclose. She said donors understood that WPC would support Prop. 1.
A group like WPC doesn’t necessarily have to register with state watchdogs. There are two tests, according to Lori Anderson of the state Public Disclosure Commission. “It really boils down to whether Washington Public Campaigns gave them money they already had as opposed to raised for that specific ballot measure,” Anderson said. “The second test is whether spending money to support a ballot measure is one of their primary purposes.”
WPC’s primary purpose is not supporting Prop. 1, Woldt said. The group has goals beyond Seattle, such as reversing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case that equated corporations with people under the U.S. Constitution.
October 1, 2013 at 1:01 PM
Most medical marijuana patients should be brought into the recreational pot market the state is creating, urged all nine Seattle City Council members in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee and key legislators.
The medical marijuana market continues to operate, at best, in a gray market, council members said, which could undermine the state’s goal of curtailing illicit dealing through a legal system allowing adults to possess small amounts of weed.
While many medical customers “live with conditions ameliorated by medical cannabis, the vast majority do not and would be better served through the access made possible by Initiative 502,” council members wrote in a letter dated Sept. 30.
That could mean combining the recreational and medical markets into a single regulated system, according to council members — though they also said the state should “make certain that the legitimate needs” of medical marijuana users are met. “Patients deserve a system that supports development of medicines appropriate to different conditions at a price point patients can afford,” council members said.
Under orders from the state Legislature, three state agencies — the Liquor Control Board and the departments of Revenue and Health — are supposed to make recommendations regarding the medical and recreational systems.
On Oct. 21, the agencies are scheduled to provide draft recommendations for comment, with a Nov. 8 deadline for comments.
The agencies will then present recommendations to state House and Senate committees in late November. By Jan. 1 they are supposed to deliver final recommendations to state lawmakers.
September 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked a U.S. Senate committee for a key bit of help in creating a tightly regulated legal pot market.
In written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Tuesday hearing, Inslee and Ferguson stressed that without changes at the federal level, Washington state’s legal pot merchants will operate on a cash-only basis.
That will make it more difficult for the state to audit their books and track their income, the duo said, and make legal businesses a target for theft and burglary, “thereby creating additional public safety challenges.”
As it now stands, federally regulated banks are wary of providing financial services to legal pot merchants, Inslee and Ferguson said, because federal law can impose penalties on banks that accept money they know to come from drug sales – even if those sales are legal under state law.
Inslee and Ferguson suggested two fixes: the federal Department of Justice could advise banking regulators that it isn’t going to prosecute banks for handling legal pot money; or, Congress could also pass a law allowing banks to accepts deposits from a legal pot business.
The rest of their four-page testimony details the many ways in which Washington state’s legal pot rules are consistent with the DOJ’s eight priorities for legal pot in Washington and Colorado — from preventing youth access to legal pot, to preventing Washington pot from leaking into other states.
Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. The committee chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT., will begin by questioning U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole. It would be no surprise for the banking issue to come up in that portion of the hearing. Then, the hearing on “Conflicts in State and Federal Marijuana Laws” will address a panel of three: King County Sheriff John Urquhart; Jack Finlaw, the top lawyer for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; and Kevin Sabet, the director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization that’s opposed to legalization.
August 22, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Mark Kleiman, the state’s top pot consultant, has suggested a way to end the lingering tension between Washington’s new recreational pot law and the federal government, which considers all marijuana illegal.
And state Attorney General Bob Ferguson did not dismiss Kleiman’s idea. Ferguson said the AG’s office “has done their own examination” of Kleiman’s proposal and “it’s too soon to say” if it has traction with decision-makers.
Ferguson did not want to reveal any more about the state’s discussions with the federal Department of Justice. “I’m not ready to get into more detail about what communication is going on with the feds,” Ferguson said.
In an article published Wednesday in the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, Kleiman said the DOJ now seems to have three options: cracking down on legalized pot in Washington and Colorado, acquiescing to legalization, or “muddling through” with its current policy of only saying it continues to review new laws in those two states.
Kleiman sees two better alternatives.
August 6, 2013 at 8:19 PM
Seattle City Council incumbent Richard Conlin will face Kshama Sawant, a Seattle Central Community College economics instructor, in the November general election. Incumbent Mike O’Brien will square off against engineering consultant Albert Shen.
Don’t look for an overarching theme in the early returns for the two races. Sawant, a socialist, says she’s challenging Conlin because the four-term incumbent is too conservative for Seattle. Shen says O’Brien, a one-termer, is too close to Mayor Mike McGinn.
David Ishii, the other candidate challenging O’Brien, did not mount a serious campaign. Brian Carver, the other Conlin challenger, raised more in campaign contributions than Sawant, but she touted endorsements from The Stranger, local labor unions, and activists including Real Change director Tim Harris.
Conlin collected 49 percent of the vote to Sawant’s 33 percent and Carver’s 17 percent.
O’Brien won 57 percent to Shen’s 35 percent.
Two other incumbents running this year, Sally Bagshaw and Nick Licata, have only one opponent and didn’t appear on the primary ballot.
The last incumbent council member to lose an election was David Della, unseated by Tim Burgess in 2007.
June 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Prodded by mayors including Mike McGinn of Seattle and Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution Monday urging the federal government to respect the abilities of states and cities to implement policies such as marijuana legalization.
The resolution carries no legal weight and was one of dozens adopted by the mayors’ group Monday, including resolutions on ”furthering the urban food revolution” and “eradicating bullying” in schools.
Also sponsored by the mayors of San Diego, Oakland and Berkeley, the resolution says “states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.”
It calls on the federal government to amend the Controlled Substance Act to allow states to set their own pot policies and until that time, the mayors’ group urges President Obama to stop spending money on actions that undermine the marijuana laws of states.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said it is working on policy pertaining to Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized adult recreational use of pot. Meanwhile, all forms of marijuana remain illegal under federal law.
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