He may look goofy, but Richard Conlin isn't just a huge-headed tooth balloon—he's arguably the most destructive member of the Seattle City Council.
He has claimed to be a progressive environmentalist during his 16 years on the council, when in fact he has spent those four terms helping to kill mass transit, build new highways, and seek harsh penalties for panhandlers. He's not a progressive; he's a green-washing liberal fraud. Sure, Conlin has served on the Sound Transit board and prized a bill to legalize backyard pygmy goats—which shows how much he lervz the earth—but as council president, Conlin hampered real environmental progress: He brought votes to suspend funding of the city's Transit Master Plan while leaving the city's Bicycle Master Plan mostly unfunded. Conlin backed building a wider, six-lane 520 bridge that still lacks $2 billion in funding for Seattle's side of the project. He championed a deep-bore tunnel (dishonestly calling it a "green alternative") that won't accommodate any mass transit. And Conlin ignored environmental reviews for the tunnel in the name of expediting highway construction, while arguing in favor of environmental reviews as a means to delay mass transit projects and homeless shelters.
On human rights, Conlin's record is terrible: He was the only "no" vote on the council on a bill to require paid sick leave. He also ignored the Seattle Human Rights Commission, appointed by the mayor and council, which unanimously opposed new penalties for aggressive panhandling (which is already a criminal offense), because they violated due process in court and provided a fast track to jail. "The proposed ordinance does not comply with human rights standards," the commission found. What did Conlin do? He rushed the bill to a vote and voted for it anyway (Mayor McGinn later vetoed the bill).
In other words, don't vote for that snake-oil-sweating charlatan.
In this race, the clear choice to represent Seattle is Kshama Sawant. Despite her "Socialist Alternative" label, there isn't anything particularly radical about the core of Sawant's progressive agenda. She promotes a $15 an hour minimum wage and new taxes on the wealthy to bolster funding for mass transit, while cutting taxes on small businesses, homeowners, and workers.
An Occupy Seattle organizer and economics instructor at Seattle Central Community College, Sawant—who is sharp as a tack and loud as an air horn—brings a lefty perspective that would widen the council's ideological spectrum and make the progressive council member Mike O'Brien seem more moderate in comparison. We wouldn't want a council filled with Sawants. But we don't want a council filled with sniveling, prevaricating Conlins, either—and that's pretty much what we have now.
Brian Carver, another challenger in the race, hasn't shown the spine our council needs. But Sawant has—vote Sawant.