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With as many as 300,000 votes to be counted from metropolitan Martin Luther King County (including Seattle) the Washington State elections have fostered both celebration and disappointment in terms of campaign hopes.

Seattle Mayor

Former state legislator Ed Murray will take over as Seattle's new mayor. The election night party at Neumos music club was joyous and raucous. As a DJ played and the network camera lights blazed, Murray enjoyed the fruits of a tough but well organized campaign against Seattle's reigning mayor Mike McGinn.

In my interview with Murray he told me he believes the city needs "not just a new face - it needs consistent management of government."

One of the reasons for incumbent Mike McGinn's loss is a widespread perception that he's weak on local law enforcement reforms. His continued support for former SPD chief John Diaz was controversial. An eight month US Department of Justice review concluded that the police force had followed a policy of using excessive force.

McGinn's unwillingness to force the department to adopt adequate reforms caused a lot of civil rights groups to sour on his candidacy. McGinn also lacks support from local music club owners who claim he hasn't given enough support to their industry or promoted Seattle nightlife. McGinn ran for office on the promise that he'd allow night clubs to flourish in Seattle. The club owners and live music venues are disappointed that his campaign promises have not been fulfilled.

Seattle City Council

A very interesting race for Seattle City Council took place between long time incumbent Richard Conlin and Socialist candidate Kshama Sawant. Sawant received support from part of the occupy movement in her bid to win the election. Most local political pundits have been surprised by her showing in the tight race. The community college teacher almost beat Conlin with a grassroots campaign and no corporate contributions. To some of the more open-minded prognosticators, it proves that the Occupy Wall Street movement may actually produce potential candidates for future political elections.

The fact that Kshama Sawant was able to launch such an effective campaign bids well for future candidates who may now choose to run against Richard Conlin. As a result of this close election, Conlin's monopoly on his seat at the city council was significantly weakened. In contrast, progressive council members Nick Licata and Mike O' Brien won re-election with a significant majority of the vote.

Initiative 522

Washington State's Initiative 522 would force food producers to label genetically modified organisms in grocery stores. As of this writing the initiative has failed to gain support from rural farming regions in the eastern part of the state. King, Jefferson, San Juan and Whatcom County vote counts show I-522 winning but most of the state is still either undecided or has voted against GMO labeling at this point. Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and other multinational corporations spent millions of dollars to fight GMO labeling initiatives in Washington and California. These giant companies may once again win the day with their negative advertising campaigns.

The Seattle Times carried a headline news story saying that Initiative 522 could influence lawmakers in the US Congress who are considering national legislation to label genetically modified food. 24 states now have current or pending GMO bills.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association became the target of the Washington State Attorney General's office after a group called "Mothers For Labeling" filed a lawsuit against the GMA. Although the suit was thrown out of court, the Washington Public Disclosure Commission got involved when it was revealed that GMA had contributed $7 million to the "No on 522" campaign without disclosing that information to the public.

David Bronner of the famous Dr. Bronner's soap company was on hand to support the GMO labeling movement in Seattle. He told this reporter,

"Even if the initiative fails in Washington State, the labeling of GMO's will happen sooner or later. The campaign will continue."

Washington State government is controlled largely by Democrats, including Governor Jay Inslee, but there's always been a strong challenge from voters in the eastern portion of the state. Republicans living east of the Cascade mountains resent the fact that Seattle and the metropolitan Puget Sound area consistently outvote them on state political issues. There has even been talk of dividing Washington into two separate states. However, during this latest general election, the folks in Yakima, Richland and Spokane might have finally won the majority of the vote with their opposition to the labeling of GMO foods.

Despite the passage of previous laws legalizing same sex marriage and marijuana,  conservative interests have blocked the progressives on this particular agricultural and food safety issue. It looks like the same arguments used to defeat a similar measure in California may have been effective in convincing the majority of voters Washington that GMO labeling is unwise.

There is a possibility that last minute tallies could change the outcome of the election. Washington has a mail only balloting system and there may have been a bigger "turnout" than expected. If a large enough majority of King County voters marked "yes" on their ballots, it could swing the election results on initiative 522.  

The "Yes on 522" organizers are advising that it could be several more days before a final count will be possible. Until then they are crossing their fingers and hoping for a miracle.

A few of the Initiative 522 supporters expressed bitterness over the possibility that the measure could fail. A member of a local food co-op described the anti-labeling campaign as just one more example of how conservative and corporate groups have joined together to convince the public to vote against their own self-interest.

A volunteer for the "Yes on 522" campaign complained, "Why shouldn't we have the right to know what kind of food we're eating? It should be a basic civil right. We need to be informed of food ingredients. I'm not going to buy food for my children unless I know what's in it. The only reason the big GMO corporations are fighting this is because they realize that if people knew what was in the food, they wouldn't buy it!"

During her recent visit to Seattle, internationally recognized biodiversity expert Dr. Vandana Shiva told me, "Washington State's Initiative 522 is important for the future of the planet." Dr. Shiva maintains that genetically modified organisms have already damaged soil and are wreaking havoc on natural ecological systems.

One takeaway from the election so far might be that Seattle remains solidly progressive despite it's nouveau corporate culture, while much of the rest of the state is still divided on many social and economic issues.

Originally posted to Mark Taylor-Canfield on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 04:22 AM PST.

Also republished by Koscadia.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Be kinda nice if Seahawks would send us Packers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III

    fans back a spare quarterback like we did for you years back, if can spare one?

    Living the austerity dream.

    by jwinIL14 on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 04:32:17 AM PST

  •  Appreciate the coverage! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jwinIL14, Horace Boothroyd III

    from a Seattle resident.

    I didn't care for Senator Murray and his backup of the entire Washington State Dem legislative power team. That doesn't make him suited to be Mayor. He just rubbed me the wrong way, when he spoke at my district Democrats meeting.

    But so be it. At least I live where a Republican couldn't possibly win a citywide race.

  •  Please Identify by Party Affiliation (0+ / 0-)

    Your diary is not written for those of us who do not live in Seattle, and do cannot identify party affiliation by name recognition alone.

    Please edit and add in parenthesis the party affiliations of each candidate you name. It will improve the diary significantly.

    Journalism 101.

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 04:56:16 AM PST

    •  Local Races are Non-Partisan in WA State (3+ / 0-)

      At least officially.  So actually the diarist is correct in not identifying by party affiliation.

    •  Officially non-partisan elections. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's hard for folks from other places to fathom, but in Washington State, elections are first 2 past the poll. They can be from any party.

      Candidates may state a "preference" for any party.

      In the Seattle mayoral race, it was supposedly 2 democrats. But the one that is apparently winning (final results will not be known for several days)  could be described as a corporate controlled democrat.

      I disagree that it was the police issue that sealed McGinn's fate. The PR machine had it in for him from the first election as somehow being hostile to business.  

      --United Citizens defeated Citizens United...This time. --

      by chipoliwog on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 06:01:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the Washington State Senate Dist 7 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      race, it was two conservative Republicans.  I was happily stunned when the Stevens County results came out and Brian Danzel had a 1100 vote lead. Stevens County has about 29,000 registered voters.  Ferry County also went overwhelmingly for Danzel. The other three counties were pretty much a 50/50 split.

      John Smith, from Stevens County and the appointed incumbent, has been dismissive of people that spoke with him. I've personally spoken with two folks he has done that to. It didn't matter whether they were Democrats or Republicans. Danzel, county commissioner from Ferry County, has a reputation as someone who listens to all sides.

      The reversal from the primary is amazing.  I can't find the primary results, but Smith had two-thirds of the vote. Danzel, of course, came in second.

  •  I am very saddened that 522 didn't pass (3+ / 0-)

    I had high-hopes until I saw the money figures of Monsanto's carpet bombing.

    Hey... did Seattle ever pass their plastic bag tax?

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 05:26:30 AM PST

    •  One stat said $550.00 was the total in state (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuetheRedWA, ivote2004

      donations to the anti 522 campaign.

      •  Was wondering how much those local (3+ / 0-)

        people in the ads were paid by big ag to be in the TV ads. I wasn't sure how I was going to vote, until a candidate's night.  Listening to the phrasing by the anti-522 spokesman resolved it for me.  I voted for 522.  When you have to twist your words, than you are hiding something.

        •  Yes on 522 still has good chance; await vote count (0+ / 0-)

          The gap is closing. Please pass along this update from Food Democracy Action, which they sent out less than 1 hour ago, at 3:26:38 PM PT:

          Right now the election is too close to call. Washington voters finished
             casting their mail-in ballots at 8:00 pm PST last night and many of the
             most progressive precincts with likely voters for Yes on 522 have not yet
             been counted.

             With as estimated 300,0000 votes in King County and the surrounding
             Seattle suburbs still outstanding, the race will tighten over the next
             several reporting periods.
          The next election updates should come between
             4:30 and 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time today and up.

             Several major national newspapers have called the election, but for those
             who remember last year in California, results on election night only
             continued to climb as late votes were finally counted. More than 600,000
             ballots remain uncounted.

             Last night, the Washington state Secretary of State's office has the Yes
             on 522 campaign trailing with 45.2 percent to 54.8 percent.

             [1]According to Politico, these figures "represent about a quarter of the
             state's 3.9 million" and possibly reflects only 60% of the total votes

            The final vote for GMO labeling in Washington state may not be known for
             several days, possibly more than a week and the race will narrow as

          #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

          by ivote2004 on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 04:10:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  And on the Eastern Side of the State.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, grover, myboo

    Progressives regained control of the Spokane City Council.

  •  Long time since I left Seattle for Portland (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But a leading issue in the Mayor's race was something to do with night clubs?


    That's pretty odd.

  •  Not just Republicans on the East side of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Plenty on the Eastside.

    Pierce County has a lot, as  do the more rural counties up north and down south.

    Seattle is heavily populated and very liberal, so it balances out. But it's not simply the Cascade Divide that divides red vs blue.

    I lived in that area for years and years and still maintain a home there. It's extremely purple.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 10:01:10 AM PST

  •  Seattle resident (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your casual misinformation on GMO labeling is a lot of why I didn't want to vote for 522. It isn't a "food safety" issue so much as a right-to-know issue, for example, and currently no state requires GMO labeling. 1 state has passed it, but it only goes into effect if surrounding states also pass labeling. Maine legislature passed it but the governor  won't sign it. We'd have been the first and only to require this special labeling.

    The strongest pro-522 arguments (environmental impacts, export markets) were rarely heard, while over-simplified paranoid "what ifs" were the main talking points. Coupled with the text of the initiative, which makes unsupported claims about toxicants, the whole campaign sounded like something out of Dr. Strangelove. The campaign portrayed consumers and producers as enemies, and skeptics as ignorant, lying, Monsanto-lovers.

    I'm a Seattle liberal & scientist, and I was so turned off by the Yes campaign. I voted Yes anyway, but I can easily see why the Eastern counties voted no. If I was a farmer, I'd have felt vilified by the campaign. If I didn't like the usual liberal voices coming from King County, this rhetoric would have really pissed me off. Going forward, I hope the pro-labeling movement draws useful lessons about how to speak intelligently and inclusively about this issue. But reading articles like this, I suspect they're just going to insult rural Republicans while learning nothing.  

  •  Anti-GMO Crowd Needs To Drop The Red Herrings (0+ / 0-)

    Things like "GMOs don't solve the problem of inefficient food distribution" which seems to be a constant answer.  

    OK, that's thunderingly obvious.  Also GMOs don't help the Belgians keep their bicycle tires inflated or even paint your mailbox for you.

    And if someone did care about Belgian bike tires, they would be devoting themselves to the cause of Belgian bike tire maintenance.  But you wouldn't find that person complaining about GMOs or crowded ferry boats in Hong Kong.

    If someone cared about an issue like bike tires or food distribution,  they would go work on that issue instead of complaining about GMOs.  

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:06:11 PM PST

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