Gas Works Park with a smoky skyline in the background. (Photo by The Urbanist)

A month of wildfires and smoky, polluted skies have set a somber mood this election season, but perhaps that’s apropos. It really is time to get serious and get down to business electing climate-focused, urbanist leaders ready to decarbonize our economy and better steward our natural resources while making our society more just and equitable in the process. It’s a tall order, but the challenge of our times requires that leaders rise to the occasion, and voters should take notice of those poised to do so.

Unfortunately, plenty of distractions are out there. Would we rather elect somebody just promising to solve crime and homelessness by doubling down on incarceration and tough rhetoric? Maybe it will work this time like it didn’t in the 80’s, 90’s, or 2000’s? As you may sense by our sarcasm, our analysis is that incarceration-centered approaches will backfire rather than solve the opiate crisis or surge in crime. But we understand the promises of tough-on-crime candidates might sound pretty seductive right now.

If we can convince you of one candidate this year, make it Leesa Manion, in the King County Prosecutor race. Her opponent, Jim Ferrell, is running a throwback campaign centered on cracking down on the poor and reigniting a failed war on drugs. What impressed us about Manion is that her goals to decrease crime and disorder are supported by policies that have the benefit of actually working. Respecting constitutional rights and following evidence-based practices to reduce crime over the long-term is a winning combination. Somehow violence prevention and diversionary policies have gotten a dirty name, but they remain the most effective way to rehabilitate people and reduce recidivism rates. In short, after interviewing Manion, we’re convinced she’s the real deal and will be the better county prosecutor.

Our endorsement process is an arduous one. We pored over more than 40 questionnaire responses and spent two sunny summer Saturdays and a few evenings indoors, in follow-up candidate virtual interviews. Our Zoom-fatigued brains turned to mush, but we kept the probing and, okay, sometimes meandering, questions coming. After all the work, we debated the merits of the contenders and are confident that the slate we put before you are solid urbanists ready to make a difference.

One measuring stick we used for candidates is whether they support ending exclusionary zoning and building more housing at all income levels. For state legislators, we gauged this willingness by their take on House Bill 1782, the promising statewide missing middle housing bill introduced by Rep. Jessica Bateman but rejected by a handful of suburbanist snob Democrats aligning with sprawl-happy, own-the-libs Republicans. If we say a candidate is for HB 1782, that means they support the state setting a minimum zoning standard to ensure multifamily housing (such as fourplexes, stacked flats, and courtyard apartments) is legal, particularly in transit-rich areas of the state. With housing prices skyrocketing across the state at an alarming rate, more affordable housing options really isn’t too much to ask.

A close up of the Puget Sound region LDs following 2022 redistricting. (Washington Redistricting Commission)

We’ll start with countywide races and ballot measures, and then work our way through our state legislature endorsements roughly from south to north, or Legislative District 22 (LD22) to LD44, as it were. Get your ballot postmarked by 8pm November 8th to ensure it counts. Register to vote or check voter information here. Check out the questionnaires for yourself: LD34, LD36, LD37, and LD46, the South Sound, and Eastside, North Sound, and the rest.

The Urbanist Elections Committee consists of Lizzy Jessup, Ryan Packer, Hannah Sabio-Howell, Jazmine Smith, Doug Trumm, Rian Watt, and Anita Yandle. Smith recused herself from voting on state legislative races due to a work conflict.

The Urbanist Elections Committee Endorsement Overview

King County Proposition 1: YesKing County Charter Amendment 1: Yes
Seattle Proposition 1B: YesBellevue Proposition 1: Yes
King County Prosecutor: Leesa ManionTukwila Initiative 1: Yes
LD22-1: Jessica BatemanLD34 Senate: Joe Nguyen
LD22-2: Beth DoglioLD34-1: Leah Griffin
LD26-2: Matthew MacklinLD43-1: Nicole Macri
LD29-2: Sharlett MenaLD46 Senate: Javier Valdez
LD27 Senate: Yasmin TrudeauLD46-2: Darya Farivar
LD30 Senate: Claire WilsonLD48 Senate: Patty Kuderer
LD47-2: Shukri OlowLD48-2 Amy Walen
LD33-2: Mia GregersonLD45 Senate: Manka Dhingra
LD11-1: David HackneyLD32-1: Cindy Ryu
LD34-2: Joe FitzgibbonLD01-1: Davina Duerr
LD36 Senate: Noel FrameLD21-1: Strom Peterson
LD36-1: Julia ReedLD44 Senate: John Lovick
LD36-2: Liz BerryLD44-1: Brandy Donaghy
LD37 Senate: Rebecca SaldañaLD37-2: Chipalo Street

Ballot Measures

King County Proposition 1: Yes

Conserving green spaces and natural resource land should be a high priority, which makes the Conservation Future Levy a slam dunk. With climate change bearing down upon us and bringing with it grueling smoke seasons every year, it’s imperative we protect mature forests and do our part to sequester carbon rather than emit it. The measure would also help expand King County’s regional trail network, including the Green River Trail and Eastrail, which will stitch together the Eastside when completed.

“A Yes on KC Prop 1 restores the local Conservation Futures Program to its original rate – less than $2 more per month for the average homeowner,” its backers note. “Executive Constantine launched the Land Conservation Initiative in 2016, convening a regional partnership of communities, cities, farmers, businesses, and environmental leaders to protect 65,000 acres of the highest conservation-value open space. The initiative is off to a strong start, but without adequate funding now, King County and partners will miss the best opportunities to protect open spaces.”

Vote Yes on King County Prop 1 to preserve green space and advance the regional trail network.

King County Charter Amendment 1 – Even Year Elections: Yes

We have two opportunities in Seattle to improve our elections this year. The first one is King County Charter Amendment 1 which would move elections for representatives at the county level to even years instead of odd years. Namely, King County Executive, King County Councilmembers, Director of Elections, and Assessor would move to even years, and would serve a shortened three-year term in their next race in order to accommodate the transition.

Moving local elections to even years would have a huge impact on voter turnout, roughly doubling the electorate based on recent voting patterns. Because our federal officials are elected in even years, turnout is much higher in those years, especially in presidential years. This difference would be particularly pronounced among young people, and Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, which are groups that have very low turnout in odd years. In effect, this is a way to have the most representative democracy possible.

Would the Nikkita Oliver versus Sara Nelson race for City Council race have gone differently if held in an even year? We don’t know for sure, but we have reason to suspect a higher number of younger and more diverse electorate would have helped Oliver, whom we endorsed. Moving County elections won’t immediately impact City Council races, but it could pave the way and mount pressure on Seattle and other cities to do so.

Councilmember Oliver alternate universe aside, this election reform isn’t about helping or hurting any particular candidate. It’s about making elections more representative and fair. To show you the size of the impact even-year elections would have on turnout in King County, young people in 2019 had voter turnout of 7% in the primary and 15% in the general election. Compare that to 2020, when over 35% voted in the primary and 63% voted in the general election. No one should be elected with only 15% of the youth vote. Leaving obstacles to voting in place is an astonishingly bad way to chart a course to a brighter future.

Vote Yes on King County Charter Amendment 1.

Seattle Proposition 1B – Ranked Choice Voting: Yes

Additionally, in Seattle, we have the opportunity to change the way that we do elections: it’s a question in two parts. The first part of the question is, should we change the way we do elections in Seattle? The answer to that is a resounding yes. The second part of the question is, should that change be approval voting or ranked-choice voting? The answer to that question is ranked choice voting. 

Vote yes to change Seattle elections and then select option IB for ranked choice voting. (Graphic by RCV 4 Seattle)

While both methods would change the way that we do elections, only one – ranked choice voting – truly makes Seattle city elections more representative and gives voters more power in a meaningful way. Ranked-choice voting gives voters the chance to rank the candidates they support in order of preference, while approval voting limits voters’ ability to distinguish between candidates. Ranked-choice voting gives voters the power to voice their actual candidate preferences, rather than just the candidate(s) they’d tolerate.

Because of this, and because ranked-choice voting is already a tried-and-true electoral system in a variety of jurisdictions throughout the country, it has the support of a vast, multiracial coalition of Seattle-based community groups, many of whom represent historically disenfranchised people. 

Here at The Urbanist, we’re all for the reforms that would actually move our city toward progress: progress on housing, on transportation, on public safety, on affordability, on creating a more powerful democracy that works better for working people. We endorse ranked-choice voting because it is a smart, visionary voting reform that has demonstrated success across the country at delivering progress. Approval voting has no such track record, no discernable grassroots support, and is bankrolled by questionable out-of-state donors, led by a cryptocurrency billionaire. Seattle voters deserve real solutions.

Ranked choice voting is the best opportunity that we have to make our democracy more representative. Combine that with even-year elections to increase turnout and our elections will be a game changer, and we’re only getting started. Vote yes to change our elections. Vote yes on proposition 1B for RCV.

Bellevue Proposition 1 – Levy for Parks and Open Space: Yes

Bellevue has a nine-year parks levy on the ballot, and voters would be wise to approve it. In addition to expanding Bellevue’s parks and trail system, the measure would also help fund off-leash dog parks, pickleball courts, and cricket fields. Cricket has become a popular sport in the city and region, buoyed in part by the influx of immigrants from India. This seems like a great way to make the park system most useful to all Bellevue residents. And even if you don’t like sports, the levy also makes wildlife corridors and water quality investments that improve the environment for everyone. Vote yes.

Tukwila Initiative 1 – Raise the Minimum Wage: Yes

Spearheaded by our friends at Transit Riders Union, Tukwila’s minimum wage hike initiative would be a major boon to low-wage workers in the city. Home to the Southcenter Mall, Tukwila is a major job center with quite a few workers making close to city’s minimum wage, which has lagged behind its neighbors. Tukwila’s minimum wage workers would see about a $3 raise, plus the measure adds a cost-of-living adjustment to ensure wages continue to climb in future years. “Right now, a person working a full-time minimum wage job in Tukwila must spend over 60% of their income to rent a modest 1-bedroom apartment in King County,” the campaign notes. Businesses with fewer than 15 employees and less than $2 million in annual revenue are exempt, pouring cold water on worries that mom and pop shops would be put out of business. With inflation and skyrocketing housing prices, workers deserve a pay bump. Vote yes on Prop 1, Tukwila.

King County Prosecutor: Leesa Manion

The King County Prosecutor handles — perhaps surprisingly, considering the title — both civil and criminal cases in King County. The choice in this race is shockingly easy: Leesa Manion. Manion is an insider who says that she understands that mass incarceration does not create safe communities; services do. She has three decades of experience in the prosecutor’s office, which presents the opportunity for a seamless transition.

Meanwhile, she is up against conservative, tough-on-crime Federal Way Mayor Jim Farrell, who is about as far away from The Urbanist’s ideals for safe, happy, healthy communities as one can be. Farrell is likely to follow in Ann Davison’s footsteps trying to ratchet up sentencing and fill up the county jail, which by the way has no running water right now, at least that is not brown in color. It’s not clear what the end game is to loading people up with fines and prison time, but providing little means for them to get back on their feet. Needing to build a bigger jail, we guess?

Given Manion’s emphasis on repairing the broken legal system to a place where it can be at least somewhat more just, she is the obvious choice for this position. Vote Leesa Manion.

LD22-1: Jessica Bateman

We endorsed Bateman in 2020, and boy were we right. The former Olympia City Councilmember solidified her grip on our hearts when she spearheaded an effort to deliver statewide missing middle housing through HB 1782, which would have created the land use framework for large amounts of additional housing near transit and in areas now dedicated to single-family detached housing. She ran functionally unopposed this year (her primary opponents, against whom she took a commanding 62% of the vote, were a Republican and a Democrat who reported raising $0), so this endorsement was never really in doubt, but it is nonetheless delivered with conviction on the strength of 1782, which we expect to return in 2023 and which would unlock opportunities for the housing Washington sorely needs. Vote for Jessica Bateman.

LD22-2: Beth Doglio

We loved Doglio when she previously held this seat (well, technically speaking, Position 1) from 2017 to 2021 and we loved her when she ran for Congress in 2020. We see no reason the voters of the 22nd should fail to return her to the legislature this year, and apparently they agree: she took 50% of the vote in a six-person primary in August and we expect her to handily defeat her Republican opponent in the general election. Doglio’s ability to translate clear climate vision into strong climate policy is hard to equal among other candidates for this seat (or, indeed, in the rest of the state), and we love her increasing commitment to other key planks of The Urbanist’s policy agenda, including missing middle housing and statewide rent stabilization legislation. By sending Doglio back to the legislature to join Representative Bateman, LD22’s voters will likely create perhaps the most consistently effective progressive pairing of State Representatives outside of Seattle. We strongly encourage them to do so. Vote for Beth Doglio.

LD26-2: Matthew Macklin

Democrat Matthew Macklin is looking to unseat Republican Michelle Caldier in the 26th. He’s not the most seasoned candidate we’ve ever seen, but he is an enthusiastic transit supporter and would make a heckuva improvement over a do-nothing Republican. Macklin gets that adding more car lanes generally means adding car traffic, despite greenwashing attempts to sell highway expansion as climate action. Troublingly, Macklin suggests repealing the Growth Management Act, which suggests he is a novice on land use policy, something that hardly makes him unique in the legislature and could be rectified. On a positive note, he supports statewide zoning reform and expanding housing options in all neighborhoods.

Believe us when we say Caldier is a dud. She’s a climate-denying gun nut who has opposed much-needed common-sense reforms like a ghost gun ban, expanded background checks, baseline police accountability measures, clean fuels, and just about every piece of climate legislation to come her way. Nonetheless, she grabbed almost 55% of the vote in the primary so maybe the 26th finds her endearing. Macklin might not be perfect, but he’d be a big improvement. Vote Matthew Macklin.

LD29-2: Sharlett Mena

Sharlett Mena scared an incumbent into retiring, an iconic and timeless move in the world of progressive politics. She is running to represent the 29th Legislative District, a majority-minority, working class district that deserves representation by people who will advocate for affordable, liveable communities. We strongly believe that Mena will advocate for affordability, given her support for passing the HB 1782, expanding emergency housing and shelters, and lifting the ban on rent control. It is also clear that she will advocate for climate-conscious policies, not just due to her background at the Department of Ecology but also because she expressly calls out the effects of environmental racism on the 29th LD and has enumerated specific efforts to reduce carbon emissions that she supports.

Mena is also clearly thoughtful about creating safe communities. She recognizes that public safety comes from preventing dangerous incidents in the first instance, such as through keeping people stably housed and expanding public services.

Through the expansion of public transit and walkable, visible pedestrian routes, Mena believes we can reduce traffic fatalities, and through public advocacy campaigns, she believes we can encourage safe driving behavior. She was herself the victim of a serious road rage incident earlier this year. 

Mena made it through a three-way primary with 42.5% of the vote. Her Republican opponent Figuracion had just over 41%, but Mena is likely to take the lion’s share of votes from the Democrat who was eliminated. We believe Mena is the right fit for this position, and will be a strong pro-housing, pro-transit, pro-environment legislator. Vote for Sharlett Mena.

LD27 Senate: Yasmin Trudeau

Sen. Yasmin Trudeau has been a progressive voice and housing champion and deserves another term. She supported the push to end exclusionary zoning and promote denser sustainable housing in transit-rich areas via HB 1782 and HB 1099. Trudeau has been an advocate for upstream solutions to public safety and of increasing police accountability. She noted she has family members who are disabled and some who prefer not to drive, so she understands the need for improving transit and multimodal options at a personal level. She grabbed a whopping 70% of the vote in the primary and will face a Republican by the name of Ashley Ray. This is a no-brainer. Vote Yasmin Trudeau.

LD30 Senate: Claire Wilson

The 30th Legislative District trading fundamentalist Republican Mark Miloscia for Senator Claire Wilson in 2018 may be one of the biggest upgrades in Washington State Legislature history. Wilson has done a great job distinguishing herself during a tumultuous first term. She prime sponsored numerous bills around education, childcare, and other urgent issues impacting her district. We’re enthusiastic to be endorsing Senator Wilson for a second term, and particularly glad to see Wilson working on the issue of traffic safety. It’s an issue many legislators leave to local cities but which is truly a statewide crisis. In 2022, Wilson worked with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to pass a bill granting cities new tools to be able to make their streets safer. We can’t wait to see what Wilson can accomplish in her next term. Vote Claire Wilson.

LD47-2: Shukri Olow

We endorsed Shukri Olow in the primary because we liked her platform and thoughtful answers to our questions. She advanced to the general election along with fellow Democrat Chris Stearns, as the pair edged out three Republican contenders in this traditionally swing-y district. Stearns starts with a lead, as he pulled in 33% of the vote to Olow’s 20%.

We’ve tried to get to know Stearns better, but unfortunately he’s rebuffed our efforts. He declined to answer our questionnaire or sit for an interview. Stearns doesn’t have an issues page on his sparse website, and, while he has scored some big-name establishment endorsements, we are very hesitant to endorse somebody who hasn’t articulated what specifically they aim to focus on and accomplish in Olympia. Stearns said his top priorities will be housing affordability, behavioral health, and supporting small business, but without more details it’s hard to say how he would hope to achieve that. Perhaps this is a strategy to court Republican voters who will have nowhere to go with their candidates eliminated. Do we want to hasten the day when nobody has a campaign platform and everybody runs on vibes alone? Voters should not reward such a strategy.

In contrast, Olow has been very clear about her approach, and she has the progressive endorsements to match her progressive vision. With her background working at King County’s Best Starts for Kids Initiative, she has stressed affordable childcare and investing in youth through education. Moreover, Olow has emphasized both investment in affordable housing and reforming zoning to encourage homebuilding at all income levels. She is not afraid to draw attention to the impacts of exclusionary zoning within the Puget Sound region. In her questionnaire, Olow namedropped zoning mastermind Harland Bartholomew as she expertly traced single-family zoning’s racist roots to modern-day housing inequities. Needless to say, she supports statewide zoning reform. With Stearns who knows. Vote Shukri Olow.

LD33-2: Mia Gregerson

“I support HB 1782 in its most bold and progressive form,” Rep. Mia Gregerson told us, and we swooned. She has been a leader on housing and homelessness, and we also appreciated her introducing even year elections reform last session. She’s unabashedly for implementing a state income tax and other forms of progressive tax reform. She is critical of criminalizing poverty, and backs HB 1099, the climate bill which will likely be coming back next session. One critique we will offer: She wrote she supports SR-509 highway expansion because she thinks it will lead to less idling and therefore less pollution in communities of color along the route, which sounds like highway lobby greenwashing. In actuality, the relationship typically goes more lanes leads to more cars and more pollution. Idling is not a magic wand. Still, she is a proponent of making transit free for all, and overall she’s been a great progressive voice. She is running unopposed. Vote Mia Gregerson.

LD11-1: David Hackney

Rep. David Hackney had the audacity to challenge a sitting centrist Democrat from the left and win in 2020. This cycle has seen almost no progressive challenges of Democratic incumbents, so we didn’t realize how lucky we were in 2020. As billed, Hackney has been a reliable progressive, and he deserves another term. Hackney has advocated for fully funding transit and improving service reliability. In his first year, Rep. Hackney partnered with Seattle Subway on a bill to increase light rail funding options, and that push bore fruit this year with passage of a similar measure. Hackney wants to increase missing middle housing, but he backed a compromise version of HB 1782 that would give municipalities more options to customize where denser housing would go. He still wants the missing middle requirement to be mandatory at the municipal level, so this could be workable, but we worry that many cities would use the wiggle room to channel growth away from wealthy segregated enclaves areas and into diverse working class neighborhoods, as opposed to the opposite. He opposes highway widening and backs an income tax and other progressive tax reform. He faces an obscure Republican. Vote David Hackney.

LD34 Senate: Joe Nguyen

Senator Joe Nguyen is a progressive stalwart in the state Senate and he deserves a second term to keep doing us proud. A child of Vietnamese refugees, he brings his lived experience making ends meet when times were tough to the work he does: advocating for tax reform that better serves working families, climate policy that addresses the burden of environmental degradation borne by communities of color, and educational and career opportunity for all. In his roles as a member of the Senate Transportation committee and the Environment and Human Services committees, as well as assistant floor leader, Nguyen has proven himself to be an effective, urbanist, progressive voice in Olympia. Voters seem to agree, as he grabbed 83% of the primary vote. His opponent is some Republican named John Potter, who got 10%. We’ve endorsed Nguyen before and we’re proud to endorse again. Vote Joe Nguyen. 

LD34-1: Leah Griffin

This was a hard choice for the committee — because the 34th will be well represented with either Leah Griffin or Emily Alvarado in the legislature. Griffin is a longtime victims’ advocate who has shown she has the chops to create and pass laws. Alvarado was the Director of the City of Seattle Office of Housing and has built her career on housing people. This has created quite the conundrum: who to pick between two great candidates?

During the primary, Alvarado came out on top with 54% of the vote. Alvarado is smart on all of the issues that make The Urbanist tick: safe, healthy, affordable communities, brought together through smart and sustainable policies. She knows that adding highway lanes increases traffic while destroying the planet and endangering commuters. She knows that rent has skyrocketed and if left unchecked, will only result in more people losing their homes, livelihoods, and lives. In short, she is and will continue to be a great advocate.

Meanwhile, Griffin comes from the public safety side. A sexual violence victim, she saw the failings of the criminal legal system and chose to take action to change it, successfully advocating to pass bills to better protect survivors. Her housing platform puts too much emphasis on home ownership for our tastes, but she clearly is a vote for missing middle reform. She, like Alvarado, is supportive of efforts to expand housing, protect renters, increase transit, and improve ferry service, which is important in the 34th. Additionally, she has not only indicated that she is against adding highway miles, but that she would support efforts to remove particularly harmful highways.

Both candidates had excellent interviews. Both had excellent questionnaires. The committee does not make it a habit to dual endorse, unfortunately. As such, we have given the slight edge to Leah Griffin and endorsed her. We were impressed by her unwavering passion to create laws that are more just and accessible to the people who will be navigating them — often people in crisis. We can only hope to see more of this energy.

LD34-2: Joe Fitzgibbon

Representative Fitzgibbon, a climate and land use champion since arriving in Olympia in 2011, is opposed in this race only by a Republican whose website asks voters to “take [their] life back from the radical left” by voting him into office. Suffice it to say we will not be taking that advice, and will instead endorse Fitzgibbon with conviction and in expectation of his continued leadership on a range of key urbanist priorities (voters agree: Fitzgibbon got 84% of the vote in the primary). In particular, we welcome his leadership on building decarbonization, allocation of revenues arriving in the wake of the Climate Commitment Act, and a renewed effort to get HB 1099, Futurewise’s climate and land use bill, over the final finish line this year. The 34th is fortunate to have Fitzgibbon’s brand of wonky vision in its corner in Olympia, and so are we. Vote for Joe Fitzgibbon.

LD36 Senate: Noel Frame

​​Since 2016, we have been lucky enough to have Noel Frame represent the 36th in the State Legislature. In her service as the House Finance Chair, she’s been a champion for progressive tax reform. Now she is making a State Senate run following Sen. Reuven Carlyle’s announcement that he would not be seeking reelection. We expect Rep. Frame to make a seamless transition from the House to the Senate. Wealth tax, income tax, inheritance tax, you name it — Rep. Frame is our local expert. Throughout the interview process, countless candidates quoted Frame and their intent to follow her lead on progressive taxation in the upcoming session. As Rep Frame said, “we are morally bankrupt in the state of Washington when it comes to our tax code.” We look forward to seeing Rep. Frame make the jump to the senate and (*hopefully*) getting a wealth tax passed. This endorsement is essentially a no-brainer as Frame’s opponent, Kate Martin, is a “former” Republican and a supporter of “gentle density” according to their LinkedIn. In contrast, Frame is a strong proponent of missing middle housing reform and pledged to back legislation like Rep. Jessica Bateman’s 1782 that would guarantee greater housing choices in cities statewide. Vote Frame as our best hope of finally easing the burden on the working class by making progressive tax reform a reality in Washington State. Vote for Noel Frame.

LD36-1: Julia Reed

Julia Reed is an e-bike commuter! She is unafraid to call out that it was lack of Democratic support that caused the failure of the missing middle housing bill. She cares deeply about the climate and supports transit-oriented solutions to reducing carbon emission. And, she knows that the key to safe communities is through providing people the housing, services, and other support they need. 

Jeff Manson made it through the primary a distant second and is Reed’s challenger for the general. Even in a strong field, we were especially impressed with Reed. She seems to be a pragmatist going into Olympia with her eyes wide open, while being willing to hold the line on climate-friendly, community-centered policies. Her priorities appear to be our priorities, and we hope to see her work some magic in Olympia. Vote Julia Reed.

LD36-2: Liz Berry

Representative Berry, who took this open seat convincingly two years ago, has worn her incumbency well, joining with colleagues to pass major progressive legislation. She has consistently supported the efforts of her seatmate and soon-to-be State Senator, Rep. Noel Frame, to advance the cause of progressive revenue in Washington State, and also sought out under-covered and technical issue areas to build consensus around, such as model legislation to ban toxic PFSA chemicals last year. Plus, she serves on the transportation committee and helped broker multimodal improvements to the Move Ahead Washington that included $50 million to improve safety on crash-prone Aurora Avenue in North Seattle. We are delighted to support her for re-election this year and, should she assume the chairmanship of the House Labor Committee (for which she is a contender), we expect her strong labor credentials will continue to build bridges between the urbanist and labor movements that are beneficial to both. Vote Liz Berry!

LD37-2: Chipalo Street

The retirement of Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley after just one term brought several new contenders into the fold. Plenty of progressives scrambled into the race, but Chipalo Street appears the most prepared to be a progressive urbanist standard-bearer in Olympia. In his interview, he impressed us with his firm grip of the issues, from housing abundance to transportation to police accountability, and how he could best apply his skills in Olympia.

Emijah Smith is an intriguing candidate in her own right. She is a longtime community advocate who has extensive organizing experience with the Washington Children’s Alliance, Solid Ground, and King County Equity Now. She centered the need for racial equity in her questionnaire (submitted after the primary) and her subsequent interview, but took a cautious approach to housing growth, which appears likely to backfire in a region adding residents as quickly as ours. Her platform emphasizes turning back the tide of displacement and ending predatory real estate practices, but we didn’t get a sense in our interview of how she’d turn those broad goals into actionable legislation that achieve them. 

Street is a Microsoft tech manager and a landlord, which might turn off some voters at first glance. But Street’s housing answers were on point from his support of rent control to rental assistance and missing middle housing. His experiences navigating the bureaucratic maze as a homebuilder have sharpened his understanding of what zoning and housing policies need fixing to boost housing production. He’s a strong supporter of HB 1782 and of further police reform efforts. In college, he experienced police brutality firsthand; Street got beat up and sent to the hospital by campus cops who mistook him for a suspect and quickly escalated the situation. He said the traumatic incident drove home the need for de-escalation training and real police accountability. Vote Chipalo Street.

LD37 Senate: Rebecca Saldaña

Senator Rebecca Saldaña is our hero (seriously) for her work to build a more inclusive democracy, advance solutions to environmental racism experienced by communities of color, empower workers, and – most recently – to shape a greener Move Ahead Washington transportation package. Our state will see bigger investments in mass transit and safer roads for vulnerable road users in large part thanks to her leadership. Saldaña’s commitment to building healthier, more livable communities for all of us makes her undoubtedly the best choice for the 37th, and – as we’ve been in the past – we’re proud to give her our endorsement. 

LD43-1: Nicole Macri

We’ve endorsed Nicole Macri in three straight runs and we see no reason to stop now. Macri moved into caucus leadership over the past term and we hope that greater role can help pull the Democratic caucus along on key initiatives like passing missing middle housing reform and writing climate action into the Growth Management Act. Macri is a trusted housing leader on the frontlines of the homelessness crisis at her day job at the Downtown Emergency Services Center. Addressing homelessness remains Macri’s top priority and she’s uniquely qualified to make headway; she understands that exclusionary zoning has driven up housing prices and exacerbated the crisis, and was an early co-sponsor of HB 1782 to tackle the problem. She has fought to increase investments in the state affordable housing trust fund, and was the author of the last attempt to repeal the state ban on residential rent control. She puts in the work, as evidenced by showing up to our endorsement interview despite running unopposed. Vote Nicole Macri and hope we get more like her.

LD46 Senate: Javier Valdez

In our conversation with Rep. Javier Valdez, his years of experience as a legislator and the equity lens through which he views legislation made him a standout choice for the 46th district’s next senator. We especially appreciated his clear support of policies that would expand housing density and affordability and protect communities from displacement. During his tenure as a representative, he has been an effective leader on firearm safety and hate crime legislation, and we expect that he will continue his work to create safer, healthier communities as senator. Vote Javier Valdez. 

LD46-2: Darya Farivar

Presented with an open seat, several great candidates stepped forward in the 46th. Darya Farivar emerged the champion in the primary despite her opponents outspending her considerably. We can see why. Farivar wowed us with her policy chops and experience leading in Olympia as an policy director for Disability Rights Washington, a powerhouse organization advocating for street safety and mobility justice. Faced with defeat, her former opponents — Mellisa Taylor, Nancy Connelly, and Nina Martinez — all endorsed Farivar, showing the progressive consensus in the race. 

Darya Farivar was our October Meetup guest. Check out the video!

Lelach Rave made it through the primary to face Farivar in the general. Rave skipped our endorsement process and seems to be running a milquetoast centrist campaign. While the other candidates all backed HB 1782, stressing the need for statewide zoning reform to spur more housing growth, Rave dodged the issue. Farivar is the clear progressive choice and she’s poised to hit the ground running thanks to the relationships she’s already built in Olympia. Vote Darya Farivar.

LD48 Senate: Patty Kuderer

Senator Patty Kuderer brings an incisive eye and deep experience to her work as chair of the Senate Housing & Local Government committee and we’re excited to see her keep at it. Renters in our state are directly better off because of Kuderer’s leadership. Our neighbors experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, and particularly youth, are better served and better protected with Kuderer in the Senate fighting for us. And we’re all a lot safer thanks to her effective advocacy for gun safety legislation that keeps deadly weapons away from public demonstrations and our state capitol. We’d be proud to endorse as is, but we’re extra eager to endorse her considering that her challenger is a Republican whose approach (tough-on-crime and anti-transit) has proven time and again to fail people. Vote Patty Kuderer. 

LD48-2 Amy Walen

Rep. Amy Walen is running unopposed and she has done enough to earn our endorsement. Walen said her top priority in her next term would be to get her bill, HB 2020, across the finish line after it came up short this year. Writing an affordable housing requirement and enforcement mechanism in the Growth Management Act (GMA) is a worthy cause and we support it. We’re glad she’s embraced the Washington Can’t Wait campaign to reform the GMA, including climate-focused HB 1099. That said, we urge even bolder reforms to solve the housing crisis. She opposed rent stabilization because she believes it “disguises a supply problem.” Nonetheless, she clings to the idea that some neighborhoods, even in rapidly growing Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Seattle, still need to have single family zoning and aren’t appropriate for growth. We’d hope that the former Kirkland mayor and councilmember would have seen the folly of appeasement and incrementalism and embraced full-bore reform. Building our way out of an affordability crisis won’t work with a timid approach. Though she and her husband own and operate a car dealership, she took an unequivocal stand against adding new highway lane miles, which certainly impressed us. A car dealer may seem an odd pick for an urbanist endorsement, but her voting record and her questionnaire shows her to be solidly progressive. Vote Amy Walen.

LD45 Senate: Manka Dhingra

It is within scarily recent memory that the 45th LD Senate seat was held by a Republican. But because Senator Manka Dhingra ran for it and won in a 2017 special election, allowing Democrats to narrowly take control of the Senate, Washington state became a nationwide leader on voting accessibility, abortion protections, and LGBTQ healthcare access. While not always the most vocal and outfront on our issues, she has voted in favor of some key urbanist priorities and supports creating housing options at all price points with high density housing near transit, and believes the state should step in to make that possible. She also supports her colleagues’ climate protection policies, progressive tax reform policies, and Growth Management Act reform policies. Senator Manka Dhingra has earned our endorsement once again.

LD32-1: Cindy Ryu

Since 2011, Rep. Cindy Ryu has been a solid voice in the state legislature. Running for reelection this year with no serious challenger, Ryu is successfully representing the interests and voices of her district, as evidenced by her 83% support in the primary. With her tenure, Ryu is well versed on the inner workings of state government and her veteran experience shouldn’t be discounted. She has shown a penchant to dive into technical issues and get legislation across the finish line, as she did with her bill deterring catalytic converter theft. While rendering cars unuseable does speak to our urbanist souls, we believe mode shift should happen through legitimate means and give kudos to Ryu. She’s pledged to tackle organized retail theft rings as her top priority this upcoming term.

Over the years, we’ve seen Ryu grow into urbanist positions. Ryu is anti highway widening, pro income tax, and a cosponsor of HB 1782. We wish she took a stronger stance on repealing the rent control ban in Washington, but Ryu expressed concerns about impacts on smaller landlords, lost rental homes, and gentrification. She did leave open the possibility of voting for rent stabilization (like Oregon passed statewide in 2019) if those concerns are assuaged. We encourage her colleagues to get assuaging. Vote Cindy Ryu!

LD01-1: Davina Duerr

As the prime sponsor of HB 1099, which would have fully equipped the Growth Management Act to handle the era of climate change and set Washington cities up for smarter growth over the coming decades, we named Duerr our #1 hero of the 2022 legislative session. When 1099 defied the odds and made it to the end of the session, only to be killed for fear of a Republican filibuster by leadership, Duerr didn’t rest. She pushed cities to implement the requirements of the bill on their own, most recently appearing at Seattle’s Land Use Committee to bolster the case for a council resolution on the topic. 

With her background advocating with Bothellites for People-Oriented Places (BoPOP), Duerr has been fighting for issues urbanists care about for a long time, and that experience is invaluable in the legislature, where convincing suburban-minded legislators to embrace bold ideas is the name of the game. She has experience on the Bothell City Council, where she recently resigned her seat. Duerr’s opponent is a Republican who mustered 29% of the vote in the primary to her strong 71% haul. From designing safe streets to preserving open space to enacting tax reform, we know Duerr’s vote in the legislature is one we can count on. Vote Davina Duerr.

LD21-1: Strom Peterson

Rep. Strom Peterson said housing would be his priority in his next term, and his leadership on housing and tenant issues has been much appreciated. He co-sponsored HB 1782 and understands the need to add more affordable “missing middle” housing types in every urban and suburban neighborhood. He supports repealing the rent control ban, and appeared open to a Oregon-style statewide rent stabilization. He sees HB 1099 climate measures as a needed reform to the Growth Management Act, and pledged to only support highway widening if public transit took an even greater share of investment. It’s not a full “no new highways” pledge, but we do appreciate the prioritization of transit and support for free fares for youth. Peterson is also an income tax and progressive tax reform supporter. He faces one poorly-funded Republican challenger. Vote Strom Peterson.

LD44 Senate: John Lovick

John Lovick had probably the shortest answers to our questionnaire that we received. And yet, sometimes brevity is king. Lovick supports the missing middle housing, is open to discussions on lifting the ban on rent control, and is enthusiastic about expanding transit, building housing near transit, and free transit for youth.

We will note that Lovick does not support a statewide income tax, which is unfortunate; we hope he will come back around on that issue and be open to conversations on creating a better tax structure. Even so, Lovick is the right choice for this race. He faces a Republican in the general election. Vote John Lovick.

LD44-1: Brandy Donaghy

Brandy Donaghy has been the beneficiary of musical chairs. The Snohomish County Council appointed her to fill the vacancy created when John Lovick filled Steve Hobbs’ senate seat after the governor promoted Hobbs to fill a Secretary of State vacancy when Kim Wyman joined the Biden administration. [whew!] While not technically a full-blown incumbent yet, Donaghy was already dancing around questions like a seasoned politician in our questionnaire. Nonetheless, we were able to see enough substance there to confirm she would indeed be better than Republican retread Mark Harmsworth, who is the sole challenger for the seat. Harmworth spent his legislative retirement pedaling Republican propaganda with the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank. Some people just can’t give it a rest. While Donaghy led in the primary by seven points, that margin is a bit close for comfort.

Donaghy is a far better choice, despite some waffling. A yes or no would have sufficed when asked if she supports HB 1782. Instead Donaghy talked around the question and brought up the need for concurrent infrastructure upgrades “to allow for growth.” Meanwhile, the best part of her answer on rent control was when she said “I am not an expert on rent control.” At least that shows self awareness. That said, her support of a lower blood alcohol limit to decrease deadly drunk driving crashes is commendable, as is her promise to be a proactive legislator — if not questionnaire answerer. She brings a valuable perspective as a Black woman and a Navy vet, and she was generally a reliable vote this session on progressive legislation. In the 44th, that is more than enough to punch your return ticket. Vote Brandy Donaghy.

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Elections Committee

The Urbanist was founded in 2014 to examine and influence urban policies. We believe cities provide unique opportunities for addressing many of the most challenging social, environmental, and economic problems. We serve as a resource for promoting urbanism, increasing political participation, and improving the places we live. The Elections Committee consists of community volunteers and staff members of The Urbanist and is a standing body representing the political values of our organization.