Sticking with our commitment to be a more objective and balanced source of news (yep, this “liberal” site is the site that broke the story about the trickery of Democratic consulting firm, Moxie Media), we’re doing things differently this year than we have in the past. This year, we’re not going to tell you how to vote. Exactly.

Inspired by the even-keeled Seattle/King CountyMunicipal League, which ranks candidates based on skill, experience, and policy acumen rather than on ideology, we’ve been digging in to candidate resumes and doing interviews to come up with our own ratings.

In other words: We don't really care where a candidate stands on the tunnel. (OK, Erica does, but that didn't factor in to our ratings.) Instead, we’re grading the candidates on: Resume; Knowledge of the Issues; and Their To-Do List & Ability to Get it Done. We’ll also be issuing Bonus Points and Demerits.

Our scale: Exceptional; Above Average; Acceptable; So-so; Unimpressive; Unacceptable.

As for non-candidate election season stuff, including Ref. 1, we’re going to cut through the campaign rhetoric on both sides to tell you what this vote is actually about (and we don’t mean the arcane language on the ballot), and then we’ll break down the best and worst arguments on each side.

Our first batch: Seattle City Council.



City council member Tim Burgess

Position 7


Tim Burgess (incumbent)

Resume: Above Average
Some notable gaffes (the panhandling ordinance) and questionable past clients (the arch-conservative, homophobic Concerned Women of America) aside, Burgess has been an effective advocate on the council, securing funding to help children caught up in prostitution, passing legislation to protect workers whose wages are stolen by shady employers, cracking down on specific street corners plagued by chronic drug dealing, and making it easier for the city to shut down motels that allow illegal activities like prostitution.

Knowledge of the Issues: Exceptional
There isn't much Burgess doesn't have an educated opinion about, from police issues (as a former cop, Burgess' expected bailiwick) to the structure of the city's neighborhood matching fund, to the status of to the recent reorganization of the city's human services department, which Burgess says "wasn't handled very well at all."

To-do List & Ability to Get it Done: Above Average
We expect Burgess to continue to be an effective advocate for the issues on which he's passionate. As for his rumored long-term goal, a run for mayor? If anyone can stake a claim as the antithesis of scattered Mayor Mike McGinn, it's well-prepared Burgess.

Bonus Points
We admit it: We were skeptical when Burgess took up the issue of child sex trafficking, suspecting it might be part of a cynical ploy to woo McGinn's liberal base. (Around the same time, Burgess also came out for pot decriminalization, doubling the Families and Education Levy, and hiking on-street parking rates). But we're convinced: Burgess is sincere in his commitment to getting girls off the streets (and the Internet) and saving children from the cycle of drugs and prostitution.

Demerits
We worry that Burgess, as a longtime cop, may have trouble seeing flaws in Seattle's police accountability system, which he called "second to none in our country." Burgess has nothing but praise for the Office of Professional Accountablity and its auditor, Anne Levinson, and says he probably wouldn't support requiring Police Chief John Diaz to go through the reconfirmation process---something even his colleague Sally Clark, widely known as a moderate who doesn't rock the boat, has said she'd support in the wake of several recent high-profiled police-brutality incidents.

David Schraer

Resume: Acceptable
Schraer---an architect who worked to bring light rail to the Rainier Valley, helped create Seattle's first LGBT community center, and worked with the Rainier Valley and Capitol Hill Chambers of Commerce---has spent plenty of time as an advocate in the community. However, he's never served in any sort of public office, and his resume is focused primarily on LGBT issues, public health, and design---a limited palette to draw from in a role as wide-ranging as city council member.

Knowledge of the Issues: Acceptable
Schraer knows his stuff when it comes to building design (he wants to make it harder for developers to build high-rises with air conditioning), planning (he proposes encouraging the city to buy up critical shoreline from private developers) and public health (he wants to change the city's building code to require more air and light). Beyond these areas of expertise, his knowledge is limited.

To-Do List & Ability to Get it Done: Unimpressive
Schraer acknowledges that he's just running against Burgess to make it through the primary in hopes of gaining name recognition for a run in 2013. Don't count on it: Lark candidates, qualified or not, tend to try voters' patience.

Bonus Points
Schraer is an unabashed proponent of density near rail stations and transit hubs in exchange for protections in single-family neighborhoods. And by density, he doesn't mean four-story townhouses, but 20-story high-rises in places like Alaska and MLK. Never gonna happen, but we're glad someone is saying it.

Demerits
Given that one of his main points is a critique of the mayor (whom he calls a "yuppie environmentalist"), why is he running against Burgess, McGinn's most likely opponent in 2013?
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