Washington State Auditor

My choices are:

The state auditor’s position got a lot more interesting a couple of years ago with the passage of a performance audit initiative. After that, the state auditor could conduct performance audits (not just financial audits) of any government entity in the state. Liberals are hopping mad that Sonntag used the new powers too much, and conservatives are hopping mad that he hasn’t uncovered billions of dollars of government waste. McEntee is running on a platform of wishful thinking that there just has to be some $1 billion in wasteful spending in government in the state, and he’s gonna find it. He thinks he’ll find it in higher education. Sonntag certainly should audit them, but he’s not going to find a billion in savings, and you don’t start your job with the trickiest cases. Sonntag has done a good job. McEntee could probably capably run the office, but he promises more than he can deliver.

I vote for Sonntag.

Washington State Treasurer

My choices are:

The primary job for the state treasurer is managing the state’s money. My favorite candidate came in third in the primary. ChangMook Sohn was the state economist and would have brought to the table an economist’s outlook.

Left in the race is an administrator from the Treasurer’s office who has spent much of his career as a government treasurer and a former state representative who is an economist. One has a lot of experience with running treasuries in the state and knows the issues they face. The other possibly will have insight into the economy and will be able to make better investments of our money because of this. However, McIntire hasn’t been out there with an economics blog or frequent publication in the press about the economy, so I have no way to compare his insights with what actually happened. As a professor, perhaps he’s had some academic publications. This is the thing, quite a large majority of the public economists (i.e., those who have been profligate with their opinions) completely missed or dismissed the housing bubble. I have no way to tell if McIntire is one of those people. What comes up when I search for articles written by him are micro-economics papers on the minimum wage and decisions on training. What I’m worried about is whether he falls into GroupThink like a lot of other economists have.

I kind of have to take a leap of faith here. I’m going to vote for McIntire on the guess that he has some insight, or at least can recognize it well from the people he employs if he wins. I think Allan Martin would be a capable administrative treasurer, and I would vote for him if times were good or McIntire had some indication of being a poor economist. I hope he stays on in the treasurer’s office under McIntire, should McIntire win. But if he doesn’t there are other folks with his background that could replace him.

So my vote will be for McIntire.

Washington State Secretary of State

My choices are:

Jason Osgood’s positions on elections are all pretty solid. Policy-wise we wouldn’t have the issues with using bad election technology that other states have run in to, and which Washington has seen a few instances of. But he’s a one trick pony. The office of Secretary of State’s biggest area is state elections, but it has lots of other responsibilities. The Secretary of State (which is very unlike the federal Secretary of State) needs to be a solid manager to handle all the departments run out of the office. I know nothing about Osgood’s managerial experience, and his web site does not list any. It takes more than being right on an issue.

Sam Reed has been a capable Secretary of State. The state liberal web is pretty anti-Sam Reed because he (along with Rob McKenna) implemented the Top 2 primary. I, however, love the Top 2 primary, which was after all voted in place by initiative. His failing was apparently not fighting it enough. I say booyah! He hasn’t been as rigid as I would like to get verified paper trails in place for election technology, but pushing to have counties move to vote by mail moves more people to a paper trail than anything else will.

My vote is for Sam Reed.

See, I’m not a complete knee-jerk liberal Democrat.

Washington State Lieutenant Governor

My choices are:

  • Brad Owen (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Marcia McCraw (Prefers Republican Party)

Brad Owen’s big thing is that he is anti-drug. I’m muddled with regard to legalization because I’ve seen the harm drugs can do. But I’ve also seen how the war on drugs isn’t working either. So pushing the war on drugs doesn’t win any points with me.

Here’s what the Stranger just wrote about McCraw:

This summer, the 54-year-old Ballard resident partied at both Sturgis and Burning Man. She supports gay marriage and wants to legalize marijuana. And she received a 100-percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.

Unfortunately, she’s solidly pro-McCain too. However, since Owen is pretty much a shoo-in, she’s not really put a lot of effort in to her campaign. Her issues page is shorter than this blog post will be.

So I can’t really vote for either. Probably will vote for Mickey Mouse or something.

Screw it. Brad Owen is a nothing. McCraw has good positions outside of her views on security and Israel (neither of which matter much to the position). Well, and she’s too pro-business for my tastes. Mostly I didn’t want to vote for her because I don’t want this to become a stepping stone to higher office where those positions really do matter. But I think I’ll vote for her anyway knowing she won’t win as a way to signal to Owen to get with the program. And on the off chance she does win, I know she’s solid on marriage equality and fits my views better on drugs.

Washington State Governor

My choices are:

The race is a lot closer than it should be. Christine Gregoire has been a pretty good governor. She’s been hard-nosed in a few cases, particularly with the viaduct and belatedly with making Plan B available. She tends to work behind the scenes and not step in to issues until a consensus or an impasse has developed, and I’d prefer a governor who was more out front on issues.

Dino Rossi on the other hand has done nothing for 4 years since his last run for governor except make speeches designed to keep him viable for governor. His Forward Washington Foundation is a travesty of a charitable organization. His transportation plan somehow can build an 8 lane 520 for 2 billion less than the current 6 lane plan. He’d veto any marriage equality legislation. He’s anti-choice.

Plus, he doesn’t have the balls to run as a Republican. He has to label his preference as G.O.P. Party. Slick, and redundant.

The clear choice is Christine Gregoire.

U.S. Representative Congressional District No. 7

My choices are:

Sacrificial lamb Steve Beren doesn’t have a chance in this heavily liberal district. The Green Party candidate a few years ago had a better chance than does Beren.

McDermott will be a solid but unspectacular Democrat supporting Obama’s agenda, and I’m glad for that.

Beren feels it’s important to wear his religion on his sleeve, and that’s never really something I’m all that fond of. He also is anti-choice and pro-gun. He calls for cutting taxes but doesn’t the things he has listed on his web site to cut spending on won’t add up to the tax cuts he favors. Cutting international aid and the U.N. and even education won’t cover a whole lot. We just don’t spend all that much money on those things. And really, do we need to beggar education and the environment even more? He’s a big no.

But I won’t be voting for McDermott because he could be using his safe seat to really accomplish something, and he’s not leading. I haven’t decided if I’ll write in someone or just leave this one blank.

President and Vice President of the United States

In Washington, the choices on the ballot are the following:

  • Barack Obama and Joe Biden – Democratic Party Nominees
  • John McCain and Sarah Palin – Republican Party Nominees
  • Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez – Independent Candidates
  • Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear – Socialism and Liberation Party Nominees
  • James E. Harris and Alyson Kennedy – Socialist Workers Party Nominees
  • Bob Barr and Warne A. Root – Libertarian Party Nominees
  • Chuck Baldwin and Darrell L. Castle – Constitution Party Nominees
  • Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clementa – Green Party Nominees

Normally I am pro-Nader all the way. I am one of those people who voted for him in 2000 (Washington went for Gore though). The reason I am pro-Nader is that he advocates significant reforms of the kind I approve. Namely, reforming our corporate system. It’s not that I think corporations have too much power, though they do. It’s not the money. It’s that corporations are entities unto themselves. They are accountable to no one, not even their own shareholders. If they aren’t accountable to their own owners, then they aren’t going to be accountable to the public at large. I don’t think a corporation need operate in the public interest. But if government cannot restrain them then they are anti-democratic. I also agree with Nader on pretty much every other issue out there.

Why am I not voting for him this year? In the 2004 election his campaign used massive signature fraud to get him on the ballot in Pennsylvania. Did Nader direct it? I doubt it. Did he know about it? I doubt it. But he is accountable for his organization. If he can’t get a campaign organization to follow the law, I don’t trust his ability to run the federal government. Even if I agree with all his policy choices.

La Riva and Harris advocate anti-market policies and are woefully short of executive experience. Selecting Palin was a bad idea for McCain. Puryear couldn’t get elected dog-catcher.

While I am somewhat sympathetic to Libertarian philosophy, I generally don’t like how its advocates intend to implement their program. I also tend to dislike the Libertarian fuck ’em attitude. There are ways to promote equality that have only limited effect on freedom. Libertarians generally equate freedom with equality, and it just ain’t so. In addition to all that, they decided this year to nominate Bob fucking Barr, the scourge of Bill Clinton. Throughout the 90s, Barr put his nose into other people’s bedrooms, and pursued the impeachment case against Bill Clinton under a complete pretense. It’s only been recently that he’s converted to the Libertarian cause. I’m suspicious of it. I think it’s just a way to get back in to the spotlight. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t attribute motives to politicians.)

Consitution Party, ultra right wing fucknuts. Not overtly racist at least. Believe in a rigid constitution. Nope.

Cynthia McKinney and the Green Party. I’m also generally sympathetic to the Green Party, though usually their policy proscriptions are way too hand-wavey magic happens here things. McKinney herself… my impression of her isn’t positive. More of a speecher than a doer. Her VP nominee lists as a qualification helped form and coordinate the first ever National Hip Hop Political Convention (drawing 3000 attendees). Seriously? There are thousands of people who have organized far larger conventions and gatherings, and they don’t even need to use weasel words like helped and coordinate. No.

Which brings me to the two main nominees:

First, John McCain. The man’s policy prescriptions for the most part are a disaster. Health care? Ugh. Environment? Ugh. Energy? Drill? Seriously? Then there are the things he used to be for but which he dropped to appeal to the right wing of his party: torture, taxes, etc. And then… there’s his constant use of sliming tactics: Obama hangs out with terrorists, Obama was for teaching sex to kids, etc. As Brad Delong constantly writes: dishonest and dishonorable.

Lastly, Barack Obama. I like him. A lot. I wish he was more anti-corporate. And he’s sometimes too much of a incite the fear kind of guy with regard to Israel and Iran. But I think he’ll quickly get us out of Iraq, a war that I think was just but badly prosecuted and ill-timed. He’ll shut down Guantanamo and stop the government culture of secrecy. He’ll work better with our allies. He’ll have Gore to help us on the environment. He’ll get a solid (though it could be much better) health care system in place. He’s pro-urban centers. Rural is just fine, but it doesn’t deserve the accolades and bulk of attention that Republicans give it. He’ll do more for transportation. He’s solid on gay rights except for marriage equality. All in all a really good candidate.

My vote is for Barack Obama.

King County Charter Amendment No. 8 – Nonpartisan Elections

Shall the King County Charter be amended to make the offices of King county executive, King county assessor and King county council nonpartisan, and to establish the nonpartisan selection of districting committee members?

The primary effect of this change would be to obscure the party affiliation of Republicans in a heavily Democratic county. Some districts are less Democratic leaning, but the county continues to trend more and more to the left.

Sure, the counter-argument is that a candidate can put his endorsements of parties in his statement. But if a Republican doesn’t want to be identified as a Republican, he/she just omits it.

If it actually got rid of party influence in elections, i’d be for it. But it’s just hiding things, so I oppose.

King County Charter Amendment No. 7 – Charter Amendment by Citizen Initiative

Shall King County Charter Section 800 be amended to establish a new process for citizens to directly propose amendment to the King County Charter and to increase the signature threshold for citizen-initiated charter amendments from 10% to 20% of the votes cast in the last election for county executive, as provided in Ordinance No. 16221?

This amendment is a mixed bag. Right now the King County Charter does not have an explicit process for being amended by citizen initiative. Because of the Washington State constitution and the state Supreme Court, however, we have an initiative process. I didn’t go search for the case, but I suspect the state initiative petition right holds for every government in Washington. However, the current process is pretty damn cumbersome. First, you have to collect signatures amounting to 10% of the previous turnout for King County Executive. Then, an election is held to decide whether to place the charter amendment on a later ballot. Let me repeat that in different words. We have an election, a full election, to decide whether or not to have another election. I think that’s because it isn’t part of the charter, so we can only enact ordinances by initiative. And an ordinance cannot change the charter, it can only propose a ballot measure to change the charter.

So, the good part is it eliminates the duplicative second election.

The bad part is that the number of signatures is raised from 10% to 20%. I don’t think one percentage is any more magical than another, but we’re not inundated with ballot measures proposed by the people. Most of the measures on the current ballot were proposed by a charter commission or the county council. An argument could be made that this is still necessary because we wouldn’t have the filtering step of the first election. I’d prefer we remove the extra election first, and then see if we need to raise the signature bar later.

I know, it’s not often I agree with Tim Eyman. I’m not opposed to raising the signature requirement on principle. I’d just prefer to wait and see.

On balance though, I think it’s a good charter amendment and I’ll vote for it. I can live with the higher threshold, and I like reducing the cumbersome process.

King County Charter Amendment No. 6 – Budget Deadines

Shall Sections 410 and 420 of the King County Charter be amended to impose deadlines that are twenty days earlier than existing deadlines for county agencies to submit budget information to the county executive and for the county executive to present a proposed budget to the county council, as provided in Ordinance No. 16208?

Again, sure. This is fine. And again, why are we voting on this? Purely procedural an uncontroversial, as evidenced by absolutely no one opposing it (no statement against). This should be able to be changed by the council itself without the expense of an election.