While I generally agree with Geov's election endorsements (Throw the Bums Out!, this issue), this time around I disagree with him on four races.
The most important of these is the King County Sheriff's race. Being a woman, I understand how hard it can be to disagree with your male boss, particularly in a hierarchical, pseudo-military organization like a police department. Blaming incumbent Sue Rahr for the mistakes of her predecessor, Dave Reichert, just isn't fair. Instead, we should evaluate her on her performance in the past year since Reichert left.
Unfortunately, that evaluation has to include the abysmal settlement of the Dan Ring case. But Rahr's explanation that she allowed Ring to retire with full benefits and pension because she was afraid a federal mediator would reinstate him in his job isn't as bad as it initially sounds. Keep in mind what's going on at the federal level these days with the Bush administration in power: the promotion of completely unqualified people to top positions at the UN, FEMA, FDA, etc., whose main purpose is to dismantle the agencies they're supposed to be serving. In this light, Rahr's decision seems more practical: get rid of the guy in the quickest, surest way possible.
And let's look at her opposition for a moment: Jim Fuda and Greg Schmidt. Schmidt has no administrative experience, doesn't know the issues, and is taking credit for someone else's work in creating the Domestic Violence Unit for the Seattle Police Department--an item that he cynically added to his resume to counter his own prior arrest for domestic violence. Fuda has an equally ugly smear on his record: passing off a degree from a diploma mill as "life experience." (What experience is that, Jim? Clicking a button on your mouse?) If we wanted more dishonesty at the KCSO, we'd might as well rehire Dan Ring.
In addition, Fuda is running on an anti-terrorism ticket. C'mon, in unincorporated King County? Maybe that would fly in the City of Seattle or the Port of Seattle, but in Black Diamond or Enumclaw? If Fuda talked about meth labs, theft, alcoholism, and domestic violence with some authority, I'd vote for him. But only Sue Rahr has a handle on these issues.
The Seattle Monorail Board races are a mess. Clearly, who you vote for will depend on what you think the future direction of the Monorail should be. Should we cut our losses and stop the project now? Then vote for Beth Goldberg and Jim Nobles. Or should we give it a fighting chance?
Personally, I think it's too early to ditch the whole project. Monorail supporters have a point: they deserve a little time to explore options--at least as much time as the Sound Transit board was given. If you agree with this, your candidates to vote for are Cindi Laws and Dick Falkenbury.
Yes, Cindi can be dim, as when she made her execrable statement about downtown Jewish interests (which I view as a reflection of our society's general ignorance of race issues), but she's been one of the few board members to play an activist role on the board. To lose her now would be a shame. Dick Falkenbury is short on solutions, but his chief quality is that he speaks plainly and tells it like it is. There'll be no decisions behind closed doors with Falkenbury on the board. He has my vote.
It's great to see so many good candidates for Port of Seattle positions. Choosing the best candidate for Position 3 is particularly hard, with activist Chris Cain, two union-supported candidates (Rich Berkowitz and Peter Coates), and a former King County Auditor (Lloyd Hara) on the ballot. If you want to go for a labor candidate, Coates is supported by local Democratic Party bigwigs (Sims, Nickels, and others) and the better guy, Berkowitz, has the Longshoremen's union behind him, but also has the support of Alaska Airlines (hmm).
My vote is for Lloyd Hara. I have a lot of admiration for Chris Cain, don't get me wrong, but he has a problem running a credible campaign. He hasn't elucidated his position on key issues at the port and hasn't formulated a platform. He hasn't gotten his message--any message other than "I'm a Port critic"--out to voters. In short, he's been lazy, and I'm not inclined to reward that.
Hara, on the other hand, states forthrightly that he's in favor of replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with an aboveground replacement as soon as possible. He's against Southwest Airlines leaving SeaTac airport. He wants annual audits of the Port's finances. That's a platform, and one I can support.
Another lazy campaign is Dwight Pelz's run for City Council Position 8. It's clear that Pelz is completely unfamiliar with city issues and hasn't taken the time to do any research, talk to residents, or get informed. Unfortunately, he's the only real opposition to Richard McIver, who sides too often with downtown business interests. If there's any race in this election I'm inclined to skip out of sheer disgust, it's this one.
In the School Board race for District No. 7, Cheryl Chow is a non-starter. Alan Lloyd seems alright, but not well-informed. That leaves Theresa Cardamone and Linda Thompson-Black. It's a tough decision. Again, who you vote for in this race depends on what your priorities are for the School Board. If you want to promote fiscal responsibility, vote for Linda Thompson-Black, who has the skills to deal with the District's messed-up budget. While Theresa Cardamone lacks those skills, she's firmly in the reformist camp, and Thompson-Black apparently isn't. Cardamone gets my vote by a hair's breadth.
I'll end with a plea for more and better-informed candidates.
Next time around, we need progressive candidates who'll formulate
a platform and run aggressively against lifer, pro-business Democrats
like Ron Sims, Larry Gossett, Larry Phillips, and Dow Constantine.
Let's shake things up a little more!