In this latest video from Seattle comedian Brett Hamil, we take a closer look at how the Seattle City Council District 3 race is starting to take shape:
The city council race for Capitol Hill and the Central District is heating up! We look at Kshama Sawant’s “grandstanding,” Mayor Murray’s “wily” political maneuvering and Pamela Banks’s speed-dial approach to problem solving.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the following commentary are solely those of the author and do not constitute an endorsement of any particular candidate or public policy by The Emerald.
By Sandra Vanderven
Deepthroat, the high level white house official who served as an informant to the journalists who uncovered Watergate, famously said, “Follow the money.” It was true then, it is true now, and it will be true for years to come. So stay with me while I tell you what I see in the candidates and the donors who love them.
When Adam Klein announced he wouldn’t be running again to represent the 37th in the WA state senate, there was a lot of anxiety among residents and political insiders. Who would step up? Who could do this shitty, thankless job? Who would even want to? Senator Klein was about to leave some big shoes in Olympia. People talked amongst themselves. They started cutting up straws so someone could pull the short one. Then Pramila Jayapal announced she would be running, and there was a collective sigh of relief, “Oh good, this is handled!” Pramila has founded and headed impactful organizations like Hate Free Zone and One America. Her life has been dedicated for decades to making things better for others.
In this case, following her donations gives us a picture of broad based support. Individuals, organizations, businesses all over the map are maxing out their donations to her, giving as much as the law allows. At this point, she has $260,000, roughly quadruple the kitty of her opponent. So money isn’t inherently bad, especially when it comes from diverse sources and funds a good candidate. SEIU, Nick Hanauer and Mayor Murray don’t write checks for just anyone. These guys look for someone who can figure out how to operate in Olympia, and how to win in their district. She has smart, connected fans, and she will win. Be on the right side of history, and vote for her.
Louis Watanabe seems like a well-meaning guy. People who care about their fellow humans often think that the way we behave is due to a lack of information. The theory goes, if only we knew what he knows, we would have the same values he does, and we would act on them by voting for him. So his campaign seeks to educate us on Juneteenth, on internment, on Abraham Lincoln, and what the name Redskins refers to. All very important. What he unfortunately leaves out is a sense of how he’ll make a difference on our behalf. Lots of his donors live in California, many of them with the last name Watanabe. There doesn’t seem to be much organizational buy-in to his campaign, and judging from his website, no good advice coming from anywhere.
State House Position 1
Sharon Tomiko Santos: She is great on education, and doesn’t appear to slobber over Boeing as much as some of her colleagues, so she is probably on balance good for our state. But wait, what is this all about? Tons of donations from tribes… I hope they are not trying to put more entertainment at the end of that two lane highway that goes to the White River Amphitheater. Have you ever tried going to something there? What a mess. I will never do that again. I also see donations from airport concessionaires. You will recall that Seatac Airport is ground zero for the $15 minimum wage fight. I am curious about why she is getting all kinds of money from folks who are still looking for ways not to pay their employees a living wage. Other strange bedfellows: Pharma, timber, BNSF, insurance, alcohol distributors…I guess if I were running I’d take the money too, and laugh all the way to election day. Let’s hope that is what is going on, because her opponent, well, she doesn’t really have an opponent.
Daniel Bretzke has raised a cool grand for this election. Actually, I am rounding down, which isn’t fair. He has raised $ 1,239.88. Don’t you think it is crass to bring it down to money? And yet, a story is being told here. This guy isn’t going to win. Last red flag I’ll bother to mention is that he was endorsed by the Seattle Times. I have an idea! If you ever decide to run for something, just put an R next to your name. Ka-ching! Times endorsement received. An aside: What is that newspaper doing in Seattle?
State House Position 2
Eric Pettigrew: Oh shit–donations from education reformers. Has he drunk the Kool-Aid? People! If you don’t know by now that education reform is code for privatization, I just told you! Now you know! Eric Pettigrew should read this. Unfortunately he’s working across the aisle on the union-busting, education killing bullshit we call charter schools. For 100 years, our country has upheld our values by providing free, public education. Over the last several decades, conservatives have applied leeches to our schools’ budgets. After so much bloodletting education is dizzy and can barely stand, those same folks scream education isn’t working, and it needs to be “reformed.” Of course their solution is to start down the road of privatization; e.g., charter schools, to fix what wouldn’t have been broken in the first place if only it was properly funded. If we wake up one day with our public schools replaced by a private school system, I will blame Eric Pettigrew and all the rest of the gullible suckers who think charter schools are going to solve a problem created by chronic underfunding.
Eric Pettigrew has an opponent who isn’t going to win, and we wouldn’t want that anyways. Her name is Tamra Smilanich and she sounds like a tool.
I’m delighted that we are about to be represented by someone operating at the caliber of Pramila Jayapal, but the rest of the stable do not represent the people of the 37th. There’s only one thing to do about that. You lovelies have to start preparing to run for office. I’m not talking about posting some half assed website and running a losing campaign. It looks like some other folks already have a corner on that around here. I am talking about really finding out what it would take to run and win. There are resources for that, including Wellstone Action, which provides candidate trainings in Seattle once a year, and Progressive Majority, which exists to get people ready to run for office. There is no reason in hell we should be stuck with these folks. As the kids used to say, bust a move!
But wait, there’s more! Here are some of our juicy initiatives:
1351: Smaller class sizes are a good thing, and our kids need it. The Washington State legislature could go to the pokey for refusing to give our kids the education they need and deserve. True story. Voting yes on this will add more pressure which these assholes obviously need. Vote yes.
591: Don’t vote for this unless you think mentally ill people and spouse abusers should have it enshrined in law that they can buy guns too. Vote no.
594: There is a wide range of opinion about gun ownership, but the vast majority of us, including NRA members, believe that people who are mentally unstable and people who beat their spouses shouldn’t have ready access to guns. This initiative would seek to close loopholes so everyone trying to buy a gun in our state has to have their background checked. We should place a reasonable limit on who gets to have a gun. Vote yes if you think murder is bad.
Prop 1: Shall we, the owners and drivers of carbon spewing cars, spend $60 per year ($40 if you qualify for a rebate) plus a sliver more sales tax to protect bus service in Seattle? I like the bus and often intend to take it. I look at the schedule, figure out when I need to leave to catch the next one, take too long applying mascara, and end up driving. In this way I end up parking downtown at $20 a pop just to meet a friend for happy hour or see my shrink. For you mathematicians, I do this way more than 3 times a year. We drivers pay thousands per year for the car, gas, insurance, parking and maintenance. I spend almost $60 every time I fill up my tank. Please pony up to preserve service for people who have jobs and need to use buses to get to them. Pay $60 in an entire fucking year so that little old ladies can visit their grandchildren. Pay $60 to keep the buses running so I don’t drive to happy hour and accidentally drive through your yard on my way home. Vote yes.
Early Childhood Education 1A vs 1B:
First say yes to early education. No-brainer. Kids need it. Boom. Done.
The choices are 1A vs. 1B. Sweetjesusinheaven.
1A, invented by the organizations representing the people who are already doing this work; i.e., the real experts, stabilizes the workforce by ensuring wage parity with burger flippers (not that there is anything wrong with flipping burgers), and provides for continuing education as needed. This is good because next year at this time, 38% of childcare workers (mostly women, mostly mothers, mostly of color—so in other words the most poorly treated people in this country) will have quit their jobs and moved on to something else. We desperately need more stability in this field, which 1A would achieve. This will benefit all of the kids in pre-k.
1B is a pilot program which will eventually provide more access to childcare, but it is also more Kool-Aid. Early education is crucial for positive outcomes to kids, which is why we should not leave the planning in the hands of Tim “his eyes were silently begging me to help him” Burgess and a bunch of consultants. What about love, patience, creativity, and cultural relevance? According to Burgess, the hell with all that. 1B was forcefully kept separate from 1A so he doesn’t have to negotiate with unions. These ballot measures should never have been pitted against one another. They should both win. Do what the Progressive Voters Guide suggests and vote for both to send a message that we do not appreciate the shenanigans.
Whatever you do, please do vote on or before November 4th. People who do not have your best interests in mind have their hearts set on you becoming demoralized and no longer participating in democracy. If you don’t vote, they win.
Sandra Vanderven is a Community Organizer and Board President of the Backbone Campaign.
Pramila Jayapal and Louis Watanabe will face off against each other for the 37th District’s state senate seat in November’s general election.
After a highly contested primary race that featured six candidates vying to replace the retiring Adam Kline, Jayapal and Watanabe emerged as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday night’s primary election.
With a low voter turnout indicative of most non-presidential year primary elections – Jayapal received 51.25 percent of the vote, to Watanabe’s 17.2 percent.
While Jayapal’s finish within the top two came as no surprise- the human rights activists was deemed the front runner almost as soon as she announced her intention to run – Watanabe – an entrepreneur and business professor from Beacon Hill- had to endure an uphill climb to place second in the race, fending off four other challengers (3 Democrats and 1 Republican) for the position.
The candidate frequently attended crime prevention themed walks in the South Seattle area, and was spotted at several Night Out events leading up to tonight’s results.
“I’m grateful to all the voters in the 37th District who voted for me, and I hope to make them proud come election day.”Watanabe stated.
With unemployment, economic development, and public safety being paramount in the minds of South Seattle voters, and the 37th District housing almost the entire area, Jayapal and Watanabe are sure to engage in a competitive race right up until election day on November 4th.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series of interviews with the candidates- 5 Democrats and 1 Republican- who are vying to replace retiring State Senator Adam Kline in the 37th District. The top two candidates chosen in the primary election- held on August 5th- will continue on to the general- which takes place on November 4th. The winner of which will represent the 37th District in the Washington State Senate. The 37th currently comprises almost the entire South Seattle area.
It’s enticingly easy to dismiss Rowland Martin’s candidacy to represent the 37th District as its State Senator. As the only Republican running in the deeply blue district – that has yet to come marginally close to sending anyone other than a Democrat to Olympia in the past 20 years- to say that the odds were heavily stacked against him would be an understatement’s understatement.
However, unlike the majority of his predecessors who have attempted to wage a legitimate battle in the traditionally progressive stronghold, Martin is equipped with the belief that he can win. When taking into account that over 20 percent of the district self-identifies as conservative, the low voter turnout inherent in non-presidential year elections, and a throwback brand of republicanism that excuses itself from divisive social issues, while attending to economic growth and civil liberties – that belief may just prove warranted.
Emerald: Historically the 37th District has overwhelming supported Democrats at almost every level of government. Why did you decide to run as a Republican for State Senator? Many people, for lack of a better term, perceive any Republican candidacy in this race as a “fool’s errand.”
Rowland Martin: I think that there are a number of people who by their nature are more conservative. I think that we have an incredibly diverse community, politically as well as ethically. I was recently talking with a vietnamese man in the area – who was literally a boat person- and he asked me what party I was affiliated with and I said, “I’m a Republican.” He said, “Good! Otherwise I would’ve been really upset.” (laughter)
I talked to another man in Bryn Mawr last week. I came into his living room, and we spoke for a long time and he agreed with me on most of my points. I think that at the root there’s a lot of people who are conservative, and I just don’t think they’ve had anyone who can articulate a rational, conservative message in this district. I think that some headway can be made here. Maybe people look at me as the guy just trying to get the message out, but you have to start somewhere. I’m here to give people that alternative, let these so called progressives know, that not everyone is completely satisfied to the point of a no opposition district, and that message needs to be heard loudly.
Emerald: A lack of good, quality jobs is a huge concern amongst South Seattle residents, as its unemployment rate is higher than in any other portion of the city. If you were elected state senator how would you address that concern?
Martin: I would do my best to get rid of what I think are barriers to getting businesses started, along with barriers to young people entering professions, and what I think is a broken education system that doesn’t give them many initial opportunities. So, what specifically am I talking about?
I’m talking about a state that rejects new businesses, that agonizes over whether they’re going to allow coal or oil that’s brought here from a train, and is opposed to even shipping these things,. Right now the Panama Canal is being expanded, ships are already built, they’re going to be able to fit through this larger canal, and we already know that the amount of shipping traffic coming into Puget Sound is going to drop -because if you can ship it directly via boat to the large population centers along the East Coast or Europe, you’re not going to bring it into Seattle or Tacoma, and put it on a train and ship it across the country.
We just keep saying no, even to little neighborhood projects. There’s some little neighborhood project up by the Home Depot, where Sick’s Stadium used to be. For some reason, there seems to be controversy about building it. I look around at the businesses in that area, and a lot of it is in really old buildings – that frankly needs to be rejuvenated or torn down. We can’t keep making it hard to do that, by making permitting difficult, by agonizing over whether you’re going to change the character of a neighborhood, or going to tear down some building that is way out of date.
The other thing is, we are subsidizing really ineffective technologies with this green energy focus. Windmills, are not high tech. There’s some technology that obviously goes into the blades, but putting a generator on a pole to generate electricity, there’s a bunch of things wrong with it. Foremost being, your subsidizing tax dollars to pay for it and the ratio of energy produced to tax dollar subsidy is really bad, with wind energy.
You’re taking people’s money out of their pocket, to say: “We’re going to subsidize a few little jobs to do these technologies that aren’t efficient.” There’s a technology this state used to believe in, nuclear power, we need to start doing that again. I do believe that we should start subsidizing our energy production and distribution, because that’s the kind of thing that’s going to bring industry in and create jobs.
Emerald: This area has not sent a Republican to the State Senate in quite some time, and is associated with being a progressive area. That being the case, why should someone in the 37th, who traditionally votes left of center chose you to represent them?
Martin: I’d ask that person, how many decades have you voted for a Democrat? And then I’d ask, what’s their bottom line for their families and themselves? Democrats are telling you all these nice, wonderful things, but has any of it really been delivered to you? What’s your bottom line? Why are you continuing to listen to the same party? The same group for decades has been saying, “Oh! We’re going to solve all these problems,” and they’re not solving them.
What have they shown you? Why do you keep voting for the same thing? Why do you keep identifying with them? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If you look at a chart of wealth disparity since 1947, it’s been the same straight line up to more disparity. It’s not been solid Republicans since 1947, and it doesn’t go dropping down when there’s a Democrat in charge of things. It’s the same trend, and they aren’t solving the issue.
You have to let people have more of their money. You have to have less crony capitalism, and you have to get the government out of the way. You also have to expect that people are going to have to make their own opportunities, and we’ve gotten away from that. Again I’d ask them what’s their bottom line? Are you really getting anything out of it, or is it just enough to barely get a place to live and have a television?
Emerald: Education is another prominent concern of area residents. Many people have been very vocal about the inadequacies of some South Seattle area schools. At the college level, you have many complaints about higher education becoming more and more cost prohibitive. How would you address this at the state level?
Martin: I’m going to say that I think it’s so bad that we’re going to have to start trying much more radical solutions. When I say radical, let’s go over the facts. Young men are faring worse now. Hooray for women getting the opportunities to go into careers. That is great, absolutely! But, you look around the world and where you have serious social problems is where you have young man who are not educated, not brought into the civic society, and don’t have opportunities. It’s going to be a really bad problem in our own area unless something really radical is done, so what is that?
I think that we’ve come this kind of credentialistic society – we focus a little too heavy on do you have a college degree or not? Frankly, a lot of degrees aren’t necessary. The figure is 45% of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed, many are working a job that they don’t need a degree for.
You have too many young people thinking that they have to go on this college track, and then they get into college and maybe they get a liberal arts degree- something that’s in high demand, and then they think, “Well maybe I have to get my master’s degree.” So that’s more time, and more debt, and they become stuck in this escalating battle, thinking that they have to get all this stuff before they’re worthy of getting a job, and I say no! This credential escalation has to end.
At the pre-college level, we used to take students who came out of High School and let them teach the younger students. They would look and they would say who’s the smartest kid who just came from our school, and they would put them to work as the teacher for the lower grades. They would eventually get better and better they’d move up. I think this allows students to relate better to their teachers as they’d be closer in age. You listen to your peers a little more.
I’m also supportive of a voucher system, as I think parents should be given some choice and variation of education. It would be much more cost effective than what people think. We currently spend $12,000 on each child, so for 20 kids that’s over a quarter of a million dollars. The max teacher salary is about 65,000- add in benefits and you’re at 100k, I think that you could find a teacher pretty easily for your voucher school at that kind of pay rate, and I don’t think it’s going to cost another $150,000 to find a class room to rent.
Emerald: As you’ve been branded the extreme underdog in the 37th District Senate race, you haven’t garnered the same level of media attention as many or your counterparts. What do you hope, besides being the only Republican in the race, that people identify you with?
Martin: I’d share that I’m not afraid of challenging the orthodoxy of opinion. I’ll state things as truthfully, and as accurately as I can see. I’m willing to compromise, but on the other hand I think that some better solutions than just more of the same are necessary. I think that people need to understand that I will articulate some new ideas and I think that I’ll be able to explain how those kinds of ideas will give them a better bottom line, which will lead to more individual liberty, and more choices in their lives. I’m practical, I’m pretty well read in American history. I know what kind of country we’ve been- in terms of growth and opportunity, and building wealth for every body who wants to put the time in.
Emerald:There’s been a lot of conversation, of late, in regards to our state’s tax structure. As many with lower incomes pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than a more affluent person, such as Bill Gates, does. What would you do to fix that discrepancy?
Martin: I think I would say to people who think that, “Okay, my burden is relatively higher than someone else’s burden,” I would say to them, “You know, this mutual navel gazing about how much this person has, and how much that person has, was caused by having an income tax. So, we’re now all so focused on, is this person better off, is this group better off? We’ve gotta get out of that mode.
I’d also say that if you want to be a citizen, you should want to pay some, even if it’s not a large share. You should want to say that, “I paid some, and I’m participating as a citizen. The whole government service equation isn’t just flowing to me, but that some of my work does contribute to what should be, a minimal government.”
In terms of income disparity, it’s grown since we’ve implemented the income tax, it hasn’t shrunk, it’s gotten worse. The income tax resulted in a separate society, into people who are very wealthy and people who aren’t, and we’re starting to lose our middle class. The people who you hurt the most are the ones that are striving to get from the lower side of that equation to the higher side, and the thing is the very wealthy will always be able to use political power more effectively than the lower income people, the thing about the income tax is that it tends to wipe out the people who are trying to make that transition. You’re never able to get quite enough saved up to move into a place that you can focus on politics or public service. I would tell people that see that that this whole problem has been caused by the solution we put in place, that gets us all so focused on envy, and makes it hard to get to where we want to be.
Emerald: If elected, what would you want someone to be able to say about you at the end of your term?
Martin: That he at least did his best job to tell them the truth about what was going on, and that the information that he presented back to them was accurate and easy to understand, so that they’d know where the money was coming in and where it was going out.
Emerald: We’ll end with a softball. South Seattle is obviously known for its diversity, which extends to its restaurants. What is your favorite place to eat in South Seattle and why?
Martin: I absolutely love Maya’s in Rainier Beach. The food there is amazing. Whenever I want to take my wife out for a night, that’s the place I go to!
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