Elections Committee

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 local and state ballot measures. You can read our 2020 Primary endorsements right here.

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 Committee

Current Membership

Comprised of eight volunteer community members, the Elections Committee 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 the Election Committee’s 2019 membership with a brief biographical description:

  • Hayley Bonsteel: Hayley (aka HB) is a municipal long-range planner working in south King county, while also living that Cap Hill life as a dancer, poet, avid reader, performance artist, emphatic explorer, and herbal medicine forager. She’s an advocate for good governance, intersectionally inspired ideas, and tangible, tantalizing land use reform since relocating to the PNW in 2011. You may find HB doing an elaborate stretching session on light rail.
  • Lizzy Jessup: Lizzy works at TransWest and was formerly a program manager at King County Parks.
  • Myra Lara: Myra is an architectural designer, cartoonist, and activist. Through her experience, education, and engagement, she firmly believes that place matters and that spatial justice is imperative for our communities to thrive.
  • 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. When not at a bicycle advisory board meeting, he’s probably at a play at one of Seattle’s amazing theater companies.
  • Owen Pickford: Owen co-founded The Urbanist in 2014 and serves as treasurer. 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. 
  • Tye Reed: Tye is a field organizer for the Transit Riders Union and a housing stability specialist for families facing eviction in King County. You can often find her flyering at transit hubs and collaborating with organizations throughout the region to expand TRU’s vision of #ORCA4all. She reluctantly resides in Ballard while dreaming of an escape from Scandinavian Suburbia.
  • Doug Trumm: Doug is Executive Director at The Urbanist. He moved to Seattle from Minnesota in 2014 and recently graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at UW. He lives in East Fremont/West Wallingford and loves to explore the city on his bike. You’ll often find him daydreaming about pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and lower our carbon footprint.
  • Rian Watt: Rian is a public policy researcher and freelance writer who lives in Phinney Ridge with his cat, Penny, and his wife, Jenny. His research is focused on housing and homelessness (with a particular focus on youth homelessness) and his writing is focused on baseball (with a particular focus on Javier Báez). Rian has had bylines at The Athletic, Baseball Prospectus, Chicago magazine, FanGraphs, FiveThirtyEight, The Ringer, the Sporting News, and VICE Sports, and is a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Find him on Twitter @rianwatt.

Former Membership

  • Michael Austin: Michael a senior urban designer and campus planner with Perkins+Will, a global design practice centered around research-informed design. He is passionate about finding solutions to the physical impact of emerging technologies centered around mobility. Michael also currently serves as Chair of the Seattle Planning Commission, and previously served on the Seattle Design Review Board.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Keiko Budech: Keiko is communications manager at Transportation Choices Coalition, working to make transportation accessible to all in Washington State. She is also on the Seattle Transit Advisory Board. Before joining TCC, Keiko was the Senior Communications Associate at Sightline Institute. She also served on the Seattle Planning Commission from 2016-2017. She is passionate about bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront of urban discussions and advancing equity to ensure affordable and accessible transit options for all.
  • Aleksandra Culver: Aleksandra is a software engineer who moonlights as a writer and copy editor. Aleksandra’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.
  • Ben Crowther: Ben is a Seattle area native, living downtown with his husband since 2013. As the Policy and Legislative Affairs Director for TheUrbanist 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Patience Malaba: Patience is Advocacy Mobilization Manager at the Housing Development Consortium. She has a decade of experience in community development, organizing, and policy advocacy. Prior to joining HDC, Patience led the outreach work of Seattle for Everyone, a broad coalition of organizations united on a foundation of support for Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). She had previously worked as Lead Organizer at SEIU Local 6; having joined the SEIU6 in the final phase of the fight for $15 campaign.
  • Anna Minard: Anna is a freelance writer and copy editor and former City Hall reporter for The Stranger and author of the music column Never Heard of ‘Em. She’s also worked as a digital organizer at progressive nonprofits and spent six years as a bookseller. Her writing has appeared in The StrangerThe Seattle Review of BooksCrosscut, and Prairie Dog magazine in Canada.
  • ChrisTiana ObeySumner: ChrisTiana is an Alaskan-born, Philly-raised, East-Coast transplant who moved to the area in 2010 to attend Seattle University as a transfer scholar. They have a BS in Psychology, a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership, and is currently pursuing their M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health & Addictions Counseling. Their area of expertise and research is the relationship between marginalized and oppressed intersectionalities and access to basic human needs and rights in American society. ChrisTiana is the chair of the Housing Committee within the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities and is also the founding Executive Director of the Eleanor Elizabeth Institute for Black Empowerment.
  • 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 Committee. Races are selected which are local and relevant to the policy areas of the organization (e.g., housing, transportation, and land use).

The Elections Committee 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 May, selected candidates are provided with a required and standardized questionnaire and an invitation for an interview with the Elections Committee 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 Committee.

Interview are typically held in mid-June, allowing the Elections Committee to engage directly with the candidates for follow-up questions. Each year, the Elections Committee considers the question of whether to release a record of these interviews. In most cycles, the Elections Committee has 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 Committee meets to vote on endorsements. The process allows for the endorsement of no, one, or multiple candidates in each race, though selecting a single candidate is preferred.

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

General Elections

When primary election results are finalized, the Elections Committee 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 committee may decide to hold additional interviews.

After conducting any additional research, the Elections Committee meets to vote on general election endorsements, and the results are published by early October.

The Elections Committee evaluates the endorsement process each cycle to improve the experience for candidates, volunteers, and most importantly our readers. For feedback or questions about the endorsement process, please feel free to contact the Elections Committee at elections [at] theurbanist [dot] org.

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

2019 General Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Committee Membership

Michael Austin, Hayley Bonsteel, Keiko Budech, Anna Minard, Owen Pickford, Ryan Packer, Doug Trumm, and Rian Watt.

Endorsements

  • Seattle City Council District 1: Lisa Herbold
  • Seattle City Council District 2: Tammy Morales
  • Seattle City Council District 3: Kshama Sawant
  • Seattle City Council District 4: Shaun Scott
  • Seattle City Council District 5: Debora Juarez
  • Seattle City Council District 6: Dan Strauss
  • Seattle City Council District 7: Andrew Lewis
  • Port of Seattle Commission Position 2: Sam Cho
  • Port of Seattle Commission Position 5: Fred Felleman
  • Council Position 2: Girmay Zahilay
  • Council Position 4: Abigail Doerr
  • Council Position 6: Claudia Balducci
  • Council District 8: Joe McDermott

2019 Primary Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Committee Membership

Michael Austin, Hayley Bonsteel, Keiko Budech, Anna Minard, Owen Pickford, Ryan Packer, Doug Trumm, and Rian Watt.

Endorsements

  • Seattle Library Levy: Approve
  • King County Parks Levy: Approve
  • Seattle City Council District 2: Tammy Morales
  • Seattle City Council District 3: Kshama Sawant
  • Seattle City Council District 4: Shaun Scott and Cathy Tuttle
  • Seattle City Council District 7: Michael George
  • King County Council District 4: Abigail Doerr
  • Port of Seattle Commission Position 2: Preeti Shridhar

2018 General Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Committee Membership

Scott Bonjukian, Keiko Budech, Lizzy Jessup, Patience Malaba, Anna Minard, Owen Pickford, and Doug Trumm.

Endorsements

  • Initiative 940 (Police Accountability): Approve
  • Initiative 1631 (Carbon Fee): Approve
  • Initiative 1639 (Anti-Gun Violence): Approve
  • 9th Congressional District: Adam Smith
  • King County Prosecutor: No Endorsement
  • Legislative District 21 Representative Position 1: No Endorsement
  • Legislative District 29 Representative Position 1: Melanie Morgan
  • Legislative District 31 Representative Position 1: Victoria Mena
  • Legislative District 37 Senator: Rebecca Saldaña
  • Legislative District 43 Representative Position 1: Nicole Macri
  • Shoreline Proposition 1 (Fund Sidewalks): Approve
  • Intercity Transit Proposition 1 (Thurston County): Approve
  • Twin Transit Expansion Package (Lewis County): Approve

2017 General Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Committee 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: M. Lorena González
  • Port of Seattle Commission Position 1: Ryan Calkins
  • Port of Seattle Commission Position 4: Preeti Shridhar
  • King County Proposition 1 (Veterans and Human Services Levy): Approve

2017 Primary Endorsements

Check out our published endorsement article here.

Elections Committee 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: M. Lorena González
  • 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 Committee 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 Committee 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 Committee 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: M. 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 Committee 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: M. Lorena González