1. The 11th District Democrats (South Seattle, Tukwila, Renton) endorsed two of the four Democrats running for 11th District state Rep. Bob Hasegawa's seat; labor lefty Hasegawa, champion of starting a state bank, is running for retiring state Sen. Margarita Prentice's seat.
At last night's meeting, the 11th endorsed Renton school teacher Steve Bergquist and orthodontist Bobby Virk. (They endorsed incumbent Zack Hudgins for the 11th's other state rep seat earlier this year after he decided to drop his bid for secretary of state. Speaking of secretary of state, the district also endorsed former Gov. Chris Gregoire environmental policy aide, Democrat Kathleen Drew last night over the other Democrats in the race—Road Kill Caucus Democrat, state Sen. Jim Kastama (D-25, Puyallup) and former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.)
State house hopefuls Bergquist, who, in addition to being a union teacher, runs a tennis shop, and Virk, an Indian immigrant, both received the two-thirds vote necessary to beat out the other Democrats in the race, Seattle Port commissioner Rob Holland and former Port of Tacoma staffer Stephanie Bowman, now Executive Director of the Washington Asset Building Coalition, a nonprofit that helps low-income people with homeownership. (Holland's campaign points out that he came within one vote of getting the endorsement, and points to his other high-profile endorsements, including King County Council President Larry Gossett, Ruth Woo, and three members of the Renton City Council.)
Virk also snagged another big endorsement recently: King County Executive Dow Constantine. Virk has also been endorsed by Hasegawa.
For his part, Bergquist picked up retiring state Sen. Prentice's endorsement last night; Bergquist once worked as Prentice's page in Olympia.
2. In more district action: The 36th District (Ballard, Queen Anne), where a crowded field is battling it out for retiring state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's seat, will take up nominations tonight, hearing from all the candidates.[pullquote]The city's "chief geek," Bill Schrier, announced yesterday that he is stepping down as Seattle's chief technology officer after three decades at the city.[/pullquote]
And tomorrow night, the 46th District Democrats (North Seattle) will take up its crew of candidates. It's a crowded field there as well where several candidates—transit advocate Jessyn Farrell, bankruptcy defense attorney Shelly Crocker, plumber Dusty Hoerler, and social justice activist Sarajane Siegfriedt, are all going for retiring state Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney's seat; and another candidate, education reform policy consultant Sylvester Cann, is challenging recently appointed incumbent and toxic cleanup activist, Rep. Gerry Pollet.
3. Speaking of endorsements, 36th District contender Brett Phillips announced a nifty endorsement this morning. Yeah, yeah, he announced some obvious endorsements, one from his dad (King County Council member Larry Phillips) and another from former Seattle City council member and former King County Council member Jan Drago (who happens to share Phillips' consultant Christian Sinderman).
But he also hauled out this one this morning: The Seattle King County Building and Construction Trades Council.
The battle for labor's support in the crowded field of Democrats is key, with the King County Labor Council, which is currently in the middle of its endorsement process, being the top prize. Incumbent Port Commissioner Tarleton, one of Phillips' opponents, has run into trouble with the Teamsters, which is hurting her chances there, while another candidate in the hotly contested race, Noel Frame, has strong labor ties thanks to her work with lefty organizing group, Progressive Majority.
4. The city's "chief geek," Bill Schrier, announced yesterday that he is stepping down as Seattle's chief technology officer after three decades at the city. As chief tech officer, Schrier has advocated for expanded broadband service; led an overhaul of the city's web site; and created a central portal for city data like police and fire reports, 911 calls, building permits, and bike rack locations. (We'll forgive him for the death of free wi-fi in the U District and Columbia City.)
On Twitter, Schrier said he was leaving the city to go into "media and publishing."
5. The city council's government performance and finance committee will consider legislation today that would reverse a policy barring city employees with disabilities from collecting disability retirement benefits if they had their disability when they were originally hired. Currently, city policy defines disabilities as "preexisting conditions." So if a city employee has a disability that gets worse over time, for example, and needs to retire, current city policy says you aren't eligible to retire with disability benefits.
Council member Tim Burgess, who's sponsoring the legislation, says he was prompted to look at the policy after a city employee was denied disability benefits because of a preexisting disability. "That seemed harsh to me," Burgess says. Burgess notes that city employees only become eligible for disability benefits after they've worked for the city for 10 years, a protection Burgess says should "prevent people from trying to game the system."