21 candidates for mayor; so many you can hardly figure out who is who.
We don’t have “republican” and “democrat” primaries here, we have non-partisan primaries, so that you are picking not based on political party but by what you can gather of their voting records, statements about themselves, endorsements, and plans. Which can be good, and force more accountability from the voter; but I'm thinking it also leads to "voter fatigue."
One curmudgeon said (when asked in an exit poll who he’d voted for): “I don’t know, I just closed my eyes and pointed. I’m exercising my right to vote.”
A weird thing about Seattle is that they mail out $25 “democracy vouchers” before the election so that even those who don’t have any money can still support a candidate of their choice. It’s meant to keep the people involved and keep money out of politics. Of course, candidates have to opt in and this means that they can’t take money from big donors, but if they opt out, then they can take just as much money as they want from Amazon. It’s a classic example of the silliness of Seattle: raise property taxes (and therefore rents) to fund a program so that everybody can “afford” to support democracy.
Another silly Seattle thing: there was a proposal on the ballot to raise the sales tax to fund arts programs for low-income kids. The thing is, the sales tax in Seattle is already over 10%, and many progressives complain about it being a regressive tax that disproportionately affects those in poverty. So we’re going to fund arts programs for low income kids by making it harder for those same low income kids to buy school supplies, clothes, cars, gasoline, and everything else required for them to be able to survive. Fortunately this ballot measure failed. I’m sorry about arts education. But there has to be a better way of funding it than taxing the very people it’s meant to help.
There was one race in which the four options included a career politician, a protest candidate who wanted to draw attention to the failures of the career politician but had no intention of winning, a perennial candidate who is always entering races to promote causes like a monorail (the Simpson’s monorail episode comes to mind), and a candidate who calls himself Goodspaceguy (which about sums up his candidacy). That’s four candidates for one position, only one of whom seems like a serious candidate (though possibly flawed). I went ahead and didn’t vote in this race, I just couldn’t take it seriously.
And then there are those 21 candidates for mayor. The race swelled after it became apparent that our current mayor would not survive (politically) a sex scandal. How do you tell the difference between 21 candidates who all say that affordable housing is their top priority? Which one of these has a plan for the city that will actually help and not make everything worse? We had the socialist, the activist, the first openly gay attorney general, the idealistic 26-year-old, the former mayor, and a woman whose motto seems to be “US Out of Guantanamo!” Not to discount the man who says, “Stop fascism with idiotic face!” (That is not a mistype. That is actually what he said in his bio, which is rich with similar gems).
Who did I vote for? The former mayor (not the sex scandal one, the one before him). Because he seemed to me to be the only one with actual plans. He didn’t even make it into the top three, so he won’t be on the ballot in November. But that’s democracy in Seattle for you!
As a newcomer in this city, I'm still trying to make sense of Seattle culture, what the people and city are like. This is the second of an ongoing series on my observations of the city. I'm not trying to define anyone, just make sense of what I'm seeing and experiencing.