Recently I read through the on-line Voters’ Guide for Seattle City Council. For the first time the city is divided into nine geographical districts and thus there are 18 candidates running in the General Election. There were three things I found interesting in reading through the candidates’ statements.
1) EVERY candidate is promising to bring major public dollars back to their district, from new bridges, rail lines and sidewalks to more cops, community centers, parks, and public housing. Some believe Seattle should provide free college while others want to increase transportation subsidies. It seems the candidates view the city treasury like Santa’s knapsack and they are little elves dangling sugar plums before spoiled children’s eyes. Some promise to “tax the rich” and impose higher fees on those who want to develop living spaces. Bottom line: all the candidates are using other people’s money to buy votes for their campaigns.
2) Each campaign is given 400 words to make a case to the voters in their statements. In the combined 7,200 words written by the 18 candidates there is ONE WORD PAINFULLY ABSENT. That word is “taxpayer.” Not one candidate stated any consideration for the financial impact all these projects would have on taxpayers. Only one candidate, Bill Bradburd, says anything like “we should spend tax money wisely and fairly.” (From reading the rest of Bradburd’s statement, however, this likely isn’t an encouragement for “fiscal responsibility,” but more that he wants everyone to be able to feed from the government trough.) None of the other candidates mention anything about spending our tax dollars responsibly. Only one candidate, Deborah Zech-Artis, makes any mention of reducing a government fee on the public. (She has the courage to suggest we should reduce parking fees and parking ticket costs.)
3) Only one candidate, Tammy Morales, mentions “small business” – and that, perhaps, is only because she runs a small business that consults on government food preparation regulations. Nearly all the candidates mention the importance of earning endorsements from the powerful government-employee unions. Private business is only characterized as being the bad guys in that some candidates make unsubstantiated claims that City Hall is controlled by “big business interests.” A majority of the candidates claim a hand in raising Seattle’s minimum wage and many want to impose family-leave policies. The only job-creation initiatives mentioned are through public works (i.e., government-funded) programs.
These candidate statements reflect the methods and desires of Seattle’s City Leadership. There is much finger pointing amongst the city’s political elite as to who is to blame for the disappearing working class and the growing divide in the income of Seattle’s residents. When this debate occurs at a Seattle City Council meeting I strongly suggest mirrors be handed out to the councilmembers.
Jim Keough has been involved in Washington politics for 30 years working for Slade Gorton, Rob McKenna, Dino Rossi and others. He is a public affairs consultant and founding Board Member of both the Roanoke Conference and Northwest Republican Community Fund.