Candidates forum for 41LD State House seat

Last night five candidates for the 41st LD State House seat spoke and answered questions for PCOs of the 41st LD Democrats.    The House seat became vacant when incumbent Marcie Maxwell resigned to serve as Gov. Inslee’s education adviser.

41 LD candidates

The five candidates, in order, are: Greg Hoover, David Ellis, Tana Senn, Don Gerend, and George Pieper. You can read their responses to questionnaires here on the 41st LD website.

In addition to time for 3 minute speeches, the candidates were asked a series of simple Yes, No, or Waffle question (“Do you support a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.”, etc). All those questions were easy and had unanimous agreement among the candidates. Most of the session was taken up on questions calling for one-minute responses, some prepared by the meeting organizer and some submitted by audience members.

Tana Senn appears to be the “anointed” successor, having been endorsed by Gov. Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett, State House Speaker Frank Chopp, and incumbent Marcie Maxwell. Senn, who is a City Council member in Mercer Island, spoke well and has lots of communications and political experience.

George Pieper, who is active in the LGBT community and as a business leader, ran in a similar election by the 41st LD in 2010 to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Fred Jarret. Unlike the other candidates for the position, Pieper has been active in the 41st LD organization.  I’ve heard George speak more persuasively in the past than he did last night.

David Ellis, the youngest of the candidates, spoke extremely well and was knowledgeable on the issues. He has experience with political campaigns, WashPIRG and environmental groups. He majored in theater and politics in college and runs a voice-over business.  He even won an oratory contest. I look forward to his serving in some capacity in the future. He’s smart and a great communicator.

One issue that Ellis raised is the high price of college textbooks, up to $4000 per student in college. He spoke of an Affordable Textbook Act to lower those costs. Great idea!

Don Gerend, who has advanced degrees in physics and astronomy, is a city council member in Sammamish and has been very active in politics for years.  He is past President of the Association of Washington Cities.  He served on numerous other commissions and organizations. He is particularly interested in transportation, perhaps to the exclusion of other things.  He spoke a lot about Sammamish, its surprising affluence, its great schools, and its need for public transportation.

Greg Hoover, a lawyer, was the weakest of the candidates. His responses were repetitive and sometimes off-topic.

All the candidates agreed that it’s too early to ask the voters for an income tax.

When asked, “What politician do you most admire?”,   Peiper responded said Gregoire.  Hoover said Marcie.  Ellis sad FDR (good choice!).  Senn said Dow Constantine.  Don said Obama, Gregoire, Dow, and Larry Springer.

PCOs in the 41st LD will nominate three of the five candidates and submit their names to the King County Council, which will select one of the names to serve out the remainder of Maxwell’s two year term. In the event the King County Council deadlocks, the Governor will make the choice.

One disturbing aspect of this nomination process is that the rules in the email sent out to PCOs state, “Prior to conducting the vote for potential appointees, applicants that have submitted their paperwork and wishing to be appointed PCO will be voted on; these new appointed PCOs will have a vote on the potential House of Representative appointees.” This seems to invite   gaming the system by stacking the PCOs with cherry-picked last-minute appointments.  But according to the 41Dems ByLaws: “For all new members who are not PCOs, voting privileges shall be granted twenty (20) days after receipt of the membership/dues form.”

However, I was told that the meeting will be run under the auspices of the King County Dems, not the 41st LD.   Secondly, the phrase “who are not PCOs” makes my concern irrelevant. Some people say that if a candidate is able to recruit new PCOs this demonstrates their organization and recruiting skills.  (In response, I said: why not have an arm wrestling contest?) Also, existing PCOs have the option of refusing to approve new appointments.    Roger Crew said, “To be sure, in 2009, when it was first announced that Fred Jarrett would be resigning, the body *did* pass a resolution at the November 2009 41st meeting to NOT approve any new PCOs prior to the Fred-replacement vote. ”

41 LD PCOs and friends listen to the candidates

PCOs and friends of the 41st LD listen to the candidates

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