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.