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Voting: Thoughts on Some Election Choices

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• Topics: Elections,

Some issues and candidate races can be difficult to decipher. Who is really progressive and who is pretending? I’ve compared notes with some political junkie friends for this article, and thank them for their input. This brief, sort-of cheat sheet will hopefully provide a bit of perspective on some of the more confusing election choices as well as some very important ones on our ballots.

Bellingham

Yes on Proposition 2020-14 to approve continuation of this transportation improvement levy. I’m over 75 and while I do not ever ride a bike in the streets, with the increasing popularity of e-bikes, cycling is reaching a wider demographic and the number of riders is escalating. When driving, my major concern is the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. This levy is for improving bike lanes and bicycle safety: The safer the lanes are, the more people will use bikes - and that is good for all our transportation challenges. It will also improve crosswalks, and gawd do we ever need help there. Our Public Works Department does a lousy job on pedestrian safety, but first we need the levy and then we need to make a political issue of getting the city to do better for pedestrians. We need this levy. Infrastructure is a basic job of local government and we need to fund it. Progressive or Conservative, this is a yes vote. We all benefit.

Whatcom County

Christine Grant for PUD Commissioner District 1 as she is the real environmental candidate and the one who will work to ensure the PUD serves the people of our county and not just major corporations and financial interests. The incumbent commissioner, Jeff McClure, is a nice guy and has served for years - but was a big-time supporter of the effort to build the coal port at Cherry Point. We cannot trust him to protect us against the next big polluting pipe-dream that may come along. Christine Grant will help move the PUD out of the slow lane when it comes to doing more for water users, Internet service, and other rural county projects to benefit residents. Those endorsing Grant tend to be serious and involved environmentalists and progressives, while the endorsers of McClure are the old guard liberals and those involved with the reigning power structures in our community. Grant is the change we need.

James Erb for Superior Court Judge Position 2. As one friend put it so well: He is a passionate advocate for equality, and for using the power of the government to help right old wrongs. He has been hit for being political, but frankly, the judiciary could use some heart. Erb is a supporter of restorative justice, which not only costs less, but is a more effective method of dealing with non-violent offenders.

David Freeman for Superior Court Judge Position 4. Freeman was appointed by the governor to fill a vacancy and has been praised by liberals and conservatives alike. (Deletion, Tue, Oct 20: I have taken out an unnecessary and negative take on Jim Nelson, the opponent of David Freeman. Another political friend I respect pointed out my error. My apology to Mr. Nelson.) David Freeman is respected by all factions - and that is impressive.

Washington State

Approve Referendum Measure No. 90 - Yes, the legislature passed, and governor approved, an age appropriate sex education bill that our schools really, really need. We can dramatically reduce unwed teenage pregnancies. We can also reduce sex and sexual assault among teens. Contrary to fearful conservative thinking, knowing and understanding sexual issues actually reduces teenage sex and the resulting sometimes tragic problems.

Reject the Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8212 - That is, reject allowing state bureaucrats to play the stock market with our public funds, and particularly the billions of dollars in our old-age, long-term care trust. Gawd. Reject this. The backers of this bill promise benefits they have zero ability to guarantee. It is pie in the sky and those who need long-term care could lose everything. Be prudent, whether you are conservative or liberal. Reject this resolution.

Mike Pellicciotti for State Treasurer - A NW Citizen article written by Dick Conoboy outlines important reasons to elect him. He will bring more professional financial management to our state funds. And he may initiate a state public bank which would benefit taxpayers immensely. The current treasurer is totally against a state bank, or any new and better ways of managing our money.

Gael Tarleton for Secretary of State. She’s literally a national security expert who specializes in cyber security. She has also been a state representative, but I think having a national security expert in charge of our election security is even more important these days.

Alicia Rule for 42nd District State Representative - Rule is a reasonable person and well-qualified to represent the northern part of our county for liberals, moderates and even most conservatives. The incumbent, Luanne Van Werven, has lurched farther right and is becoming even less reflective of Whatcom County values. Van Werven wants to overturn same-sex marriage, and has flirted with COVID-19 denial by holding unmasked campaign events in a blatant disregard for the safety of people. Alicia Rule is a county native, Meridian High graduate, business woman, and currently serves on the Blaine City Council. Rule will be a reasonable representative for us in Olympia.

Addendum

While these are only a few of the choices we face this election, they may be the most confusing for us locally. For the State Supreme Court, I’m voting for Raquel Montoya-Lewis and G. Helen Whitener as both are very qualified and on the court now. They are both women of color and we need more qualified diversity on all our courts.

There are four Advisory votes on the ballot and I just vote Maintain for all of them, as that is why we elect representatives. These Advisory votes are a relic of one of Tim Eyeman’s scatter blasts of initiatives and have no real impact - other than to make our elections more expensive and complicated.

I want to keep our state Attorney General Bob Ferguson as he has been fearless in the face of the Trump administration. I do not know enough about the other state government offices to have a strong recommendation and am not aware of anyone actually needing replacement other than Davidson as Treasurer. And no one reading this needs my opinion on Inslee vs Culp nor Trump vs Biden. I am not voting for Rick Larsen for Congress because he certainly does not represent me or any progressive values. He will win as the gerrymandered state district guarantees it. His opponent is just in the race to get name recognition for some future election campaign. This race is a charade.

One final thought. Place your ballot in a Ballot Drop Box, not the mail. The president is still trying to disrupt our mail system. We do not blame the U.S. Postal Service as they are trying their best to provide us great service. But the Ballot Drop Box is the safe place for our ballots. This link is to the Auditor’s web page and locations of drop boxes.

Comments by Readers

Jim Nelson

Oct 22, 2020

John, the things that you said about me in your article “Thoughts on Some Election Choices” were completely false. You and I have never met and inexplicably you didn’t give me the courtesy of speaking with me before you published it.

First you say that I am an “uber-conservative”. John, I am a candidate in a non-partisan election currently working as a Public Defender. We don’t have any “uber-conservatives” in the Public Defender’s Office, John. I work with people everyday from every minority group, people unjustly jailed, legal and illegal immigrants, people with mental illnesses and people who are homeless. My life is about helping them and trying to give them a voice in our legal system. After reading some of the things you have written I thought that these are the same people that you cared about. I was wrong, you have your own agenda and couldn’t care less about them.

My opponent was a deputy prosecutor for five years. That is his only experience working as an attorney. He has never represented a real person and does not have the slightest inkling of the hardships faced by the people I represent every day. 

Secondly, John, from early on in my  career I made the decision that if I ever ran for judge I would not seek endorsements from elected officials and I have not done so here. I am also paying for my own campaign because I know that contributions and endorsements result in bias and a lack of fairness in the courtroom and that my clients are disproportionately the victims of this unfairness.

I decided not to seek endorsements because many of my clients over the years, have expressed doubts that justice is even possible for them. They’ve asked “How can I get justice here when the judge has received campaign contributions and endorsements from the Prosecutor, the Sheriff, Police Guilds, etc.?”

Judicial endorsements are poison to our legal system. Here in Whatcom County the prosecutor, who files several thousand criminal and civil cases every year into the Superior Court, along with the Sheriff and Police Guilds, is endorsing my opponent and Mr. Erb’s opponent. They are trying to pick who will be the judge to hear a substantial number of the cases that they file. That’s wrong and it needs to be fixed. If you can’t help John, would you at least get out of the way?

I’m in a non-partisan election and I know that improving this system is going to be an uphill battle. I believe in restorative justice and I know that problems in our legal system affect all of us - Black, White, Rich, Poor, Democrats and Republicans. If we’re going to make any progress we need everyone’s help and cooperation.

The Washington State Supreme Court recently wrote in a letter to members of the Judiciary and the Legal Community, “Too often in the legal profession, we feel bound by tradition and the way things have “always” been”. Endorsements in judicial elections are one of those things that have “always” been. They are about politics, influence and control and are never about identifying the better candidate. It is time that we eliminated them and let the candidates run on their merits alone. There must be a bright line separating the judge from the parties and their attorneys. That line must never be crossed.

I hope you agree with me.

Jim Nelson

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John Servais

Oct 22, 2020

Jim, my apologies to you and our readers for publishing this with unsubstantiated information. When I realized my error two days ago, I immediately deleted my comments and inserted a statement acknowledging the deletion and apologizing for the error. I should not have posted in the first place; I relied on a normally reliable source, but the error is mine alone.  

My ballot is already cast, but I hope other readers will carefully note what Jim Nelson says here. He has some very good points on judicial endorsements, and I agree with him. 

Readers of this website tend to come back often to check for comments. I only hope those who read my article will also see his comment and this one of mine. This site exists to provide a two-way dialog for citizens to inform each other. We all do what we can to keep the site running because we value citizen voices and input. 

I got this one wrong and, again, am very sorry for posting an opinion not backed up with facts in hand. 

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Jim Nelson

Oct 24, 2020

Apology accepted John. It takes real integrity to admit a mistake. I respect that.

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Dianne Foster

Oct 27, 2020

John,

This is a belated response to your recommendations,  as my computer has been on the fritz for a while.  I agree with everything,  with the possible exception of Gael Tarleton,   as I feel she is too connected to the CIA Deep State.   And I’ve thought the Russiagate narrative is nonsense,  even before Matt Tatibbi published his online book,  “Nothinggate.”  

I was pumped to hear that Pellicciotti might support a public bank;  I hadn’t seen that bit in his voter’s guide.

However,  you were originally correct about Jim Nelson’s disingenuousness,  as he requested endorsement from both Whatcom Republican and Democratic parties,  and received neither.    I had been somewhat fooled by his claims to be progressive because of his work in the Public Defender’s office,  and membership in the Co-op and Theatre Guild.   His only endorsements have been from former Whatcom Tea Party leader Charlie Crabtree and Repblican Russ Diazlo,  Alex Ramel’s opponent.  I unfortunately recommended him to some friends,  but ended up voting for David Freeman,  whom I initially questioned because of endorsements by Elfo and other conservative county law enforcement staff.   I should have dug deeper before putting out opinions.   David and his wife are working hard for their donations,  and do not have the inherited money on which Nelson is funding his campaign.

For the sake of domestic violence victims,   we need Freeman,  not Nelson,  who states his belief that women are usually lying.

I was just remembering that some years ago,  Washington state came close to passing public financing of judicial campaigns,  but it was narrowly defeated by then-42nd LD Representative Kelly Linville.    How sad!   We need to bring back the Money Out of Politics mevement.

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