We usually open our endorsements with a pep talk! About the importance of voting! The power of voting! The glories of democracy!
But! Fuck! That!
Voting is still important and it's still glorious, of course, and the Stranger Election Control Board (SECB) remains its usual peppy, foul-mouthed, pot-addled self. It's just that we don't have to talk you into voting. Not this year. Not these midterms.
Maybe it's the weight of living in a country where kids sit in cages, tax breaks are handed out to billionaires, and our constitutional right to abortion is probably toast. Maybe it's the listening to pundits obsess over "civility" while Nazis and white supremacists win GOP nomination contests across the country. Maybe, closer to home, it's watching Democrats use their newfound majority in the state legislature to hide their records from public view when they aren't placating anti-transit drivers or doing jack shit to address a tax structure that burdens the state's poorest citizens. Or maybe it's the giant orange turd—Orange Julius Caesar, Cadet Bone Spurs, Hair Führer—in the Oval Office.
Whatever it is, we get the sense that you motherfuckers can't wait to vote.
We could be misreading your mood, of course, or the SECB might need a snack after spending 36 hours locked in a conference room debating which Democratic candidate those middle-of-nowhere motherfuckers who kept sending Dave Reichert to Congress—excuse us, the good people of Washington's 8th Congressional District who kept sending Dave Reichert to Congress—might actually vote for. (Hey, 8th Congressional District voters? Maybe vote in your own economic self-interest? Just this once? Pretty please? To save our democracy?)
But we don't think we're misreading the mood or suffering from low blood sugar. Nope, it's clear that Democrats, liberals, and progressives can't wait to vote. We've been voting in special and primary elections at record numbers all over the country, and Republicans are looking at Dem/lib/prog turnout and quietly shitting themselves. So even though Adolf Twittler himself isn't on the ballot, voting in Washington State's primary election will send a message: The blue wave is coming, you child-snatching motherfuckers.
Don't want to read our endorsements? Skip 'em. Just consult our cheat sheet and vote for the candidates we endorsed. If you want to know why you'll be voting for the people we've endorsed—and you will be voting for the people we've endorsed—go ahead and keep reading.
The SECB is Christopher Frizzelle, Heidi Groover, Katie Herzog, Tim Keck, Charles Mudede, Eli Sanders, Dan Savage, Rich Smith, and Saul Spady. The Stranger does not endorse in uncontested races or races we forgot. We also don't endorse in races with just two candidates on the primary ballot, because we have a top-two primary system and both candidates in races with just two candidates will go on to the general election in November.
United States Senator
Is Senator Maria Cantwell in the pocket of Big Pharma? No. She's in the pocket of a bunch of lawyers, Microsoft, Amazon, conservationists, and Boeing. But our health-care system is fucked and drug prices are sky-high, and yet she won't openly embrace Medicare for All for some reason, and we're pretty miffed about that.
But she's not former fucking Washington State GOP chairman (emphasis hers) Susan Hutchison. Nor is she the Patriot Prayer guy, Joey Gibson. So you're gonna vote for Cantwell.
Cantwell was cruising to victory this year until—at the very last minute—Republicans pushed clueless ol' Susan Hutchison into the race. Turns out Washington Republicans didn't want an alt-lite gun nut representing their party at the top of the ticket in our blue-and-getting-bluer state. Having Hutchison in the race also forces Cantwell to spend money from her considerable war chest on her campaign. If Cantwell wasn't running against Hutchison, she would have funneled most of that money to tighter Senate races elsewhere. But now she's got to spend some money beating back the woman who slammed Ted Cruz for not leaking pre-come whenever Donald Trump's name was mentioned (Hutchison famously slammed Cruz for not loving Trump the way a Republican should) and the guy who hosts protests with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder (Gibson).
And anyway, it's not so bad voting for Cantwell. She's good on net neutrality, immigration, and the opioid crisis. Plus, she kept Mark Zuckerberg on his toes during that embarrassing privacy hearing. Vote Cantwell.
United States Representative
Congressional District No. 1
Suzan DelBene has done enough good to earn our endorsement. Immediately after Trump's election, she introduced a bill that would ban the creation of any kind of registry based on religion, something Trump had floated to his braying fans on the campaign trail. While DelBene's bill was more symbolic than serious (and died in committee), the SECB appreciates deft political symbolism every once in a while. Plus, fuck Trump.
A former Microsoft exec (hey, at least it's not Amazon), DelBene is one of those "job creation" Democrats. She's socially liberal but cares about a balanced budget, and she's been endorsed by Patty Murray, a bunch of unions, some (anti) gun violence groups, the National Organization for Women, and the Sierra Club. If she's good enough for them, she's good enough for us... at least in this race, where she's running against a small handful of nobodies and loonies, and—forgive the redundancy—Washington State Republicans. Vote DelBene.
United States Representative
Congressional District No. 8
The stakes in this race couldn't be higher: Democrats need to flip Washington's 8th Congressional District from red to blue to retake the US House in November. Wanna see Trump and his goons held accountable for their crimes? Wanna see Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller perp-walked out of the White House? Wanna finally find out what's in Trump's tax returns? Then we gotta put Democrats in charge of the House—and this little congressional race might make the difference between two more years of unrestrained Trumpism and two years of a Democratic Congress with subpoena power.
When seven-term congressman Dave Reichert announced he'd be retiring at the end of the year, Washington Democrats jumped for joy. Reichert's retirement meant they wouldn't be running against a particularly resilient incumbent, which meant they might have an easier time flipping this historically red district. Then former state senator and three-time loser Dino Rossi jumped in. The commercial Realtor from Sammamish has lost three statewide races—two against Christine Gregoire for governor and one against Patty Murray for US senator—so he's a joke, right? Wrong. Though he ultimately lost all of those races, in the 8th District he beat Gregoire and Murray handily. He's so beloved in the district, and so well-connected financially, that he may as well be a fucking incumbent.
After Rossi jumped in, the only question that mattered in this race became apparent: Which one of the three first-time Democratic candidates in the race can beat Rossi in a deeply purple district that has never sent a Democrat to Congress in its entire 38-year history? The pediatrician from Sammamish? The public health doctor from Auburn? The former deputy King County prosecutor from Ellensburg?
We wanted to endorse the public health doctor—Shannon Hader—so hard. She's the only Democrat running who has significant government experience. But she whiffed our endorsement interview and not one of her 17-point solutions could fit on a hat.
We also wanted to endorse the pediatrician—Kim Schrier—but the one fucking independent poll in this race showed that the better people in the 8th District got to know Schrier, the less they liked her. What's not to like? Well, Schrier is a #resistance/Indivisible type running in a district where 54 percent of voters think Reichert is doing an "excellent/good" job. While her political origin story would resonate with voters in, say, Wallingford or Ravenna, it doesn't play as well in Chelan and Ellensburg. And 8th District voters who are flirting with the idea of voting Democratic for the first time in their lives are unlikely to see themselves in Schrier and pick her over Rossi.
Thanks in part to big endorsements from EMILY's List and labor, Schrier has the best chance of winning the primary. However, according to the poll, she doesn't have the best shot against Rossi. In fact, she's the only one who loses to Rossi in a head-to-head matchup, and that scares the shit out of us.
According to that poll—that one fucking poll, the only poll we've got, a poll with a significant margin of error—the former deputy King County prosecutor from Ellensburg, Jason Rittereiser, has the best chance of shoring up the Democratic base while also attracting the votes of independent women, which is exactly what the Democratic candidate needs to do in order to win against Rossi. That poll—that one fucking poll—shows Rittereiser beating Rossi handily. It also shows that the more voters get to know Rittereiser, the more they like him. And that's why we're endorsing Rittereiser.
Another mark in Rittereiser's favor: He's the only candidate from the east side of the mountains. Dems have never run a candidate from the east side for this seat, and they've struggled to pick up votes in that region every single time. Rittereiser seems like he can connect with voters out there better than the other candidates can. The results of that one fucking poll—a poll conducted by the House Majority PAC—support that conclusion.
Rittereiser also promised to pull some tricky political shit in order to pull Rossi out of the hole he'll be hiding in until November. We asked the candidates how they would force Rossi to defend his record, his love of Trump (say the words "President Trump" and watch the pre-come run down Rossi's legs and pool at his feet), and his anti-choice position. Schrier basically said she'd tweet at Rossi, count on independent expenditure groups to run "nasty" ads against him, and use the press to smoke him out. (The SECB has been walking around the district exhaling clouds of smoke for months, and it hasn't smoked Rossi out yet.) Hader said something about inviting Rossi to "neutral" territory such as universities, which woke us up from our nap, but then she said something like "stakeholder mobilization," which instantly put us back to sleep. But Rittereiser said he'd show up anywhere Dino went and force him to debate.
We believe Rittereiser can do it. During the campaign, Rittereiser executed a crafty political move that upped his name recognition while also doing good. Late in the race, he convinced his Seattle-based law firm, HKM Employment Attorneys, to offer pro-bono legal advice to federal agents who want to conscientiously object to the Trump administration's policy. The move drew Rachel Maddow's attention. After appearing on her show, Rittereiser says his firm was contacted by 30 different federal agents looking for legal advice. That's the kind of quick-thinking, ass-kicking, out-of-the-box politicking it's going to take to defeat Dino Rossi. Vote Rittereiser.
United States Representative
Congressional District No. 9
Sarah Smith is all for Medicare for All, abolishing ICE, a federal jobs guarantee, immediately retracting the Authorization for Use of Military Force from Trump's fascistic fingers, and reducing military spending across the board.
Sarah Smith is young, she's ambitious, and she's worked regular-ass jobs helping regular-ass people dig themselves out of the muck of the housing crisis. And if she can beat 11-term incumbent Adam Smith, Sarah Smith would join New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and any other member of the Brand New Congress (a movement to bring "ordinary working people" to DC) who makes it through the general election to form an uncompromising bloc of progressives who want to get shit done in Congress—or at least be loud about the shit they want to get done.
Don't get us wrong: Adam Smith is expected to survive Sarah Smith's challenge—just like Representative Joe Crowley was expected to survive Ocasio-Cortez's challenge. And Adam Smith also supports Medicare for All, along with state-level single-payer efforts. Adam Smith has promoted women and people of color in his staff and projects the kind of no-bullshit attitude that appeals to the SECB. (Adam Smith uses swears! In his fucking endorsement interviews! Swoon!) He's even cosponsoring a bill with Representative Pramila Jayapal that would "basically" dismantle ICE.
But Adam Smith is also a war hawk. A ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, he voted to give Donald Trump's Pentagon $700 billion this year—the largest defense spending increase in 15 years—in exchange for a few concessions for the 9th District from Republicans. In the endorsement meeting, Smith said $700 billion was "$100 billion higher than it needs to be." We think it's a fuck of a lot higher than it needs to be. In 2003, at the height of the Iraq invasion, the Pentagon's budget was $437 billion. Year after year after year, the Pentagon asks for more money due to a so-called "readiness crisis." And year after year after year, Smith votes to give it to them, despite the fact that the Pentagon can't pass an audit. The SECB has endorsed Smith all the while, and we're tired of it.
Are we predicting a West Coast Ocasio-Cortez situation? No. Unlike Representative Crowley, Adam Smith actually lives in the district and sends his kids to school in the district. But despite all that, Sarah Smith says she consistently has to correct people in that district about who their representative is. Many of the fine people of the 9th District, which was redrawn in 2012 to encompass Tacoma, South Seattle, and Bellevue, think Jayapal represents them on account of her frequent television appearances. Smith has not been as willing to take public televised stands, and—rip our fingers off for typing this—that's a strategic failure in this political moment.
Also, at this point, Sarah Smith doesn't seem to be running the kind of campaign Ocasio-Cortez is running. She doesn't have a cool advertisement produced by a post-capitalist entertainment co-op, and she isn't knocking on doors that haven't been knocked on before. But she does want to turn some of that military money into health-care money, infrastructure money, and education money. We can get behind that. Vote (Sarah) Smith.
Legislative District No. 30
For some fucking reason, people seem to like Mark Miloscia, the Republican who currently holds this state senate seat. Miloscia lost a bid for state auditor in 2016, but won his last three elections to the state legislature in this district by 56 percent or more. Miloscia occasionally does a good thing, like helping lead the failed effort to repeal the death penalty in Washington State. But make no mistake: He's dangerous. Miloscia, a former Democrat who became a Republican in 2014, is a "family values" anti-abortion conservative dipshit. He has voted for anti-trans "bathroom" legislation and he's against a ban on conversion therapy. He's on an ongoing crusade to bar cities like Seattle from sanctioning homeless encampments and opening safe injection sites that can save the lives of drug users. This guy has got to go. Miloscia faces two well-intentioned Democratic challengers, but only Claire Wilson has the momentum necessary to maybe/possibly/hopefully beat Miloscia in a district where, again, this corn-kernel-spiked piece of shit is popular for some fucking reason. Miloscia has already raised more than $130,000 for his reelection effort. Wilson is a lesbian educator with a long list of union endorsements. She supports abortion access and doesn't think gay people need to be cured. This one is easy. Vote (and donate and phone-bank and door-knock) Wilson.
Legislative District No. 32
Fuck Maralyn Chase. Fuck her for calling the SECB "rude" during her endorsement interview.
Now normally, insulting the SECB doesn't cost you points. We love getting slapped around. But Chase called us rude for all the wrong reasons. It went down like this: When we asked the two-term Democratic incumbent why she supported a bill that removed the legislature from the Public Records Act, she said it was because we "weren't going to find anything" in her e-mails. When we said we wanted to look through Representative Matt Manweller's e-mails to look for conversations about alleged instances of sexual harassment, she accused us of meddling in his "marital affairs." Then we brought up what she's best known for: nothing. Doing nothing. Nothing except for proposing big bills "to raise awareness," and then looking aghast when they fail because she didn't line up supporters. She most recently pulled this shit with a single-payer bill. Instead of joining on with Senator David Frockt's better single-payer bill, Chase copied California's failed version of the bill and then went straight to the Seattle Times with the news that she wanted to bring single-payer to Washington State. And when we called her out for doing that, Chase called us "rude" and said we were presenting "counterfactual" information. We begged her to correct us, but then she proceeded to tell us she didn't work to organize a coalition behind the bill, and that, in fact, the only reason she proposed the single-payer bill was to "get it in the headlines" so she can start "changing hearts and minds."
That's an okay strategy when you're new and your party doesn't have a majority. But Chase has seniority, her party has a majority, and she's done nothing with either. She sits on the transportation committee, but during our meeting, she railed against Sound Transit 3, saying it doesn't get enough cars off the road now. So fucking stupid. Chase chairs the Economic Development & International Trade Committee, and this year, she's only really introduced two separate bills that would essentially establish two separate task forces to study job losses in the manufacturing sector. LOL. She also sits on the rules committee, which picks and schedules the bills that see action on the floor, which means she can use her influence to pick and schedule the most boring task-forcey bullshit bills or all the "just raising awareness" bills the legislature can devise. Wanna know why the Democrats aren't getting as much done as they could be getting done? Chase is (one of) the reasons.
Her challenger, Jesse Salomon, is a public defender and a Shoreline City Council member. And guess what? He fucking sucks, too. We can't even pretend he was any good. He said Chase "talked good" on Democratic values in a non-ironic way, and he said he learned about "diversity" as a child when his parents moved to India. We're pretty sure the whole reason he's running is to get back at Chase for being rude to him once. He did say he personally supported an income tax and then weaseled out of doing anything about it if he somehow gets elected. But he backs Frockt's single-payer bill, which is the right answer, and he said he'd support pot cafes.
Though Chase exhibited the most BDE of anyone we interviewed this season by far, she has got to go. Vote Salomon.
Legislative District No. 32
Representative Position No. 1
Can you imagine living in this political moment—a moment when the stakes are so fucking high, when it has never been more clear that politics is not an intellectual exercise but a competition over limited resources that kills some people and allows others to hoard massive amounts of wealth—and responding to this political moment by saying, "I'm a centrist"? Keith Smith, one of the candidates in this race, can. Pass. Diodato (Dio) Boucsieguez is a Republican who promises to fight taxes and life-saving safe drug consumption sites. Hard pass. That leaves us with incumbent Cindy Ryu. Ryu is a fine Democrat who fucked up by supporting the legislature's anti-transparency bill but has supported police reform and increasing funding for affordable housing. Vote Ryu.
Legislative District No. 32
Representative Position No. 2
Lauren Davis cut her teeth in Olympia advocating for mental-health and substance-abuse treatment. She has worked on multiple bills to improve suicide-prevention efforts. She also fought for Ricky's Law, named after her best friend, which allows involuntary commitment for people facing life-threatening substance-abuse disorders. And she wants to aggressively expand the state's supply of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. All of this personal and professional experience will make her a kickass legislator at a time when we're facing an opioid crisis and underfunding treatment.
But all that focus on substance abuse also spooked the SECB. When we asked Davis and her opponent about cannabis legislation, including cafes for public consumption and vacating the convictions of people in jail on nonviolent possession and distribution charges, we thought we'd been suddenly transported to a conference room with Jeff Sessions instead of two Democrats. To spare you the lengthy back-and-forth we subjected Davis to, let's just say her views on pot are... outdated. She thinks pot is dangerous, called pot a "gateway drug," and worries we're normalizing pot for kids. For the record: Teens are using less pot in the states where it's legal. The good news is that Davis doesn't want to roll back legalization and she doesn't agree with the Feds that it should remain a Schedule I drug.
Davis's Democratic opponent, Chris Roberts, lost the room when he told us his plan to fund affordable housing and other state services. Instead of fighting to tax capital gains—something Democrats could do with their majorities right now—he wants to send to the ballot a constitutional amendment to both institute an income tax and make state sales taxes unconstitutional. Roberts claims this will be the deal that will finally get everyone in Washington State on board with an income tax. Even the SECB isn't stoned enough to think that political calculus is going to work. Vote Davis.
Legislative District No. 33
Senator Karen Keiser is a savvy lawmaker who has fought hard against anti-trans bathroom legislation and led efforts to expand paid parental leave and workplace protections for pregnant women. Like most of her colleagues, she fucked up by supporting the anti-transparency public records bill this year—and doubled down on that fuckup by continuing to defend it after the vote. We'd also like to see her use her position in the legislature to fight harder for single-payer. But her opponents are a pair of useless sharts. Kun Wang marked his party preference as "Ind. Republican Party" and is promising to "get tough on the homelessness crisis." The other, Charles Schaefer, is a Burien Libertarian who supports repealing regressive taxes but not passing any new taxes (because Libertarianism). Vote Keiser.
Legislative District No. 34
Remember the last time a bunch of Democrats were running for state legislative seats, staring down the barrel of the McCleary decision ordering them to fully fund public education? Or the time before that? Or before that or before that? Do you remember what they promised us? They promised us a capital gains tax. Every fucking time. And do you know what they have failed to pass, over and over again, even as they control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor's seat? A fucking goddamn tax on capital gains. (Reminder: A capital gains tax means a tax on profits made from investments and certain property sales.)
We are so sick of this shit. So when we got the four candidates for this open state senate race in our office, the SECB demanded to know: What were they actually going to do to get their own chickenshit caucus to pass this thing?
"You name and shame them," Joe Nguyen told the SECB. "People are fucking dying right now in the streets. Capital gains touches rich people, and a very small percentage of them in the first place." He kept going: "We need to call them out. Just because they're Democrats doesn't mean they're exempt from implicit bias or having bad ideas." Hell yes, Joe.
Nguyen wouldn't name names in the meeting, but we trust Nguyen to start flipping over desks—and naming names—when the time comes.
Candidate Shannon Braddock gave a good and politically savvy answer to this question, too. But then she lost everyone in the room when she refused to give us a straight answer on the head tax, a more recent, closer-to-home example of being chickenshit on progressive taxation. You may remember Braddock from her failed 2015 city council race, in which she had the backing of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Nguyen grew up the son of refugees in White Center and Burien, and he now works at Microsoft. He supports tax reform, single-payer health care, and a state bank. And he says "fuck." A lot. Vote Nguyen.
Legislative District No. 37
Representative Position No. 2
The SECB has never once said a nice thing about Eric Pettigrew—the seat warmer who has repped this district for roughly eight million years—and we figured, hey, maybe it's time to take a look at what Eric has been up to lately. Maybe he's changed? Nope. When Pettigrew isn't attempting to loosen regulations for predatory payday lenders, he's promoting charter schools and catering to conservative DINOs. But, hey, this useless fuckwit does get high marks from good liberal groups like Washington Conservation Voters and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. And he is the best candidate in this race. Vote Useless Fuckwit.
Legislative District No. 41
Representative Position No. 1
Representative Tana Senn has championed legislation on gender pay equity, clearing the rape-kit backlog, and gun safety. (Like nearly all lawmakers in Olympia, she voted for the bad public records bill. That bill was bad and she should feel bad.) Tim Cruickshank is a Republican who opposes capital gains and income taxes. He wants to "vigorously pursue" more lanes for cars and fight against the car tab taxes that fund light rail. Nathaniel Deily is a Libertarian who is on the board of a nonprofit that sends cigars to troops and is a member of the Cigar Rights of America, which is doing the important work of "fighting to protect the individual rights to enjoy premium cigars." We did not make that up. Vote Senn.
Legislative District No. 41
Representative Position No. 2
My-Linh Thai told the SECB she thinks people are fundamentally good. We're endorsing her anyway.
Thai, who has a deep interest in education funding and currently serves on the Bellevue School Board, is backed by the state teachers union and believes the state is far from done in meeting its constitutional obligation to fucking fund public education. She also backs single-payer health care and is ardently opposed to charter schools.
Thai wasn't up on some of the issues most important to the SECB members who are eating canned beans in hopes their rent checks will clear—issues like lifting the state ban on rent control and protecting renters statewide from no-cause evictions. But she'll add some needed education wonkery to our state legislature. And she says she would be the first refugee elected to the state legislature. "We have a lot of people who claim they are liberal progressive Democrats, but when it comes to immigration law, we know how they vote," Thai told the SECB. "So it's not enough to say you're a liberal progressive. You need the people who live it, who experience it, who know what it's like." Vote Thai.
Legislative District No. 43
Representative Position No. 2
It's no secret the SECB has little love for Frank Chopp. Chopp, a Democrat, represents a deep red—as in Socialist Alternative red—district on Seattle's Capitol Hill. But as Speaker of the house, he operates more like a conservative suburban Dem.
As the national scene gets more terrifying with every passing hour, now is the time for Democrats here in Washington to be bold. Yes, Democrats made some important stuff happen this year, including the Voting Rights Act, which is a huge deal. But they didn't pass a carbon tax, they didn't repeal the death penalty, and they didn't make any meaningful movement on tax reform. And no, we haven't forgotten all the time they wasted dithering over how best to lick the assholes of anti-transit drivers whining about their car tab fees. As Speaker, Chopp bears some responsibility for every embarrassing failure of the Democrats in Olympia.
But for now, in this seat, he's all we've got.
Chopp's challengers this year are a Republican named Claire Torstenbo, who says she is running to "protect you from job-killing taxes," and independent Boris Joffe, who has no apparent platform or campaign. So yeah, vote Chopp. And then call Chopp and e-mail Chopp. And then—please God—some credible, inspiring lefty needs to run against Chopp.
Legislative District No. 47
Representative Position No. 1
Debra Entenman runs Congressman Adam Smith's district office in South Seattle. For the last several years, she's been doing a great job as his community outreach manager and field representative. But the big thing about her is that she's not her opponent, Fucking Republican Mark Fucking Hargrove, aka the "Dumbest Legislator in the State" in 2012 according to your own SECB. His face graced The Stranger's cover in February of that year after he used a Jack in the Box commercial to justify his bigoted views on gay marriage. Two years ago, he sponsored a bill that would ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest. And then last year, some racist asshole shot a Sikh man in Hargrove's district, but Hargrove thought condemning that attack was "too political." Fuuuuuuck Hargrove. Vote Entenman.
Legislative District No. 47
Representative Position No. 2
Like all these other fucking idiots, Pat Sullivan voted this year for the bad public records bill, but he has a lot more to repent for than that. This guy—majority leader of the DEMOCRATS in the state house—has an A rating from the National Rifle Association. Back in 2015, he helped kill a bill to create extreme risk protection orders, which can keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others. Those orders can help prevent suicides, murders, and mass shootings—and Sullivan stood in the way. (Voters later approved ERPOs at the ballot.) But his opponents in this race are both gun-fellating freaks, too. Ted Cooke is a Republican promising to support gun rights, charter schools, and right-to-work laws. Lindsey Shumway is gun-toting Republican who, according to her campaign Facebook page, spends her free time doorbelling for Dino Rossi. Everything sucks. And as much as pains us to type it: Vote Sullivan.
Legislative District No. 48
This isn't so much a pro–Patty Kuderer endorsement as it is an anti–Rodney Tom endorsement. Tom, supposedly a Democrat, is a motherfucking piece of shit traitor who under no circumstances should be allowed back into the state legislature. In 2013, the Worst Person in Washington—Rodney Tom—was serving as a DEMOCRAT when he made the galling decision to caucus with the GOP, which allowed Republicans to take control of the state senate. This wasn't just a big FUCK YOU to the Democratic Party, it was a big FUCK YOU to the voters, who did not elect a Democrat so he could hand over power to the GOP, which is exactly what this turncoat did. Thanks to Tom's deal with the devil, Republicans were able to fight tax reform, college financial aid for undocumented students, and insurance coverage for birth control and abortion. Meanwhile, he got to claim support for progressive bills without ever having to actually vote on them because they never made it out of Republican-led committees.
Now about Patty Kuderer: Who cares?! She isn't Rodney Fucking Tom, and that's what matters in this race. Still, Kuderer is the incumbent in this race: She took Tom out in 2014, and now he's running to reclaim his seat. (Not on our watch, Rodney.) Kuderer is running on fixing public schools as well as our embarrassing tax system, reducing gun violence, fighting climate change, and a bevy of other liberal favorites. She did have one major fuckup this year, in voting to shield her and her lawmaker buddies from public records requests, but after a loud outcry from constituents, she asked the governor to veto it, which Jay Inslee thankfully did. Because the SECB is nothing if not forgiving, we are willing to overlook this sin. Vote Kuderer.
Northeast Electoral District
Judge Position No. 1
You can't really go wrong in this race unless you lock yourself in a room with Joshua Schaer and allow him to talk at you for 45 minutes, which happens to be exactly what the SECB did. That guy needs to learn when to take a breath. (In an e-mail after the meeting, Schaer said he hoped the SECB "will have nice things to say about me in its final decision." Sorry, Josh!) Anyway, all three candidates in this race would do a good job. All three have been rated at least "qualified" by the legal experts who rate that kind of thing, and all three have experience subbing for other judges. But Marcus Naylor stands out for his experience and his even temper (a trait the SECB usually despises, except for when it comes to the people who decide who goes to jail). Naylor has nearly three decades of experience in the King County Department of Public Defense and seven years of experience as a pro-tem judge in the same court where he now wants a permanent seat. He has a thorough understanding of all the ways the criminal justice system is utterly fucked, in part thanks to the time he spends volunteering to give free legal advice to people who can't afford a lawyer for civil issues. The King County Bar Association says he's "exceptionally well qualified," and so do a whole bunch of local judges who've endorsed his campaign. Vote Naylor.
King County Proposition No. 1
Regular Property Tax Levy, Automated Fingerprint Identification System Services
The SECB was ready to rubber-stamp this decades old levy with no opposition campaign. Then we read the fine print.
The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is the computer system cops use to compare a suspect's fingerprints to a database. Like most government programs, AFIS is running on an outdated computer system. This levy renewal would pay for an upgrade. But that upgrade will come with the built-in ability to use facial recognition. We're not being paranoid. AFIS program manager Carol Gillespie confirmed this. That doesn't mean AFIS will immediately begin scanning our faces, but it means they'll have the technology in hand if—let's be honest, when—they decide to.
Leftover levy money could also be used to explore facial recognition technology, though Gillespie says there's no specific dollar amount set aside for that.
Gillespie assures us that before they actually started using facial recognition technology, her department would go through a careful research process. If AFIS wants to pursue facial recognition, they'll have to submit a report to the county council outlining their plans and what kind of feedback they've gotten from privacy experts.
But, uh, have you guys checked out the county council lately? That place is second only to the school board on the list of places good ideas and sound policy proposals go to die. The council includes both Republicans and Democrats, but we don't trust either side to know enough about technology to keep the cops on their toes about this issue. (During a committee meeting discussing this levy, Council Member Rod Dembowski wondered if AFIS used DNA and whether there are "any other CSI type technologies we might want to fund.")
Regardless of how you feel about the county council, this just isn't the way we should grant the state the ability to use ever-invasive technologies, says Shankar Narayan, the ACLU of Washington's technology and liberty project director. (The ACLU hasn't taken an official position on this levy.) "There is no problem being articulated for this program to solve. It seems to be entirely open-ended in terms of 'we'll explore,'" Narayan says. The burden should be on the cops to tell us exactly what problems their existing technologies can't solve and why facial recognition is the answer. Rejecting the levy would put the upgrade on hold while the program determined its future funding, Gillespie said. Instead of vagaries, county officials should rewrite this levy to clearly outline if, why, and when AFIS intends to start using facial recognition and to guarantee a public process and then go back to the voters.
Law-enforcement agencies across the country, including the Seattle Police Department, are already using facial recognition. A 2016 report from Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology found that at least 26 states allow cops to run searches against driver's license and ID photos, meaning about half of American adults may have their photo searched. Seattle police, who can scan mug-shot photos, had relatively decent policies for facial recognition, according to the report. But no state had laws on the books to "comprehensively" regulate cops' use of facial recognition and almost no agencies had strict limits on using the technology to track protesters or other groups. This is not the time for riders and blank checks.
In Narayan's words: "If this is really aboveboard and law enforcement wants to defend this, they should have that public debate rather than turn it into this rider that's on a levy for a fingerprint system." We agree.
This endorsement has been corrected to reflect the fact that the AFIS computer system capable of using facial recognition technology will be funded by an existing levy. Renewing the levy would continue the program. If the renewal fails, the computer system upgrade will likely be put on hold.