City Abortion, the PATRIOT Act, and Your City Council
posted by June 22 at 16:00 PMon
The King County Democrats have posted this year’s candidate questionnaires on their web site, and along with the usual unanimous answers to the Dems’ yes/no questions (yes, everyone supports gay rights; no, they don’t want to ban abortion) are a few intriguing caveats (places on the questionnaire where a candidate’s “yes” or “no” is “qualified.”) The written answers are usually pretty useless, but they, too, offer a few insights.
Now, clearly, questions about things like abortion rights and the Davis-Bacon Act aren’t really directly relevant to city politics. However, where a candidate stands on issues like abortion can make a difference in how people vote; two years ago, when Richard McIver challenger Robert Rosencrantz gave a “qualified” answer to the question, “Do you support abortion rights?” it gave dyed-in-the-wool Democrats pause about supporting him.
On to the questions: When asked, “Do you support the PATRIOT Act?”, two candidates (of those who filled out questionnaires; not all the candidates running this year had filed yet) gave “qualified” responses. Those were Bruce Harrell, running for the open seat being vacated by Peter Steinbrueck, and Tim Burgess, running against incumbent David Della. In his questionnaire, Harrell says that although the PATRIOT Act is “overreaching,” he does “support the need for legislation designed to secure our country from terrorists and threats to our national security.” (Asked how he would work to improve the lives of the economically disadvantaged, Harrell suggests that it’s mostly a matter of improving their self-esteem.) Burgess says that although he doesn’t support the act’s limits on civil liberties, he does “support those provisions that allowed for the sharing of criminal intelligence and investigative facts between law enforcement and intelligence agencies to better protect public safety.”
The other thing that struck me while slogging through all that paper was how quickly ideas that were once on the fringe become conventional wisdom. I’m thinking, specifically, of the surface/transit option for the viaduct, which a majority of candidates for council now say they’re at least open to; and a ban on plastic bags, which several candidates support (and which the City Council is considering). It wasn’t so long ago that both ideas were considered the realm of the loony lefties.