To the Editor: Shoreline voted against all hints of improper behavior

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear editor:

I disagree with with Councilmember-elect Hall's assessment of why he prevailed in his match-up against Patty Hale, for she doorbelled probably as many precincts as he did, if not more. She, as well as Councilmember-elect Tracey, were the only ones who doorbelled my home. Further, Mr. Hall’s theory doesn’t hold up in the results of the other councilmember elections nor historically.

My theory – and admittedly all of us “analyzing” the results can only speculate as to why people voted the way they did – is that Shoreline voters have little stomach for any hint of impropriety, even if they only hear part of the story. The best example was probably Council member Hansen’s race to test my theory. The stories about Mr. Hansen’s CPA license started accelerating close to election time, supported by public comments from the City Council’s lectern. Result: a councilmember re-elected multiple times since 1995 was drubbed, 59-40% by an opponent new to the electoral and even community scene who was rated “Not Qualified” by the Municipal League – a rating that was proven meaningless – and who, just a year earlier, lost a race for precinct committee officer with just 30% of the vote.

Council member McGlashan’s race could have been a duplicate. A shadow organization, the Shoreline Partnership Council, registered with the Public Disclosure Commission with mini-reporting as their option, meaning that only the registrants’ names, not their financing – supposedly under the $5,000 requirement - or backers, were known. This group sent a mailer with a reportedly-altered picture of McGlashan in New Orleans with a group of folks who got overzealous, bouyed by people appearing at Shoreline’s televised City Council meetings to attempt to lend authenticity to the incomplete story. The important, missing part was that it’s standard procedure for the police to take the whole group down to the station to sort things out, yet that part, which doesn’t support the speculation the group sought to create – Mr. McGlashan was innocent and released, was conveniently omitted. Yes, Councilmember McGlashan won re-election easily, but his write-in opponent got a stunning and unprecedented (in Shoreline) 2,762 write-in votes.

For candidate Hale, the school story arose in late September, and the Letters to the Editor followed. Mr. Hall, who won 32% in the primary, won 54% in the general election (true, primary voters are fewer and differ from the wider-spread general election voters).

For Councilmember Way, the stories about her filing late for the primary appeared in three editions of the well-read Seattle Times, no doubt enough to widen her margin of defeat that was already deemed possible due to her involvement in the firing of former City Manager Burkett in 2005. Note: none of the five that were involved with that firing were elected since, holding Councilmembers Chang, Fimia, Ryu, and Way to single terms of office, Ransom to fill out the last two years of the term he was in.

Lastly, for Mayor Ryu, her position served as lightening rod for her opponents, and her ability to get three other councilmembers voting in lockstep to her further united them, demonstrated by the fierce Pro Shoreline mailer late in the game. Add in the summer letter writers who suggested Ms. Ryu’s impropriety in voting on height limits they suggested would personally benefit her, another about a donation from a firm whose contract she voted in favor of, and the doubt was added to the electorate. In this race, I believe that it still took the additional factor of an opponent who doorbelled over 11,000 homes to result in a narrow victory.

As was pointed out in a recent Shoreline Area News post, Shoreline voters have turned out at least three incumbents in three consecutive elections. I believe that it is the above-mentioned political environment in an evenly-split electorate that results in now-short lifespans for councilmembers, aided by minimal media coverage beyond the now-defunct Enterprise. What’s needed is a public access channel for candidates and incumbents to become known beyond the scare tactics, not only at election time, but in-between as well, for instance via interview programs. A city of 53,000+ deserves better.

Brian Doennebrink

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