Photo by Zachariah Bryan
Things got loud and rowdy at Hattie's Hat last week during the second presidential debate

Why voting is especially important this year

While the Ballard News-Tribune will not be endorsing anyone or anything this election season, we would still like to send out a friendly reminder to vote.

Last Wednesday, Oct. 15, King County Elections sent out ballots to citizens. Most people should have received their ballots by now; those who do not receive it soon should contact King County at (206) 296-0100.

While voting is always important, it is especially crucial in this election cycle, particularly for Washington. Almost every vote on the ballot will be critical in determining the shape and future of Washington state. And don’t forget, Ballard -- though we may deny being a part of Seattle at times -- is part of that state.

Below is a brief overview of ballot items and some of the debate. For a full list of candidates and measures, visit the King County Elections website at www.kingcounty.gov/elections.

The big ticket item is the presidential election, which has come down to an all-out brawl between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. The debate has boiled down to a fight over the economy and whether Obama has been doing enough to combat the economic crisis. Romney contends he has not, while Obama claims that he inherited the problem and that he has done much to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs. Obama’s health care legislation has also been another point of debate, with Romney saying that it will be one of the first thing he repeals when he steps into office. Democrats have been sure to attack Romney on social issues, particularly women rights.

On the state level, the major contenders for governor are Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee. The race has so far been neck-and-neck, with McKenna gaining some favor from Independent circles and Inslee garnering support from the more Republican Eastern Washington. In fact, the race has been interesting in that the two have broken typical party stereotypes, with McKenna taking on the more polished, well-spoken persona and Inslee taking on the working man, former high school football star persona. Both stress education and jobs but have different ways of approaching them, and the two would appear to differ more on social issues, with McKenna aligning somewhat with Tea Party standards and Inslee with more liberal standards.

For the Washington State Legislature, Ballard will be voting in the 36th District. For Position 1, the choice is between incumbent Democrat Reuven Carlyle and routine opponent, Leslie Klein, of the Hope and Change Party. Bruce Kanamar, who Peggy Sturdivant wrote about before the primary elections, was ousted.

Carlyle brings three years of experience in the Washington State Legislature, is a technology entrepreneur and a co-founder of the City Year AmeriCorp program. One of his main focuses has been on K-12 and Higher Education, expanding middle class financial aid and bolstering foster youth scholarships. He also has worked with small businesses and transportation funding.

Klein brings experience from the United States Air Force, where he spent twenty years, as an American Foreign Policy professor at the University of Washington and as a small business owner of 20 years. He has been a member of the Ballard District Council, a volunteer at the Nordic Heritage Museum and has been endorsed by the 36th District Republicans.

For Position 2, it has come down between Seattle Port Commission President Gael Tarleton and Progressive Majority leader Noel Frame. As BNT columnist Brian LeBlanc pointed out in his “21st Century Viking” column a couple of weeks ago, they are both Democrats and have many of the same concerns. However, Frame might be seen as distinctly more progressive, with groups such as the Sierra Club and Progressive Majority backing her, while Tarleton has more of a background working with business and industry. People wanting to know more about these two candidates can be directed to our “Coffee with the Candidates” series with both Tarleton and Frame.

And don’t forget the measures, which are perhaps most important in this election. Marriage equality, marijuana legalization, charter schools and a reinstating of Tim Eyman’s two-thirds majority rule are all up to a vote.

With Referendum 74, Washington could make history as one of the first states to instate permanently gay marriage rights, or, at the will of people, the definition of marriage could remain the same, as being only between a man and a woman. Supporters of marriage equality say that the domestic partnership, which Washington state currently has to legally bind gay or lesbian couples, does not go far enough and does not give all of the same rights as a heterosexual married couple. Furthermore, they say that marriage is not a matter of being between a man and woman, but rather between two people who love each other. Opponents say that domestic partnership does and that the definition of marriage should not be changed. They also say that parenting should only fall under a man and woman.

With I-502, voters could also break new ground by passing marijuana legalization, opening up a whole realm of possibilities. This particular campaign has been interesting as proponents include cops, doctors and teachers, while opponents include medical marijuana dispensaries, marijuana advocates and marijuana-themed magazines. Taking into account the concerns of families, the initiative would make marijuana only legal for those 21 and older, put a tax on it and would place limits on driving while under the influence of marijuana. Of course, people, and parents especially, have due reason to be concerned as to whether the initiative would put in place a proper system for what would undoubtedly be a strange new world of legal marijuana, and as such, the BNT encourages voters to do further research on the subject.

I-1240, the charter school initiative, has generated two fiercely opposing camps: those that believe charter schools would bring in a unique new set of tools to fix an ailing education system, and those that believe all the talk and hype of charter schools is a bunch of hooey. Both have brought forth their own sets of statistics and research and routinely deny that the other’s is factual. Still, as it concerns the future of our children, and therefore the future of our state, it is important to weigh the option and to decide what is best. The Ballard News-Tribune recently published two opinions, one supporting and one opposing the measure.

Finally, with I-1185, Tim Eyman is back with his initiative to reinstate the two-thirds rule, which would continue to require the Washington State Legislature to have a two-thirds majority vote before passing any new tax whatsoever. While popular with many citizens of Washington, the initiative has also drawn much criticism, particularly from Democrats, saying that it effectively blunts the Legislature’s ability to work and to fund crucial services for people.

Who’s right in all of these debates? What should Washington’s future look like? It’s up to you, the voter, to decide.

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