Last month, I looked at the state offices up for grabs in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. This time, let’s tackle the statewide initiatives and a few smaller races.


Initiative 1185

Initiatives can be amended by Olympia two years after they’re passed — that’s why Tim Eyman files his “two-thirds majority for tax and fee increases” initiative every two years. 

This year, I-1185 came just as a court ruled that his last, identical two-thirds initiative was unconstitutional. Given that Washington’s constitution requires balanced budgets each year, it’s also making our state ungovernable. 

I-1185 is polling very closely; this year, don’t wait for the courts to shoot down this terrible idea.


Initiative 1240

For-profit corporations’ latest attempt to siphon public education money into private (“charter”) schools is a two-step scam. 

First, it grossly underfunds public education. (The state Legislature is already under judicial overview after the state Supreme Court ruled it was failing its constitutional requirement to adequately fund K-12 schools.) 

Second, it claims we need some of the inadequate, remaining money for privatization because public school are failing. Voters saw through this scam twice before; hopefully, we will again.


Referendum 74

Washington is one of four states with gay-marriage ballot measures this year, and it has a good shot to become the first ever to pass gay marriage in a statewide election. 

But this could still easily fail; it’s polling neck-and-neck, and this is one of those issues where poll respondents often don’t cop to socially unpopular views. 

Whatever you personally think of GLBTQ relationships, this is a civil-rights and equality-under-the-law issue— period. Work hard to pass this one.


Initiative 502

Washington is also one of three states this year that could be the first in the country to decriminalize pot, and again, perhaps, the state where it’s most likely to pass. (And, again, polls are even.) 

Only committed drug warriors still refuse to admit that the War on Drugs has been an economic, cultural, public-health and civil-liberties catastrophe, and that pot is both medically useful and far less harmful recreationally than alcohol. 

That said, not only has law enforcement predictably lined up against this but so have medical marijuana advocates, due to a DUI provision that’s utterly unworkable. 

Plus, there’s zero guarantee that the federal government, under either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, would respect our state law anyway.

All those things being said, a lot of recreational and medical pot users are having their lives destroyed in our state every year by these archaic laws. Medical users are vulnerable if this doesn’t pass, too, and have a strong DUI reform case to take to Olympia if it does. 

Imperfect as it is, I-502 needs to put a crack in the wall of the War on Drugs, with the hope that the whole, rotted edifice will crumble sooner rather than later.


King County Sheriff

Only last month, the Metropolitan King County Council passed what ought to be the first of a number of reforms needed to transform one of the largest sheriffs departments in the country, from a backwater run by an inbred clique into something approaching a modern, publicly accountable law enforcement agency. 

Steve Strachan and John Urquhart are both longtime King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) insiders, but Strachan was the one appointed by retiring longtime Sheriff Sue Rahr to replace her, and Urquhart, over many years as one of the department’s most visible spokespeople, has earned a reputation for at least acknowledging KCSO’s shortcomings. 

You can’t fix things until you realize they’re broken.


State Supreme Court, Pos. 9

Libertarian Richard Sanders is bidding to return to the state’s highest court after controversy over his history of racist remarks cost him his seat in 2010. 

While his championing of civil liberties was a valuable perspective on the court, his continuing socially reactionary views should disqualify him from returning. 

Sheryl McCloud is the much stronger choice.


Superior Court, Pos. 42

Sue Parisien is a spectacularly unqualified, nakedly partisan former aide to Rob McKenna. 

Incumbent Christopher Washington has been dogged by a King County Bar Association (KCBA) survey that ranked him last among the 50 Superior Court judges in every category. However, only 44 lawyers (out of many thousands in King County) responded to that survey — almost half of them from the King County Prosecutor’s Office, which seems to have a vendetta against Washington state over a juvenile court case. 

Washington state scored just fine among other KCBA respondents. I’d rather risk that the prosecutors are right than the certainty that Parisien would be an awful judge.


The others

State Legislative candidates really worth supporting— Bob Hasegawa and Zack Hudgins (11th District), Reuven Carlyle and Gael Tarleton (36th District), Maureen Judge (41st District), Kshama Sawant (43rd District) and Gerry Pollet (46th District).

Do your own homework, and remember to vote when the ballots come in the mail in mid-October. 


GEOV PARRISH is cofounder of Eat the State! He also reviews news of the week on “Mind Over Matters” on KEXP 90.3 FM. To comment on this column, write to