ECC board elected; election races and issues are debated

The Eastlake Community Council Board was elected Tuesday evening during a community meeting at Seward School that also featured candidates for public office and debates over various ballot issues.

The new ECC board is:

  • Chris Leman – president
  • Mary Hansen – vice president
  • Carsten Croff – treasurer
  • Tim Ahlers – secretary
  • Board members: James Metz, Cecilia Grevson, Mary Hansen, Carsten Stinn, Betty Gard, Susan Forhan and Kathi Woods

Among the highlights of the election forum was an appearance by State Rep. Frank Chopp, 43rd District Democrat and speaker of the Washington State House.

“The reason I’m in the Legislature is to get things done,” Chopp said as he handed out a flyer listing 82 legislative accomplishments he’s made in the last several years. He touted three issues he’s worked on that were “timely:” Apple Care, a children’s health care program that he called the “best in the nation,” with 780,000 kids enrolled; Opportunity Pathways, a series of measures to increase higher education enrollment and provide students with tuition funding; and Referendum 52, which would help local school districts renovate their buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Chopp responded to questions raised earlier in the meeting about Initiative 1098, which would impose an income tax on state residents making over $250,000. Would that tax threshold be dropped, bringing the tax to people with lower incomes. 

“So long as I’m speaker, that’ll never happen,” Chopp said. “It would be political suicide to lower the threshold below $250,000.”

The issue of whether the threshold for a state income tax could be lowered if 1098 is approved dominated the discussion on that issue. Technically, the state legislature could vote to change terms of the initiative after two years, something Chopp said it had done on several occasions. A proponent of the issue stated what Chopp would echo later: Doing so would be political suicide for legislators.

An opponent of 1098 from the Association for Washington Business said the tax breaks in the initiative wouldn’t be much help to most businesses. She also said the measure would hurt venture capitalists.

Discussion of a three-year, $48.2 million school levy focused on what the money would actually be used for. A proponent of the measure said it would help make up millions of dollars in state money that have been cut from Seattle schools. An opponent said that voting down the measure wouldn’t make a difference in the classroom because the levy money would be adding new programs, not restoring things that were cut.

Charlie Wiggins, who is running for the State Supreme Court against incumbent Richard Sanders, said he had three main issues: integrity, impartiality and independence. He noted that Sanders has been disciplined and he questioned whether Sanders has been impartial and questioned his judgment on a number of issues. Wiggins noted his own experience as a lawyer and former Appeals Court Judge.

Karen Donohue, who is running for Municipal Court Position 6, touted her years of legal experience and said that she would bring not only her legal skills but fiscal responsibility to the court, which she said is the one most citizens come into contact with on a regular basis.

Edsonya Charles, Municipal Court judge in Position 1, spoke in support of her re-election. She has been on the court since 2005 and was elected presiding judge two years ago. She noted that she had worked hard during two difficult budget years to keep the court operating efficiently.

Her opponent, Ed McKenna, said he was running on a campaign of reform and change for the Municipal Court. He’s a community-based prosecutor who has “tried about every type of offense.” He noted that a workload analysis of the court needs to be done to determine if judges there are overworked or not.

Debate over the two initiatives to privatize liquor sales (1100 and 1105) focused on what effect they would have on taxes paid to local goverments and what would happen to the 800 current state liquor board employees. The proponent of 1100 (the so-called “Costco” initiative because the wholesaler promoted it) said that measure would leave the current tax structure in place while 1105 would eliminate state liquor taxes. He also noted that it would reduce the states 51.9% markup on liquor prices. The speaker opposed said that the 800 employees would become unemployed and that liquor retail outlets would increase from 300 to 3,500 if the measure passes.