Last night, the 36th District Democrats (Ballard, Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge)  nominated their official candidate in the crowded field to replace their retiring state representative, Mary Lou Dickerson. Tonight, it's the 46th District's (N. Seattle) turn. Longtime state Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (D-46) is retiring and four candidates—bankruptcy defense attorney Shelly Crocker, transit advocate Jessyn Farrell, union plumber Dusty Hoerler, and human services activist Sarajane Siegfriedt—are going for it. (Hoerler, not surprisingly, won the King County Labor Council's sole recommendation last night.)

Judging from King County Democrats' questionnaires, the 46th District PCOs (who make the pick) have quite a job to do. This is a seriously qualified, energized, and well-informed bunch. (Although question for Farrell: If you graduated college in 1996, that means you were probably born around 1973, so I'm not getting this line from your bio: "Raised by idealists at the height of the Vietnam era ..." We also had a question for Siegfriedt: Why didn't she answer the yes or no about if she'd ever been convicted of a felony!?! Ha. She says she accidentally left that one blank. No felonies on her record, she reports.)

All the candidates have long resumes (Siegriedt has served at an array of social justice organization such as Solid Ground, the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance, and the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness; Hoerler helped found a green non-profit, SustainabilityWorks, that retrofits homes; Farrell was the executive director at Transportation Choices Coalition; and Crocker has her own law firm that helps families that are being foreclosed on). Plus they have actual records of accomplishments (as a lobbyist in Olympia, Siegfriedt successfully ushered through a drug treatment bill; Hoerler won the Washington State Labor Council "Rising Star" award in 2009 for his door-to-door organizing; Farrell helped lead the successful campaign against measure 912, the gas tax repeal; and Crocker started her own successful law firm over ten years ago).

Check out their questionnaires here (Farrell), here (Siegfriedt), here (Crocker), and here (Hoerler).

Siegfriedt certainly wins the prize for most direct. Asked her opinion on education reform, she blasted back: "'Education reform' should be in quotes. It is a right-wing corporate business agenda being foisted on parents..."

Crocker, for her part, says, "I am open to hearing the arguments from both sides of the reform debate."[pullquote]Some Democrats remember when Ralph Nader was cool—before he went rogue. [/pullquote]

Siegfriedt also provided the most detailed (and wonky) answers. Rather than generic Democratic Party lectures about tax reform, when asked about the top issues facing her district, Siegfriedt showed an on-the-ground knowledge of pressing concerns, talking about the need to manage Northgate development to maintain low-income housing and tie it to mass transit.

And Farrell's comments on tax reform—rather than offering the standard fare, making the redundant case to Democrats that the current system is regressive---pitched an organizing model to make reform happen, ending with lessons learned from the successful anti-912 campaign:

We need clear-cut goals about what our taxes should pay for, how government is working to use those tax dollars efficiently, and messages that resonate with voters. After a decade of being involved with several successful – and some unsuccessful – transportation campaigns, I believe strongly that voters care about funding public programs and want to know their dollars are being used wisely.


Crocker, who would be the legislature's second out gay woman, gets the prize for reintroducing a Democratic Party tenet into the static poll tested-list of priorities (education, jobs, the environment) that dominates every other candidate's questionnaires, saying she would "fight for the middle class by protecting consumer rights." (Some Democrats remember when Ralph Nader was cool—before he went rogue. Thanks for that, Shelly.)

And the prize for energy—the guy's kinetic vibe comes through in a questionnaire—goes to Hoerler: "I propose that after the election in November, we organize a Values and Priorities Tour that crisscrosses our state from small rural towns to urban city centers. In community centers and public school auditoriums, union halls and parking lots, we’ll have a frank discussion about our challenges, our values, the measures we need to introduce some common sense to our tax and budget systems – and what working people can do to help."

With the exception of Crocker, who's raised $21,000 with about $19,000 on hand (most from friends and family and colleagues ... and $250 from City Attorney Pete Holmes), none of the candidates have brought in any real money, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
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