Local politics and elections.
Brings out the best in all of us!
This year’s election in Seattle is actually exciting-ish, despite it being an off cycle year, due to the recent changes in how Seattle elects city council members. Previously, every spot on the council was an at large position meaning each member represented the entire city. Now, seats represent districts so each member on the Seattle City Council is elected by the citizens who live in the district being represented by that council member. The change was made in an effort to increase accountability and to make sure every neighborhood and constituency in the city had a chance of representation.
It was also done in a hope to get rid of some of the old white people who controlled the council for decades and hopefully get a bigger variety of backgrounds on the council…ie. less white, younger and hopefully more progressive and less inclined to suck the teat of big property owners and developers.
One of the most closely watched and contested races is for the densely populated District 3 which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District. Current City Council member Kshama Sawant is running against Pamela Banks, the Urban League president in a race that seems to partly hinge on issues of accessibility. It’s a key plank of Banks offense, charging that Sawant is hard to reach and that is also a concern of the non-profit Equal Rights Washington group as well. The group, which was instrumental in the successful fight for passage of marriage equality in Washington State, has surprisingly endorsed Pamela Banks over Sawant citing issues of accessibility and complaining that Sawant never returned calls to meet with ERW.
With that announcement, Seattle’s ONLY newspaper, The Stranger and its chief shit stirrer, columnist and former editor Dan Savage went on the attack today, harshly criticizing ERW and its endorsement of Banks.
I have no idea who is on the board at ERW these days or who sits on their endorsement committee—and since their website is nothing but a plea for donations (and has been for months and months), and since there’s no info at ERW’s Twitter account or on their Wiki page, there’s no easy way to find out. But I do know that this endorsement of Banks is complete and total bullshit.
Since taking office in 2013, Kshama Sawant has done great work on LGBT issues. She convened a town hall meeting to address a spike in hate crimes on Capitol Hill, she fought successfully to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 (the minimum wage matters to young queer people who flee to cities like Seattle), she pushed to increase funding to address homelessness among LGBTQ youth, and she has aggressively fought skyrocketing rents in Seattle—an issue that has disproportionately impacted residents of Capitol Hill, which has been the city’s queer neighborhood for the last few decades.
We’d like to point out that only TWO of those things are specifically LGBTQI related…the hate crimes and the homelessness issue among queer youth. Also, Sawant only began addressing LGBTQI issues AFTER she announced she was running for the District 3 seat and she realized she needed to court the queer community. And, the town hall/hate crimes meeting was a blatant piece of political propaganda that has accomplished….what, exactly?
Well, other than a lovely bullet point on Sawant’s resume, not much other than cute stickers in Capitol Hill business windows.
We’re also confused by the wrath of Le Etranger and Mr. Savage. They managed to list all of the love Sawant has allegedly given to the queer community since being on the council but since when has that been a priority of Mr. Savage or The Stranger who have picked on every queer organization in town? (If you mention Mr. Savage’s name at Gay City, people’s faces still turn purple with rage…) And, since when has The Stranger supported the idea of an LGBT Community Center? Or, ANY queer non-profit for that matter?
Of course, The Stranger still likes to think they are cutting edge progressives. While they also make a butt ton of money off of ads from the Sawant campaign.
That said, we’re also a tad puzzled by ERW’s weird endorsement of Banks. Based solely on the fact Sawant didn’t timely return an email? To a group that hasn’t been very relevant for three years? And, are supporting a candidate that seems a tad out of touch with the queer community who flubbed her way through a discussion about queer issues and accidentally referred to transgender people as “transistor” more than once?
Ms Banks seems like a nice lady but she DOES seem a tad clueless about queer issues and she’s obviously running as the Central District candidate. We also think she doesn’t deserve the nasty scorn she’s getting from The Stranger and Mr. Savage. (Frankly, we’re shocked that Dan is taking an interest in this race…he has a sitcom to work on!!!) There’s also an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about… the fact this poliitcal race has racial, social, political and gender/sexual overtones. Banks has the support of a more centrist liberal community (and our very centrist Big Gay Mayor, Ed Murray) and the African-American community native to the Central District. Ms Sawant is running on a very progressive, far left platform and is counting on the support of the far left hippies, social justice warriors and queers of Capitol Hill, communities that she’s been heavily courting.
Since no one is buying political ads on OUR site, we’re not endorsing anyone.
Ms Sawant obviously has more to offer the queer community…or, so she claims. If she is elected, and we suspect she will win, hopefully she’ll follow through with all her promises and actually be accessible to our community post election.
That said, we also don’t think all queer people are obliged to vote collectively as a hive mind. It was that dumb belief that helped get our Big Gay Mayor elected. As queer people, it’s important to vote on queer issues but we’re also individuals with very different beliefs. Don’t just vote solely based on your sexuality and/or gender identity. We’re more than just genitals.