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Welcome to the 2019 Fuse Progressive Voters Guide! The Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Please share this guide with your friends and remember to vote by November 5!
Referendum 88 is a public vote on I-1000, the affirmative action ballot measure signed by nearly 400,000 Washingtonians and approved by the Legislature this spring.
I-1000 would allow affirmative action policies in the areas of public education, public employment, and public contracting. It will restore fairness for veterans, small business owners, women, and people of color seeking to succeed in public employment, contracting, and university admissions – without the use of caps or quotas. Affirmative action, which is legal in 42 other states, will increase business contracts and college enrollment for women and people of color in Washington.
It's long past time to restore affirmative action in Washington. Vote to approve Initiative 1000.
Initiative 976 is Tim Eyman's latest attempt to cut billions of dollars in funding from badly-needed transportation projects across the state. I-976 would derail our ability to fix dangerous roads, retrofit outdated bridges and overpasses, complete voter-approved light rail, provide transit for riders with disabilities, and more. More than $12 billion would be slashed from state and local projects with no plan for replacing any of the funding.
Every city and county in Washington depends on transportation infrastructure that would be impacted by the cuts from I-976. Vote NO on I-976!
Because of a Tim Eyman initiative, the Legislature is required to submit any bill it passes that closes tax loopholes or raises revenue to a non-binding advisory vote. The Legislature had a historically productive 2019 session, resulting in a record number of advisory votes on the ballot. We hope the Legislature will change the law to remove these meaningless measures in the future.
Washington's senior population has doubled since 1980 and will double again by 2040. Most seniors cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for the long-term medical care they need. A bipartisan group of lawmakers moved to build upon the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave program through Second Substitute House Bill 1087. This legislation created a new long-term insurance benefit that will address the looming crisis of seniors who cannot afford the care they need. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 20.
Legislators passed Engrossed Third Substitute House Bill 1324, also known as the Washington Rural Development and Distressed Opportunity Zone Act, which extends a business and occupation tax preference for timber companies. While this bill was intended to create jobs and support investment in rural areas, in practice it will primarily serve as an unnecessary tax cut for timber companies. Vote “Repealed” on Advisory Vote No. 21.
Washington is the latest state to adopt a recycling program for leftover architectural paint. The Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 1652 to add a small recycling fee to the price of paint to fund the program. This law will ensure that hundreds of thousands of gallons of paint will be disposed of responsibly and no longer pollute our environment. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 22.
Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of vape products have not been paying regular tobacco taxes. The Legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1873 to remedy this and create the Essential Public Health Services Account. Electronic cigarettes, electronic devices, and vape pens will now be classified and taxed as tobacco products. This account will fund health services, tobacco and vape product control and prevention, and enforcement by the state liquor and cannabis board to prevent the sale of vape products to minors. This legislation is even more important after several reports of lung injuries linked to vaping in Washington state as well as hundreds around the country. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 23.
The Legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2158 to increase funding for higher education, including financial aid, raises for community college faculty, and a student loan program for middle-class students called the Washington College Grant. The Washington College Grant would replace the State Need Grant, which runs out of money every year and leaves thousands of eligible students without any money. The Workforce Education Investment Act is designed so that businesses that benefit the most from a highly-educated workforce will contribute to the cost of higher education. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 24.
Washington's low-income families pay six times more in taxes than the wealthiest residents. To begin to balance our tax code, the Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 2167 to increase the business and occupation tax on financial institutions that reported a net income of $1 billion or more during the previous calendar year. We think it's reasonable for these extremely profitable companies to pay a little more in taxes to support the services working families rely on. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 25.
Washington legislators have moved to update our tax laws in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that forced internet retailers to charge sales tax in all states. would Among other things, Substitute Senate Bill 5581 eliminates a tax advantage that out-of-state sellers long enjoyed over local companies. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 26.
Washington state has more than 13,000 known or suspected contaminated sites. The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) became law in 1989 and has supported efforts to clean up more than 7,000 contaminated sites. The MTCA is funded by a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances such as petroleum products and pesticides. This year, the Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5993 to update the law to improve transparency and increase funding for clean air, clean water, and toxic cleanup programs. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 27.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5997 closed a longstanding loophole that allowed many out-of-state shoppers to avoid paying sales tax in Washington. Visitors from states without a sales tax can still request a remittance from the Washington Department of Revenue. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 28.
This legislation is one step towards balancing our upside-down tax code by making Washington's real estate excise taxes (REET) progressive. Instead of a flat rate of 1.28 percent, property sales of less than $500,000 are reduced to a 1.1 percent tax rate, sales between $1.5 and $3 million would be taxed at 2.75 percent, and properties sold for more than $3 million would be taxed at 3 percent. All the funding from Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5998 will be dedicated to the Education Legacy Trust Account. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 29.
This legislation eliminates a tax break for travel agents and tour operators for businesses who earn $250,000 or more per year. Businesses that earn less than $250,000 will continue to pay the lower rate. Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6004 will bring more revenue to the state and ensure that large out-of-state and online businesses pay their share. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 30.
This legislation passed Engrossed Senate Bill 6016 to reauthorize and narrow a sales tax exemption for certain international investment management companies. In order to receive the tax exemption, a business must have more than 25 percent of employees in the state, at least 500 full-time employees worldwide, and gross revenue of more than $400 million. Vote “Maintained” on Advisory Vote No. 31.
This measure would allow the Legislature to temporarily fill vacant public offices during an emergency by including "catastrophic incidents" like earthquakes or tsunamis in the definition of emergency powers. As Washington has been on high alert for an earthquake for years, legislators want to ensure governmental continuity in the event of massive damage from a natural disaster. While it is not pleasant to think about, Washington state needs to be prepared for a catastrophic event. This measure passed with bipartisan support. Vote "Approved" on Senate Joint Resolution No. 8200.
Frank Boykin is an account manager with United Parcel Service running for Port of Tacoma, Position 3. He has served as vice chair of the University Place Planning Commission as well as a leader in Tacoma's Black Collective, the Annie Wright School, Pierce College Foundation, and Washington’s Commission on African American Affairs. Boykin is running to increase the port's engagement with the community, encourage responsible growth, and protect family-wage jobs.
He is running against Deanna Keller, a Marine Corps veteran who is currently the CEO and President of Kel-Tech Plastics in Tacoma. She is focusing on modernizing facilities at the port, creating family-wage jobs, and keeping the port competitive in the region.
Boykin is the best choice in this race.
Attorney Kristin Ang is running for Port of Tacoma Commissioner, Position 5 to build a sustainable vision for industry at the port. She seeks to protect community health and the environment by reducing noise and air pollution, improving water quality, and increasing shore power technology. Ang opposes the port's property tax and supports pressing businesses to clean up their share of pollution, developing a comprehensive public engagement plan, and working with tribes, businesses, and local government to create shared agendas for the port.
Ang is running against Dave Bryant, a Navy veteran who wants to optimize the loading and offloading of goods with surface transportation and update the port's infrastructure. However, he lacks Ang's knowledge and experience when it comes to environmental conservation and creating clean energy jobs.
Ang is the best choice in this race.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below races on your ballot.
Chris Stearns is running for Auburn City Council, Position 1. He has a comprehensive record of leadership, including serving as a previous chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, Democratic counsel for the Committee of Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first director of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy. He currently serves as the Board President for the Seattle Indian Health Board, which is a community clinic that serves 6,000 patients and operates the Thunderbird Treatment Center. He has been endorsed by a large number of labor unions. Stearns is running unopposed in this race and deserves your vote.
Parks and Recreation board member James Jeyaraj is running for Auburn City Council, Position 3. Jeyaraj's top priority is helping vulnerable residents by providing additional shelters and shelter expansions. He wants to improve housing affordability by giving tax incentives to developers for a number of years and holding them accountable for creating multi-level apartment buildings to serve as affordable housing for young families. He also wants to partner with small businesses to promote local spending and create a clean, welcoming, safe city for all. However, he takes a more fiscally conservative approach to taxes and local government spending.
Jeyaraj is running against Ken Pearson, a reverend who as of late August has yet to post detailed campaign information on his site. However, in his candidate questionnaire to the Auburn Examiner, Pearson stated that he had no plan on affordable housing, as he believes that's not the city council's job, saying, "For all you ‘woke progressives’, that’s the cost of progress. In the near future, you’ll need to earn six figures a year in order to afford to live here." On public safety, Pearson asserts the need for "broken windows" policing, an incredibly damaging policy that leads to aggressive over-policing of communities of color and low-income communities. Pearson also states that a sanctuary city policy would "import poverty and the criminal element."
While he's not progressive on every issue, Jeyaraj is by far the best choice in this race.
Robyn Mulenga, the District 2 Director of the Auburn School Board, is now running for Auburn City Council, Position 5. During her time on the school board, Mulenga worked on the voter-supported bond that will fund the construction of new and replacement schools in the district, helped introduce racial equity policies, and supported building out the district's 5-year strategic plan. If elected to the city council, Mulenga says she will focus on reducing homelessness and its impacts, including building rest areas for the homeless for laundry and showering, as well as continue to focus on improving community engagement in education.
Mulenga is running against Ryan Burnett, a chef and restaurant manager who is concerned about family displacement, community safety, the opioid crisis, and improving business opportunities. He is a member of the mayor’s new jobs task force, which seeks to connect people with job training opportunities.
Mulenga is the best choice in this race because of her record of public service and experience working on important issues in Auburn.
Linda Farmer is a communications professional who has worked with the Washington State Puget Sound Action Team, the Pierce County Library System, and the City of Tacoma. She is currently on the Community Advisory Board for KNKX. She plans to leverage her experience to tackle issues of homelessness and mental health, expand parks, broaden the tax base, and improve roads.
Farmer is running against Ken Witkoe, a former commissioned reserve officer for Lakewood and an instructor at Bates Technical College. He has served in several community roles, including on the Lakewood Public Safety Advisory Committee and Clover Park School District CTE Visual Communications Pathway Advisory Committee. Witkoe is running to improve economic growth through the city's strategic plan, improve infrastructure, and invest in first responders.
Farmer is the best choice for Lakewood City Council, Position 6 because of her progressive values, long record of public service, and strong community support.
Heather Shadko previously served on the Puyallup City Council from 2013 through 2017 and is running again, this time for the at-large seat. She is currently a contracts manager for the Port of Tacoma and a board member of the Pierce County Transit Board, as well as a former vice-chair of the Planning Commission. Shadko made good use of her time on the council, advocating for environmental impact statements for large development projects, fighting for humane treatment of the homeless, and championing public open spaces. Now she is running to improve transportation options, advocate for solutions to homelessness that include affordable housing and addressing mental health, and ensure Puyallup is heard by Pierce County leaders.
Shadko is running against conservative incumbent Dean Johnson, who works at the Nordstrom corporate office in Seattle. Unfortunately, during his time on the council Johnson has failed to adequately address the affordable housing shortage or provide compassionate solutions to the homelessness crisis.
Shadko is the experienced, progressive pick for this position.
Robin Farris, a businesswoman who spent 23 years serving in the U.S. Navy, is running for re-election to Puyallup City Council in District 1. Farris stood up to a far-right group attacking homeless people in Puyallup and instead pushed for community-centered solutions that brought residents together with public safety, business, and homelessness advocates. She is dedicated to public safety, safe routes to schools, and humane solutions to the homelessness crisis.
Farris faces conservative Curtis Thiel in this race. Thiel is running to cut business regulations and find "effective solutions" to the issue of homelessness, though he does not have a detailed plan available. Thiel has not demonstrated the depth of policy knowledge necessary to address this important issue.
For compassion, experience, and community-centered responses to Puyallup's biggest problems, Farris is the best choice for Puyallup City Council in District 1.
John Palmer is the current mayor of Puyallup and serves as a city council member in District 2. He has been a progressive voice for building a strong and safe community, addressing our homelessness crisis with compassion, and smart growth in Puyallup. He’s worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years, served on Puyallup’s Planning Commission from 2008-2011, and was chair of the commission for three years.
Palmer is being challenged by Paul Herrera, an active army veteran and Puyallup tribal law enforcement officer whose campaign has the support of the Pierce County GOP. Like other conservative candidates in these city races, Herrera wants to bring a simplistic law enforcement focus to addressing homelessness instead of taking a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of the situation.
Palmer’s experience, values, and proven record of leadership on the council makes him the best choice in this race.
Independent Ned Witting is running for Puyallup City Council in District 3. He does not have a strong campaign presence, but has been endorsed by the 25th Legislative District Democrats and the Washington Education Association. Witting is a former board member at the League of Women Voters who in 2018 ran for representative in the 25th Legislative District on the platform of ensuring school resources, affordable housing, and addressing traffic gridlock.
Witting is challenging Curt Gimmestad, the incumbent council member for District 3. Gimmestad is running for re-election on a more conservative platform that would undermine city services and rely too heavily on law enforcement.
Witting is the best choice for Puyallup City Council, District 3.
First elected in 2015, Deputy Mayor Conor McCarthy has supported important measures like increasing shelter bed capacity at Tacoma Rescue Mission and enacting tenant protections. Along with Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young, McCarthy proposed the Tacoma-Pierce Opioid Task Force, which brought together local stakeholders to present findings and solutions on the opioid epidemic in the county. McCarthy is a politically moderate voice in Tacoma and has been endorsed by all the current members of the city council. However, we were disappointed that McCarthy did not respond to requests to meet with our local recommendation committee to discuss his campaign.
McCarthy is facing Courtney Love, a lifelong Tacoma resident and a single mother who serves on the board of Whole Washington, an advocacy group for universal single-payer health care in Washington. Our local recommendation committee was very impressed with Love's progressive values and platform, including improving affordability, election transparency, and food and health care security in Tacoma.
We recommend McCarthy because of his support from our Progressive Voters Guide partner organizations.
Kristina Walker is the executive director of Downtown on the Go, a Tacoma-based transportation advocacy organization that aims to encourage the use of biking, walking, transit, and other forms of non-single occupancy vehicle transportation. Walker's campaign emphasizes improving transportation as one of her main priorities. She also advocates for bringing down the cost of college, protecting the city's green spaces, and affordable housing.
She is running against John O'Loughlin, who worked as the Assistant Director for the Waste Water, Surface Water, and Solid Waste Utilities. He states that he will work to make Tacoma friendly for businesses and manage future growth.
Walker's broad support from the progressive community and her dedication to Tacoma's residents and environment make her the best choice in this race.
Nathe Lawver, the Political Director at Laborers Local 252, is running for Tacoma City Council in District 1. He has served as chair of the Pierce County Human Services Coalition and on the Tacoma Environmental Services Commission, as well as on the boards of the Sweet Hope Foundation, Healthy Tacoma, and United Way. While working at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367, he helped pass the city's landmark $15 minimum wage and sick leave laws. Lawver's top campaign priorities include affordable housing, updating the city's infrastructure, and working on the city's mental health needs.
Lawver's opponent is John Hines, an instructional facilitator at the Department of Academic Equity and Access for the Tacoma Public School District. Hines states that if elected, he would lead the city "back to the basics" of providing essential services like road work, expanding law enforcement, and "removing blight and increasing security" of neighborhoods.
Lawver has secured an impressive number of endorsements from the progressive community and is the best choice in this race.
Incumbent Keith Blocker is a managing partner at Archway Consulting Group, a strategy firm that provides political consultation and support for workplace diversity and inclusion. During his time on the council, Blocker has supported immigrants by helping create an Immigrant Legal Defense fund and calling on the public to give to the Deportation Defense Fund, which pays for legal representation for Tacoma residents going through the deportation process. He has also focused on housing and homelessness while on the council, helping establish stronger tenant protections against eviction and supporting the Affordable Housing Trust. Blocker has pledged to continue his work on supportive housing and low-income housing for the community.
Blocker is being challenged by David Combs, the owner of a Tacoma screenprinting shop. Combs points to rising rent as one of the biggest drivers of homelessness in Tacoma. He supports wraparound services that make high-quality education accessible to all, especially low-income students and students of color. Combs also supports demilitarizing the police for a more equitable city, and instead pursuing alternatives like restorative justice and rehabilitation for those with criminalized behaviors.
Blocker has been endorsed by a few of our partners as well as a large number of his fellow Tacoma City Council members. We believe he's the best choice in this race because of his progressive values and strong community support.
School District Races
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below school board races on your ballot.
Lisa Keating is the executive director of My Purple Umbrella, an organization which advocates for LGBTQ students. She was motivated to run because of recent teachers' strikes and is striving to bring more transparency and accountability to the school board.
Keating is challenging 30-year incumbent Debbie Winskill, the longest-serving member on the board. Unfortunately, Winskill was the only member of the board who did not sign a letter condemning the controversial op-ed titled "Diversity education is a divisive education" penned a Tacoma teacher who opposed the incorporation of ethnic studies into Tacoma schools' curricula, saying that she thought he was a good teacher.
It's long past time for fresh leadership on the Tacoma School Board. Lisa Keating is the best choice in this race.
Dr. Enrique Leon was chosen to join the school board by the Tacoma School Board of Directors after School Board President Catherine Ushka was elected to the city council. Along with his position on the board, Dr. Leon works at MultiCare Tacoma Family Medicine and is a team physician for Lincoln and Stadium High schools.
Leon notes that last year's teacher strike gave educators a well-deserved raise, but acknowledged rifts in the community between the district leaders and the unions that resulted.
The state Legislature has enacted a cap on levy funding that has contributed to a budget deficit in Tacoma schools. This year the formula was amended, but schools still face consequences such as teacher layoffs. In light of further likely budget cuts in the district, Leon says he is looking at free and open evidence-based curriculum rather than buying a new curriculum. He will also focus on supporting an enhanced elementary reading curriculum, emphasizing kids' emotional and mental health, and creating community-school partnerships.
Leon is running against Kristopher Kerns, the vice president of Point Defiance Elementary's PTA. He supported last September's teacher strike, saying that teachers deserve fair wages, but noted the burden on parents like himself. Kerns would modify hiring timelines and policies for teachers, aggressively recruit new educators, and states that he will ensure no additional layoffs in the district
We lean towards Leon in this race.
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