One more 34th District Democrats report: The campaigning

When we interviewed County Councilmember Larry Phillips about his campaign for County Executive, he had a catch phrase including “uncommon courage.” Took a little courage to face the 34th District Democrats last night, since they had already endorsed County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s candidacy last month. And he acknowledged it right out of the box: “I know you have a favorite son, who’s in the back of the room” — heads turned in time to see Constantine wave from the spot where he stood. Phillips, the first of several to campaign or advocate for campaigns during the meeting, reviewed his personal story, reiterated his willingness to “fight,” and stressed his Democratic credentials (though the job now is technically non-partisan). He also had something to say about the newest entrant in the race, former TV news anchor Susan Hutchison: “She’s masquerading as a moderate,” he declared, saying prominent Republican politicians are backing her. Phillips also answered several audience questions, including one about how big a budget bite is being taken by “law/safety/justice” — he said “a lot of people are in our detention facilities who aren’t threats to public safety and don’t need to be there.”

He was only the first of several candidates to speak last night to the 34th DDs, which took on a couple of election-related issues too – read on for the rest of our story and photos:

A note similar to Phillips’ – that jail is overkill for some people who have broken the law – was sounded by City Attorney Tom Carr, also campaigning this year: “Increasing the percentage of people we put in jail is not the solution,” he said, while also touting an increase in the number of jailed car thieves as the result of a program he implemented several years ago to charge them with municipal offenses when other prosecutions didn’t seem to be stopping them. Carr, like more than a few other top city officials, lives in West Seattle; he ran quickly through his background, including time spent working on organized-crime cases back east (“I’m one of the few people who can watch ‘The Sopranos’ and get homesick,” he joked). In addition to car theft, he also singled out prostitution as a crime that needs to be dealt with differently, noting that the reality is nothing like the movie “Pretty Woman” – those who turn to it are often abuse victims who “are the victims of this so-called victimless crime.” The issue of helping abuse victims was brought up in his Q/A period by City Council candidate Dorsol Plants, who suggested a fine on offenders to create a fund to help victims; Carr said he’d look into it. One opponent has officially filed to run against Carr so far.

Also addressing the 34th DDs in campaign capacity last night: City Council President Richard Conlin. He doesn’t live in West Seattle, but as the only candidate of the night to rattle off a long list of WS-specific issues on which he’s worked, a casual observer might have mistaken him for a West Seattleite. Conlin said he’s running for re-election because he thinks it’s “important to keep doing the work we’ve begun” — and that includes asserting the council’s status as equal to the mayor, saying he’s proud the council has pulled together to act that way. While the job of councilmember is technically nonpartisan, Conlin trumpeted his “long record of experience in the Democratic Party.” Most notable in the list of West Seattle issues he rattled off — from the Soundway greenbelt preservation to advocating with Washington State Ferries to divert more commuter traffic from Fauntleroy to downtown — was the jail-site fight (with West Seattle still having one site on the list of six being considered for a regional municipal-misdemeanor offenders’ jail); he’s hoping to reopen talks with the county (see our separate report earlier today). He concluded with a citywide issue, saying that later this month the city will announce “a coordinated campaign on hunger” with the United Way.

Another council candidate took a turn: Rusty Williams, son of former City Councilmember Jeanette Williams, remembered after her recent passing for achievements including securing money for the West Seattle Bridge. Williams thanked the 34th DDs for endorsing the push to renaming the bridge after his mother, and then segued into his campaign pitch, saying the main reason he’s running is “I love Seattle … every morning I wake up and say, I love this town.” He says he’s “seasoned, been through a lot,” including economic ups and downs – he’s in real estate and says right now, “it’s like being unemployed.” But the city will survive: “This is Seattle; we’re pioneers here.”

Then, a Port Commission candidate: Rob Holland. He spoke of a long history of involvement with port and industry issues, dating back in his family to his grandfather coming to the area during World War II to work for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, where Holland says he grew up. The port is “an amazing economic engine,” Holland observed, while also saying “this is a time of crisis” in which he believes that economic engine can be harnessed to help “secure … and expand” jobs. He asked attendees to check out his “green jobs” proposal for the port (detailed on his campaign website) and declared he’s ready to make the Port of Seattle “the greenest and meanest port on the West Coast.”

One candidate made an unscheduled appearance in what is a sort of open-mike time at the end of the meeting: City Council candidate David Bloom, who was involved with last Friday’s tour of problem properties in the Delridge area. He thanked the group for endorsing the Housing Levy and said he’s hoping to make an official campaign speech at next month’s meeting. (Earlier in the day, he had officially declared that he’s campaigning for Position 4 – the one that Jan Drago is vacating.)

Two more election-related issues — Marcee Stone spoke on behalf of public campaigns, saying many of the nation’s economic and financial problems are related to non-publicly financed campaigns: “5 billion dollars in Senate and Congress campaign coffers for the last 10 years, all of that money came from financial industries and that money bought them deregulation time and time again.” Stone is president of the board for Washington Public Campaigns. They’re promoting what she described as a bipartisan bill “modeled on clean election programs” in several states. The resolution for the 34th DDs to support the Fair Elections Now Act (read it here) passed on a unanimous voice vote, as did a resolution to back the Housing Levy that’s expected back on the city ballot this November.

The 34th District Democrats meet on the second Wednesday night of each month, usually at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 6:30 pm socializing, 7 pm business, all are welcome; you can find out more about the group from its frequently updated website at

6 Replies to "One more 34th District Democrats report: The campaigning"

  • Ron April 10, 2009 (11:28 am)

    Lets all support Susan Hutchison, We need some conservatives to offset the foolish immature liberal ideas that have permeated our city. Cheers

  • OP April 10, 2009 (11:49 am)

    Cheers to that idea, Ron.

  • lorax April 10, 2009 (12:49 pm)

    Great idea guys. Let’s elect someone with zero governmental experience to govern our county as a radical conservative, because we saw how well that worked for the country for the last eight years.

  • Buddsmom April 10, 2009 (1:35 pm)

    May God have mercy on our souls if that no talent diva wins!

  • J April 10, 2009 (5:06 pm)

    Big fan of Larry and Dow. So bummed they are going for the same spot.

  • Ron April 21, 2009 (7:46 pm)

    It appears there is only one port candidate for position 4 who has insight into what will create jobs and grow our economy, Rob Holland!

Sorry, comment time is over.