November 3, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 44
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Thursday, Aug 13, 2020



SEAMEC rates candidates for '06 elections
SEAMEC rates candidates for '06 elections


For the 30th consecutive year the Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee (SEAMEC) releases its ratings of candidates, including incumbents, on issues of interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
SEAMEC offers three forms of recognitition to candidates: A numerical rating on a zero to five scale, reflecting the candidates' proven and recent track record and articulation of LGBT issues; a letter grade on an A to F scale, reflecting soley the candidates' performance in a face-to-face interview; and endorsement, which reflects a variety of factors including unique dynamics associated with certain races.

The following candidates received the top "5: Demonstrates Leadership" rating based on a proven track record and outstanding articulation of LGBT issues, as deemed by the steering committee drawing upon several sources of information:

  • State Supreme Court candidates Tom Chambers and Susan Owens
  • State Senate candidates Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Ed Murray
  • State Representative candidates Joe McDermott and Jamie Pedersen
  • Seattle City Council candidate Sally Clark
  • Court of Appeals candidate Marlin Applewick

An additional 17 candidates were rated with the high mark of "4: Exceeds Expectations." See for details.

The following candidates received the top AAAAA letter grade based solely on impressing the volunteer rank-and-file panelists who interviewed the respective candidates in the areas of equality, marriage, families, healthcare, and awareness (For judicial candidates a slightly different list of categories were covered):

  • U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Guthrie
  • U.S. Congressional candidates Darcy Burner and Jay Inslee
  • State Senate candidates Darlene Fairley, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Ed Murray, and Rodney Tom
  • State Representative candidates Frank Chopp, Deborah Eddy, Fred Jarrett, Joe McDermott, Sharon Tomiko-Santos
  • Seattle City Council candidate Sally Clark

Additionally four candidates were rated with four As and one B. See for details.

The following candidates are endorsed by SEAMEC based on a variety of factors, including unique dynamics associated with their races:

  • U.S. Senate candidate Maria Cantwell
  • U.S. Congressional candidates Darcy Burner and Jay Inslee
  • State Supreme Court candidates Tom Chambers and Susan Owens
  • State Senate candidates Ed Murray and Rodney Tom
  • State Representative candidates Fred Jarrett, Joe McDermott, and Jamie Pedersen
  • Seattle City Council candidate Sally Clark

While it is heartening that at least five openly gay candidates are running in rated races, it should be noted that SEAMEC does not allow any candidate's sexual orientation, gender identity or expression to factor in their rating.
The decision not to grant "affirmative action" credit to openly LGBT candidates was made through resolution at the annual membership meeting in 2004.
Nevertheless SEAMEC is pleased that the five openly LGBT candidates earned very high ratings based on their individual merit: State senate candidate Ed Murray (5 AAAAA); state representative candidates Jamie Pedersen (5 AABAA), Joe McDermott (5 AAAAA), and Dave Upthegrove (4 U); as well as Seattle City Council candidate Sally Clark (5 AAAAA).

Some voters understandably ask how a candidate like state representative candidate Deborah Eddy can receive AAAAA and not the top "5" rating.
The answer is that a candidate can be very impressive during the interview, without having established a track record of exceptional advocacy on LGBT issues.
Another reason is that it's possible that a candidate (not necessarily Eddy) with a good track record might also take a "bad" position on a key issue, like Medicaid funding for medically necessary gender-reassignment surgery (a question that was asked on SEAMEC's written questionnaire).
The letter grades only reflect how well a candidate does in the in-person interview, judged solely by the panelists who quizzed the candidate.
The numerical rating rating is voted on by 2/3rds of the steering committee, based upon a variety of information to assess whether good candidates demonstrate exceptional or outstanding efforts in advocating on LGBT issues.
Sometimes a candidate, like Bruce Guthrie, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat, can be very active and visible on a priority LGBT issue like marriage equality, "Don't Ask/ Don't Tell," and immigration rights for same-sex couples. On the other hand, he received only a "3" rating for opposing other key issues like allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense lawfully prescribed medications to patients in need; opposing legal protections to advance nondiscrimination employment; and opposing public funding for women in economic need to access abortion services.
Another arguably incongruent case in point is state supreme court justice Gerry Alexander.
While he voted in the majority on three cases of great importance to the LGBT community, including a recent case involving a non-biological lesbian mother, his vote against marriage equality brought his grade down to a "2: Needs Improvement."
When Justice Alexander provided the swing vote to sustain the the "one-man, one-woman" marriage law, the steering committee understood Justice Alexander to be saying that the state legislature was correct when it declared there to be a rational basis for excluding same-sex couples for the legal right to marry. At least 2/3rds of the SEAMEC steering committee finds that position to be hostile to the LGBT community, reinforcing the worst stereotypes and denying same-sex couples a crucial fundamental human right, sometimes resulting in tragedy. Therefore SEAMEC feels significance of the Alexander vote in the Andersen case and  its underlying rationale leads to Justice Alexander accuratedly rated as "needing improvement."
In some cases historic strong and formerly consistent advocates for LGBT issues may have seen their letter grades dropped this year due to no apparent recent activities rising to the level of exceptional or leadership activities ( e.g., state representative candidate Jim Street in the primary election).

SEAMEC's new website allows community members and allies to voice their opinions of the candidates and even disagreements with the organization's ratings, letter grades and endorsements. Feel free to post your opinion at but only if you are also willing to self identify with your real name.
While SEAMEC goes to great lengths to do the best job it can, inevitably mistakes are made, especially where reasonable people can differ.
Do you disagree with a candidate's letter grades? Keep in mind that the interview panels are randomly drawn, subject to the perspectives of the individuals who happen to be present.
While no one is allowed to interview a candidate for SEAMEC if they have taken a stance in that race, interviewers inevitably reflect their subjective positions on a number of issues as they rate the candidate. SEAMEC does not impose a standard set of criteria upon which interviewers judge each candidate.
With very few exceptions members of the LGBT community and allies are welcome to participate as SEAMEC interview panelists after undergoing a short training.
If you're interested in serving as a interview panelist for the 2007 elections, contact Ray Hoekstra ( People of color and transgender people of a variety of political stripes are especially encouraged to participate.
If you feel policy changes are needed at SEAMEC, become a member of the organization (sliding scale with a suggested amount of $35), submit a resolution for the annual membership meeting that will take place in January (or early February) 2007, and participate in SEAMEC's democracy.
Interested community members and allies may also seek a position on the SEAMEC steering committee by joining as a member and being elected at the annual membership meeting.
Since SEAMEC uniquely places very high value on democracy, members may also vote out current members of the SEAMEC steering committee if there is a majority vote to do so.
SEAMEC honors its current leadership and also recognizes that the organization would be immeasurably strengthened and improved by increased participation and financial suupport by more community members.
Let's work together to make democracy work even more effectively within the LGBT community!
For more information on how to get involved in SEAMEC, contact and go to

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