Elections Board

The Urbanist strives to inform and enlighten our readers with coverage and endorsements of important local races. Beginning in 2015 with coverage of nine open seats in the Seattle City Council, we have expanded our efforts to include the Seattle Mayor, Port of Seattle Commission, and state legislative races in addition to select local and state ballot measures.

A core commitment throughout this process is transparency. We aim to share information with our readers so they understand and trust our process and so they can make an informed decision for themselves. To that end, we hope to share with our readers the process behind our endorsements.

The Elections Board

Current Membership

Comprised of eight volunteer community members, the Elections Board is charged with executing endorsements on behalf of The Urbanist. Throughout the year, the Executive Board appoints a diverse set of urbanist voices representing values of the organization. Below is a list of our current members with a brief biographical description:

Scott Bonjukian: Scott is a practicing urban designer and Seattle area native. As Education and Programming Director for The Urbanist, he manages the organization’s regular and special events. With degrees in architecture and urban planning, his many interests include local politics, neighborhood planning, multi-modal transportation design, and natural resource protection. Scott cross-posts from his personal blog The Northwest Urbanist and leads the Lid I-5 movement. Follow him @nwurbanist.

Kate Brunette: Kate is a PNW native who returned after stints in Washington, DC and Bogotá, Colombia. She previously researched the relationship between bus rapid transit and gentrification, and her lifelong dream is to bring Bogotá’s famed Ciclovia to Seattle. Kate is passionate about maps, public space, and radical community-based development. You can follow her @brunettenbogota.

Aleksandra Culver: Aleksandra (Aleks) is a software engineer who moonlights as a writer and copy editor. Aleks’s love of cities started as a child, when she would ride the commuter rail into Boston with her family for day trips. Her mission is to share that love with the world, by ensuring that our cities have a place for everyone. Aleks primarily writes about transportation and land use. She is also the webmaster. Follow her @schala09.

Ben Crowther: Ben is a Seattle area native, living downtown with his husband since 2013. As the Policy and Legislative Affairs Director for The Urbanist since 2015, Ben leads the endorsement process year-round. When he’s not reading news articles, he can be found excitedly pointing out new buses or prime plots for redevelopment to his uninterested friends who really just want to get to dinner. Follow him @BenCrowther.

Alex Hudson: Alex hails from rural east King County but traded being a country mouse for the bright lights of the big city the first chance she got. Alex has lived in First Hill since 2009, and is active in issues of neighborhood planning, equitable development, and creative placemaking. A passionate flaneuse, Alex is usually out exploring the hidden corners of Seattle on foot, always on the lookout for a great new view, beautiful tree in bloom, or a glimpse into the lives of urban wildlife. If you’re into that sort of thing, follow her on Instagram at @blacksandpaper.

Ryan Packer: Ryan has been a Senior Editor at The Urbanist since 2016. His beats are Vision Zero, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, bikeshare, and public space. He lives in a 1907 apartment in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill, and is currently serving as the co-chair of South Lake Union Greenways. He’s on twitter at @typewriteralley.

Owen Pickford: Owen is the Executive Director of The Urbanist and helped found the organization in 2014. He doesn’t have professional training but spends a majority of his free time learning and writing about urban policy. Owen has experience doing grassroots advocacy for presidential campaigns, cycling, and transit groups. Owen primarily follows and writes about housing issues. Follow him @pickovven.

Doug Trumm: Doug is a Senior Editor at The Urbanist who lives in Fremont/Wallingford. He joined the exodus to Seattle in 2014, leaving behind his home state of Minnesota. Volunteering with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and serving as an alternate on his local neighborhood association ignited his interest in urbanism. Reading urban planning greats like Jane Jacobs stoked that fledgling fire to an inferno. He’s enrolled at the Evans School of Public Policy of Governance in the fall. Follow him @dmtrumm.

Former Membership

Laura Loe: Laura is an educator, musician, and gardener from Colombia/NY/LA/Chicago who has lived in Seattle for almost seven years. Her work includes a stint as Co-Editor of the UCLA Undergraduate Science Journal, and the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association’s newsletter, The Roosie. She currently volunteers with Sierra Club’s Seattle Group, University District Racial Equity Project, Tent City Collective, U District Renters’ Council and tweets as SEAyimby. Additionally, she was a member of the 2015-2016 cohort of the City of Seattle’s People’s Academy for Community Engagement. She is a renter in the U District. Follow her @yimbySEA.

Renee Staton

Marco Zangari

The Process

Primary Elections

The endorsement process begins in April, four months before the primary election in August. The first step is to select races for endorsement. This is done by the Executive Board at the recommendation of the Elections Board. Races are selected which are local and relevant to the policy areas of the organization (e.g., housing, transportation, and land use).

The Elections Board is then charged with selecting candidates to pursue for an interview using criteria such as: general viability, having a reasonable platform, community presence, relevant experience, web presence, endorsements, and affiliation with underrepresented communities.

In late May, selected candidates are provided with a required and standardized questionnaire and an invitation for an optional, in-person interview with the Elections Board in June. The standard nature allows a fair comparison on equal footing for all candidates. Candidates who do not complete their questionnaire are ineligible for endorsement. Questionnaires are published verbatim for our readers and assessed by the Elections Board.

An optional interview is held in mid-June, allowing the Elections Board to engage directly with the candidates for follow-up questions. Each year we consider the question of whether to release a record of these interviews. This year we decided not to release a record in the interest of fostering a more intimate dialogue with candidates to better and more deeply assess their positions without the filter that public-facing forums may impose.

After interviewing each candidate, the Elections Board meets to vote on endorsements. Our process allows for the endorsement of no, one, or multiple candidates in each race, though we prefer to select a single candidate.

Members of the Elections Board collaboratively summarize our reasoning in an article published before ballots are mailed out.

General Elections

When primary election results are finalized, the Elections Board meets to decide if any new research is required. For example, if a candidates who was not selected for consideration makes it through to the general election, or if an endorsed candidate does not make it through, the Elections Board may decide to hold additional interviews.

After conducting any additional research, the Elections Board meets in September to vote on general election endorsements. The results are then reviewed by the Executive Board and published in early October.

We evaluate our endorsement process each cycle to improve the experience for candidates, volunteers, and most importantly our readers. For feedback or questions about our endorsement process, please feel free to contact Ben Crowther via e-mail.

Conflicts of Interest

We do not solicit nor accept donations from candidates. We do not, as an organization, campaign for candidates, such as hosting fundraising parties or recruiting volunteers. Our members are often politically engaged and thus may be involved in either a volunteer or professional capacity with campaigns. We have a strict conflict of interest policy and expect any member to recuse themselves when a conflict of interest is present (e.g., when a member is a paid staff member of a campaign).

Past Endorsements

2017 Primary Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Board Membership

Scott Bonjukian, Kate Brunette, Ben Crowther, Aleksandra Culver, Alex Hudson, Ryan Packer, Owen Pickford, and Doug Trumm.

Endorsements

Seattle Mayor: Cary Moon

Seattle City Council Position 8: Teresa Mosqueda

Seattle City Council Position 9: Lorena Gonzalez

Port of Seattle Commission Position 1: Ryan Calkins

Port of Seattle Commission Position 4: Preeti Shridhar

King County Proposition 1 (Access for All): Approve

2016 General Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Board Membership

Scott Bonjukian, Ben Crowther, Aleksandra Culver, Laura Loe, Ryan Packer, Owen Pickford, and Doug Trumm.

Endorsements

43rd Legislative District Representative Position 1: Nicole Macri

7th Congressional District: Brady Walkinshaw

Sound Transit 3 (Proposition 1): Yes

Initiative 124: Yes

Initiative 1433: Yes

Initiative 1491: Yes

2016 Primary Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Board Membership

Scott Bonjukian, Ben Crowther, Ryan Packer, Owen Pickford, and Doug Trumm.

Endorsements

43rd Legislative District Representative Position 1: Nicole Macri

7th Congressional District: Brady Walkinshaw

Housing Levy (Proposition 1): Yes

Viaduct Park (Initiative 123): No

2015 General Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Board Membership

Scott Bonjukian, Aleksandra Culver, Ben Crowther, Stephen Fesler, Owen Pickford, Renee Staton, and Marco Zangari.

Endorsements

Seattle City Council Position 1: Shannon Braddock

Seattle City Council Position 2: Tammy Morales

Seattle City Council Position 3: Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council Position 4: Michael Maddux

Seattle City Council Position 5: Debora Juarez

Seattle City Council Position 6: Mike O’Brien

Seattle City Council Position 7: Sally Bagshaw

Seattle City Council Position 8: Tim Burgess

Seattle City Council Position 9: Lorena González

Honest Elections (I-122): Yes

Transportation Levy to Move Seattle (Proposition 1): Yes

Best Starts for Kids (Proposition 1): Yes

Community Transit Now (Proposition 1): Yes

2015 Primary Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Board Membership

Scott Bonjukian, Aleksandra Culver, Ben Crowther, Stephen Fesler, Owen Pickford, Renee Staton, and Marco Zangari.

Endorsements

Seattle City Council Position 1: Brianna Thomas

Seattle City Council Position 2: Tammy Morales

Seattle City Council Position 3: Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council Position 4: Michael Maddux

Seattle City Council Position 5: Halei Watkins

Seattle City Council Position 6: Mike O’Brien

Seattle City Council Position 7: Sally Bagshaw

Seattle City Council Position 8: Tim Burgess

Seattle City Council Position 9: Lorena González