PubliCola Picks

PubliCola Picks Jessyn Farrell

By PubliCola Picks October 17, 2012


You certainly don't need our help marking your ballot in some of this year's high-profile contests. We imagine you've already made up your mind on big-ticket items such as, I-502, the initiative to legalize marijuana.

(If not: PubliCola says Approve 502. Marijuana prohibition has been as much of a failure as alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s, costing the state $300 million in police and court costs over the last 25 years and resulting in the unnecessary arrests of more than 240,000 people for simple possession. By passing I-502, Washington State will be, as California was with medical marijuana in 1996, at the leading edge in the next phase of a national shift toward a more compassionate, humane drug policy. And 502 would, if it's upheld in court, bring in at least $560 million a year in new taxes, according to estimates by the state Office of Financial Management.) 

But you knew that. (Yesterday, we also told you something you already knew—you should vote for Democrat Bob Ferguson in the AGs race. And on Monday, we tipped you off on another no brainer—Approve R-74, the gay marriage measure.)

However, there are a number of down-ballot races where it's not exactly clear how to vote: Should you vote for the lefty Democrat or the lefty Democrat in the race for the open state house seat in North Seattle's 46th Legislative District? Should you approve Senate Joint Resolution 8221 to lower the state's debt limit from nine percent to eight percent? Who should our next state auditor be? And, huh?We elect Supreme Court justices?

And there is, in fact, one high-profile ballot measure—I-1240, the charter schools measure—that isn't an approve-or-reject no-brainer. 

PubliCola will be rolling out endorsements on a select batch of races and measures over the course of this week (here are Monday's and Tuesday's) where the choices aren't already 100 percent clear.

Today, a state rep candidate we're truly excited about—Eds.

PubliCola Picks Jessyn Farrell for 46th District State Rep. Position 2

Farrell, a green transit advocate who used to be the executive director at the Transportation Choices Coalition, is exactly the type of champion the legislature needs right now after several years when environmental policy has, sadly, taken a back seat in Olympia.

Next session, the legislature will be hammering out a new transportation package. An experienced transit wonk like Farrell (at TCC, she successfully organized against conservative talk-show host John Carlson's attempt to repeal the last transpo package) will be invaluable in the fight to make sure dollars don't continue to be skewed backward toward the 20th Century's cancerous social engineering experiment in highways.

Outspoken urban environmentalists such as Seattle's 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon need all the allies they can get. And Farrell says forging progressive alliances is her top priority.

She'll be looking beyond natural colleagues like Fitzgibbon, though. Farrell says she wants to jump start an urban caucus (likely inspired by her recent work at Pierce Transit, where, as a government affairs staffer, she forged some Jane Jacobs values by preserving transit for cities in the face of massive cuts, rather than going with pseudo equity for the anti-tax suburbs). Her goal for the caucus, she says, is to network with legislators from the bigger cities around the state to re-frame issues on everything from taxes to education funding.

Side note on education: It's a promising sign that Farrell has been endorsed by rival education groups—the teachers' union and the ed reformers at the League of Education Voters.

While Farrell has certainly swept up the green endorsements, she's also got the blue-collar crowd—the Washington State Labor Council, for example, and UFCW 21. When a green like Farrell gets the blue (collar) endorsements as well, we sense an exciting changing of the guard. Her opponent, Sarajane Siegfriedt, a progressive Democratic Party activist (she's impressively risen from precinct committee officer to Legislative Action Chair of the King County Democrats), has done seemingly endless yeoman's work on social justice issues fighting for housing, drug treatment, and a fair tax system through her Unitarian lens (she has a masters in divinity).

However, we're concerned that Siegfriedt's hard-left sensibility makes her resist worthwhile redevelopment and zoning changes that promote density. She told us, for example, that the transit-oriented development proposal floated by greens in Olympia to build more densely around transit stations "overreached"; said she wanted to halve the size of the TOD area around the Northgate Transit Center; and she recently spoke out against the transformative mixed use Yesler Terrace revamp.

Not so Farrell, a proud 92 percenter—a reference to the Cascade Bicycle Club uprising that fought against Sound Transit's plan to build a massive parking garage in the 46th at Northgate when more than 90 percent of Northgate station riders aren't expected to arrive by car.

And again (we're sensing a theme here): While an environmentalist like Farrell has certainly swept up the green endorsements (the Cascade Bicycle Club, the Sierra Club, and Washington Conservation Voters), she's also got the blue-collar crowd—the Washington State Labor Council, for example, and UFCW 21.

When a green like Farrell gets the blue (collar) endorsements as well, we sense an exciting changing of the guard. 

Vote Farrell.

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