NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Seattle voters shake up school board, City Council — and fund transit

Seat­tle’s elec­tion night results defy easy cat­e­go­riza­tion. Per­haps the best way to describe it is that vot­ers are most­ly con­tent with the pro­gres­sive tra­jec­to­ry their city is on — but want that to go fur­ther, espe­cial­ly when it comes to the school board.

All nine City Coun­cil seats were up for elec­tion, and we know the like­ly win­ners in all but two of them. In Dis­trict 1, Shan­non Brad­dock holds a 53–47 lead over Lisa Her­bold. In Dis­trict 2, incum­bent Bruce Har­rell holds a 55–45 lead over Tam­my Morales. How­ev­er, the num­ber of out­stand­ing bal­lots means that Her­bold and Morales still have a chance of pulling even, as late bal­lots usu­al­ly favor more pro­gres­sive can­di­dates like them.

In Dis­trict 3, incum­bent Social­ist Alter­na­tive mem­ber Kshama Sawant has like­ly won her race against Pamela Banks. Sawant leads 53–47, but it is wide­ly expect­ed that future bal­lot counts will favor Sawant.

In Dis­trict 4, Rob John­son has a 55–45 lead over Michael Mad­dux. In Dis­trict 5, Deb­o­ra Juarez has eas­i­ly defeat­ed Sandy Brown. In Dis­trict 6, incum­bent Mike O’Brien is cruis­ing to re-elec­tion over Cather­ine Weat­brook, and in Dis­trict 7 incum­bent Sal­ly Bagshaw has eas­i­ly defeat­ed Deb­o­rah Zech-Artis. In Posi­tion 8 (a city­wide seat), incum­bent Tim Burgess has like­ly defeat­ed Jon Grant, and in Posi­tion 9 (also a city­wide seat), Lore­na González has eas­i­ly defeat­ed Bill Bradburd.

Dis­trict elec­tions have his­tor­i­cal­ly made City Coun­cils more diverse, and this elec­tion is no excep­tion. In the city’s first elec­tion con­duct­ed under a dis­trict sys­tem, vot­ers sent at least four new mem­bers to the City Council.

The City Coun­cil will have a major­i­ty of women for the first time in twen­ty years, and will have at least four peo­ple of color.

This morn­ing, sev­er­al good analy­ses of the Seat­tle results have been post­ed by pro­gres­sive out­lets. The Stranger’s Hei­di Groover looks at the bal­ance of pow­er on the City Coun­cil. The Urban­ist con­cludes it was a good night for urban­ist poli­cies, and Seat­tle Tran­sit Blog called it a great night for tran­sit.

In a cam­paign close­ly watched by cam­paign finance reform­ers across the nation, Ini­tia­tive 122 sailed to an easy vic­to­ry, with ini­tial returns show­ing at least 60% of vot­ers approv­ing of this unique pub­lic financ­ing proposal.

I‑122 would pro­vide every Seat­tle vot­er with “Democ­ra­cy Vouch­ers” that they can give to cam­paigns to redeem from a $3 mil­lion fund.

Seat­tle vot­ers also approved a $930 mil­lion trans­porta­tion levy (Let’s Move Seat­tle), designed to fund improve­ments to tran­sit, bicy­cle and pedes­tri­an infra­struc­ture, as well as road and bridge maintenance.

One of the most impor­tant sto­ries from Seat­tle in the 2015 elec­tion is the vot­er revolt at the school board. Seat­tleites elect­ed a slate of school board can­di­dates who had vowed to take on the dis­trict bureau­cra­cy and shake up the sta­tus quo — and it was­n’t close. Scott Pinkham, Rick Burke, Jill Geary, and Leslie Har­ris were all lead­ing their oppo­nents by wide mar­gins on elec­tion night. Har­ris was 50 points ahead of Mar­ty McLaren, the only incum­bent on the bal­lot this year.

Seat­tle vot­ers were fed up with mis­man­age­ment at their pub­lic schools, crys­tal­lized by the Sep­tem­ber strike that most vot­ers felt was delib­er­ate­ly caused by dis­trict lead­ers. It was a vote of no con­fi­dence in a dis­trict staff who are wide­ly viewed as being unre­spon­sive to par­ent and pub­lic concerns.

The strike and the ongo­ing bat­tle in the Leg­is­la­ture over edu­ca­tion fund­ing have sparked a new grass­roots move­ment of Seat­tle par­ents, and after their vic­to­ries last night, we can expect this move­ment to spread rapid­ly across the state.

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One Comment

  1. Dear Robert, I would appre­ci­ate some exam­ples of the Dis­tric­t’s mis­man­age­ment which you allude to above — aside from how the strike was han­dled. I do not fol­low the School Board close­ly at all and am inter­est­ed in your inter­pre­ta­tion of what the vot­ers were say­ing in this elec­tion. Thank you.

    # by Diann :: November 5th, 2015 at 6:09 AM
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