PubliCola agrees with the Washington Conservation Voters, SEIU 775, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Cascade Bicycle Club, and the Sierra Club Cascade Chapter, among many other groups that have been blown away by idealistic young policy nerd Joe Fitzgibbon.

Fitzgibbon—a Burien planning commissioner and former aide to accomplished state Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-34), whose seat he’s looking to fill, understands that environmentalism is not just an isolated plank for Democrats: It's actually intrinsic to a party platform that focuses on social and economic justice.

And that’s where some of his sole endorsements become particularly meaningful.

A new troupe of Democrats in Olympia, the Blue-Green coalition, has emerged over the past two sessions. Their goal is to rewire the Democratic agenda by connecting labor and environmental issues. The coalition's core members, labor Rep. Tami Green from Tacoma and environmentalist Rep. Dave Upthegrove from Des Moines, have also solely endorsed Fitzgibbon (along with other key members of the coalition.)

That’s because Fitzgibbon’s pledge to be a change agent is backed up by both his record and his platform: Update the Growth Management Act so that local governments must assess greenhouse gas impacts; extend light rail to West Seattle; and activate local motor-vehicle excise taxes to fund transit.

His record on the Burien planning commission—updating shoreline regulations over the angry objections of property owners and coming up with innovative ways to redirect parking garage infrastructure money into bike and ped improvements—indicates that Fitzgibbon is ready to fight for this new Democratic agenda.

And Fitzgibbon isn't focused only on the environment. Asked about unfinished business from last session, he talked about a Planned Parenthood bill to expose bait-and-switch “crisis pregnancy centers," which fail to disclose that they don't provide abortion services or birth control. Fitzgibbon also wants to tackle the regressive sales tax system by looking at income tax options, to be offset by equivalent reductions in state sales and business and occupation taxes.

Fitzgibbon is gun-shy on one of PubliCola’s pet legislative issues, education reform. We think he tacks too closely to the teachers unions, opposing data-driven teacher evaluations, for example.

However, one of Fitzgibbon's opponents, campaign finance reform activist Marcee Stone, is even more wedded to the unions. She has an inflexible position on protecting industrial lands from development and is a staunch supporter of the misguided deep-bore tunnel (she says it will create "thousands" of jobs). While his other leading opponent, Mike Heavey,  is excellent on education reform, he is not as well-versed in other issues as Fitzgibbon, and at times seems disengaged. In fact, he didn't even go for the 34th District’s own endorsement.

A fourth candidate, Independent Geoff McElroy, wants to champion small businesses in Olympia, which struck us a limited mission.

PubliCola picks Joe Fitzgibbon.
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