It’s Time to Vote

Vote button

I was recently asked via email if I was going to be providing voting recommendations again this year. Here is my response – for those of you who live in Whatcom County, Washington.  (If you live elsewhere, please feel free to use the Voting Information Tool at the bottom of this post.)

Thanks for asking.  I can imagine that many of you, like me, are really turned off by the all of the political ads coming at you from radio, TV, and direct mailings. The most frustrating part is that most of the money being spent on these ads are not doing anything to seriously educate the voting public, but rather simple messages that have been researched by marketing experts to push buttons in order to achieve knee jerk voting reactions.  I received a big two page fold-out mailer the other day that had a bunch of scary looking guns on the front. I opened the page, hoping to see some informative content on the inside, only to find two totally blank pages, except for a box in the lower right corner telling me to vote yes on 594!
I urge you, however, to put this distasteful phenomena behind you and remember to cast your ballot. It is as important as ever.  The small races close to home may be more important than the big, national races, and your chance of making an impact are higher here as well.
Case in point: If you care about the proposed coal port at Cherry Point,  I believe the most important races for those of us in Whatcom County are the neglected Charter Review Commission. The safest recommendation for the commission is to straight up vote only for the Democratic party endorsed candidates. The Republicans are mostly supporting a proposal that would take decision making power regarding the coal terminal out of the hands of the County Council and giving it to the County Executive. They are also supporting redistricting, which will restrict people voting for County Council to only vote for the district they reside in.  This would give conservative candidates in the County a distinct advantage. Both of these moves are “pro coal” moves.  See Flip’s list of Democratic party endorsements below.  You can vote for 5 commissioners in each district, but in one case there are only 3 candidates endorsed, and you don’t have to vote for more.
In general, I think the choices are pretty straightforward this year.  Tim Johnson, of Cascadia Weekly had an astute observation: “You vote for the individual, but you elect the caucus.”  In other words, there may be some likable Republican candidates, but the current Republican caucus has become extremist and toxic, and by electing good Republicans, you strengthen that toxic caucus, unfortunately.
I agree with the voting recommendations of Riley Sweeney in his 2014 Voting Recommendations post, mostly with Cascadia Weekly (see page 10 of the Oct. 14 issue), and with Flip Breskin (below).  So there’s no need for me to say more than recommending you take advantage of these resources.
From: “Flip Breskin”
Date: October 24, 2014 11:46:42 AM PDT
Subject: [Fl!pPix] Pix For Politics


For newcomers to this list: I send a single email (clearly labeled) just before
elections, describing how I am voting and why, without asking you to vote my way. Other
than that, my Fl!p’s Pix list is almost exclusively about local music and arts. You can
ignore this email if you’re not interested in what I think of politics.

Initiatives & Ballot Measures
Advisory Votes
Charter Review

Here is how I am voting this year, plus a bit about what I’ve learned in general. I am
not asking you to vote my way. If I’m asking you anything, it’s to go do your own
research and make up your own mind! And to please, please VOTE! In this election, the
conservatives are doing well at turning out their supporters by frightening people about
liberty to own guns, abortion, higher taxes, and jobs at any cost. If progressives do
not vote, we will lose.

When I first started doing Fl!p’s Pix For Politics, my original motivation was that I
couldn’t tell anything much about the judicial races from the voter’s pamphlet. I always
wound up talking with my dad and other attorneys I know and trust (lots of them play
music!) to see who’s good. To some extent it’s less about their politics than whether
they pay attention from the bench, rule carefully, play fair, don’t get overturned. This
year was much easier than usual.  Vote for the incumbents; they’re doing fine. I

CHARLES JOHNSON. His opponent has never practiced law in Washington State. That would be
crazy for the state supreme court! Not qualified.
DEBRA STEPHENS. Her opponent is campaigning on a single issue: reform of the State Bar
Association Disciplinary System, which disciplined him! Whether or not the system needs
reforming, a single issue candidate is not a good choice for the state’s high court.

We have a choice between two very different philosophies: support for the PUD being run
only for the benefit of big business, or run to best serve the whole community’s needs.
The coal trains are the single biggest issue, but the basic difference in philosophies
between the two candidates will show up across the board.

In the current set-up, Bob will be out-voted two-to-one, so we won’t see different
results from the voting.  Where we will see a difference is in transparency.  Bob will
daylight the subsidies we, the public, give to industries. Bob’s opponent, Jeff McClure,
already guaranteed our water to the proposed Cherry Point coal refinery – 2 billion
gallons a day – for the next 30 years. McClure put the needs of huge corporations over
the needs of the farmers who feed us. Some single issues are worth my vote.

This one was easy for me this year.  There are dramatic and important differences in the
positions of the candidates before us. On candidates I’m voting with the Democrats. 
Here’s their website:

US Congress  District 1 Suzan DelBene
US Congress District 2 Rick Larsen
State Senate District 42 Seth Fleetwood
State House – Position 1 District 42 Satpal Sidhu
State House – Position 2 District 42 Joy Monjure
State House – Position 1 District 40 Kris Lytton
State House – Position 2 District 40 Jeff Morris

A few notes:

SETH FLEETWOOD. Seth has been a reliable and progressive public servant on the Whatcom
County Council & Bellingham City Council for many years. The Republicans managed to
gerrymander him out of his own district and are making his need to move to stay in the
race into a campaign issue. (Snarky…) His opponent, incumbent Doug Ericksen, has
consistently worked to protect loopholes for the oil industry and other powerful
interests while voting to cut funding for education. Ericksen has also been the biggest
roadblock to passing the Oil Transportation Safety Act. He does not support access to
safe and legal abortion, and the state legislature can have a profound impact on
Washington women’s access to all forms of reproductive health, including birth control.

SATPAL SIDHU is an educator, businessman, local religious leader, and enthusiastic
American By Choice. He created local education programs that specifically create local
jobs for local students. Highly effective at creating common ground.  He’ll help end

JOY MONJURE is someone I’ve known for decades. She’s been a mover & shaker – creating
the Procession Of The Species parade; founding the Food and Farm Finder; growing the
Farm to School program; serving on the Everson City Council; and she’s been working for
years on local water issues. I’m voting for her with great pleasure. Her opponent
incumbent Vincent Buys is ineffective.  In four years in Olympia, he passed only four
bills, three in his first year, and one in the last three years. Vincent also thinks
women should pay more for health insurance because we cost more for reproductive health
care and he, as a man, shouldn’t have to pay for that. He does not believe in the
Affordable Care Act.


I-1351 YES Reduces classroom size
I-591 NO   Remove firearm background checks
I-594 YES  Closes firearm sales loophole

Notes on I-594: In states with very similar laws, women are dramatically less likely to
be killed by domestic partners. I think this one is very important! I was worried when I
heard that our sheriff had come out against this, but he will have to stand for election
in the County, and supporting I-594 could be expensive for him in the future. Former
Bellingham police chief Don Pearce is a major spokesperson in favor of I-594. To
volunteer for this campaign, please contact or
206-450-5790. And talk with your friends.  Let’s do it!

Just maintain them. These are on the ballot because of a Tim Eyman initiative that
requires the public to vote on anything that “raises taxes” including closing loopholes
or extending measures that already exist. The vote does not actually make a difference. 
It’s advisory only. And voting costs the public money to do.  Thanks Tim…

The Whatcom County Charter Review Commission is a unique political event that happens
every 10 years. Each County District votes for and elects 5 citizens to sit on the
review commission. They will meet occasionally in 2015 and propose ballot measures to
appear on next year’s general election ballot. (Copied from the Democrats mailing).

This election has boiled down, once again, to coal. Republicans have two goals: district
voting to make it harder to elect progressives, and shifting the decision on the coal
trains from the County Council to the County Executive. Here are the Democrats’
endorsements. I think it’s worth going with their slate this year to have the best
chance of keeping public influence over the coal train decision.

District 1
Todd Donovan
Barbara Ryan
Eli Mackiewicz
Thomas Stuen
Alie Walker

District 2
Susan Gribbin
Judd Morse
Bob Bandarra
Stan Snapp
Kate Blystone

District 3
John Lesow (I am SO impressed with this man!)
Richard May
Chris Johnson
(They endorsed only three for district three, and I don’t know enough to say.)


“The Voting Information Project (VIP), developed by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Google, and election officials nationwide, offers cutting-edge technology tools that give voters access to the customized information they need to cast a ballot on or before Election Day.

VIP is offering free apps and tools that provide polling place locations and ballot information for the 2014 election across a range of technology platforms:”

To learn more about the Voting Information Project, visit here.


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