Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The hard part.

The choices for King County Elections and the Port Commission are almost comically easy. The choices for our local city council are more difficult. That's actually a good thing.

Like our big neighbor to the south, "non-partisan" government in Shoreline tends to produce uni-partisan government. Happily, the party in question is the Democratic Party. As a result, both sides of local races usually feature folks of generally liberal outlook, although most of the municipal issues they contend with in office don't hinge on ideological division. Friends and allies, personal and political, tend to pop up on the endorsement lists of all the candidates, a sign, I suppose, that we're still a pretty small and surprisingly stable city. Most political choices come down to keeping the bad guys out or getting the good guys in. Not so much in Shoreline, where the options are all, or nearly all, qualified, compassionate, public-spirited neighbors.

If they're all good, some are better, and that discernment is the hard part. These are fairly low profile, low budget campaigns, so there's not a flood of paid media. You have to read the voter's pamphlet, check endorsement lists and candidate evaluations, attend candidate forums and, perhaps most importantly, answer the doorbell when it rings. Shoe leather can still win elections here. In fact, like the presidential primary voters in New Hampshire, folks hereabouts like to vote for people they've met.

I haven't met Jesse Salomon, who's running for an open seat on the Council, because I wasn't home when he dropped by, but the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left answered the door and came away favorably impressed. That's about all the recommendation I need. Jesse is a neighborhood activist, a public defender and my choice for Position 6. I can see a political future beyond the city for him if he wants it, but while we have the chance to enjoy his talents locally, we should take it.

Chris Eggen is running for re-election, and I'm supporting him again. I got to know Chris as a workhorse in the local Democratic Party, and he's been a workhorse on the Council. He deserves another term.

I admit to a general bias in favor of incumbents, absent some egregious reason for removal. There's no such reason with the incumbent in Position 4, but I'm supporting the challenger, Janet Way, just the same.

You can learn a lot about a politician from a campaign, and a lot more from the way they conduct themselves in office after they win. Sometimes you learn the most of all, though, after they lose. When Janet lost her re-election bid in the last cycle, she didn't retreat an inch from her energetic activism on behalf of environmental, cultural and historic preservation. She started a blog that's become the go-to source for local information about those issues and the sustainability-based economic growth and development that she champions (and some terrific wildlife photography!). She's continued to listen, to learn, and to teach in turn. She'll be an advocate for ideas and concerns that are too seldom part of Council discussions these days.

I'm voting for Janet, Chris and Jesse. If you're hereabouts, I hope you do, too.

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