Hacks & Wonks 2023 Post-Election Roundtable Part 2
Release Date: 11/24/2023
Hacks & Wonks
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Editor of The Stranger and noted poet, Rich Smith! Crystal and Rich discuss the significance of the Stranger endorsing “Uncommitted Delegates” in the March 12th Presidential Primary. They then celebrate the legislature’s passage of the Strippers’ Bill of Rights and mourn the deaths of rent stabilization and even-year elections at the hands of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Finally, they cover Seattle City Council’s inexcusable silencing of protesters with arrest. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and...info_outline Week in Review: February 23, 2024 - with Matt Driscoll
Hacks & Wonks
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by metro news columnist and opinion editor for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Matt Driscoll! With two weeks left in the State legislative session, Crystal and Matt dig into several bills with potential for huge impact and needing public support to get across the finish line - HB 2114 (rent stabilization), HB 1932 (even-year elections), and SB 6105 (Stripper Bill of Rights). See the resources section for links to contact your legislators about each of these bills! Next, they discuss the promise of the City of Tacoma’s detailed Anti-Displacement strategy,...info_outline Why Seattle’s Proposed Surveillance Mash-Up is a Lose-Lose with Amy Sundberg and BJ Last of Solidarity Budget
Hacks & Wonks
On this topical show, special guest host Shannon Cheng welcomes back Amy Sundberg and BJ Last from Solidarity Budget to discuss how the City of Seattle is rushing to bring three surveillance technologies to the streets of Seattle with minimal public input - a final public meeting happens next week on Tuesday, February 27th, 6pm! Amy and BJ fill Shannon in on Seattle’s Surveillance Impact Report process and their concerns that three technologies - Acoustic Gunshot Location System (AGLS, aka ShotSpotter), Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), and Real-Time Crime Center (RTCC) - are being rushed...info_outline Week in Review: February 16, 2024 - with Robert Cruickshank
Hacks & Wonks
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Chair of Sierra Club Seattle, long time communications and political strategist, Robert Cruickshank! Crystal and Robert chat about Raise the Wage Renton’s special election win, how a rent stabilization bill passed out of the State House but faces an uphill battle in the State Senate, and the authorization of a strike by Alaska Airlines flight attendants. They then shift to how gender discrimination problems in the Seattle Police Department create a toxic work culture that impedes recruitment, the inexplicable pressing forward by Seattle on...info_outline Week in Review: February 9, 2024 - with David Kroman
Hacks & Wonks
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Seattle Times City Hall reporter, David Kroman! Crystal and David dig into why Seattle is putting less money into new affordable housing project this year and how this week’s launch of a second social housing initiative by House Our Neighbors may be appealing to voters wanting to see progress on the issue. Next, they discuss the pressure on Mayor Bruce Harrell to deliver results now that a City Council friendly to his agenda has taken office and how the new Council’s relative inexperience was on display at initial committee meetings. Finally,...info_outline Harm Reduction in Rural Washington with Everett Maroon of Blue Mountain Heart to Heart
Hacks & Wonks
On this topical show, Crystal welcomes Everett Maroon, Executive Director of Blue Mountain Heart to Heart, for a conversation about their work in Southeast Washington using a harm reduction philosophy to support people, stabilize lives, & promote health and wellness in the community. Crystal and Everett chat about how the opioid epidemic has impacted rural communities, the role that stigma plays in keeping people from the help they need, what harm reduction is and why it is important. They then review the recent roller coaster ride of Washington state’s substance use disorder policy,...info_outline Week in Review: February 2, 2024 - with Erica Barnett
Hacks & Wonks
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Seattle political reporter and editor of PubliCola, Erica Barnett! Crystal and Erica discuss public outcry over targeted inspections of LGBTQ+ establishments and Seattle Council President Sara Nelson’s remarks opposing even-year elections for local races. They then turn to news from King County that the target closure date of 2025 for the Youth Jail will be missed and how the annual “Point In Time” homelessness count will be different this year. The show wraps up with new polling that Seattle voters are supportive of a big Transportation Levy...info_outline Pairing Advocacy and Research for Progress with Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute
Hacks & Wonks
On this topical show, Crystal welcomes Andrew Villeneuve, founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute! Crystal learns about the Northwest Progressive Institute’s (NPI) work to advance progressive policies through their focuses on research and advocacy, what’s covered in NPI’s long form blog The Cascadia Advocate, and the importance of reframing in progressive politics. Andrew then describes how six initiatives bankrolled by a disgruntled wealthy Republican are designed to cause a lot of damage to Washington, how NPI’s careful approach to polling has led to successful results, and...info_outline Week in Review: January 26, 2024 - with Daniel Beekman
Hacks & Wonks
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Seattle Times politics and communities reporter, Daniel Beekman! Crystal and Daniel discuss the unsurprising Seattle City Council vacancy appointment and what we might see from a business-backed, Harrell-picked legislative body as they navigate a hiring freeze, a large budget deficit, and upcoming important policy decisions. Next, they turn to the Office of Police Accountability’s conclusion that SPOG Vice President Auderer’s comments about Jaahnavi Kandula’s death were “derogatory, contemptuous, and inhumane” and speculate how Chief...info_outline The Raise the Wage Renton Campaign with Maria Abando and Renton City Councilmember Carmen Rivera
Hacks & Wonks
On this topical show, Crystal welcomes Renton City Councilmember Carmen Rivera and Raise the Wage Renton Steering Committee member Maria Abando to learn more about the upcoming citizen initiative on the February 13th special election ballot. Modeled after the successful Raise the Wage Tukwila initiative that passed with over 80% of the vote in 2022, community organizers in Renton are campaigning to raise their city’s minimum wage to keep up with surrounding cities like SeaTac, Tukwila, and Seattle. Maria and Carmen discuss how the ability to earn a living wage uplifts everyone, the signature...info_outline
On this Friday show, we present Part 2 of the Hacks & Wonks 2023 Post-Election Roundtable which was live-streamed on November 13, 2023 with special guests Katie Wilson, Andrew Villeneuve, and Robert Cruickshank. In Part 2, the panel breaks down results for Seattle City Council District 7 and reflects on the implications of Seattle’s elections on progressive priorities. For those disappointed in the results, encouragement is given to remain engaged after the election, re-evaluate strategy and messaging, and work on building relationships around issues everyone supports.
The conversation then moves outside of Seattle to encouraging results from around the region - a more progressive and more diverse King County Council, success for initiatives addressing cost-of-living concerns in Tacoma and Bellingham, promising municipal election outcomes in Bothell, Spokane, Tacoma, Bellevue, and Redmond, as well as defeat of a right wing incumbent in the Snohomish County Sheriff race. Plus, a discussion of the exciting upcoming move to even-year elections for King County races and the need to address an unintended consequence this turnout-boosting change has on citizen initiatives!
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter at @HacksWonks. Find the host, Crystal Fincher, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find guest panelists, Katie Wilson at @WilsonKatieB, Robert Cruickshank at @cruickshank, and Andrew Villeneuve at https://www.nwprogressive.org. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Katie Wilson is the general secretary of the Transit Riders Union and was the campaign coordinator for the wildly successful Raise the Wage Tukwila initiative last November.
Andrew Villeneuve is the founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) and its sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer.
Robert is the Director of Digital Strategy at California YIMBY and Chair of Sierra Club Seattle. A long time communications and political strategist, he was Senior Communications Advisor to Mike McGinn from 2011-2013.
[00:00:00] Shannon Cheng: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I’m Shannon Cheng, Producer for the show. You’re listening to Part 2 of our 2023 Post-Election Roundtable, with guest panelists Katie Wilson, Andrew Villeneuve and Robert Cruickshank, that was originally aired live on Monday, November 13th. Part 1 was our last episode – you can find it in your podcast feed or on our website officialhacksandwonks.com. You can also go to the site for full video from the event and a full text transcript of the show. Thanks for tuning in!
[00:00:44] Crystal Fincher: We'll transition to District 7, which we saw the third incumbent running for Seattle City Council, who - this is a very, very close race still, but it looks like Andrew Lewis may have run out of runway to come back in this race. What was your view of this, Robert?
[00:01:03] Robert Cruickshank: Yeah, I mean, Andrew Lewis won a close election in 2019 and he appears to have lost a close election here in 2023. I know that there is - we'll see the spending slide in a moment, but there's more spending certainly against him than his colleague Dan Strauss saw. I think that looking at the map - and there it is, I mean, it's almost 2:1. Similar to Davis, Andrew Lewis got nearly half a million dollars spent against him.
If you look at the precinct map so far and compare it to 2019 - in 2019, Andrew Lewis held his own on Queen Anne, on the top of Queen Anne - that sort of island up in the sky of privilege and prosperity. Andrew did pretty well, won a bare majority in Queen Anne, just like he won in the district as a whole. If you look at the map from 2023, Queen Anne almost uniformly going to Bob Kettle. Now again, not all ballots are in, but I think you see - another thing that stood out to me is downtown. Downtown Seattle, Belltown - a lot of renters, also a lot of condo owners - that also seems to have gone to Bob Kettle. So I think that the narrative about public safety probably tripped up Andrew Lewis here.
And I think Andrew Lewis - he voted against the drug ordinance in June when it first came up, but I think that was the right thing to do from a policy perspective. And then he wound up voting for it after working out a deal with the mayor's office to improve the ordinance. Voters may not have liked that, and certainly Bob Kettle ran pretty hard against that - putting out campaign messaging saying that Lewis was waffling, which is never a thing you wanna have said about you. I think that this is one where Strauss made the pivot that Lewis didn't really wanna make. And I think we, again, as progressives, gotta look at this and think - Lewis stood where we wanted him to stand, especially in that vote in June. And I think figuring out how to support candidates when they do things like that is going to be really important.
This is another one obviously where turnout was different - a significant drop-off of turnout from 50% turnout in 2019 to 40% turnout in 2023. Again, you don't need much shift in turnout - especially if it comes among younger voters, renters, people living in dense communities - giving the victory, potentially to Lewis had they shown up. So this is where I feel like we can talk about Lewis - what Lewis should have done. I also look at the progressive movement as a whole and think - what did we all need to do differently in this election? I think finding ways to really fight for someone like Lewis, who's with us on most things, and certainly took up what I thought was a courageous vote in June - We've gotta reflect on that and think how we do better next time in these types of close races.
[00:03:55] Crystal Fincher: What did you think, Andrew?
[00:03:57] Andrew Villeneuve: Well, I think District 7 is the most conservative of the seven districts. And so the deck was kind of stacked against Andrew Lewis to start out with. And then as Robert said, the public safety piece was kind of big here. How much did voters see and hear about why Andrew Lewis was taking the votes and the actions that he did? Because for those of us who follow politics closely, we are interested in what happens at council, we're interested in the votes, and we pay an inordinate amount of attention and consume a lot more information. We might've been able to follow what Andrew Lewis was saying a lot more easily about why he voted the way he did in June, and then what he did in the fall - the late summer and fall - that caused him to take a vote that many people might've thought was contradictory to the vote that he took in June. And so I'm not sure how many voters were able to follow what was happening there. And it might've looked like, to use the old political cliche, flip-flopping. And if that's the case, if that's how voters perceived that, that could have been a negative. And Bob Kettle certainly being able to capitalize on that - that could be a very powerful thing if people are already feeling a little unhappy, disenchanted.
We saw at the beginning of this year - we did a citywide poll right before the election that was for the initiative, the social housing initiative - we had the special election, we did a poll before that. And pretty much everyone in the council got a negative job performance rating, except for Sara Nelson, who had a slightly positive one. And I looked at that and went - Hmm - 'cause we weren't just assessing, how do you feel about the council as an institution? 'Cause that's a separate question. It's possible to like your member of the institution and dislike the institution - we see that dynamic with Congress. But here, people actually - we had in the poll, we had people rate each councilmember and the ratings were not good for most of the incumbent councilmembers. Sara Nelson being the exception, as I mentioned. So people were already unhappy, and then you take this public safety dynamic and this confusing position-taking that is going on, I think for many voters, and it becomes something that leaves you feeling not confident about voting for the incumbent.
And I know Andrew Lewis worked really hard. I know he did a lot of door knocking, that I think they did try to leave it all out there in the field. But when you put together the low turnout, the money that was spent against Andrew Lewis, you put in the fact that it's a very conservative district out of the seven to start with, then you have the recipe for a Bob Kettle victory. Bob Kettle had a lot working for him. I don't think he ran the strongest campaign we've ever seen in Seattle city elections history. I think he just was lucky. He was a beneficiary of circumstances. So I'm gonna miss Andrew Lewis on the council - One of our board members is on his staff and I just think he brought a lot to the council. And I hope he runs for something else or stays involved in politics because I appreciate his vision.
[00:07:01] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I do appreciate his vision. And I think you're onto something with the confusing. It's confusing to be able to explain that, and I think that wasn't the only set of confusing votes that he took. There was a notable one last year, early this year - time doesn't mean much to me anymore - that he took there, and while that does happen and while there are certainly justifications, that's a hard thing to explain. And when you do, you better be clear and hope it cuts through to the voters. And I think that's a really hard thing to do for the general public, particularly when you have hundreds of thousands of dollars painting some of your votes in a different light. We saw in one of those ads with Bob Kettle - Sara Nelson blaming deaths on Andrew Lewis, which I think was disingenuous. But it just showed the amount of spending, the type of rhetoric that was in this race and that they really felt he was vulnerable on public safety and they certainly took advantage of that.
I wanna shift a little bit and talk about what this means moving forward for the city of Seattle. What does this council mean for the city? I wanna start with Katie. What are we likely to see?
[00:08:25] Katie Wilson: [baby crying] Can you come back to me?
[00:08:25] Crystal Fincher: I sure can. We'll start with Robert.
[00:08:30] Robert Cruickshank: Yeah. I share the baby's thoughts on this. It's not good, folks. I think what this election will have done is turn the 2020s into a lost decade for Seattle. I think we're going to spend the next four years until 2028, when a new council is inaugurated, playing defense. I think it's going to be very difficult to advance new policies, especially around housing, transportation, and climate. I think that especially for the next year or so, some of the most regressive forces in the city are going to feel emboldened. People who don't want new housing, people who want a transportation policy centered around cars and nothing else are gonna feel really like the wind is in their backs and they can really push harder than they might otherwise have pushed. I think there's going to be big fights over a comprehensive plan that's supposed to be approved next year. And this incoming council may not be as friendly to dense urban housing that we need to tackle the climate crisis and the affordability crisis as some of the other candidates would have been. We have to renew a transportation levy next year. Is that going to be focusing on a new sustainable transportation plan that focuses on transit, people who walk, people who bike, or is it gonna be tripling down on cars? Those are some of the things that come to mind.
The fight over JumpStart and taxing corporations is going to be significant. It's quite possible that this election turns out to foretell a significant decline in the quality of life in Seattle - if we see budget cuts to major public services, to libraries, parks, and certainly human services, I'd worry a lot about that. It's also possible that we don't see an incoming council that's really focused on building enough housing, especially affordable housing, and transportation options to make it easier for people to live and work here - that we become even more polarized into a city of the very rich and the very poor.
So I think we gotta be clear right here as progressives. The messaging we had on public safety, on homelessness wasn't working. Again, I don't think we should throw out our core values, but we've got a lot to learn from here. And the messaging that does work for us - housing, that people want people to fight for their rights as renters, wanna fight for affordability - we didn't do enough of that, I don't think. And finally, we need to figure out what pulls our people out to the polls. Do we need to start running ballot initiatives at the same time as mayoral elections, as city council elections in November? I think we should very seriously start considering that. But we're in for four years of playing a lot of defense and we're gonna lose a decade when we really can't afford to lose it to tackle affordability, racial justice, police reform and climate.
[00:11:11] Crystal Fincher: What are your thoughts, Andrew?
[00:11:13] Andrew Villeneuve: Well, I like to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. And I think that there's an opportunity to persuade the council to be progressive. And I think that we can see a lot of great things happen with this council if people put in the work to create the relationships and to connect with folks - I'm someone who believes you create the future you wanna see. And I'm not a huge fan of predictions either because I think it's really hard to make them and they're so often wrong. So my advice to those who are concerned about the outcome of this election is it's time to dig in and to build the relationships with those new councilmembers and to talk to them now before they get sworn in and to create that connectivity - that connective tissue - that should exist and make sure that again, people have had a chance to hear what it is we're looking for.
There's a lot of research, including NPI's research that shows people want the things that progressives in Seattle have been campaigning for. We want, for example, a more pedestrian-friendly city. We want a city that's not so car-centric. We want a city that has better transit. We want more housing. We want to make sure that as we're building the housing, we're not also losing our tree canopy because that is a critical tool in the fight against climate damage. So there's a lot that can be done, I think, by the council. And the mayor and the council need to hear from people now and not after they make a decision that people are unhappy with. It's not just the public testimony that matters, but it's also the work that's being done in between.
I like to think of the holiday season as a time for catch up and preparing for what comes next. And my suggestion to those who are listening is - okay, yes, celebrate the holidays - whatever you celebrate, do it. Don't lose out on your holiday traditions. But while you're preparing your plan for Thanksgiving, send off a note - find the information for the people who won their council races and send them a note and tell them what you're looking forward to in the next council and the policies you're hoping that they'll champion - and see what happens. I think that we don't put enough value on what we do after the election. There needs to be activism that comes after the voting has stopped and the counting is done - and before people take office and start governing - that in-between time to me is a critical time to get opinions shared with people who are coming in. So that's what I would encourage folks to do.
[00:13:44] Crystal Fincher: I want to strongly second that encouragement. I think that there is a lot of opportunity and whether you're happy with the results or not, I think it's really important to remain engaged after the election and to push for what you want whether it's a progressive or a moderate council. I also think that there is value in building relationships and there's value in starting a dialogue. Everything that we do is a result of coalitions and sometimes those coalitions don't look exactly like we expect them to. There are several issues that are very, very popular among Seattle residents that you look at what the council ran on and it may seem opposed - maybe that's the opportunity for some dialogue and some movement there.
Looking at setting up alternative response - that may be a little - I think most people have something more comprehensive in mind than the trial that just started, getting that spun out in all neighborhoods in a more comprehensive way 24/7 certainly is really popular - one of the highest polling issues in Seattle, there's opportunity there. Progressive revenue polls really high in the city as we head into this time of a pretty significant deficit in the City's budget. There's opportunity for dialogue to say this is absolutely critically important to me, my neighborhood, my neighbors and to make sure that councilmembers understand the impact that Seattle programs, that different things in your community have on your life.
This is really a time to get engaged - to let the councilmembers, incoming councilmembers, know it's important. And the existing councilmembers - who knows what they're liable to do. Now, some of them don't have to worry about what voters might think - that may have been part of their equation before. So there may be an opportunity for some bold action even before some of the existing ones end up going. So I just really do second that and point out that there are still some things that are really popular among residents in Seattle that I think they're looking to see these candidates deliver on. Katie, did you wanna add anything?
[00:16:00] Katie Wilson: Yeah, and I apologize if this is repetitive since I wasn't listening for a little bit, but yeah, I mean, the thing that is foremost in my mind is progressive revenue in the City budget. Knowing that the city is going into a situation where there's a more than $200 million a year shortfall starting in 2025. And I think there will continue to be efforts to basically repurpose the revenue from the JumpStart corporate tax to fill that gap. And so my kind of worst nightmare - well, maybe not worst nightmare, but one of the bad nightmares for what could happen with the new council aligned with the mayor and kind of pressured by the Chamber of Commerce and similar interests - is that they basically just gut JumpStart, take all of that money away from affordable housing, away from Green New Deal, away from equitable development. And basically it just becomes a general fund slush fund for the police budget. And I could totally see that happening. So that is, I think, something that will be a big issue next year, assuming that the economy doesn't just totally turn around and suddenly the shortfall evaporates.
So yeah, I mean, and I think that to what Crystal just said - given that the councilmembers will have an opportunity in the coming weeks as they complete the budget process to vote on potential revenue proposals. I know Councilmember Sawant every year proposes some massive increase to JumpStart, like doubling it or something. So, you know, maybe on their way out, some of the outgoing councilmembers will just say, f--- it and we'll do that. But I'm sure the new council would reverse it right quick, but it would be fun anyway.
[00:17:47] Crystal Fincher: Well, and one thing I do wanna add - another thing that is very popular and necessary in the city, and that seeing you with your baby there reminds us all of, is the importance of childcare and how critical it is that the council play an active role on making it more accessible and affordable to the residents of Seattle and how important that is to Seattle's economy. So look forward to seeing what plans and action they have there.
I wanna switch gears a little bit. We have talked a lot about Seattle for all this time, but let's talk about some of the other races. Let's talk about the King County Council races. So the first one up was Jorge Barón versus Sarah Reyneveld. We also saw Teresa Mosqueda versus Sofia Aragon. I think with Jorge Barón, we saw him do one of the things that's relatively rare in Seattle politics - and that was lock down both The Stranger and The Seattle Times endorsement, which usually equates to a pretty comfortable victory and I think we saw that here. But we also saw a race with Teresa Mosqueda and Sofia Aragon that was a little closer than some people anticipated. Why do you think that was, Robert?
[00:19:03] Robert Cruickshank: So I think that that district includes a fair amount of Burien. And I think Burien's politics this year were very polarized around - you might say The Seattle Times, Brandi Kruse narrative of, we gotta crackdown on visible homelessness in ways that are really just appalling and honestly dishonest. Sofia Aragon had been mayor of Burien and sort of leader in that effort. And so people who were invested in that narrative, whether they're in West Seattle or in Burien portions of the district, had a champion.
That said, Teresa Mosqueda is an incredibly effective politician and legislator. I wanna give a shout out to Kamau, @Kamaumaumau on Twitter, who's got a Mosqueda theory of politics - talk about popular stuff, pick a few strategic fights and highlight them, get elected, pass a bunch of taxes to solve people's problems, and then talk about it. The fact that Mosqueda was a very effective and visibly effective leader on the Seattle City Council, I think, helped insulate her a little bit from some of the criticisms that that council got. Those criticisms never really seemed to stick to Teresa Mosqueda - while Lorena González was going down to defeat, and Ann Davison was being elected our city attorney, and Sara Nelson getting elected citywide seat in 2021 - Mosqueda won with 20-point victory citywide that same year. And so I think Mosqueda, you have to give your hat off, take your hat off to Mosqueda for running a smart campaign, being a smart politician, showing that she's engaged on the issues, but also championing some really popular things and making sure voters know about it. So I think there's a lot to learn from Teresa Mosqueda and how she was able to pull out this victory, which was a close one, obviously. They threw everything they had at her and she prevailed. And I think that's a big kudos to the type of campaign she ran.
[00:21:02] Crystal Fincher: Do you think the electoral theory of Mosqueda holds up, Andrew?
[00:21:07] Andrew Villeneuve: I think so. I mean, Teresa Mosqueda is one of the people who's impressed me the most in local politics the last few years. I've had her at one of the NPI events, speaking about issues that are important. She is someone who understands data and she's very quick to realize - okay, this is the policy that will help us in 20 years. And so I really appreciate that about her. She's very passionate about even-year elections, which I hope we'll say a couple more words about, 'cause I think that is a remedy for some of the things that we've been talking about this past hour.
But when you look at her performance on the electoral map, Teresa Mosqueda doing well in places like Georgetown, performing well on Vashon. People sometimes forget that Vashon is a part of King County - it's a critical part of that district, the 8th District. So I see Sofia doing well in some parts of West Seattle. Robert mentioned Burien, another critical place. But that Vashon performance - that is an orange island on the general elections dashboard for Teresa Mosqueda. And looking at some of the precincts - I see 64% here, 73% over there. I mean, those kinds of margins matter. And I think that's how Teresa Mosqueda was able to build that majority. And of course, when you start - maybe it's a close race on Election Night. But when you start in a better position than your opponent, that late progressive ballots are just gonna lift you much higher. So the race - when that certification arrives, it's not gonna appear as close as it was on Election Night.
So I do applaud Teresa Mosqueda for running a good campaign for the County Council. And I think, with both Jorge and Teresa coming in, the County Council is getting more diverse. I think it's gonna get more progressive. I think we're gonna see some exciting new policies coming out of the Council. This is what we need. We're at a critical time. King County is on some very steep fiscal shoals, and we need the Legislature to step in, and we need progressive tax revenue options for King County like yesterday. And I'm hopeful that Teresa and Jorge will go down and advocate for that in the Legislature. And knowing them, I believe they're well-positioned to do that and bring that fresh energy that King County needs to the legislative delegation and say - Look, folks, this can't be something we punt and just don't do this year and just leave it to next year, and then it's the same story next year. We've gotta change and break out of that cycle.
[00:23:33] Crystal Fincher: Completely agree. And I know Mosqueda put in a ton of time on Vashon, which makes a difference. You have to show up. She's incredibly effective in what she does. She's a budget expert. And I'm excited to see what she does on the King County Council.
There's an interesting dynamic that we don't see a lot of times. We saw Seattle move in a more moderate direction, but we saw the King County Council move in what looks to be a more progressive direction. What do you think accounts for that? I'll open it up to anyone.
[00:24:05] Katie Wilson: Well, I'll just say one thing about the Mosqueda race. I mean, I don't know - I think, Crystal, you said it was pretty close. But in the end, I don't think it is that close - it's like a 10-point margin, so it's actually kind of a pretty big, major, major victory for Mosqueda. And I just looked up the PDC numbers - I don't think that Sofia Aragon ran that much of a campaign, so I think that's something to consider. Mosqueda, I think around $150,000 for Mosqueda's campaign, around $100,000 for Aragon. So it doesn't surprise me too much that she won by that much, even though so much of the district is outside of Seattle. But yeah, I mean, I think it's super interesting that the King County Council looks like arguably a place where a lot more interesting progressive stuff could happen in the next four years than the Seattle City Council.
[00:24:52] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. I'll interject really quick. The same thing that we talked about with engaging, building relationships, holding these electeds accountable to what they said they would do in the election and to what your neighborhoods need are just as important in cities like Burien with the results that we saw as they are in Seattle.
What do you think we are going to see from the King County Council moving forward with the addition of Jorge Barón and Teresa Mosqueda?
[00:25:20] Robert Cruickshank: I mean, I think that there's certainly an opportunity for some more progressive policy, certainly around housing. They're gonna have to solve, as Andrew mentioned, the revenue issue. And that becomes particularly important with King County Metro, which is making a comeback from certainly the pandemic lows, but with a still slightly smaller route network than it had going in. And so a little bit less ridership than it had going in. There's been recovery, I think, on a lot of routes that don't necessarily serve downtown Seattle - there's been recovery on those too. But the way people get around has shifted a little bit, and the system does need to catch up to that and then go ahead. Like Metro and transit are so essential to our ability to tackle the climate crisis. And King County is squarely in the middle of that. So one thing that I think Barón and Mosqueda are going to be confronted with immediately is a need to tackle that question. There's been talk that the county may put as much as a billion dollar ballot measure on the ballot in 2024 to tackle climate issues, potentially including transit. And I think that that's ambitious. That's, I think, correctly ambitious - we need to see what the actual details of the proposal look like. But that's something where Barón and Mosqueda are going to have to take a close look.
And certainly they're going to have to advocate the Legislature because, as Andrew mentioned, the Legislature since the mid-2000s has really undermined the ability of local governments, including counties, to raise their own revenue and stay fiscally afloat. And that's catching up to King County real fast. And so they're going to need to lead on that.
[00:26:56] Crystal Fincher: What are your thoughts, Andrew?
[00:26:58] Andrew Villeneuve: I agree. I think we have to deal with the Metro issues, but we also have rural roads problems in King County that haven't been addressed. And the previous council of the last 20 years had kind of let these issues fester. My councilmember used to be Kathy Lambert and Kathy cared a lot about rural roads, or so she said, but then the rural roads just weren't getting funded. And I think, you know, here's part of the problem with being a Republican in today's environment - and this is setting aside a lot of the Trump cult stuff - but what we see from a lot of Republican elected officials is they're willing to spend money that's already there, but they want to spend it in ways that actually don't help anybody. So like, for example, just canceling certain taxes and sending the money back to taxpayers. Well, you can't fix the potholes over there on the road with your tax refund. So when rural residents, you know - and Skykomish comes to mind, that's a place that many people might think is not in King County, but it actually is. It's part of Kathy Lambert's old district, now represented by Sarah Perry, my councilmember. And, you know, you think about - okay, what's it going to take to repair some of these rural roads? And it's going to take money. And some of the roads are in terrible shape 'cause they haven't been maintained. And when you don't maintain your roads, you know, they fall apart. It's the same thing with bus service. Like if you're not investing in your bus service and, you know, you're not providing like really reliable, consistently good experience for people, people are going to stop riding. They're going to go back to their car if they have one, because they're, you know, those choice riders can choose not to take the bus. And we don't want choice riders to go back to driving their car because that makes traffic congestion a lot worse. So we need to both address the rural roads, we need to address Metro. There's other public services as well that people don't even know the county does that we need to have elevated.
What I'm really excited about though is in the next few years, King County Elections, thanks to the work of the Northwest Progressive Institute and all of our partners and allies - we're moving county elections to even years. So that means that starting in 2026, we're going to elect Teresa Mosqueda and Councilmember Balducci and Councilmember Zahilay and of course, new Councilmember Barón - they're all going to be coming up in 2026. That's their next election - that's three years from now, not four years. And of course, that's also when Julie Wise and John Arthur Wilson's seats come up as well. And then in 2025, we elect the executive and five other council positions for three-year terms - that's the last odd-year election for those. And then those come up in a presidential year. And I just can't wait to see how much higher the turnout is and how many more people discover that county government is a thing - and it does things that are really important and meaningful to their lives. And I hope that they start to realize - okay, now I get to help pick these people - because they are even-year voters, and now they're going to have a say in how King County is run and who represents it. So I just think that that is a tremendously positive change that we're doing for King County. We also now need to do that for our cities.
[00:29:53] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely agree. And I hope that we see legislation at the state level. I know Representative Mia Gregerson had a bill there to bring even-year elections, which just increased turnout and participation, which is good for everyone. And would love to see it in all of our elections here. Other cities are doing it and we should also do it here in Washington State.
I want to, with a little bit of time that we have left, move out a little bit - and I'll go to Katie to start out with. Looking wider in the region, wider across the state - thinking Tacoma, Spokane, Bellingham - there was actually a lot to be excited about and a lot of progressive victories. What did you see around the state that you found encouraging or exciting?
[00:30:44] Katie Wilson: Well, the Spokane mayor race, obviously the outcome was encouraging. But the thing that I've paid the closest attention to and that I think is just very, very heartening is the result of a few initiatives on issues. So down in Tacoma, there was a very ambitious renter protections initiative, which will bring Tacoma's renter protections up to, and in some cases beyond, what we have here in Seattle. And that initiative was outspent massively. I think it was like three to one and the opposition - very, very well funded by real estate and landlord interests - with TV ads, mailers, just like everything. They just went balls to the walls on that. And the initiative is winning. And I think that's just like - really, really speaks to the way that the rent increases of the last few years have shifted public opinion and to just the popularity of renter protections. This is something that the Transit Riders Union and lots of other organizations in King County have been working a lot on over the last few years here.
And the other couple initiatives were up in Bellingham. There's a renter protections initiative up there that would also do basically landlord-paid relocation assistance for rent increases greater than 8% and more, requirements for more notice of rent increases. And then also a minimum wage initiative that will raise Bellingham's minimum wage to $2 above the state minimum wage. And those both passed by large margins - I believe somewhere around 60% or even more. And I don't think those face any opposition. So that again, just gives you the sense of this kind of like native support for kind of cost of living kind of issues. So that's super heartening. And then one thing I wanted to point out, which is - and I think that also, we're gonna see next February - it looks like we're gonna have in Renton, the Raise the Wage Renton will be on the ballot for people to vote on. So hopefully that also passes with flying colors, although obviously February election is a little bit more challenging.
And the one thing I wanted to say in connection to what Andrew brought up about even-year elections, just 'cause it's been on my mind - at least for Seattle and King County, this isn't, it's not the same for code cities, but for Seattle and King County, one unintended consequence of moving to even-year elections will be that it will become harder to run citizens' initiatives because the number of signatures that you need to gather depends on the number of votes cast in the last election for mayor or county executive. And so if we're switching to even years, many more people are voting, which is great. Suddenly you're gonna need to gather a lot more signatures in Seattle or countywide in order to run an initiative. So I hope that alongside those changes, we can try to push for lowering the signature threshold for ballot initiatives in those jurisdictions. Yeah, I'll stop there.
[00:33:46] Crystal Fincher: I think that's an excellent point. I will also throw in as we're talking about elections and when they are being so important, we have a King Conservation District election coming up in January, I believe. It would be great to get that onto a regular ballot - that's going to take some legislative action. That would be great to push for, but in the meantime, make sure that you engage in that election, which will be coming up also. Robert, what did you see that excited you throughout this?
[00:34:16] Robert Cruickshank: You know, I think that we saw on the Eastside of Lake Washington, a lot of victories for more progressive candidates. In Bellevue, we certainly saw that. Big shout out to Bothell - Bothell elected a bunch of urbanists. They, Mason Thompson, who's the mayor of Bothell, won his election four years ago by five votes. He got 60% this year. So did the other folks running with him - Amanda Dodd and Carston Curd got around 60%. This is Bothell, which is a great city, and I think it's going to become even better, you know, now that they've got some really urbanist folks there. They also have one of the only Palestinian Americans on their city council. So Bothell, you look at - there's some good folks in Redmond. There's definitely some good folks in, I mentioned, bellevue. Tacoma - not only did Tacoma for all pass, but Jamika Scott won, Olgy Diaz is leading. So those are really great, great signs out there.
And I think what that shows is that there are lessons that Seattle can learn from other parts of the region. There are also differences. Those races don't have sort of the obsessive Seattle Times, Brandi Kruse eye on them, which changes things. And those races in those more suburban communities also didn't have the avalanche of corporate money, although certainly the Tacoma for All initiative did. But I still think there may be things we can learn about how to turn out voters and how to win some persuadable voters from those. But overall, that's really positive signs to take from around the state, even as we who are in Seattle - we'll gnash our teeth a little bit about how some of these races turned out.
[00:35:53] Crystal Fincher: And I'll give you the closing word, Andrew.
[00:35:55] Andrew Villeneuve: Well, thank you. It has been a pleasure to share this evening with all of you. I think this has been a great discussion. I want to encourage you to look at all the different election results from the different cities and other jurisdictions, because it is - in a local election cycle, you have this amazing patchwork quilt of elections. And some jurisdictions are dealing with issues that are specific to those jurisdictions, and that really causes their elections to go in a certain direction. But others, you know, don't have those. And what we saw this year in places like Spokane was a really progressive result. Not only did Lisa Brown win a convincing victory, and I hope folks will look at the amount of money that was spent against Lisa Brown - it was enormous. You know, we're talking about the Tacoma tenant rights initiative, which is a huge victory - kudos to those folks. But Lisa Brown also overcame an avalanche of money and of opposition money. And that was a really big deal that she was able to do that. And then of course, for Spokane City Council President, we have a woman of color winning that race. The council in Spokane is gonna stay progressive. You know, that is a really encouraging sign. There's been 12 years of Republican rule in Spokane, and that's coming to an end. And Lisa Brown is gonna be in a position to do some great things for Spokane, and people in Seattle should track what's happening over there. Spokane has fortunately a fairly vibrant media ecosystem - I've been reading all of the reports that their TV stations have been doing for this election. And it's just interesting to see how they covered the mayor's race over there. There were a lot of forums and debates and articles and the controversy over, you know, the Matt Shea appearance that Nadine Woodward, Lisa Brown's opponent had - that was very well covered. People definitely heard about that. So that gives me some confidence. You know, when we're looking at news deserts - and my hometown of Redmond is one - you know, there's not enough information for voters. And Spokane is big enough that it has that media ecosystem that really helps.
For me, the most important race this year is the defeat of Adam Fortney. He is the former, soon-to-be former, Snohomish County Sheriff. And he was one of the most right-wing sheriffs this state has ever seen. He had Mark Lamb up here for a fundraiser recently - Mark Lamb is that really scary guy in Arizona who's also a sheriff, and he has some really horrible views that are extremely extreme. I mean, we're talking like more extreme, I think, than people in Washington have ever seen in a candidate around here, perhaps, with the exception maybe of folks like Matt Shea. But this was a guy who really speaks for a fringe, and he came here and he made, you know, merry with Adam Fortney. And that sort of speaks to who Adam Fortney is. He was becoming a favorite of the Washington State Republican Party - he was appearing at like every event they had, talking about rolling back police reform laws. He had done some really terrible things as sheriff, like taking the measuring devices out of police cars that were tracking police officers' driving. He rehired deputies who've been fired by his predecessor for misconduct. He lost the accreditation that had been so hard won under his predecessor. So he was really awful. And Susanna Johnson, who is his opponent, launched a campaign a year ago and just spent a whole year working, working, working, canvassing, canvassing, canvassing, doorbelling, doorbelling, doorbelling. And we did research in this race. And what we found is that, you know, if people knew about Fortney's bad record, they'd vote for Susanna Johnson. And that's what we saw in the election. So my hat is off to all the Stohomish County progressives who worked so hard to get that big victory. Congratulations to you - I think you set the tone for this election.
[00:39:23] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And congratulations to all of the campaign staff that worked. It is a hard and often thankless job. And we appreciate that you were willing to put yourselves out there and support your candidates.
And with that, the roundtable comes to a close. I wanna thank our panelists, Katie Wilson, Andrew Villeneuve, and Robert Cruickshank for their insight and making this an engaging and informative event. To those watching online, thanks so much for tuning in. If you missed any of the discussion tonight, you can catch up on the Hacks & Wonks Facebook page, YouTube channel, or on Twitter where we're @HacksWonks. Special thanks to essential member of the Hacks & Wonks team and coordinator for this evening, Dr. Shannon Cheng. And if you have not listened to the show that she guest hosted about the Seattle budget, you need to.
If you missed voting in the election or know someone who did, make sure to register to vote, update your registration, or find information on the next election at MyVote.wa.gov. And as a reminder, even if you've been previously incarcerated, your right to vote is restored and you can re-register to vote immediately upon your release, even if you are still under community supervision.
Be sure to tune into Hacks & Wonks on your favorite podcast app for our midweek shows and our Friday week-in-review shows, or at officialhacksandwonks.com. I've been your host, Crystal Fincher. See you next time.