Election 2023

Don’s picks: Aug. 1 primary election



Odd-numbered election years focus on local issues, low turnout, and the ability of extremist candidates to motive their base to vote. 


Thankfully, Kshama Trump Sawant saw her polling numbers and decided to leave public disservice, while her doppelganger, failed candidate and police abolitionist Nikkita Oliver, supposedly departed for Detroit, and her People’s Party was disbanded.


All of which means that the reality-based, common-sense community has a chance to take over city government and maintain its hold on county government.


Regarding the Seattle situation, my friend and progressive activist Janice Van Cleve put it this way: “The outgoing Seattle City Council was a disaster. They dropped the ball during the riots of 2020, voted to defund the police, to ignore drug use in public, and emasculated law enforcement at all levels.”


The candidates I recommend want to better train police and fill vacancies. They want to stop junkies from doing their thing on buses and in playgrounds. Some want mandatory drug treatment, which I support over the objections of those who say we shouldn’t interfere with the rights of junkies to poison society. 


I want candidates who don’t think that mandatory bike-helmet use is a symbol of white oppression.


Some final reminders about levies and schools:


• 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 accountability 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.



Port of Seattle

Position 5. Fred Helleman or Jesse Tam. Jesse Tam, is a businessman and past president of the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Good people have endorsed him including Assessor John Wilson, former city and county councilmember Jan Drago, and former Gov. Gary Locke. Fred Helleman, the incumbent, also has good endorsements, and says jobs is the top priority.



King County Prop 1 (vets, seniors, services levy)

Yes. This is a renewal of the 2017 levy at the same rate. These services should be funded as part of a lucid, comprehensive budget. But Washington’s bizarre and outdated rules—many of them due to right-wing tax caps, others due to a lack of political courage—require levies. I don’t like it, but it’s what responsible neighbors support.


King County Council

District 4. Becka Poppe. She’s currently the county budget director and so qualified and realistic that it’s a wonder anyone is running against her. That being said, all three candidates have impressive endorsements, but Poppe is simply the better candidate.


District 8. Sofia Aragon. She’s the mayor of Burien; supports a co-response model with police, fire, and social workers; and civility rules. She’s been endorsed by a ton of South Seattle folks and the Times. Her main opponent, Seattle councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is an extremist who has earned retirement from public office. The other extremist candidate, Goodspace Guy, wants to abolish the minimum wage and “learn how to live in space before going to Mars.”


Seattle City Council


District 1 (West Seattle, Georgetown)


Rob Saka. This is the district being vacated by Lisa Herbold. Although I often disagreed with her, she stood out for her constituent service and thoughtful explanations of her positions.


I was tempted to endorse Stephen Brown because he owns Eltana, the best bagel chain in the Northwest, but great bagels aren’t the same as great legislating. All but one of the other candidates for the seat lists public safety as the top issue, and most endorse expanding the police force. 


Saka is the consensus candidate endorsed by people all along the political spectrum. (That is, the Seattle political spectrum, which ranges from far left to the ashes of extinct liberal Republicans.) They include ex-Mayor Norm Rice, ex-Group Health Nurse and Rep. Eileen Cody, ex-councilmembers Jan Drago, Sue Donaldson, and Margaret Pageler, and a ton of community activist and business types, from Jon Bridge (of the community-oriented Ben Bridge Jewelers that has refused to leave downtown and has a new store next to Nordstrom), and the president of the Urban League. Saka’s a lawyer, Air Force vet, son of a Nigerian man (who raised him) and a Finnish-American woman, and a Mayor Harrell favorite. 


He told the Seattle Times that the crucial question about public safety isn’t defunding the police, but ensuring that cops come when you call. 


Of all the candidates running for all the seats, he seems to be a political version of Julio Rodríguez. For those of you who are baseball hermits, that’s a high compliment.


District 2 (Beacon Hill, South Seattle)


Tanya Woo. There’s a consensus that incumbent extremist Tammy Morales doesn’t care about small businesses, jobs, or public safety. That’s why Woo has been leading the race in endorsements and money. She has a long history of community involvement, supporting seniors, and incubating small businesses. 


District 3 (First Hill, Capitol Hill, Montlake, Central District, Mad Park, Eastlake)


Joy Hollingsworth. This is Sawant’s old district, where I live. A lot of the candidates aren’t part of the reality-based community: They support the usual extremist laundry lists such as continuing the war on automobiles and  legalizing all drugs. Hollingsworth, is a small-business owner (cannabis), and her family has a long history of civil-rights activism. But she’s made it clear that she’s willing to compromise to get things done, and she understands that crime affects poor people as well as middle-class people. To show how far Seattle has fallen, local King County Democratic districts failed to endorse Hollingsworth, an African-American Lesbian and community activist. Why? Because they say she isn’t radical enough. Vote for Joy Hollingsworth.


District 4 (UDistrict, Roosevelt, Wallingford, Sand Point)


Maritza Rivera. Rivera is endorsed by the Times and a bunch of others. She opposes defunding police and has vowed to make public safety her top priority.


District 5 (North Seattle)


Cathy Moore. A former county judge and city Human Rights Commission member, she supports expanding the police force, as well as violence-intervention programs and alternative police responders. Her husband is a small-business owner. She has a laundry list of practical things she’ll work for. One of her opponents vows to “promote upstream solutions that deliver effective, collective, and sustainable results.” Yeah, right. Another candidate says she wants Seattle to follow Castro’s lead. Fidel Castro. I didn’t make that up. Another candidate says he’ll “prioritize community-based, sustainable solutions.” Another candidate is running as a Christian, and cites the Bible. (However, his real sin is his poorly punctuated and unproofed candidate statement.)


District 6 (Magnolia, Ballard, Fremont)


Pete Hanning. He’s running against incumbent extremist Dan Strauss who claimed he supports the police, but wanted to cut the force in half. Strauss also opposed efforts to ban public drug use. Hanning’s the executive director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and a former brewpub owner, so he knows small business. He wants to expand mental-health and drug-treatment programs, and re-establish community police teams. He’s also been endorsed by good people like Peter Steinbrueck, Sue Donaldson, and Jan Drago. Alert: One of his opponents is an anti-vaxxer, who takes the credit for the end of the Covid emergency, rather than the CDC and President Biden.


District 7 (Interbay, Queen Anne, Downtown)


Bob Kettle. He’s running against flip-flopping Andrew Lewis who wanted to defund the police, until he didn’t, and prohibit public drug use, until he didn’t. Kettle is a former Queen Anne Community Council member who wants to increase funding for both police and mental health. Two other candidates, Olga Sagan and Wade Sowders, also want to focus on increasing police staffing and treatment. Let’s hope one of them sends Lewis a message that people don’t want councilmembers who, in the words of the Seattle Times, “veer from one position to the next as often and as dramatically” as Lewis does. 


By the way, Sagan owns Piroshky Piroshky, so if Brown in district 3, and Sagan in district 7 win, then we’ll be treated to bagels and piroshkies. I’d like that, but it’s not a reason to vote for them. I’d rather have my politics brewed in Bob’s Kettle.


Seattle School District


I’ve tried to weed out the crazies. Everything else with school boards are crap shoots, and nothing really changes because there’s never accountability.


District 1. Michael Christophersen. He’s an engineer and parent. One of his opponents submitted her candidate’s statement that has random capitalization and punctuation—a paragon for teaching.


District 3. Ben Gitenstein. Not only did the Times endorse him, and he talked eloquently about addressing guns in schools, but his last name is three letters off from my last name.


District 6. Gina Topp. She’s the only one writes lucidly and grammatically. Plus, she’s been endorsed by a slew of elected officials, the Times, and Dow Constantine, for whom she used to work. Plus, she’s cute. That’s as good a reason as any to support the roulette wheel of school-board candidates.