Democrats in Northeast Seattle came together Thursday for a nominating convention and candidate forum packed with 27 candidates. Increasing state revenue was the theme of the night.
SEATTLE — The doors of the Lake City Way Elks Lodge were plastered with campaign signs. As I walked in I was confronted by staffers from every campaign offering literature and stickers. There was even more, from at least 10 different candidates, waiting for me at my seat. The lodge, normally plain aside from the elk antlers at the front and back, was plastered with campaign signs.
Despite lackluster attendance at the local Democratic caucuses last Sunday, the 46th Legislative District Democrats sure didn’t disappoint on Thursday night.
This meeting was a chance for candidates for various state legislature positions to speak up, but candidates for Congress, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and a number of judicial positions showed up as well.
The evening’s festivities kicked off with rousing discussions of raising revenue and reforming Washington’s tax code.
Every candidate touched on reforming the tax system to be more equitable, as well as funding education and social welfare programs. In a rapid-fire session later on in the night, every candidate expressed their support for creating a state income tax.
“We need to stop the zero-sum game of cutting social services or education,” said Jessyn Farrell, a candidate for State Representative Position 2. “We need to come up with recommendations about the long-term strategy for raising revenue.”
Last year, the 46th LD was one of only five districts in the state that passed I-1098, which would have reformed the tax code by putting an income tax on high-income earners, reducing the limit on property taxes, and increasing the business and occupation (B&O) tax credit.
The moderator asked the candidates for more specifics about not only taxes, but spending: “What is your #1 idea for state level tax reform, and for spending reform?”
The first part was easy, as most candidates had talked about creating an income tax, others mentioned creating capital gains tax, getting rid of the sales tax exemption for out of state shoppers, and reforming the existing B&O tax.
“We need to have a better tax system so that when a recession hits, we’re not depending solely on a sales tax for revenue,” said Sylvester Cann, a candidate for State Representative in the district’s Position 1.
However, candidates didn’t have as many prepared answers for spending reform.
State Rep. Gerry Pollet, running for election in Position 1, said he would look at making government more efficient by making current paper systems digital. His opponent, Cann, agreed, saying that systems within Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services and Department of Corrections might both benefit from upgrading their current operations.
Dusty Hoerler, one of the four candidates for State Rep. Position 2, said he would have the state look at doing projects in-house, rather than sending projects out to private firms to save the state money. Sarajane Siegfriedt, another one of those four candidates, said she would work to get rid of non-violent drug sentences and stop building prisons.
The precinct committee officers of the 46th LD voted on their district’s nomination for the position. Though not an endorsement, it seemed an awful lot like one. If a candidate received more then 50+1% of the vote, they received the sole nomination.
The more contested race, State Representative Position 2, was Shelly Crocker 29, Hoerler 40, Farrell 74, and Siegfriedt winning the nomination with 224 — just over 60% of the vote, making her the nominee for this position.
Regardless, the candidates will continue to vie for endorsements and support through the coming months –including the 46th LD Democrats’ endorsements forum in late May.