Election 2021—my picks


General thoughts 

• Electing school boards is insane. Elected boards have no accountability, they engage in group think, and put decision-making in the hands of committees. Let’s do what other cities do: Make the mayor accountable for schools. Since that’s not going to happen here, the best we can hope for is to eliminate obvious crazies. I support charter schools, because, as in healthcare, competition is the only sure way to improve quality.


• Managing an operating budget by referenda—voting on levies—is about as idiotic as requiring Congress to approve an increase to the debt ceiling to pay for what it already spent. 


Seattle City Attorney

Ann Davison. I’ve put this one out of order at the top because it’s even more important than King County executive and Seattle mayor. (At least those candidates are members of the reality-based community.) But Ann Davison’s opponent is nuts. Dangerous nuts. Trump-like nuts. This is what happens when toxic people like Kshama Trump Sawant spread their venom and make extremism feel normal. 


Davison’s opponent, Thomas-Kennedy, is running on a pro-crime platform. Or as she tweeted last summer, “Property destruction is a moral imperative.” If elected, she’ll refuse to prosecute misdemeanors. Own a store and someone shoplifts? Tough shit. Someone break into your car? Don’t call the prosecutor. Guess what her policies will do to our insurance rates. Think your car insurance premium is high now? Your apartment insurance? She doesn’t just want to defund police: She wants to abolish them. And she describes them as “serial killers.” All of them. Generically. “I for sure hate this country,” she said. Another time, she urged police to “Eat some Covid-laced shit.” (The Times documented even more of her pro-crime, pro-criminal statements.) You want this unhinged nut to be city attorney? What’s sad is that the Seattle Democratic organizations endorsed her, simply because she carried the “D” label. They have no right anymore to criticize Republicans who endorse Trump and his unhinged lies.


Yes, Davison was once a Democrat who ran previously as a Republican. How can you blame a moderate who feels she doesn’t have a place among Seattle Democrats?


The Times vetted Davison enough to endorse her in her unsuccessful race for council a couple of years ago. Former governors Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire—hardly conservative—have endorsed her. In any other city, she’d be considered a liberal—just like New York’s Democratic mayoral candidate, ex-cop Eric Adams, who won his primary on a platform of “safety, safety, safety.” Ask the workers at the King County Courthouse who they’ll vote for—workers who have been assaulted and threatened by homeless junkies by the courthouse, with judges and the sheriff pleading with the city to help—and they’ll tell you Ann Davison. Davison has an impressive background as a lawyer, caseworker, and volunteer with international aid agencies. There’s no other choice. Ann Davison.



Advisory votes

No. 36. Maintained. This funds the crisis and suicide hotline, including a bunch of federally mandated enhancements. Sadly, since the people who refuse to get vaccinated are generally the same people who oppose a progressive state income tax, the state is using the regressive phone tax (75 cents per line per month) to fund this stuff. Ultimately, the bad means justifies the good end.


No. 37. Maintained. The legislature did what it’s supposed to do and come up with revenue sources that aren’t as regressive as the sales tax. This is a tax on capital gains over $250,000—something only incredibly wealthy people will pay. There are reasonable exemptions for things like real estate. 


No. 38. Maintained. Again, the legislature did its job and taxed insurance company ploys to evade taxes. Even Republicans joined Democrats on this one, to approve the tax by a combined vote of 155–1.



King County charter amendments

No. 1. Yes. Minor changes in wording to the preamble to make it more politically correct. And we certainly want to be politically correct, don’t we?


No. 2. Yes. Updates language to synch up various deadlines with current state law.


Local ballot measures

You’ll only see one of these on the ballot if you live in East Bellevue, Skyway, Bryn Mawr, Lakeridge, Earlington, Campbell Hill, Houghton, Renton, North Bend, Highline, Normandy Park, Lake Forest Park, Snoqualmie, and the East Pierce Fire District. If you live in any of those places, you know more about these issues than I do.


King County Executive

Dow Constantine. Dow has been a good leader and competent executive. Nothing here needs fixing. Joe Nguyen has decent credentials, but I’m not sure what the bee in his bonnet is to challenge Dow, other than he seems to think that low vaccination rates in South King County are due to some kind of conspiracy. Dow should get our votes.


King County Council

District 1: Rod Dembowski. An incumbent, he’s endorsed by environmentalists, Democrats, gun-control advocates, housing advocates, and labor. Republicans should endorse him, too, when they realize his opponent has a mish-mash of ultra-leftwing positions. 


District 3: Sarah Perry. Perry is a fresh, mainstream progressive candidate to replace incumbent Lambert. Lambert refused to immediately disavow her racist, antisemitic campaign literature, even after the Seattle Times exposed it. At one time, Lambert was a mainstream Republican; she’s turned into another gutless, extremist, right-wing Trump ass-kisser who lost the ability to differentiate between right and wrong.


District 5. Dave Upthegrove. He’s the incumbent, and there’s no reason to turn him out of office. I do like much of what his opponent says, especially about helping small businesses overlooked by government Covid grants, but she simply doesn’t make a compelling case against Upthegrove.


District 7: Pete von Reichbauer. I never thought I’d endorse Republican von Reichbauer for anything, but his opponent is short on specifics and long on right-wing rhetoric about King County being an “oppressive entity” because of its land-use regulations, as well as its “absolutely horrid” trash and recycling program. I don’t make up this stuff.


District 9: Kim Khanh Van. A lawyer and Renton councilmember, she has all sorts of endorsements. Her incumbent opponent was named after Ronald Reagan who, if it wasn’t for Trump, would be considered extreme. Need I say more?


Port of Seattle

Position 1: Ryan Calkins. His opponent never got the word that half of what he’s proposing, the Port is already doing in terms of being a good environmental steward. Incumbent Calkins has been endorsed by nearly every good-government organization in the region.


Position 3: Stephanie Bowman. Although her opponent has credentials, what she doesn’t have is what Bowman does have: an understanding that when the day is done with all the peripheral issues, the Port must be about cargo and jobs.


Position 4: Peter Steinbrueck. C’mon. Are you kidding? Peter is competent, articulate, knows what he’s doing, and has served the area well over the years. I have nothing against his opponent, but can’t she find some Republican to take on?


Seattle mayor and city council

We saw what happened when Donald Trump ruled the country with paranoia, insecurity, lies, and a steady focus on his frightened, conspiracy-prone base. 


We’ve also seen what’s happened when Seattle politicians are themselves frightened of their vocal base infected by the toxic politics of the Maoist, Kshama Trump Sawant, who thinks Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are capitalist tools because they supported Joe Biden.


Crime rates are up. Homeless encampments everywhere. Graffiti laws unenforced. Businesses closed not because of Covid, but because the city refuses to clear out scary people who intimidate customers. As the owner of Queen Anne’s Uptown Espresso said in announcing its closure: “The original Uptown Espresso was once a thriving gathering place for a lively clientele. Now the biggest issue is the influx of homeless that have congregated. This has made our customers feel uncomfortable crossing the threshold into the store. Not only that, but the living conditions of the homeless have become a health hazard. They frequently use our storefront to urinate and defecate. On top of the global pandemic, this health hazard just compounds the fear and has made it difficult to operate.”


And what are most Seattle politicians doing? Knee-jerking. Passing ordinances that will discourage developers from building apartments. Cutting the police budget and refusing to fill vacancies without thinking through the unintended consequences. Supporting rent freezes that will only help Amazon workers with six-digit incomes. Declaring war on cars so that some areas of the city are now blacklisted by plumbers and other contractors because there’s no parking. Spending ungodly amounts of money on little-used bike lanes. Coming up with tax plans that will be declared unconstitutional. Daring employers to leave the city. Forcing Seattle’s first Black, female police chief to resign. 


We need to do what New York did as it elects a Black cop as mayor who ran on the platform, “Safety, safety, safety.”


Except our platform should be “common sense.” These are the Seattle candidates I support:



Bruce Harrell. Harrell is no Paul Schell, Norm Rice, Charlie Royer, or Greg Nickels. Policy doesn’t come easy to him. But unlike his opponent, Lorena Gonzalez, he’s willing to say things that need to be said without alienating half the city. Yes, Lorena is smart, but she’s not courageous. She’s shown she can’t stand up to the madding crowd. Bruce Harrell.


Seattle Council 8

Kenneth Wilson. For information on his opponent, incumbent Teresa Mosqueda, see above for the description of Lorena Gonzalez. Wilson is no politician: He’s a structural engineer who will take an analytical approach to issues, not an ideological one. Kenneth Wilson.


Seattle Council 9

Sara Nelson. She’s a small-businesswoman (Fremont Brewery) and progressive without being ideological. She has a reputation for being an environmentalist. Endorsed by many, including labor unions. Her opponent, Nikita Oliver, might as well be Nikita Khrushchev considering her rhetoric and policies. Sara Nelson.


Seattle School Board

District 4: You pick ‘em. No obvious crazies to avoid. As I said at the top, electing school boards is the crazy. I suppose I’ll vote for Vivian Song Maritz because she’s cute and has endorsements from people who don’t have any better clue about what she’ll do in office than I have.


District 5: Michelle Sarju. Her opponent is right-winger from, as Doonesbury would say, Berserkistan. Have I mentioned that electing school boards is crazy?


District 7: Brandon K. Hersey. His opponent is a philosophy student at Seattle University who couldn’t be bothered to submit a statement in the voters’ guide. Have I mentioned that electing school boards is crazy? Let’s guess how many votes she’ll end up with based on no campaign, no website, no position papers, no information about her background, no nothing, just complete ignorance.


Bellevue City Council

Position 2. Dexter Borbe. Endorsed by reasonable people and the Times. His opposition, the incumbent, is running as an anti-Communist who wants no new taxes, never, no-how.


Position 4: Ruth Lipscomb. A retired Microsoftie, she has good endorsements and reasonable goals. Her opponent was endorsed at length by the Times, so he’s a reasonable choice, too.


Position 6: Lynne Robinson. Endorsed by everyone from labor to Dow Constantine. 


Bellevue School Board

District 3: Joyce Shui believes in science. Her opponent, Yang, believes black and Latino kids are genetically inferior. I didn’t make this up. In a 2018 email to the school board, she cited a racist pseudoscience, long-debunked book. Have I mentioned that electing school boards is crazy?



District 5: Jane Aras. A reasonable alternative to her unreasonable opponent. Endorsed by the Times. Have I mentioned that electing school boards is crazy?