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Welcome to the preview version of 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. We will continue updating this guide and adding candidates until voting begins on October 16.
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 I-976 would derail our ability to fix dangerous roads, retrofit outdated bridges and overpasses, complete voter-approved light rail, provide transit for riders with disabilities, and more.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 business who benefit the most highly-educated workers 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.
King County relies on its Medic One emergency medical system to respond to 268,000 emergency medical calls a year - one every three minutes. Proposition No. 1 would replace an expiring levy of $0.265 on every $1,000 of assessed property value, which would cost a homeowner of a $500,000 property about $133 per year. Supporting the Medic One levy would continue 40 years of crucial medical services that we all rely on in an emergency.
Our rapidly-growing county can't afford to short change the firefighters and EMTs who keep us all safe. Vote Yes on Proposition No. 1 Medic One.
John Wilson is running unopposed for re-election to King County Assessor. He was first elected as King County Assessor in 2015 after spending four years as Chief Deputy Assessor. Wilson considers himself an "activist Assessor" and wants to stop young potential homeowners and seniors from being priced out of King County. In August 2019 the Assessor's office released a Taxpayer Transparency Tool, a website that provides taxpayers with a breakdown of where their property tax dollars go, as well as the estimated cost of proposed property taxes.
Wilson's years of experience make him a good choice for King County Assessor.
Julie Wise is running for re-election as the King County Director of Elections. Wise has worked in King County Elections for more than 15 years and has held almost every job in the department. During her time as Director of Elections, Wise has worked to reduce barriers for voters, including adding prepaid postage to ballots and increasing the number of ballot drop boxes. Her office also worked to ensure voting materials are available in additional languages and improved election integrity and security for the county. When concerns about VoteWA, the state's new voting system, were raised before the primary, Wise took steps to make sure the election was not impacted.
Wise is being challenged by Mark Greene, a perennial candidate who supports lowering the voting age to 16-years-old but does not support the current system of pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. Greene has expressed distrust in vote tabulation machines and would institute random hand counts.
Wise's experience and strong performance during her first term make her the best choice for King County Director for Elections.
There are two impressive candidates running for King County Council District 2: Councilmember Larry Gossett and Girmay Zahilay. Gossett has earned the endorsement of most of our Progressive Voters Guide partners.
Longtime King County Council member and civil rights legend Larry Gossett is running for re-election in District 2. Gossett is a progressive stalwart on the council. Recently, Gossett was the prime sponsor of legislation establishing King County as a sanctuary for immigrants and refugees. He also led the effort to block King County jails from honoring ICE detainer requests.
Gossett began his career by founding the Black Student Union at the University of Washington and joined leaders from other communities of color in a high-profile series of protests for justice and equality in the 1960s and 1970s. He is now running for a seventh term focused on expanding affordable housing, reducing racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system, and improving transit access.
Gossett is a great choice if you're looking for a progressive council member with a demonstrated track record of fighting for civil rights.
Attorney and nonprofit founder Girmay Zahilay is challenging Councilmember Larry Gossett in King County, District 2. Zahilay, who is the child of Ethiopian refugees, is prioritizing making systemic changes to alleviate homelessness, improving access to transit, and tackling environmental justice. He has made it clear he’s not running to criticize Gossett but to carry on his legacy. Zahilay supports a housing-first approach to homelessness and wants to create a central authority to coordinate the response across agencies and locations. As the co-founder of Rising Leaders, a group that provides mentorship and leadership development to underserved middle school students, Zahilay believes that a stronger mentorship system in Seattle Public Schools could help alleviate the achievement gap.
Zahilay earned strong support in the primary election. He is a great choice if you’re looking for new leadership on the King County Council.
Economic Justice: Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy (CAPE) Rating: 4 stars
There are two impressive candidates running for King County Council in District 4: incumbent Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Abigail Doerr. Kohl-Welles has earned the endorsements of nearly all of our Progressive Voters Guide partner organizations in this race.
Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles is running for re-election to continue her work on homelessness and expanding access to childcare. Previously, Kohl-Welles served in the state Legislature from 1992 until she ran for council in 2015. Throughout her career, Kohl-Welles has been a progressive leader in the fight against human trafficking and has long championed gun safety measures. In addition, she was an early proponent of reforming our state's drug laws to expand access to medical marijuana and reduce incarceration for low-level drug possession. Recently, Kohl-Welles sponsored long-overdue legislation to align and streamline homeless services between the City of Seattle and King County.
Kohl-Welles is a great choice if you're looking for an experienced council member with a demonstrated track record of fighting for progressive causes.
Economic Justice: M. L. King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 6, SEIU 775, SEIU Local 925, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Teamsters 117, Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy (CAPE) Rating: 4.25 stars
Social Justice: Housing Action Fund
Abigail Doerr is a transportation and environmental advocate who is running to bring new energy to the King County Council. Doerr is a former staff member of the Transportation Choices Coalition who led the successful campaign to expand Sound Transit in 2016 as well as the campaign for a carbon tax in 2018.
Doerr thinks King County Council members should be more engaged in the community and should provide stronger leadership on progressive issues, especially transportation and homelessness. As such, she has proposed an ambitious 20-year plan to dramatically increase the availability of both low-and-middle-income housing. She also wants to expand the Best Starts For Kids initiative to support young people and end the school-to-prison pipeline.
Doerr is a great choice if you’re looking for new leadership on the King County Council.
Economic Justice: Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy (CAPE) Rating: 4.25 stars
Claudia Balducci is running for re-election to King County Council, District 6. Balducci previously served as the mayor of Bellevue and on the Bellevue City Council. She is running a strong campaign on a platform of affordable housing, transportation options that fit the way we live, keeping the environment healthy, and education for all King County students. Balducci was unanimously elected to be the council’s Vice Chair of Policy Development and Review in 2019.
Balducci's opponent, Bill Hirt, is a perennial candidate who opposes light rail and doesn't have much more of a campaign platform beyond that.
Balducci has been a strong and effective leader on the King County Council and deserves your vote.
Reproductive Freedom: Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii
Incumbent Joe McDermott first joined the council in 2010 and in 2016 was chosen to be Council Chair. He has advocated for civil rights, safe communities, and transportation. In the last few years on the council, he has introduced the King County Gun Safety Action Plan to address the public health crisis of gun violence, supported county efforts to increase shelter capacity and build more affordable housing, and is working to address racial disproportionality in King County’s juvenile justice system.
McDermott is running against Michael Robert Neher, who is not running a viable campaign. McDermott is the clear choice in this race.
Sam Cho, the co-founder of an international export company, is running for Port of Seattle, Commissioner Position 2. He served on Gov. Jay Inslee’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and previously worked on trade issues for a member of Congress. As the son of South Korean immigrants, Cho is running to make the Port of Seattle work better for all people in King County, from reducing congestion at SeaTac Airport to supporting low-income families south of the airport who are impacted by noise and air pollution. He also wants to use the port as an economic engine to create opportunities for the county’s rapidly growing population.
Cho is running against attorney and former Bellevue City Councilmember Grant Degginger. His priorities for the port include balancing investment in clean fuels and carbon reduction with careful growth and ensuring contract equity at the airport for all businesses. As the port expands its construction projects, Degginger states his role as past chair of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission will mean more transparency for voters.
Cho is the best choice in this race because of his strong support from our Progressive Voters Guide partners.
Incumbent Fred Felleman is an environmental consultant and marine biologist. He is running to retain his seat on the Seattle Port Commission to continue fighting climate change and increase the port's green energy jobs. He has been a leader on the commission in protecting orcas, publicly opposing the dangerous Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, and advocating for well-paying jobs. The port faced criticism following the Trump Muslim Ban when some protesters on the light rail were forced to skip the airport station. However, Felleman was among numerous leaders who released a statement condemning the ban and calling for an evaluation of the numerous government agencies’ response at the airport.
Felleman is being challenged by attorney Garth Jacobson. His priorities include pausing cruise line terminal growth until pollution cleanup efforts are further along, finding a way to eliminate the bus shuttles from the car rental facility, and installing availability lights in the airport parking structure. According to The Seattle Times, as of the primary he has never attended a port commission meeting.
Felleman is the best choice for Port of Seattle, Commissioner Position 5.
Appointed to the City Council in 2018 to replace Tina Buddell, Marli Larimer is running with a focus on economic development, public safety, and affordable housing. She is a senior content editor at Amazon with an extensive history of volunteering on community councils, local PTAs, and other organizations. She also serves on the King County Affordable Housing Committee as well as the King County Advisory Council on Aging and Disabilities Services. Unfortunately, Larimer hired Bailey Stober, the former King County Democrats chair who resigned after being accused of harassment, to work on her campaign.
Larimer is facing Todd Minor, a director at Microsoft and a member of Kent's Police Diversity Task Force and a commissioner on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission. He is running on a platform of public safety and fiscal and environmental stewardship. He plans to advocate for police officers and create non-tax revenue sources, though he does not have details about the latter.
Larimer's support from local progressive organizations makes her the best choice in this race.
Hira Singh Bhullar is a senior software developer for Starbucks who is running for Kent City Council, Position 3 on a progressive platform. Bhullar is a board member of several nonprofits, including Kent Youth and Family Services, the Khalsa Gurmat Center, the Kent Schools Foundation, and the Kent YMCA. His campaign is centered on job creation that supports families, improving transportation, creative revenue generation, and transparency in city government. As an immigrant himself, Bhullar supports immigration reform and embraces diversity in the community. He wants to increase funding for the police department and reduce traffic congestion in Kent.
Bhullar is facing 16-year incumbent Les Thomas, who has missed time on the council recently for health reasons. A former Republican and independent candidate in the early 2000s, Thomas is a more moderate voice on the council. Thomas does not have a detailed re-election platform available, but states that he will focus on traffic congestion, homelessness, and budget constraints. In 2016, he referred to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shooting victim from Ferguson, MO, as a "thief" and objected to a moment of silence for his killing in the Kent City Council.
Bhullar is the best choice in this race.
Mizan Rahman is currently the Senior Capital Project Manager for the King County Wastewater Division. He has deep connections in Kent and is active with the local Muslim community. Rahman has a very detailed plan available on his website, including his priorities of balancing the budget, improving infrastructure, helping the homeless, public safety, and immigration. He wants to ensure that zoning accommodates a variety of affordable housing types, advocate for community-based policing, provide rehab and transitioning homes for the homeless, and streamline department budgets in the city's general fund, among other policies.
Rahman is running against Bill Boyce, the Kent City Council president. Boyce was appointed last year to the King County Children and Youth Advisory Board, serves on the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, and chairs the council's Economic & Community Development Committee, among other leadership roles. However, he hasn't released a detailed progressive platform like Rahman.
Rahman is the best choice for Kent City Council, Position 5 because of his broad support in the progressive community and thoughtful plans to improve the city.
Awale Farah is currently pursuing a master's degree in Innovative Leadership from Saybrook University. Farah's campaign is focused on increasing access to public transportation, affordable housing, and more well-paid jobs for families. As a passionate learner about food security and access to healthy foods in Kent, he has served as a volunteer at the Living Well Kent greenhouse and the Kent Farmer’s Market.
Farah is running against Zandria Michaud, a student at UW Tacoma who is also a U.S. Army veteran, park steward for Green Kent, and member of the Kent Parks and Recreation Commission. Michaud, along with Larimers and Bhullar in Positions 1 and 3, was among 8 candidates shortlisted from a pool of 36 candidates for the vacancy in Position 1 in 2018 after Tina Budell's departure from the city council. Michaud would seek funding for funding additional police officers and sustainable parks funding.
Farah is the best choice for Kent City Council, Position 7 because of his broad endorsements by local progressive organizations.
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