The Votes are In

Washington State's New Initiatives Set The Stage

Washington state held an election in early November and the outcome shone a light on the values held by Pacific Northwest voters.

The results are in for legislation issues such as Referendum 88, which would negate the Affirmative Action measure the state voted on earlier this year.

Another issue is Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 (I-976), also known as the “$30 car-tab” measure, which if approved, would dramatically reduce the current car tab fee implemented by the state to repair and develop Seattle transportation infrastructure.

Referendum 88

Despite the overwhelming support for Referendum 88 within King County, it was rejected by the state with 50.6% voting against it, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s website. Affirmative Action is a divisive topic. The recent result gives an insight into how Washingtonians collectively view racism.

The consensus among voters who opposed Referendum 88 is the belief that its “policy creates a quota system and would allow the government to discriminate on the basis of race,” according to a Nov. 8 Seattle Times article.

Advocates feel like it’s a way to provide an equal playing field for minority groups that have been systematically discriminated against by the state. Racial issues such as redlining (systematic denial of living in certain areas, usually based on race) and racial restrictive covenants (prohibiting property or leases by people of color) have been examined by Christine Gregoire, former Washington state governor.

She combated these two problems by signing Senate Bill 6169 in 2006, alleviating legal inequity surrounding these two issues.

Initiative 976

I-976 passed with 53% in favor. In a Nov. 2 Seattle Times article, Eyman is reported to have been “pushing anti-tax measures for two decades” and has been urged to back down by a number of officials such as Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Council.

In the past, according to the same article, the $30-dollar car tab initiative was approved 20 years ago and that lawmakers allowed the prices to “balloon.”

Now that the measure is approved, Washington’s overall transportation infrastructure funding will be greatly reduced.

Referendum 88 and I-976 showcase a legislative shift within the state’s political landscape. These political shifts may have shaped the results, with this year featuring more culturally and socially progressive winning candidates. 

For example, incumbent Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant of District 3 won a 51.6% victory over Egan Orion. According to the King County Election Commission, Orion’s campaign received 48% of its campaign funding from Amazon.

According to Sawant’s website, she has been a target for Republicans, real-estate developers and other major corporate executives and is a self-declared Alternative Socialist and a vocal opponent to corporate donors.

She’s known for her progressive ideas, such as a localized version of the Green New Deal in hopes of making Seattle 100% renewable-energy based by 2030.

Her support of social and cultural movements like #MeToo and #fightback are also popular.  Sawant’s victory over Orion highlighted the voter disapproval with corporate-backed candidates, which has been a norm in politics for decades.

Referendum 88 and I-976 impact you directly and give insight into the current collective values within Washington state and may play a part in the 2020 presidential election.


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Luke Pantera is a Staff Writer for the Ebbtide. He covers breaking news, politics and crime. Pantera enlisted in the US Army as an Military Police Officer in 2013 and completed his initial 5 year enlistment in 2018.


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