Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The Spectator’s Guide to the General Election

    The 2015 general election for Seattle is Nov. 3, leaving plenty of time for students to take part in what is being called one of the biggest elections in the history of the city. It can be a daunting experience to figure out what is on the ballot and more importantly, what it means. Fortunately, King County’s website provides a comprehensive list of local elections, plus candidate and ballot information. Here are several measures and propositions to pay attention to.

    King County Charter Amendment No. 1:

    A Department of Justice investigation done in 2011 revealed massive injustices committed by the Seattle Police Department. The proposition attempts to address this by providing local voters with the opportunity for increased transparency in Seattle law enforcement. The amendment would establish a requirement for civilian engagement in law enforcement, the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) and for a citizen-run law enforcement oversight advisory committee (Citizen’s Advisory Committee). The charter expands the authority of OLEO to investigate, analyze and review county law officers with complaints filed against them. It also gives these agencies access to relevant public safety files and crime scenes. The purpose of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee would be to advise and support OLEO in improving the practice of public safety. Opponents of the charter feel satisfied with the amount of transparency in the current system. Proponents feel the proposed amendment finds a happy medium in empowering civilian oversight and effective policing.

    Seattle Proposition No 1:

    With the population of Seattle rising every year, many believe that something needs to be done about transportation within the city. The proposed plans include a levy to raise $930 million over nine years. The budget is divided amongst three principles: safe routes, maintenance and congestion relief. Included in the proposed maintenance is seismic reinforcement of several bridges in the city. The City of Seattle would also appropriate 40 million dollars annually for transportation.

    Although Washington State limits tax increases above 1 percent, the council can exceed this limit with a majority to satisfy the proposed $930 million. By 2016, the proposition would levy an increase of 62 cents per $1,000 assessed for property owners. Some voters argue that an increase in the transportation budget would be superfluous, given that it’s currently at $429 million. They believe the plan is rushed and fiscally inefficient. Those in favor of the initiative argue that the plan will provide much-needed maintenance and foster development of new public transport options.

    King County Proposition No. 1:

    A comprehensive and massive proposition, King County Proposition No. 1 seeks to serve the needs of children, the homeless, and those deemed most needy. By imposing a modest tax of 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the tax would fund early intervention strategies that would improve the lives of children, families and the general well-being of the community. The tax would last for six years, starting in 2016, with a 3 percent increase in following years. Half of the proposed tax would aid children under five years of age; the other half would benefit children in the age range of five through 24 and pregnant women. In the first year, the tax would fund a homelessness initiative to help prevent homelessness in Seattle. The proposition also provides for a diverse oversight board made of county residents and shareholders to monitor distribution. Some citizens question the effectiveness and efficiency the bill would have. Proponents reason that the bill’s proposed behavioral intervention and domestic violence would help distribute opportunity more equally amongst the county’s children.

    Initiative Measure 122:

    With the recent rise of super PACs in local elections, as well as the prevalence of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in national campaigns, many are concerned about money in politics.

    Campaign finance was scrutinized in the recent Democratic presidential debate, so the opportunity to enact reform (even on a local level) is promising for those disillusioned with the system. Under the proposed measure, Democracy Vouchers (coupons equivalent to $25) are created and issued to registered Seattle voters that can be redeemed by candidates who accept campaign contribution limits, creating a new form of public funding. This reduces the influence of extravagant campaign donations. The vouchers would be provided in part by a modest property tax. The projected tax for 2016 would be about 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The measure also increases the punishment for election law violations to $75 per day. Violations occurring within 30 days of the election are fined for between $250 and $1,000 per day. The measure limits campaign donations to a $500 maximum adjusted for inflation. Candidates are prohibited from soliciting donations from those who lobbied the city in excess of $5,000 in the past year. Lastly, the measure urges candidates to disclose electronic donations.

    Editor may be reached at [email protected]

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