By Fuse WA
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Return Ballots by Tuesday, August 6th
Welcome to the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide to the 2019 primary election! The Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information you need to make decisions about the races on your ballot based on your values.
Remember to return your ballot by Tuesday, August 6, and share this guide with your friends!
Justin Camarata is a software program manager who previously served as an interim member of the Tacoma City Council. He has also served the community in numerous organizations, including the Center for Urban Waters, Puget Sound Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board, and the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center Executive Board. Camarata is running for the Port of Tacoma Commissioner, Position 3 to create an equity strategy for the port, partner with the Puyallup Tribe on port issues, and move the port away from fossil fuels and towards green jobs. He recognizes the environmental disparities that low-income people face and wants to focus on hiring locally for port jobs and getting young people and new communities involved in port affairs.
Camarata is facing Frank Boykin and Deanna Keller. Boykin is an account manager with United Parcel Service. 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. Keller is 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.
Camarata received the most support from our Progressive Voters Guide partners, impressed our local volunteer council during his interview, and has the most progressive campaign platform among the three candidates. Camarata is the best choice for Port of Tacoma Commissioner, Position 3.
Environment: Washington Conservation VotersOther: The 29th and 30th Legislative District Democrats, Sierra Club - Tatoosh Group
Attorney Kristin Ang is running for Port of Tacoma Commissioner, Position 5 to build a sustainable vision for industry at the port alongside the sub-area plan. 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 and Shelly Schlumpf. Bryant is a Navy veteran who wants to optimize the loading and offloading of goods with surface transportation, update infrastructure, and take measurable steps to clean the environment in alignment with shipping companies. Schlumpf is the former president and CEO of the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce; she currently runs a consulting business. She ran as a Republican for Representative of the 25th District in 2012. Schlumpf's campaign is centered on business retention and job creation.
Ang is 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 has 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 as well as continue to focus on improving education.
Mulenga is running against Anthony Ase and Ryan Burnett. Ase is a math teacher running as an "everyday man." He is running to expand bus service to better serve neighborhoods in his district, increase affordable housing, and bring in more businesses. Burnett is a chef and restaurant manager who is running because of his concerns 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 in a crowded field against Ken Witkoe, Ria Johnson, Malcolm Russell, Wilbert Pina, and Chas. Ames. Witkoe is a former commissioned reserve officer for Lakewood and an instructor at Bates Technical College who wants to improve economic growth through improving infrastructure and investing in public safety. Johnson, a registered Republican as of last year, has served on numerous community boards, including Hope Northwest, United Way of Pierce County, and Community Health Care. Russell has also served on various community boards but ran as a Republican for Legislature. Pina, who works with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and served on DSHS' diversity and inclusion efforts, is prioritizing increasing affordable housing and implementing debt-forgiveness programs, but hasn't fundraised yet for his campaign as of mid-July. Ames is running for just one term on the council to "change the scourge of politics" and is not fundraising for his campaign.
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.
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 the homeless 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 two conservatives in this race. One opponent, Curtis 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. Marine Corps veteran Matthew Cuyle is taking a hard stance against homelessness and service providers who assist them, calling them unaccountable and "transients and vagrants." Cuyle was issued a trespass order in 2016 after getting into an altercation at the New Hope Resource Center when he took a number of items that he believed to be stolen away from a riverside. Neither of these candidates has 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.
First elected in 2015, Deputy Mayor 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 Brett Johnson and Courtney Love. Love is 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. Love is running on a progressive platform of improving affordability, improving election transparency, and increasing food and health care security in the Tacoma. Our local recommendation committee was very impressed with Love's progressive values and we hope she runs for office again soon. Johnson is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a sales manager at a wood shop who does not appear to be running a competitive campaign.
We recommend McCarthy because of his support from our Progressive Voters Guide partner organizations.
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 and John Marsden. Kristopher Kerns is 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. A single father of two with one child in the district, John Marsden works for a hardware company. He advocated for a grant to help clean up the park at Whitman Elementary. He does not have detailed campaign information available as of mid-July.
We lean towards Leon in this race.
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