Please join me, Eden Mack, Betty Patu, The Stranger, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the MLK Labor Council and many others in voting for Vivian Song Maritz for my former seat on the Seattle School Board. Remember to mail or drop off your ballot by the end of Nov 2, 2021.
This election, I recommend Vivian Song Maritz for my former District 4 seat on the Seattle School Board.
I met with or studied all the candidates running in the primary election and concluded that Vivian is not only the best choice, but someone who brings many valuable qualities to the role of school board director, especially important at this time when the district is faltering and desperately needs new vision, energy and leadership.
Song Maritz finished in first place in the August primary, winning nearly 60 percent of the vote. Second was Laura Marie Rivera, with 21 percent. Current board appointee Erin Dury (who replaced Eden Mack who resigned earlier in the year) did not earn enough votes to make it through the primary. This election offers voters the opportunity to choose for themselves who will represent them on the school board.
Vivian has four children who currently attend or will soon join Seattle Public Schools and is the product of public schools herself. She is also the bilingual daughter of Chinese immigrants and the first woman in her family to go to college.
Her thoughtful, detailed responses to questions, understanding of the Strategic Plan, demand for analysis and metrics to back and measure district decisions and initiatives is a refreshing change.
With an operating budget that now tops $1 billion, the Seattle School District needs responsible fiscal oversight and sound governance. With an MBA from Harvard, and professional experience, Vivian Song Maritz has the skills and commitment to bring necessary oversight, insight and inclusiveness to the School Board.
As a former English language learner who was diagnosed with hearing loss as a child, and with a special needs child of her own, Vivian understands firsthand neurodiversity, the challenges of language barriers and the district’s legal and moral mandate to meet the wide range of needs among its students. She supports better serving SPED students, advanced learners, the Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) community and providing rich and equitable opportunities for all students.
She also supports greater investment in mental health services, supporting teachers and recruiting more teachers and staff of color, among other efforts to combat racism and inequality in education.
Her approach is to bring people in, collaboratively, rather than dividing them, an attitude that is sorely needed in the current local and national climate of division.
Also importantly, in this disturbing time in our country’s history when Asian Americans have been the targets of violent bigotry, children afraid to return to school in person because of Covid-related bullying, we need more Asian American representation among our elected leadership. Song Maritz will bring this valuable sensibility and insight to the board.
This is an important race: The next school board will select the next superintendent, the math curriculum for K-8 students, will oversee a billion-dollar budget and guide the district through a time of ongoing pandemic, enrollment loss and budget challenges.
Song has been endorsed by a broad range of supporters, including: the National Women’s Political Caucus, The Stranger, the 32nd, the 36th, 37th, 43rd, 46th and King County Democrats, the Young Dems, MLK County Labor Council, FUSE Progressive Voter’s Guide, OneAmerica Votes, Womxn of Color in Education, local elected officials, community leaders and former school board presidents and directors including her predecessors Eden Mack and myself, as well as Betty Patu, Rick Burke and Kay Smith Blum, current School Board Director Lisa Rivera-Smith, State Representative Gerry Pollet and State Senator Reuven Carlyle, mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell and various others.
The Seattle School Board desperately needs new leadership. The many communities of SPS deserve to have independent, compassionate, inclusive, detail-focused and fiscally responsible representation. For this, Vote Vivian Song Maritz.
Please join me in voting for VIVIAN SONG MARITZ for SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, District 4!
Remember to MAIL or RETURN your ballot BY TUESDAY NOV. 2.
The Seattle School Board has lost one of its most dedicated and best directors, with the announcement of the resignation of District IV Director Eden Mack last week. (Her full statement can be found in the report by KUOW.)
Today at 3:30 pm, at their regular board meeting, the remaining members of the Seattle School Board will address this new vacancy. I sincerely hope they take the time tonight to both recognize and applaud Director Mack’s service and begin to address the serious issues that compelled her to leave 10 months shy of the end of her term.
I agree with Eden’s sentiments that the dysfunction that plagues the Seattle School District, the largest in the state, is deeply entrenched and must be addressed if this district is ever to properly serve the 50,000-plus students in its care. Until that happens, Seattle Public Schools will continue to lose dedicated directors like Eden Mack, and students and families will continue to suffer or endure rather than thrive.
I thank Eden for her intelligence, grace and integrity in a very difficult, underappreciated and under-resourced job, and wish her well in her next endeavor. I knew she would be a wonderful addition to the board when she took over my seat in 2017, and I know she will be hard to replace.
I agree with her sentiments in her resignation letter that the problems that plagued SPS are deep and urgently need to be addressed if this, the largest district in the state, is ever to fulfill its obligation to truly serve the 50,000-plus students in Seattle’s public schools.
Larry Gossett is a local legend, a civil rights hero.
Whatever the outcome of this election, I want to thank Larry Gossett for his lifelong service and important contributions fighting for racial and social justice in Seattle. I hope the voters of Seattle give him 4 more years.
THANK YOU, LARRY!
I recommend Eric Blumhagen for Seattle School District, in District 1
As a Seattle Public Schools parent and advocate, Eric has been directly involved in the Seattle School District for over 16 years. So he will bring valuable institutional knowledge and firsthand experience to the role of board director. This depth is especially important this election since there will be as many as three or four new members joining the school board this year.
Eric is the only candidate in this race with experience that spans from kindergarten through high school. He has served on various SPS task forces, including the Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee (FACMAC), which studied enrollment and school building use, and has won the Golden Acorn Award for his school service.
Eric played an important role in successfully advocating for the groundbreaking change in school start times that better align school schedules with adolescent sleep patterns (a study has shown that the results have been positive academically), making Seattle a national leader on this front. Eric also opposed the ill-advised school closures in 2008-09, during a time of growing enrollment, and once again was on the right side of the issue. The district had to reopen all the closed schools only a few years later at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
I have known Eric for a number of years, as a fellow SPS parent and as a constituent who came to my community meetings, testified before the board, and wrote to the district, always with constructive, reasoned suggestions and ideas. I know him to be thoughtful, diplomatic, smart and conscientious.
I’m confident he will ensure that the district’s many diverse communities are heard and served by the board, and will demand better from the district.
Eric has a district-wide conscience and perspective, as demonstrated by his successful advocacy for IB funding not only for the high school in his district (Ingraham) but for Chief Sealth and Rainier Beach high schools and his volunteer work with students at Cleveland High School. He has also been a strong advocate for strong curricular materials that serve the needs of all students and a district that is more equitable and responsive to families. He is also a strong supporter of career and technical education and apprenticeships.
As a professional engineer, he will bring sharp analytical skills to the job and will demand greater accountability of the district. He will also bring a fair and inclusive approach to serving the district’s many students, communities and needs.
Eric has earned the endorsements of community and elected leaders like King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Estela Ortega (executive director of El Centro de la Raza), civil rights lawyer Lem Howell, former Seattle School Board President Betty Patu, Native American leader (UNEA) Sarah Sense-Wilson, State Rep. Gael Tarleton, sole endorsement of Democratic legislative districts citywide, Seattle School Board directors past and present, teachers, parents and labor unions.
I agree with the Seattle Times’ endorsement, which said: “Blumhagen’s track record and experience lend credibility to his calls for greater transparency and accuracy in statistics and reporting from the district. His laser focus on outcomes would bring new urgency to issues of equity, including disproportionate discipline, and special education services. He would promote greater accountability for principals, encouraging collaboration and sharing of best practices.”
Eric has earned my respect and my vote. I hope he will earn yours.
I recommend Rebeca Muniz for Seattle School Board, in District 3.
Rebeca brings a sensibility and insight that will well serve the Seattle School District’s many diverse students.
As the first in her family to go to college, and with a Master’s degree in Education Policy & Leadership from UW, Rebeca understands firsthand what less-advantaged students need to succeed. Her commitment to authentic community engagement and outreach to Seattle’s immigrant and English Language Learner (ELL) families, as well as her keen empathy, intelligence and fresh perspective will be great assets on the School Board. She is also a team player and knows the importance of working well with others. In these divisive times, such abilities are invaluable.
Rebeca has earned the respect and endorsements of community and elected leaders like Estela Ortega (executive director of El Centro de la Raza), Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Sen. Joe Nguyen, current and recent Seattle School Board directors Eden Mack and Scott Pinkham, One America, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, labor unions, Seattle City Council members, and the sole endorsement of Democratic legislative districts citywide.
Please join me and many others in voting for Rebeca.
REMEMBER TO VOTE BY NOV. 5!
A newly published study by professors at the University of Washington shows that the Seattle School District’s recent change to a later school start time for its adolescent students has had positive impacts.
“Sleepmore in Seattle: Later school start times are associated with more sleep and better performance in high school students,” was published in Science Advances magazine Dec. 12, 2018, by authors Gideon P. Dunster, Luciano de la Iglesia, Miriam Ben-Hamo, Claire Nave, Jason G. Fleischer, Satchidananda Panda and Horacio O. de la Iglesia. According to their abstract:
Most teenagers are chronically sleep deprived. One strategy proposed to lengthen adolescent sleep is to delay secondary school start times. This would allow students to wake up later without shifting their bedtime, which is biologically determined by the circadian clock, resulting in a net increase in sleep. So far, there is no objective quantitative data showing that a single intervention such as delaying the school start time significantly increases daily sleep. The Seattle School District delayed the secondary school start time by nearly an hour. We carried out a pre-/post-research study and show that there was an increase in the daily median sleep duration of 34 min, associated with a 4.5% increase in the median grades of the students and an improvement in attendance.
The study also made national news. NPR, CBS and locally, the Seattle Times, covered the story:
I’m proud to have been a member of the Seattle School Board that shepherded this through, as an advocate from the start, and finally, as a member of the 6-1 majority that passed it. Bell times were an ongoing topic the entire time I was on the Board (2013-17). After many delays, this change was finally implemented in Sept. 2016.
Much credit goes to the community members — parents, teachers, medical professionals and others — who tirelessly advocated for this sensible change for a number of years. That includes parents and teachers like Dianne Casper, Cindy Jatul and others.
If more school districts focused on common-sense practices and policies like this, which address the fundamental needs of students, rather than constantly looking for and wasting resources on the latest silver-bullet solution or reform trend from outside interests that stand to make a profit from public education, students would be better served.
Seattle is a national leader on this front. Hopefully other districts will follow suit.
— Sue Peters
(Note: I meant to post this last month. Apologies for the delay. Happy New Year!)
Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Maralyn Chase for State Senate!
- SENATOR MARALYN CHASE is the only candidate in the race with over 16 years of distinguished, award-winning experience in state government as both a representative and senator.
- CHASE is the only candidate with firsthand knowledge of the state’s legislative processes. And as the legislature’s delegate to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), Chase draws on her extensive knowledge about international and domestic trade. She also works closely with Washington State tribes and rural populations in her work as chair of the Economic Development and International Trade.
- MARALYN CHASE is a proven progressive legislative leader. In the 2018 session, as a member of the Rules Committee, Chase was instrumental in moving a record number of Democratic bills to passage by Senate Democrats. They passed: the 2017 Capital Construction Budget, investments in education to satisfy McCleary, a statewide property tax cut, gun safety measures, equal pay for women, protections against sexual harassment, the Net Neutrality Act, the Reproductive Parity Act to require employer insurance to allow women to make their own reproductive choices and for preventive healthcare, protections for college students from predatory loans, a ban on conversion therapy, an expansion of the Breakfast After the Bell Program, the phasing out of salmon net farms, expansion of higher education for Dreamers, reforms for juvenile justice to reduce recidivism and racial disproportionality, prohibition of housing discrimination for renters using Section 8 vouchers, and also Ban the Box, for equal employment. In this session, Chase also co-sponsored or supported the passage of other key bills on gun safety, school funding, and lowering taxes. Chase helped to pass a groundbreaking ban on bump stocks on guns. She and her colleagues passed multiple bills on housing, and provided $107 million for the Housing Trust Fund in the Biennial Capitol Budget, which preserves and builds affordable housing for those at the lowest income levels. Chase supported the allocation of funds to recommend a plan to create a state’s public bank to save $4 billion a year in debt service to Wall Street banks. Senator Chase introduced the “Healthy Washington” bill, modeled on the California’s single-payer healthcare bill that passed in their state senate.
- You can count on MARALYN CHASE to defend your civil rights. In 2018 Chase worked with Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos to introduce the first bill in the Senate to reinstate Affirmative Action. She also promoted passage of the revision to the 1943 Equal Pay Act, requiring employers to provide equal pay and opportunities to their employees regardless of gender. She and her colleagues passed three bills ensuring voting rights, same-day registration and prohibiting racially based gerrymandering. Chase has always been far ahead on LGBTQ2 rights and helped pass the 2018 bill prohibiting conversion therapy. Chase is a vocal supporter of I-940 to de-escalate police violence, and demand accountability in police involved shootings. Her strong civil rights and human rights record is one of the reasons she has earned the sole endorsement of State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson.
- CHASE has always been a champion for the environment and for education. In 2011, she wrote the bill to shut down TransAlta, the state’s dirtiest coal plant. In 2015, she chaired the committee for Initiative 522, to require labeling of genetically modified foods. It lost by a narrow margin after large corporations spent $22 million to oppose it, setting a state record for money spent on a ballot measure. Chase is now facing retaliation by Monsanto, which now funds her opponent, Jesse Salomon. Chase works hard to protect the Puget Sound, wild salmon runs, works with local tribes and family fishing businesses to promote sustainable and local business operations. This includes co-sponsoring the 2018 bill to phase out toxic salmon pen farming. In 2004, Chase helped lead the effort to overturn a charter school bill passed by the legislature. Her position was affirmed by the voters who passed a referendum to reject charter schools. (In contrast, her current opponent, Jesse Salomon, has received over $40,000 in financial support and an endorsement from pro-charter-school privatizers, Stand for Children.) Senator Chase organized a bipartisan hearing on Common Core standards in 2017 to ask the difficult questions about a costly and undemocratically imposed initiative on K-12 education.
- CHASE has been recognized for her legislative advocacy by numerous organizations. In 2015, the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides awarded Chase the Rachel Carson Award for her work in reducing cancer-causing pesticides in the food chain, such as Roundup. The National Minority Business Advisory Council named Chase their “2017 Legislator of the Year” for her role in the unanimous passage of SB 5734. This legislation guarantees equal opportunity in bidding for small works contracts with state and federal agencies. According to the Shoreline Area News, “Chase, D-Edmonds, was chosen for her work on the Small Business Bonding Relief bill, which brought Washington state’s government contracting provisions into compliance with federal law governing small works bonding requirements.” Said Chase, “As a former small business owner, I understand the challenges these companies face on a daily basis. I’m proud to accept this award, and will continue to work hard for small, minority businesses statewide.”
- MARALYN CHASE brings a wealth of experience to the legislature. After she earned her BA and MA degrees from the University of Washington in political science, she organized for women’s reproductive rights and was a labor advocate. Chase built a successful family business in the construction trades and knows what it takes to run a business and a family. Her policies come from knowing that in order to have a good life, people need a good education, a good job, a good home and a healthy environment. Her policies are people-focused. When evaluating the merits of a proposal, Chase always asks, “How will this policy affect people?“
- MARALYN is committed to engaging in dialogue with constituents and organizations to shape her policies. She has been a strong progressive voice and a people’s representative. She has a history of courageously defending people from the agendas of powerful interests.
- MARALYN CHASE’S commitment to democracy is the reason she is endorsed by a broad and diverse coalition that includes: the 32ndDistrict Democrats, Snohomish and King County Democrats, the Metropolitan Democrats, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Washington State Labor Council, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Washington Education Association (WEA), Congressman Rick Larsen, State Sen. Manka Dhingra, State Sen. Sharon Nelson, State Sen. John McCoy, State Sen. Bob Hasegawa, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda, City Councilmembers from Shoreline, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Washington State Federation of Democratic Women, Young Democrats of Washington, Snohomish County Young Democrats, Washington State Progressive Caucus, Environment and Climate Caucus of the Washington State Democratic Party, Alliance for Gun Responsibility Victory Fund, National Women’s Political Caucus, Our Revolution, WA State, and National, Planned Parenthood Votes, SEAMEC, Sierra Club, Swinomish Tribal Community, Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS), Win With Women PAC, Washington Conservation Voters, The Cannabis Alliance, Carbon Washington, Tree PAC, Equal Rights Washington, Washington State Council of Firefighters, Aerospace Machinists Industrial District Lodge 751 (IAM 751), AFSCME Council 28/Washington Federation of State Employees, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Washington, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, IBEW Local 77, Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (IBU), International Union of Operating Engineers Local 609 (IUOE Local 609), Washington State Nurses Association-PAC 5/22, Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund, Washington Interior Systems Local Union No. 41, Central Puget Sound Carpenters Local 30, and many others.
- MARALYN CHASE has not accepted campaign money or support from multinational pharmaceutical, oil and chemical corporations like Chevron, Merck, Phrma and Monsanto, or anti-union, education privatizers, Stand for Children — unlike her opponent, Jesse Salomon, who has.
- *BONUS REASON* SENATOR MARALYN CHASE has not resorted to negative campaigning or smear tactics, unlike her opponent, Jesse Salomon and his wealthy backers, Stand for Children PAC, WA REALTORS PAC and the deceptively named “Democratic Friends,” which is funded by Friends of Cindy Ryu, Elect Jesse Salomon, and Elect Lauren Davis. At a recent forum, when asked if he would denounce the many deceitful mailers attacking Chase which have bombarded the 32ndLegislative District on his behalf, Salomon refused. (As did Ryu and Davis.)
Experience Matters. Character Matters. Courage Matters.
What others have said about Maralyn Chase:
“State Rep. Maralyn Chase (…) has been a dedicated liberal voice in the legislature for the past 16 years, fighting to double the estate tax to pay for student aid; pushing legislation to give local governments the ability to place a cap on condo conversions; and proposing quixotic (but righteous) environmental legislation, including a ban on petroleum-based plastic water bottles; a carbon tax; a ban on plastic bags, and a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.
Chase’s unabashed liberalism (she testified in support of impeaching George Bush) will be a nice jolt to the Senate caucus, where proposals such as an effort to end big bank tax loopholes died last session.
(…) People laugh at her for being a crazy lefty, but two years after Chase introduced a global warming bill, Gregoire introduced it herself.”
— PubliCola endorsement of Chase when she first ran for State Senate in 2010
RE-ELECT Maralyn Chase to State Senate, District 32!
Thank you to all the community activists who contributed to this list. – Sue Peters
Lennox Scott (L), grandson of real estate patriarch John L. Scott and CEO of the family real estate business, and Jerry Martin (R), WA Realtors president, are main funders of shady attacks on State Senator Maralyn Chase. The Realtors PAC also contributed directly to Chase’s opponent, two-time senate hopeful and Shoreline City Councilmember Jesse Salomon.
Shoreline City Councilmember Jesse Salomon, funded by Chevron, Merck, Monsanto, Stand for Children, and the WA State Realtors PAC.
Last week, the Washington State Realtors Association, whose top contributors include Lennox Scott of John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle King County Assoc of Realtors, WA Realtors President Jerry Martin, and the Spokane Association of Realtors, released two separate mailers attacking State Senator Maralyn Chase (D-Edmonds).
The Realtors PAC has so far spent over $40,000 against Chase.
It’s becoming clear that a cadre of real estate, corporate and privatizing entities desperately want to replace progressive champion Maralyn Chase with someone who will serve their interests.
The Realtors PAC has also received in-kind donations in the form of $32,250 worth of polling and research services from the anti-union, education privatizers Stand for Children (whose Washington PAC has a reported $1 million in its campaign coffers).
Stand for Children has also contributed nearly $70,000 to get Chase challenger, Jesse Salomon, elected (see Public Disclosure Commission reports here and here) and has also endorsed Salomon (See: Stand for Children Washington PAC Endorsements 2018).
Salomon, meanwhile, has accepted funding from national corporations like oil giant Chevron, pharmaceutical conglomerate Merck, and Monsanto, the manufacturer of GMOs and the carcinogenic pesticide Roundup.
In contrast, Senator Chase led the statewide initiative to require labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in 2013. Though it came close, the initiative ultimately failed, 49-51%, up against a record $21 million of opposition from corporations, including — you guessed it — Monsanto.
As they say on the PDC web site, and in this revealing post by local blogger and ed activist Carolyn Leith at the Seattle Education Blog: Follow the money.
The choice has become extremely clear in the contest for State Senator in the 32nd District: the people’s candidate (Maralyn Chase) versus the corporate candidate (Jesse Salomon). Vote for the true progressive. Vote Chase.
Dear Stranger Election Control Board,
So let’s see if I’ve got this right: In your cheat sheet for the August primary election, you said a candidate (Shoreline City Councilman Jesse Salomon) “****-ing sucks” (..) “We can’t even pretend he was any good.”– but you endorsed him anyway?
Over a candidate (State Senator Maralyn Chase) who has a longstanding history of strong progressive principles, votes and positions that you yourselves have historically supported?
You feebly endorsed a city councilmember (Salomon) for state senate because he said he hypothetically would have voted for a health care bill if he were in state office, and you vilified the sitting senator (Chase) who actually co-sponsored the bill in question—and incorrectly accuse her of not supporting the bill?
And you, who pride yourselves on being rude and obnoxious, cry foul when a candidate calls you “rude”?
The August primary ended in basically a tie between Chase and Salomon, with less than 200 votes between them, Salomon finishing ahead. There’s clearly a battle afoot. And now, with your general election endorsements this week, you have continued your erratic attacks on Chase and your illogical support of her opponent, leaving many of us wondering: Whose side are you on?
The Stranger has been an edgy alternative voice in this (Boeing/Microsoft/Gates/ Starbucks/Vulcan/Amazon) company town for many years. I genuinely appreciate that. In the past, you have taken brave stances and covered important stories with some damn good writers (though you’ve also lost some along the way). You endorsed Kshama Sawant in 2013 (and me that same year — thank you for that). But lately, when it comes to endorsements, too often you’ve gotten it wrong. Obnoxiously, dangerously wrong.
Your treatment of Maralyn Chase is a case in point.
There was something rabidly irrational about your attack on Senator Chase in the primary election, especially considering you endorsed her in the past. Your backhanded endorsement of her opponent is equally senseless.
The truth is, Chase has been actively championing progressive causes and policies throughout her many years of public service, collaborating with colleagues as well as leading (by introducing a health care initiative inspired by the one in California, for example), or yes, taking a principled stand against a large transportation tax that had a lot of questions surrounding it. She has consistently been a staunch supporter of progressive issues like: affordable health care, public education, workers’ rights, fair taxes, LGBTQ rights, social justice, protecting the environment, affordable housing, economic equality, job creation, fair wages. She led the effort to mandate GMO labeling and was not afraid to take on Monsanto’s millions.
These are all issues The Stranger has championed as well. Or used to. Has something changed?
Let’s start with your primary endorsement claim about Chase’s record on single-payer health care. You incorrectly accused Chase of not supporting a bill. You wrote: “Instead of joining on with Senator David Frockt’s better single-payer bill, Chase copied California’s failed version of the bill and then went straight to the Seattle Times with the news that she wanted to bring single-payer to Washington State.”
You were wrong. Not only did Chase “join on” with Frockt’s Bill, she co-sponsored it (as recorded on the WA State Legislative site) and co-sponsored the version that preceded it by then-Senator Jeanne Kohl-Wells. Chase has a long history of supporting and working for a single-payer policy. (See: SB 5701 – 2017-18 – Creating the Washington apple care trust. Sponsors: Frockt, Keiser, Chase, Hasegawa, Darneille, Ranker, McCoy, Kuderer, Saldaña, Conway, Hunt )
In fact, just last fall, The Stranger gave Senator Chase credit for her single-payer healthcare bill: “Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, introduced the most ambitious bill, which is based on the California model that failed this summer.” (“We Can Have Single-Payer in Washington by 2020 If We Want It,” Rich Smith, The Stranger, Nov. 2017)
Incidentally, healthcare activists in California are working on getting “Healthy California” signed into law by the next Democratic governor (if elected), followed by Oregon as “Healthy Oregon,” and here as “Healthy Washington,” creating a tri-state system. So Senator Chase may have exactly the foresight we want in our elected officials.
Also, you accused Chase of not single-handedly forcing through bills, when your own reporter noted that even a bill with a coalition of solid support can be stymied or killed by just one vote. Wrote Smith: “None of the single-payer bills made it out of committee in the last legislative session in Olympia. (Sen. David Frockt’s bill came close, but no cigar thanks in part to Sen. Mark Mullet, the only Democrat on the Senate healthcare committee who didn’t vote YES.) This is bad news.”
Policymaking and governing are rarely a solo act. Yet The Stranger accused Chase of both not doing enough single-handedly and not doing enough in collaboration with others. Which is it?
Chase has also been a tireless supporter of public education and has worked to protect WA schools from damaging and failed corporate ed reforms. This led some in your comments section to wonder why Saul Spady was newly listed on your primary election endorsements Editorial Board at the same time you took aim at a champion of public ed. In 2004 and since, the Spady family were big backers of a charter schools push by then-Governor Locke (despite voters having rejected charter schools statewide twice), which Chase helped to stave off. And Saul Spady recently headed the effort to repeal the City Council’s short-lived head tax on larger businesses (like Amazon). Was it merely a coincidence that The Stranger suddenly turned on one of the most progressive pro-public ed legislators in the state at the same time it invited a member of a pro-ed-privatizing family onto its Ed Board?
(Side note: I agree with Spady on Prop 1, the City’s nearly tripled $638 million education levy, and recommend that The Stranger also attempt some actual analysis of that proposal before breathlessly endorsing it.)
In 2015, Chase organized with Republican Senator Pam Roach a bipartisan hearing on Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced tests associated with them, demonstrating her willingness to scrutinize one of the biggest ed reforms heavily bankrolled and promoted by local powers that be like Bill Gates (who has spent tens of millions of dollars pushing Common Core nationwide). She was willing to ask difficult questions about a costly and undemocratically imposed initiative whose benefits to students have never been proven. (Full disclosure: I was a panelist at this hearing.)
Public Disclosure & Open Government
Public disclosure is a topic where nearly all the state legislators got it wrong this year – including Cindy Ryu, Eric Pettigrew and Frank Chopp. Yet The Stranger endorsed all three of them anyway, and only singled out Chase, who cast the same vote they did. How does The Stranger justify that inconsistency?
As a former public official who was subjected to ongoing PRA requests, and as a journalist, I completely disagreed with the lege, as I stated here: “Gov. Inslee should veto Senate Bill 6617: State legislators should be held to same standard of transparency as all other elected officials.”
And I agree with you that their attempt to modify or clarify the law – an option offered to them by the judge and the state attorney general — did not go far enough to establish true transparency. A taskforce won’t suffice either, and Chase realizes that.
But Chase, who serves on the Sunshine Committee, does have some valid concerns about the abuse of the PRA that can reveal private information of private citizens, and the costs. I have seen the law abused, and private citizens’ emails used politically and without full context, as I outlined in my earlier post from March 2018.
Also, collecting, reviewing and redacting emails carefully takes time and money. At the Seattle School District we had two staffers working full time doing nothing but that. Confidential info still slipped through. State legislators need to find resources for this significant task, and they need to protect the privacy of their constituents. Both must be done.
On transportation, Chase’s reservations about the scope and costs of Sound Transit 3 were justified and prescient. They reflected the concerns of many of us who support public transport but found this bill flawed. As the true costs rolled in after the election, it’s become clear that the backers were not completely honest about the price tag and the revenue source. Initially sold to the legislature as a $15 billion investment, the scope and price expanded to $54 billion. Voters were not told that their car tabs costs would shoot through the roof. This prompted an investigation. Chase questioned the heavy emphasis on light rail over buses. It was responsible and courageous of Chase to ask the difficult questions despite the pressure of the major corporations and labor forces that funded the initiative.
In fact, there was a time when such a curious corporate/labor alliance would have prompted scrutiny by The Stranger. Likewise Sound Transit’s shenanigans of improperly releasing contact information of nearly 200,000 ORCA card holders to the pro-ST3 campaign (see: Sound Transit improperly sent 173,000 ORCA card users’ info to political campaign) and assigning the opposing statement in the Voter’s Guide to lightening rod Tim Eyman. It sure looked like the fix was in.
The Bigger Picture
What I learned from serving in public office for four years (on the school board) and what we see in vivid display on the national stage, is when all is said and done, in order to elect a good legislator, your best bet is to elect a person of good character with a sound moral compass; someone who will side with the powerless and disadvantaged, and stand up to power and corruption; who will take on injustice. That is Chase’s history.
Now more than ever it is clear that character and values matter. We need people with sound ethics and good judgment in office at all levels of government.
Sometimes some of the work you do in office is fight off bad policy and bad ideas. Sometimes your work is not that visible. Other times a best effort can be thwarted by a highly funded campaign, such as when Senator Chase led the initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs). It was attacked by corporations like the agrochemical conglomerate Monsanto, which spent millions to defeat it — and has now contributed to Jesse Salomon’s campaign.)
Elsewhere in your primary (and general election) endorsements you gave Representative Suzanne DelBene credit for a “symbolic” but failed effort (“While DelBene’s bill was more symbolic than serious (and died in committee), the SECB appreciates deft political symbolism every once in a while.”), yet you don’t grant Chase the same grace. Why not?
Chase is willing to take brave positions that challenge the greater powers that be and isn’t afraid to be a lone voice sometimes. That’s why she has earned the respect and endorsement of fellow progressives like Larry Gossett, Pramila Jayapal, Bob Ferguson, Bob Hasegawa, David Frockt, Gerry Pollet, the King County Democrats, the Washington State Labor Council and the State teacher’s union (WEA). She has also earned a place in FUSE’s Progressive Voters Guide.
Meanwhile her opponent is running a negative campaign, attacking Chase with multiple mailers, push polls and misleading information (and so far spending over $40,000 of his own money—making himself his own top contributor). Salomon has also been endorsed and funded* by anti-union, education privatizers Stand for Children. (More info here.) This is reminiscent of the heavily financed negative campaign against my candidacy in 2013. There was a time when The Stranger would not side with such tactics or candidates.
(*Late summer, a $1,000 contribution to Salomon’s campaign from Stand for Children appeared then disappeared a few weeks later from his PDC campaign finance records. The political organization has also made donations of $1,000 or $2,000 to the various other WA State candidates it has endorsed.)
UPDATE: The Stand for Children PAC has now spent nearly $70,000 to get Jesse Salomon elected and defeat Maralyn Chase.
The corporate ed reform lobbying group has spent:
$37,725.85 in “electioneering communication,” reported on 10/25/18. (See PDC records here.)
$32,250 in polling in the 32nd and 34th legislative districts, reported on 10/15/18. (See PDC records here.) Note, these “services” are listed as “in kind” donations to the WA Realtors PAC. In other words, Stand is apparently laundering its contributions to candidates like Salomon (in the 32nd LD) and Shannon Braddock (in the 34th LD) through the Washington Realtors Association Political Action Committee.
Salomon meanwhile has wiped his PDC record of the $1,000 direct contribution he received from Stand, and has not included their endorsement on his web site, even though he must have actively applied for it in order to receive it.
See Edmonds Education Association Facebook page for more details. –smp. 10/28/18
Stranger editors: You like to be irreverent. You are provocateurs. I get it. I was working for Salon back when Dan did his Gary Bauer campaign doorknob licking stunt. It was an interesting time. Salon stood by him. (“Stalking Gary Bauer” Salon, 1/25/2000 and “Dan Savage Takes a Licking,” Chicago Reader, 2/10/2000). You call yourself “Seattle’s only newspaper.” Yet you’re starting to be as fact-challenged and irrational as the other paper in town can be.
Unfortunately, your endorsement of Salomon over Chase is just one of the latest Stranger misfires.
You had nothing good to say about Chopp or Pettigrew yet you still endorsed them both. Neither has the progressive credentials of Chase. In fact, as recently as this week in your perennial endorsement of State Rep. Pettigrew you say:
“Eric Pettigrew is a trash legislator who told the SECB in 2014, when he was in his 12th year in office, ‘I don’t know if I have passed any bills this term.’ It’s not clear he has done anything since then, now that he is in his 16th year. He has voted against raising the minimum wage, tried to loosen regulations for predatory payday lenders, voted to shield the state legislature from disclosing public records, and promoted charter schools.”
Why doesn’t The Stranger simply issue no endorsement in races like those? The “lesser of two evils” argument is what leads to decades of mediocre and compromised candidates staying in power.
And now you trash one of the most consistent progressive voices in the state legislature, and support someone backed by privatizers whom you don’t really respect.
The most serious upshot of your flippant endorsements for candidates you don’t really believe in, or who are less qualified, is that truly lesser candidates are making it into the general election, while better ones you could have supported are being left behind.
As a fellow journalist it pains me to see a once decent publication render itself unreliable, sometimes unreadable (the expletives are getting a bit tired, by the way) especially in a one-paper town. I know I’m not the only one to wonder if The Stranger has lost its way.
Chase is the clear choice for reelection in District 32 because she is a tenacious person of conscience who will continue to fight for social justice, the underdog, and isn’t afraid to stand up to bigger forces—or The Stranger Ed Control Board, for that matter. She has been a strong and consistent progressive voice and a people’s representative, not a pawn of developers, corporations or privatizers.
She deserves better from The Stranger. And your readers need better information from you.
Former Director, Seattle School Board (2013-17)
Co-founder, Parents Across America
Seattle resident and voter
Post updated to reflect correction to typo in Sound Transit 3 expanded costs to read $54 billion (not million).
Also updated to include contribution by agrochemical conglomerate Monsanto to Jesse Salomon’s campaign.
Updated again on 10/28/18 to include the sharp increase in financial contributions made by Stand for Children in support of Salomon and against Chase.
As a former elected official, I know what it’s like to have most everything I write, email, or post on my calendar potentially obtained, read and published by the media or anyone who asks. As a Seattle School Board Director for the last four years, that was my reality
Sure, it can be a nuisance and it can impede your sense of free expression and confidentiality.
But as a journalist and public citizen, I also know the importance of the public being able to know what their elected officials and government bodies are doing in their name, with their tax dollars. Such public disclosure requirements are an essential component of a healthy democracy.
During my term, I was constantly subjected to public disclosure requests, from journalists, others, but most often from anonymous requesters. I simply established the philosophy that everything I wrote or said could end up on the front page of a newspaper and I was okay with that. It can be a good exercise – it teaches you to stand by your words.
Which brings me to Senate Bill 6617, sponsored by Senators Sharon Nelson (D) and Mark Schoesler (R) which Governor Inslee must act on by midnight today. I agree with the media organizations that have claimed that the state’s 1972 Public Records Act law covers all elected officials statewide. A Thurston County Superior Court judge also recently agreed. But last week, the state legislature changed the law to exempt themselves from the transparency rules that all other state officials must abide by.
I’m baffled and frankly rather enervated that our legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, should expect a cloud of secrecy around their work that no other elected officials are afforded–nor should have. Why should our state legislators who make decisions that are arguably far more impactful statewide than those of our school board directors, city council and county council members, not be held to the same standard that the rest of us are? We all make policy.
The manner in which they passed this change to the law – Senate and House meetings in quick succession with no public hearings – casts their actions in the dark shadows of suspicion.
I am open to hearing compelling explanations for why their change to the law is better. But I am skeptical. Because if there is a legitimate reason, why were the legislators afraid to have a public hearing and normal process to make their case?
Where I do agree with them is in the concern about revealing sensitive information about constituents. It’s true the law already allows government bodies to redact any information that is not relevant to the request that may violate confidentiality of a non-elected official. But there have been abuses of the law.
Last year, for example, it was very troubling to see a journalist publish email sent from private parents to the Seattle School District, and misrepresent the content. This is wrong. In a KUOW radio story called “To understand white liberal racism, read these private emails,” the reporter Isolde Raftery boasted, “These parents would not talk to us, so we did a public records request for their emails.” She acknowledged that these were “private” and not from elected officials, yet published them anyway.
Private families are not public figures. They believe they are writing to their representatives confidentially. Especially when it comes to their children, parents write with emotion and sensitivity. These emails were misrepresented and exploited by a board director and a reporter. Those PRA requests should not have been granted. This was an abuse of the law. So I support protecting those documents if that is the intent of the state legislators.
But I don’t support a special exemption for state legislators themselves.
My qualm with the Public Records Act is that it increasingly has been used as a tool for nuisance. Instead of being a legitimate tool for news media or watchdog groups looking for background info on a specific issue and keeping the public informed, anonymous entities can launch fishing expeditions asking for broad general sweeps of documents with no real topic, just to harass an elected official or a government organization. These expeditions take up time and resources. The age of digital communication has allowed for the proliferation and easy access of communications that the legislators who drafted the law in 1972 could not have imagined.
Back then, documents were paper, and far less in quantity. Nowadays, public officials, like most people, generate hundreds of emails a week or even daily. The volume can be enormous, but the transmission relatively easy. Sifting through and analyzing hundreds of emails is time-consuming and costly. Honoring the law has become onerous and unreasonable in the digital age, but not for the reasons SB 6617 addresses.
I support a review of the law to establish parameters of reasonable merit. This will allow government bodies to focus their public resources on responding to legitimate requests.
It will be a test of Governor Inslee’s leadership and character today if he takes a stand and rightly vetoes this bill, or passively lets this slide into law as he did with last year’s charter school bill. But a shadow remains over the legislature’s actions that brought us to this point.
Sue Peters is a journalist and communication strategist who served on the Seattle School Board from 2013-17, most recently as board president.