WHAT'S YOUR FUTURE gonna look like, Seattle? The Pike Place Market or the Pacific Place Mall? This election offers voters the rare opportunity to fight

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The good, the pretty good, and the won't-hurt-ya

Our guide to the candidates and ballot measures in this year's election.

WHAT'S YOUR FUTURE gonna look like, Seattle? The Pike Place Market or the Pacific Place Mall? This election offers voters the rare opportunity to fight City Hall and win. Sick of paying for politicians' trophy projects? Want to protect neighborhoods and tenants? Tired of bashing the homeless? Want some nightlife? Then vote for our City Council slate!

Sure, if our candidates win, maybe Seattle will be a little messier and noisier—it will definitely be less generous with Aid to Dependent Corporations—but what we will gain in urban vitality, basic services, civil liberties, and compassion for the poor will more than make up for the grit. Seattle can usher in a new era simply by going to the polls. Don't blow it—opportunities like this don't come along too often.

Outside of City Hall, over at the Port and the School District, and in state government, we are reminding voters that the fundamental Hippocratic oath, "Do no harm," has a place in politics as well as medicine. While in some cases there's an exciting candidate, in other races you face the evils of two lessers, and sometimes voting defensively is the best you can do.

SEATTLE RACES

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POSITION 1

Judy, Judy, Judy! Renters have long been evicted from meaningful representation at City Hall. The cruel irony of this circumstance becomes especially pointed when you consider they make up a majority—52 percent—of Seattle's population. Whatever decent tenant protections existed at one time are gone since landlords have used their deep pockets to successfully sue the pants off the city. Apartment owners are no slouch at lobbying either. The resulting hammer lock is so tight that something as milquetoast as the right to a lease is now interpreted as rent control. Judy Nicastro to the rescue!

Nicastro proved smart, tough, and articulate as hell in her fight for renters' rights last year. She promises to convene a renters' summit if elected, the single best idea of this campaign. She has already laid out a plan for mild yet very useful tenants' reforms, including a mobile credit check and the right to a lease, which the limousine liberals on the council will be shamed into supporting. OK, so she's a little sketchy on other city issues. But so is her opponent Cheryl Chow, who has already served eight years on council. The best thing you can do this year to promote affordable housing is vote for Judy.

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POSITION 3

Peter Steinbrueck is essentially unopposed, even though there is a name opposite his on the ballot. If joined by Nicastro, Chong, Firestone, and Mason, he's gonna rock this town.

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POSITION 5

Curt Firestone ain't giving up, so don't you dare think of giving up on him. Sure, his primary showing sucked, but did the man fold up and hang his head? Hell, no. He kept clawing and scratching and fighting to find a toehold, a wedge issue, some way to remind voters that Margaret Pageler, his incumbent opponent, is one of the most ardent supporters of the downtown gravy train and the crackdown on the homeless.

Firestone has hit it dead on when it comes to social justice. He has used every opportunity—from a candidate op-ed in the P-I to his mailings to his speeches—to redefine the issue of civility. "Instead of punishing and saying no to people who are struggling to cope with life, we must say yes"—to building cheap housing, expanding social services, siting public bathrooms, and instituting police accountability. By stoking this public debate, Firestone does a fine public service by the very act of campaigning itself.

Cast a ballot for true civility: Vote for Firestone.

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POSITION 7

As a fire-breathing, plain-speaking populist who ain't afraid to call bullshit, Charlie Chong would change a whole bunch of things for the better just by walking in the door everyday at City Hall. Take growth management, for instance. Currently we are being told by our betters in the Chamber and in government that Seattle must save the Puget Sound region from sprawl by adding more and more people. Missing from this debate is a strong voice for protecting our neighborhoods and our quality of life. Chong brings that perspective to the table forcefully and will not allow it to be ignored.

Joining a City Council which already includes serious reformers Nick Licata and Peter Steinbrueck, Chong would immediately find allies. In fact, he makes them more effective, because everybody will be running to Nick and Peter saying, "Save us from the Chong! Stop him from saying all those terrible things about us!" Chong expands the terms of the debate and redefines the middle ground of the City Council.

Despite his penchant for one-liners and ding-y remarks, sit Charlie in a room, give the facts, and he will vote the right way. Playing against type, he performed an early solo in favor of the preservation of the Cedar River watershed, he stood up for hygiene services and shelter for the homeless, and he resisted efforts to hurt the city's youth culture.

Charlie is Good and Plenty.

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POSITION 9

This Mason is going to lay a fine foundation. We mean Dawn Mason, the former legislator who wants to be our political watchdog on public safety. The foundation of the relationship between the Seattle Police Department and its citizens has been seriously damaged in the last year. None of our politicians has shown the combination of tenacity, charm, guts, and brains to dig into the issue. We think Mason has it. As an African-American woman, she knows the community/police relationship chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Yet she is also canny enough to realize that reforms designed to make the police more accountable must be acceptable to the rank and file.

In her two terms as a state legislator, Mason showed good instincts for standing on principle until it was necessary to cut the best deal possible for her constituents. Nowhere was this more apparent than her 14 votes against the sports stadium madness, while she simultaneously secured ongoing participation by women- and minority-owned businesses in the construction and operation of the new Seahawks pleasure palace. It's a rare quality to be able to stand on principle and cut deals. We look forward to her performing similar magic at City Hall.

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 1

Barbara Schlag Peterson has been volunteering in the schools year in and year out for at least a dozen years. It's the unglamorous work that holds our school system together, and it has given her a strong knowledge base. She is not the firebrand we would like, but a former math teacher with an MBA who now works as a preschool business administrator, she is sharp enough to recognize that there are problems. She speaks about the need to get dollars closer to the classroom and suggests a rigorous school-by-school review of spending. If she presses these issues, her financial background could serve her well in decoding complex school budgets.

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 2

You've got to like a guy who gives up a law career to work in the schools. Former attorney Steve Brown appears to be following his heart in running a one-man business that works with students to put on wonderfully creative mock trials: a damage suit against Harriet Tubman, for instance. Also serving on school and citywide PTSAs, Brown has plunged into the world of schools with all the enthusiasm of a man freed from drudgery, but he has retained a critical eye. He calls attention to what has been an open secret: The district has a big problem in its middle schools, which is why those who can afford it often pull their kids out of the public system after elementary school. We'll keep him to his pledge to seek and monitor sweeping reforms.

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 3

Mary Jean Ryan is a respected city official (she's Seattle's director of economic development). We have a number of reservations about her on the school board, however. Potential conflicts of interest might arise in cases where city and school business overlap (such as the siting of the new school district headquarters ). In addition, we're not sold on the "education is economics" argument made by Ryan and business leaders. Education is education, not worker training. Schools need to have missions, goals, even standards, yes, but foremost among these ought to be helping to create happy human beings with the skills to pursue their own goals, whether they're job related or not. Schools ought not to be run like businesses or government departments. Nancy Waldman, the appointed incumbent, has been on the job a little over a year. A former teacher and trial attorney, she is now devoted full-time to education. She seems to have a greater understanding of the "community" schools create, as well as a ground-level view of what happens in the classroom from the perspective of parent, teacher, and student.

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 6

As president of a board we feel is too complacent, Barbara Schaad-Lamphere is not our ideal candidate. Unfortunately, we can't stomach the angry rhetoric of opponent Sharda Bowen, known to pound her fist on the table while insinuating financial corruption. Let it be a lesson to Schaad-Lamphere that there is a lot of frustration in the district. She would do well to listen to her opponent's most credible complaints: In sum, the administration needs to pay more attention to the basics, like weeding out bad principals and sweeping classrooms, and less on expensive projects like the proposed new administration center.

SEATTLE PROPOSITION ONE

Authorizes $72 million in bonds for Opera House and community centers

The Opera House is in need of a seismic upgrade and is used by a wide range of people year-round, from school groups to Nutcracker families to Bumbershooters. It ought to be improved and cared for as part of Seattle's cultural legacy.

Most importantly, however, is the $36 million of bond money that will be raised to build and improve neighborhood infrastructure throughout the city. Northgate, Sand Point, Belltown, Yesler, and the International District will get new community centers; Ballard and Lake City will get new civic centers, which help decentralize city services. Another four community centers will get needed renovations. Sure, the bond issue spreads some pork around, but trade-offs are inevitable in politics, and this city-building investment will help keep Seattle whole. It helps balance spending that has been downtown-centric. Vote YES.

SEATTLE PROPOSITIONS 2-15

These items are mostly housekeeping—updating the charter to use PC language, eliminating references to obsolete offices, and other tidying—that deserve a yes vote.

There are three propositions, however, which deserve a no: Proposition 10 would weaken the accountability of the chief of police, Proposition 14 would eliminate the important symbolic act of oaths of office for City Council aides, and Proposition 15 would weaken public disclosure requirements when the City Council is amending legislation.

KING COUNTY RACES

KING COUNTY ASSESSOR

First off, Scott Noble knows what he's doing. His opponent doesn't have a clue. Noble understands role of the assessor: to fairly value property. The assessor does not set rates of taxation; that is done by state and local legislative bodies. Noble has received high marks from state watchdogs and he has driven down the number of appeals from citizens. What more do you want?

There is more. He has waged gutsy campaigns on behalf of the State Constitution—something we wish more of our electeds would do. When the voters passed blatantly unconstitutional language in Referendum 47, Noble put together a bipartisan group of assessors, challenged the measure all the way to the Supreme Court, and won.

KING COUNTY COUCIL, DISTRICTS 4 & 8

After years of griping from newspapers like this one about King County Council members running unopposed, incumbents Larry Phillips and Greg Nickels have actual opponents this time around. Big deal.

Nickels, the veteran legislator from West Seattle, easily outdistances his token Republican challenger. A walking, talking advertisement for light rail, Nickels has fought to move the Sound Transit project forward, and the system will benefit greatly from his future participation.

Phillips has long been the County Council's point man on open space funding, wringing money to purchase and preserve undeveloped lands from every possible project. His knowledge of county government and skill at working the process provides a sharp contrast with his politically uninformed, albeit rich, Libertarian opponent.

KING COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENT NUMBER 1

Although touted as a move to give more power to the people, this charter amendment is really a mechanism that would allow the King County Council to make an end run around the King County Executive or avoid votes on controversial proposals. This proposal is obviously aimed at giving more power to politicians—not to King County citizens. If the council had accepted the advice of council member Brian Derdowski and had offered a companion proposal to ease the requirements for a citizen referendum, we might support the package. But this is just a cynical Republican power grab. Vote NO.

PORT OF SEATTLE RACES

PORT OF SEATTLE, POSITION 2

There's no doubt Laurie McDonald Jonsson is a comer, with the r鳵m鬠energy, connections, and personal wealth to swim in bigger ponds than the Seattle Port. She'd fit well into the hard-charging trade-promotion machine that the Port has become—too well, perhaps. That's one reason we'll opt for the less glamorous Bob Edwards (so unglamorous he's a Renton City Council member!) for the job. Edwards has as much experience in the nitty gritty of local government and regional planning as Jonsson does in international business and schmoozing. He has a better grasp of the environmental and community issues attending on the Port's operations—especially its airport. It's important to have a lightning rod from runway-shocked South King County, and someone with the potential to be an environmental watchdog, on the commission.

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSIONER, POSITION 5

Port commissioner appointee Clare Nordquist is an Eastside millionaire businessman who has been enthusiastically trotting the globe at taxpayer expense. In the last 16 months, at an average cost of $800 per travel day, he's spent nearly $50,000 of the port's money making "contacts" and attending official banquets. Apparently his schedule's so busy he couldn't be bothered to submit his resume, photo, or outline his positions in the state Voters' Pamphlet. Perhaps that's because he thinks he's "unopposed." He's not. Running against him is Chris Rayson, a Socialist Workers Party candidate, our pick. Yes, we know the Socialist Workers advocate a wacky agenda of global workers' revolution. But hey, the pro-WTO types are doing much the same thing, often in the name of Port business (theirs is a global corporate revolution). Rayson, a railroad switchman in the yard near Pier 91, is intimately familiar with local labor issues. He advocates living wages for exploited Port drivers and support for unionizing efforts of other workers. If elected, he'd be a true labor representative; not only that, he'd push to open up new markets by lobbying to lift trade embargoes against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. How's that for free trade?

STATE MEASURES

INITIATIVE 695

Initiative 695 is just plain dumb. Just last year, Washington voters passed Referendum 49, a measure that sinks the majority of the state's motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) revenues into fixing roads and bridges. I-695 would scrap this road building program, slash the state's revenues by 7.5 percent, and encourage more drivers onto our crumbling road system by offering license tabs at a cut-rate $30. The major beneficiaries of this switch to a flat fee would be the state's richest citizens; the major losers would be programs like public transit, the ferry system, and the state's small cities, all of whom now benefit from MVET revenues. The big hit is sure to be taken by public transit, a major beneficiary of MVET monies, yet a low priority for rural Republican legislators.

What's more, the initiative also mandates a costly and unwieldy system of putting every increase in taxes, fees, or other government charges to a public vote. If you're a radical tax-cutter and want to cause problems for government while enriching yourself, this is the ballot measure for you. If you care about fixing roads, supporting public transit, and maintaining an effective government, your obvious vote is NO.

INITIATIVE 696, BAN ALL NETS

Both proponents and opponents of the "Ban All Nets" oversimplify the current crisis for wild salmon and other fish stocks. The yeas, mostly sports-fishing interests, portray it as a problem of commercial overharvesting, which their initiative would solve at a stroke. The commercial fishers and their environmentalist allies argue that degraded habitat is the real cause, which I-696 wouldn't touch. The problem is both, along with hydro and hatchery pressures on wild runs. By wiping out what's left of the commercial fishery, I-696 would relieve some pressure on some stocks and perhaps encourage more sensible state regulation. But it would largely (and unfairly) reallocate the commercial share to sports and tribal fishers, while doing nothing to limit their take. And it would give development and hydropower interests, eager supporters of 696, ammunition to use against watershed protection and dam reforms. We might support a commercial and sports fishing moratorium, or more focused bans on the most indiscriminate fisheries—a smarter, fairer version of the old I-640. But this ain't it. Vote NO.

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 8206

Take money from Wall Street and give it to Main street. This measure would allow the state to guarantee school bonds, saving districts across the state money on bond insurance. Voting yes is a no-brainer.

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 8208

This is a measure that sounds riskier than it is. It would allow the state to invest a portion of its rainy day fund in the stock market. True, a deflation in this giddy market is bound to come. But the funds to be invested are part of a "restricted" account that requires a two-thirds vote by the legislature to be used. In other words, it ain't gonna happen any time soon. So the money is going to sit somewhere for the long term. Might as well be in the stock market. We already play the market with state pension and workers' compensation funds. Vote YES.

Want to take our picks into the voting booth? Check out our short sheet.

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