Here are our recommendations for selected races in King and Snohomish counties for the November 2015 general election.

Share story

Editor’s note: While this off-year election season does not have the sizzle of a presidential election year, the results will arguably affect voters’ lives in more ways, whether it’s their quality of life or their tax bills.

School board, City Council, Port and fire commission races are on the ballot. And the election gives voters a chance to send a message about whether they want change or the status quo.

Since May, Seattle Times editorial board members have been interviewing candidates in select races in our region ­– from Issaquah City Council to Seattle School Board to Snohomish County executive. We’ve quizzed candidates, usually side by side, about their goals and intentions for serving their constituents.

Here are our recommendations for selected races in King and Snohomish counties.

Jump to categories

Statewide ballot measures

Reject I-1366 (supermajority for taxes)

Voters should reject I-1366 and find better ways to hold lawmakers accountable, such as voting underperformers out of office. If voters look beyond the measure’s sound bites and sloganeering, they’ll find a toxic, complex proposal that would make the Legislature even more dysfunctional. This is the most cynical ploy yet by professional initiative-backer Tim Eyman to manipulate Washington’s government.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Approve I-1401 (trafficking endangered species)

The northern white rhino’s plight illustrates the devastation caused by exotic-animal trading and why Washington voters should support Initiative 1401. The proposal would strengthen bans and fines for trafficking products made from 10 endangered or nearly extinct animals — elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, sharks, rays and pangolins (known as the scaly anteater). …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Approve Tax Advisory Vote Nos. 10, 11, 12, 13

Though these ballot questions have no power to reverse state laws, they are a chance for citizens to express to legislators whether they support recent statewide tax increases. All were worthy increases necessary to pass a budget during what was arguably one of the most difficult legislative sessions in state history. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Seattle ballot measures

Reject ‘Move Seattle’ transportation levy

For all [the] money, it’s not really clear what Move Seattle aims to do. Nor is it clear that the city’s transportation department deserves the trust required from $930 million more in taxpayer money. For those reasons, reject Move Seattle. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Reject Initiative 122 (campaign-finance reform)

I-122 backers don’t make a persuasive case that it would achieve their stated goals. Rather it would instead slap Seattle with a convoluted system that is unnecessarily tedious for both candidates and voters to navigate.

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Seattle City Council

Shannon Braddock

Shannon Braddock for City Council District 1

Strengths: Balanced approach to leadership, broad base of support

She is a progressive not beholden to the uber-left surge; a supporter of the $15 minimum wage who doesn’t think ‘business is the bad guy;’ an advocate for affordable housing who is not interested in ending single-family zoning in West Seattle neighborhoods.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Bruce Harrell

Bruce Harrell for City Council District 2

Strengths: Strong voice on police reforms; understands social-justice issues

Harrell’s strength is his understanding of social-justice issues and how systemic racism often hinders progress and opportunities for many in a district with high concentrations of working-class, and often foreign-born, Asian, black and Latino residents. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Pamela Banks

Pamela Banks for City Council District 3

Strengths: Management and leadership abilities; an advocate of the underserved

A longtime resident of the district, Banks made a career of advocating for underserved residents. … Banks’ impressive abilities to manage and lead were demonstrated at the Urban League, where she rebuilt the organization and restored its programs … .”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson for City Council District 4

Strengths: Seasoned public-policy nerd; pragmatic and independent

He is a transit evangelist, but also has a pragmatic streak … Johnson shows a willingness to break from Seattle’s insular liberal orthodoxy and be an independent analyst. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Debora Juarez

Debora Juarez for City Council District 5

Strengths: Intellectual rigor and ideological independence; diverse record of accomplishment

Juarez understands the pressures of gentrification, which pushes poorer residents north. She advocates for better transit service and more affordable housing in mixed-use developments. … Juarez offers the most complete package for a unique and underserved part of the city. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Catherine Weatbrook

Catherine Weatbrook for City Council District 6

Strengths: Engineering background to problems; pragmatic

Weatbrook, a longtime Ballard neighborhood activist and co-chair of Seattle’s City Neighborhood Council, has a finely tuned ear to citizens’ frustrations. She brings an engineering background to problems and is more pragmatic than her opponent, incumbent Mike O’Brien. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Sally Bagshaw

Sally Bagshaw for City Council District 7

Strengths: Steady and effective presence on the council; particularly strong on parks and urban-safety issues

Balance and neighborhood advocacy will be needed to mitigate the effects of downtown’s northward sprawl and traffic generated by Ballard’s density. … Bagshaw’s depth and experience make her the best candidate.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess for City Council Position 8

Strengths: Relatively moderate and pragmatic; has shown impressive leadership

The clear choice in this race is the incumbent, Burgess, a former police officer who later founded a communications consulting firm. Burgess stands out, especially for his ongoing work on police reform, and Seattle would benefit if he stays on the case. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Lorena González

Lorena González for City Council Position 9

Strengths: Critical, independent thinking; history of overcoming challenges

As former legal counsel to Mayor Ed Murray, González’s job was to offer no-nonsense advice on policies, such as land use, affordability, police reform and implementation of labor standards. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Seattle School District

Michael Christophersen

Michael Christophersen for Seattle School Board District 1 Director 1

Strengths: Depth of knowledge; ideas for drawing high-quality educators to district

Christophersen’s level of specificity is needed on the school board where ideology often trumps action.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Rick Burke

Rick Burke for Seattle School Board District 2

Strengths: Experience as an executive; specific ideas on how to improve district

His analytical skills would be useful as the district plans for growth. He wants schools to facilitate more community services for students and families.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Lauren McGuire

Lauren McGuire for Seattle School Board District 3

Strengths: Deep understanding of issues; analytical and organizational skills; existing relationships with board members

McGuire demonstrates a deep understanding of issues, such as rapidly growing enrollment, inequitable funding for schools, governance and board accountability. She possesses the leadership skills to advocate for change. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Leslie Harris

Leslie Harris for Seattle School Board District 6

Strengths: Detail-oriented, analytical thinker; will demand better accountability and educational outcomes

Harris’ years of volunteering on Parent Teacher Student Association boards and a commitment to tracking school policies and budgets, as well as her conviction to take the school board in a new direction, puts her ahead of Marty McLaren and challenger Nick Esparza. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

King County

County ballot measures

Approve King County Proposition 1 (Best Starts for Kids)

The smartest investment a community can make is to boost the odds of success for its children. … The six-year, $65 million annual levy would target half of its investments to kids up to 5 years old — ages when future payoff is greatest. King County would seek competitive bids from providers that offer programs like early screening for development disabilities or family homelessness prevention. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Approve King County Charter Amendment No. 1

In King County, the civilian-led Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) has been aptly described as a toothless tiger pushing paper. Voters should vote for King County Charter Amendment No. 1, a measure on the Nov. 3 ballot that would elevate the role of OLEO and a citizen’s advisory committee, and protect their work from the whims of politicians. The charter amendment is needed to clarify these roles and eliminate the chance of political mischief. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

County council, elections director and assessor

Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Jeanne Kohl-Welles for Metropolitan King County Council District 4

Strengths: Kohl-Welles has 24 years experience representing North Seattle in the state Legislature, and her policy expertise is aligned with the work of the County Council.

She knows her constituents, has decades of experience in improving public policy and has a strong sense of right and wrong.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Claudia Balducci

Claudia Balducci for Metropolitan King County Council District 6

Strengths: Balducci is the mayor of Bellevue and served 12 years on the City Council. She has the grit for tackling difficult issues.

Balducci matches the experience with a grit and energy for tackling difficult issues. She shepherded Bellevue through a contentious planning process for Sound Transit’s East Link expansion and was King County’s point person on a controversial but badly needed new juvenile courthouse and detention center. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Julie Wise

Julie Wise for King County Elections director

Strengths: 13 years’ experience at the elections department; a seasoned, nonpartisan technocrat

Wise lays out a solid agenda for the future, including processing ballots, smarter placement of ballot drop boxes countywide and translating ballots into more languages. Importantly, she is endorsed by the retiring elections chief, Sherril Huff, who has quietly restored the department’s reputation. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

John Wilson

John Wilson for King County assessor

Strengths: Creativity and resourcefulness; commitment to explore new, cost-saving approaches

Wilson gets our endorsement because he’s shown creativity and resourcefulness in improving the assessor’s technology platform. … Wilson’s commitment to explore new, cost-saving approaches makes him the better candidate to advance the office. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Teri Hickel

Teri Hickel for Legislative Dist 30, Pos No. 2

Strengths: Strong civic ties to Federal Way; willingness to act independently

Hickel, a Republican, has a sound understanding of the challenges Washington faces in complying with the state Supreme Court’s education-funding McCleary decision and has a nuanced understanding of her district’s needs for congestion relief. Hickel’s pro-choice position shows a willingness to act independently. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Snohomish County

Dave Somers

Dave Somers for Snohomish County executive

Strengths: Strong knowledge about Snohomish County government; long record of public service

Somers is a seasoned public official with an ability to both bridge ideological divides and to stand on principle when necessary. He would step quickly into the executive chair. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan for Snohomish County Council District 2

Strengths: Deep civic résumé; comprehensive understanding of budgeting and land-use planning

He plays well with others, regardless of ideology. And he is competent and contentious — unglamorous, essential virtues for a public servant. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Port of Seattle Commission

Courtney Gregoire

Courtney Gregoire for Commissioner Position 2

Strengths: Effective and pragmatic overseer

Gregoire is the daughter of a former governor, but she has built an impressive career of her own. Since joining the Port Commission in 2013, Gregoire has been an effective and pragmatic overseer. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Marion Yoshino

Marion Yoshino for Commissioner Position 5

Strengths: Knowledgeable and experienced, has a pragmatic view on Shell’s use of Terminal 5

More important than Yoshino’s local knowledge is her experience in collaborative government positions and creating economic opportunity — the Port’s primary mission.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Bellevue School District

Steve McConnell

Steve McConnell for Bellevue School District Director District 1

Strengths: Thoughtful, data-driven and has a record of tackling tough projects

Voters should give McConnell another opportunity to help the district improve and better serve students.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Bellevue City Council

John Chelminiak

John Chelminiak for Bellevue City Council Position 3

Strengths: Forward-thinking leadership, independent voice on tough decisions

…voters are better off choosing Chelminiak — a leader focused on the future, not the past.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Vandana Slatter

Vandana Slatter for Bellevue City Council Position 5

Strengths: Brings an outsider perspective along with organizational skills and regional vision

Slatter’s broad vision for Bellevue and distinct perspective make her the best candidate to challenge the status quo and take creative risks in governing Bellevue. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Jennifer Robertson

Jennifer Robertson for Bellevue City Council Position 7

Strengths: With two terms under her belt, Robertson understands and embraces Bellevue’s challenges.

Robertson is the best choice for City Council Position No. 7 to help Bellevue manage growing pains. … Because of her experience and outlook for Bellevue, voters should re-elect Robertson. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Shelley Kloba

Shelley Kloba for Kirkland City Council Position 2

Strengths: Two years of experience working on important issues, can make unpopular decisions

Concerns about housing affordability in Kirkland will only intensify without a real commitment from city leaders. Kloba is aware of the problem and shows keen interest in developing effective solutions …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Dave Asher

Dave Asher for Kirkland City Council Position 6

Strengths: Asher has a keen understanding of Kirkland’s issues and solid ideas for managing growth and development.

Dave Asher’s thoughtful approach to public policymaking is one of the reasons voters keep electing him to the Kirkland City Council.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Andy Rheaume

Andy Rheaume for Bothell City Council Position 2

Strengths: Thoughtful leader; transparent and independent

Rheaume has been a thoughtful leader since joining the council in 2012. He’s provided valuable perspective on projects like the City Hall development, which he opposed as too costly. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

James McNeal

James McNeal for Bothell City Council Position 4

Strengths: Leadership; experience as a construction manager; advocacy for Bothell

McNeal is the best candidate in this race because of his leadership, experience as a construction manager and advocacy for Bothell locally and with other jurisdictions recruited to preserve the open space. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Davina Duerr

Davina Duerr for Bothell City Council Position 6

Strengths: Experienced and has support from multiple jurisdictions

Duerr, an architect, has served as vice president of the Northshore Schools Foundation and chair of Bothell’s Landmark Preservation Board. That experience should make Duerr an asset as Bothell continues its downtown redevelopment and works to maintain its charm while accommodating growth. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Carol Ann Witschi

Carol Ann Witschi for Renton City Council Position 3

Strengths: More than 25 years of professional experience in human resources, accounting and business development.

Though she has not held public office before, Witschi has proved she is capable of rolling up her sleeves and getting work done.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Ryan McIrvin

Ryan McIrvin for Renton City Council Position 4

Strengths: Experience with public policy; demonstrates an earnest, thoughtful temperament

McIrvin would help strengthen Renton’s response to challenges, such as revitalizing its downtown core, improving transportation and transit service, and urban planning. He brings the ability to hit the ground running on everyday city matters. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


Bill Ramos

Bill Ramos for Issaquah City Council Position 4

Strengths: Experience as a transportation consultant; lengthy list of public service

Ramos is the better candidate because of his experience as a transportation consultant. … The 15-year Issaquah resident also has a lengthy list of public service, including serving as chair of the city’s Human Services Commission and on the Economic Vitality and Planning Policy commissions. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Paul Winterstein

Paul Winterstein for Issaquah City Council Position 6

Strengths: Leadership in mitigating the effects of growth

Winterstein, who lives in the Squak Mountain area, makes a persuasive case for his re-election. … Managing growth is not an easy task, but Winterstein has been part of meeting milestones to get a handle on it. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>


John Marchione

John Marchione for Redmond mayor

Strengths: At Mayor Marchione’s helm, Redmond has been a model for thoughtful growth management. He’s been a strong advocate for the city’s interests on regional planning boards.

Marchione — a former budget officer for King County and the Safeco Field ballpark authority — has proved himself an adept manager through Redmond’s ups and downs over the last eight years.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Lake Washington School District

Eric Laliberte

Eric Laliberte for Lake Washington School director District 1

Strengths: Experience with facilities management; open to new ideas for addressing overcrowding

Laliberte is a qualified and knowledgeable challenger who should be given a chance to help right the district. …”

Read full editorial recommendation –>

Chris Carlson

Chris Carlson for Lake Washington School director District 2

Strengths: Experience helping district revamp its math curriculum, recognizes previous fumbles on failed bond measures

Carlson has shown he can push to improve education while owning up to past mistakes. Voters should elect him for a third term.”

Read full editorial recommendation –>