Challenger Spear brings Socialist Alternative (and ground game) fight to 43rd District establishment

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Jess Spear readily admits her bid to unseat a powerful, 10-term Olympia politician with strong name recognition will not be a day at the beach. House Speaker Frank Chopp is about as entrenched as you can get in his Capitol Hill-centered 43rd District. But Spear, a 32-year-old climate scientist and Socialist Alternative candidate, says the political landscape is shifting in her favor. After taking leading roles in the successful $15 Now and Kshama Sawant campaigns, Spear is hoping to ride the momentum into Olympia.

“The political situation has changed,” she told CHS. “When we organize, we win, and we’re carrying that lesson forward.”

As ballots dropped last week for the August 5th primary, Spear will be staking out Capitol Hill street corners to get out her message of a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage and repealing the nearly $9 billion Boeing tax break state lawmakers approved last year. To those that say it can’t be done, Spear is quick to point out that many leveled the same charge against Sawant and $15 Now.

Spear was born and raised in northern Virginia and lived in Florida before moving to Seattle in 2011 with her husband, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. While working on a grant project through the U.S. Geological Survey, Spear said she became active with Socialist Alternative and Sawant’s unsuccessful campaign to unseat Chopp in 2012.

After initially settling in Lake City, Spear moved to Capitol Hill, but said she was forced to move out a year later when her rent increased beyond her budget. She now resides in Eastlake.

“It was frustrating for me,” she said. “I like Capitol Hill, it’s more coventient and walkable.”

Spear has made affordable housing her primary policy issue on the campaign — an issue few would argue should not be at the top of the list for any candidate in the 43rd District. Housing is also considered Chopp’s strongest issue, with his decades of experience working both inside and outside the legislature. Spear said she applauds Chopp’s work on low income housing projects, but said he hasn’t done enough to fund middle-income and workforce housing around Capitol Hill.

Spear wants to lift the state ban on rent control so Seattle could choose to regulate rent increases citywide. Spear said she doesn’t have a detailed policy proposal for Seattle, but supports programs enacted in other cities that use rent control boards to approve rent increases.

“It’s unecessary for a landlord to raise rent that much, they’re taking adavantge of the need people have for shelter,” she said. “It’s about providing renters with relief, so that they’re secure in their homes.”

While Sawant lost to Chopp by more than 20 points two years ago, Socialist Alternative leaders say the campaign proved the issues championed by Sawant, and now Spear, were more mainstream than conventional wisdom suggested — and they’re even more mainstream today.

Among the ideas Spear hopes will resonate with voters this time around is a tax on millionaires and big businesses to fund Metro services — and not just to stop the current round of Metro cuts, but to make King County an entirely ride-free zone.

“We can’t fund our public services when we’re giving these tax handouts to these extremely wealthy corporations,” she said. “If we’re going to fund education and transit, we need to fund in a progressive manner.”

Spear announced her campaign at Seattle Central in May (Image: CHS)

Spear announced her campaign at Seattle Central in May (Image: CHS)

The legislature’s failure to pass a transportation package is considered to be the main cause behind the Metro cuts, scheduled to start in September. In November, citizens will vote on a $60 car tab and sales tax increase to buy back Metro cuts, something Spear said she supports but only because there are no other options on the table.

Spear’s expertise and passion for addressing climate change is one issue where Chopp hasn’t made many inroads as a representative. Spear wants to stop oil and coal trains from running through Seattle and supports massive public spending on renewable energy projects.

Last week the The Stranger endorsed Chopp over Spear, citing Chopp’s mastery of Olympia and Spear’s lack of policy expertise. The endorsement was a blow to the Spear campaign — the paper strongly backed Sawant in her 2012 campaign to unseat Chopp.

Spear hopes voters won’t be as swayed by Chopp’s institutional power and will instead send her to Olympia to challenge notions of what’s politically possible.

“There’s a difference between echoing popular sentiment and leadership,” Spear said. “We’re not saying we’ll be able to win everything we’re putting forward, but you’re not going to win unless you go out there and fight for it.”

64 thoughts on “Challenger Spear brings Socialist Alternative (and ground game) fight to 43rd District establishment

  1. Somehow I doubt Spear’s claim that she was “forced” out of Capitol Hill by a rent increase. That claim hints at something to bolster her campaign for rent control. Eastlake is not an inexpensive neighborhood….in fact, my guess is that average rents there are very similar to Capitol Hill.

    And, her proposal to make all of King County a ride-free zone on Metro is just laughable.

    • Actually it’s quite possible she was forced out by a rent increase. The ONLY reason I have my affordable apartment is because it’s in a small family owned building and I had a friend in the building who recommended me to the owners as a great tenant. If Spear didn’t have that sort of friend, she may have had to move. Eastlake is a bit cheaper on the older units and just as high on the newer ones. I know. I’ve recently been looking for something with in-unit laundry.

      Ride-free for the entire county? BEYOND a little laughable.

      Chopp is pretty lousy, but this candidate would be far worse. Pity we can’t have somebody good to run.

      • Ahhh, Calhoun, I won’t (and can’t) call you clueless because that’ll get me kicked off this oh-so ‘democratic’ blog. However, I will say you seem rather out-of-touch with the rent situation on the hill and throughout the city. OF COURSE one can be forced off the hill due to high rent. And, finding affordable rent is catch as catch can. You go wherever close-in there’s a place that can (sort of, mostly) fit your needs. Eastlake IS cheaper, btw. It’s also without most services. ;-)

        • You’re putting words in my mouth. I did NOT say that rent increases are not pushing people off the hill. I DID say that, for one person (Spear), it is unlikely that she moved because of this, and more likely she is using the move as a campaign ploy. Both she and her husband have professional-level jobs, so I’m sure they can afford to live on Capitol Hill if they chose to.

    • LOL! Agreed….as if Eastlake is cheap. What a phony opportunist. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. All politicians regardless of affiliations are like this. Do or say what is necessary to get elected. I hope she bombs in the primary. I’m sick of the socialist messaging which is all about promoting class warfare.

      • Yes because boeing strong arming and forcing all unions out the door by holding all their manufacturing hostage isn’t class warfare.

        Get over yourself. Class warfare has been waging for years and its only now that the lower classes are starting to fight back.

      • Jamie, “opportunist”? You are being absurd. Ms. Spear isn’t running to make bank. She’s running to try to right wrongs in wealth distribution. You, obviously are either well-off or enjoy being poor. So, vote Chopp, I suppose. I, for one, think it’s great that she’s running and she’s got my (and my friends’) vote. Funny, The Stranger whines on and on about the corrupt establishment, only to too-often back it come election-time (hypocrites?).

  2. Wide eyed demands and promises sort of feel like when I ran for elementary school president in fifth grade and promised everyone vending machines with endless free candy and Nerf balls for everyone. I also said I would end the ban on long beaded lizard keychains (they said they could get caught in bus doors and pull you along the street to your death).

    I trust that Chopp knows what he’s up against in the 43rd. Somehow I don’t have that same confidence in Spear.

    • But Amy, it was the workers’ movement — your grandmothers and grandfathers, and mine — who fought and won the women’s right to vote.

      In Russia in 1917.

      In the US in 1920.

      So you’d be betraying them, and yourself, if you as a worker were to kowtow to the capitalists and vote for their $8.7Billion Boeing Bagman Frank Chopp — especially when there’s a workers’ candidate, on a worker’s wage, running: JESS SPEAR, leading fighter of Socialist Alternative and $15Now.

      “Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you have come hither.”
      — Abby Kelley Foster, ardent fighter against the Slavery-Horror and for Women’s Liberation.

      A 19th-century prototype of Jess Spear and Kshama Sawant!
      :)

      Jess Spear is a splendid candidate, with a splendid chance of winning — with your support, that is!

      And she’s earned her spurs in battle:
      — as director of Kshama’s victorious 2013 Seattle city council run.
      — and as director of $15Now spearheading (no pun intended!) the magnificent relative triumph in Seattle of the $15 minimum-wage struggle.

      In addition to voting, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party — join it, build it, influence it.
      http://www.socialistalternative.org/
      http://15now.org/

      Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

        • Hey calhoun,
          What would truly be delusional?:
          Your being a member of the working class, one of the 99%, but your kneeling before the capitalists and voting for their Democratic-Republican candidate Frank Chopp — who’s funded to the hilt by BNSF of Lac-Megantic oil-train-bomb infamy, a holocaust avoided only narrowly last week by Seattle; and by Boeing which, not content with the $8.7Billion of our money outrageously gifted it by Chopp and Inslee, then promptly steals the machinists’ pensions!

          Your forelock-tugging cowardice is even more delusional in this case, because challenging for the position is a workers’ candidate, on a worker’s wage: JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now.

          Check out this magnificent TV interview with Jess Spear published yesterday, which further confirms her as the one-and-only splendid candidate:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxX_L6AmBmM

          Don’t let the pro-capitalist naysayers dissuade you with their “Jess Spear can’t win” self-serving arrogant prattle.
          Obviously, if the 99% vote for their Jess Spear, then she wins — by 99%.
          :)

          Furthermore, voting for Jess Spear is one small practical step you can take in defending your sisters and brothers around the world, such as those being drone-bombed to pieces today in Gaza.

          Because a victory for Jess Spear will truly be “a shot heard round the world”.
          Enthusing workers everywhere on the planet to take the battle to “their” oppressor governments.
          Because, “Hey, if our sisters and brothers can win in the US, in the belly of the beast, in the major city of Seattle, why can’t we in our own hometowns!”

          In addition to voting for Jess Spear, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party — join it, build it, influence it.

          Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

          • Your knee-jerk far-left rhetoric is getting a little old. Get back to me after the primary election, when Spear gets a small minority of votes. Unfortunately, she will still run in the general election this fall, because it’s only she and Chopp who are running in this race.

  3. The Socialist claim that they won on $15 is laughable. The Mayor, the entire city council, a large part of the business community, billionaire talking head and sensitive capitalist Nick Hanauer, the state and county Democrat Party, and all the Labor Unions and Tje stranger advocated for it endlessly, backed it, wrote the law and passed it. That same group is now backing Frank Chopp.

    • If you shift the focus to an issue and force it to get passed, you can still say you’ve won, even if its a compromise.

      Can you honestly say without Sawant and 15now.org that the minimum wage act would still have been pushed?

        • Whatevs and Iluvcaphill are just absurd jokers. They’re pulling your leg, le sigh. EVERYONE sane and in their right mind (their left one, their top and bottom ones, too) knows that it was Kshama and the 15Now folks who put the idea out there and had the courage to push loudly for it. That lemmings Chopp and City Council jumped on their bandwagon is very well documented fact. Then again, FOX news watchers and their ilk still believe Saddam had nuclear weapons (they DIDN’T!!!)

          Seriously, I can’t even believe the jokers who spend their lives posting their misinformed claptrap on here.

          • Seriously, two (three?) years ago this was just a proposal by Kshama in her run for State House. No one thought it was possible before her city council campaign.

    • So, “Whatevs”, your specious argument is that just because some trade union organizations have been misled by their highly-paid bureaucrat “leaders” into endorsing not the Socialist Alternative and $15Now fighter JESS SPEAR but instead the capitalist corporate catspaw Frank Chopp, we should all commit the same silly mistake?

      On the contrary.
      Within the trade unions, while fighting the capitalists’ clawbacks, let’s build rank-and-file broad left movements — to oppose, expose and eventually depose the right-wing trade union “barons”.

      Because you’re a member of the working class, one of the 99%, you absolutely should vote for your fellow working-class challenger, who pledges to take only a worker’s wage: JESS SPEAR.

      Your personal honor itself demands it.

      Because you’re one of the 99%, one of the working class — “the class which carries in her womb the future of all humankind”, to quote the immortal Rosa Luxemburg.

      In addition to voting for Jess Spear, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party — join it, build it, influence it.

      Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

    • Yeah that’s what happened, according to “US Weekly” or the “Evening Magazine”. Socialist Alternative, Kshama Sawant and her supporters were the ones actually pushing for it. The demand came out of fast food worker strikes and of course workers in Sea-Tac. The mayor and the billionaires sat down to try to do damage control and came up with a “compromise”, 15 Now became 15 someday.

  4. It is dumb to say you were “forced” out of an apartment because you couldn’t afford the rent. That is like saying I was discriminated against and not allowed to buy a Porsche because I couldn’t afford it.

    • She did not own the apartment so the landlord can demand more money and if she does wish to pay that amount of money, well she is free to leave.

      If she had a condo and someone came and physically removed her, that would be a different story.

    • Exactly, that’s how renting works. But we’re talking about the same people who think we can actually survive without fossil fuels while using fossil fuel-derived products to plaster their posters everywhere.

    • Why if you would choose to pull yourself up by your bootstraps you can choose to make more money. Are you fucking kidding me? They say ignorance is bliss, maybe being as fucking stupid/mean sounding as that feels good.

  5. I voted for her. Chopp has been in office way too long and it is time for fresh ideas. Chopp voted for Boeing subsidies while ignoring a Supreme Court ruling to correct the education funding issues the Court demanded. Besides, Spear will stir things up. A *little* dissent is good for us.

      • Sometimes,when you’re a grown-up, you have to hold your nose and pick the option that causes the least damage. I thought the Boeing subsidies sucked too. But screaming and stomping your feet and holding your breath till you’re blue in the face to vote “no” would’ve done nothing but force thousands of jobs out of state. Yeah, they’ve have had the moral high ground, while thousands of Boeing employees would’ve had a pink slip. Yes, sometimes the semi-evil giant wins. That’s life. The alternative would’ve been worse. Symbolic victories don’t pay the bills, but you can live to fight another day. Meanwhile, those Boeing jobs that moved to South Carohellhole– those are gone for a long time. Half a loaf IS better than none.

        • That is the problem with Democratic Party loyalists. “Half a loaf is better than none.” Then it becomes a third of a loaf, then a quarter of a loaf, and then you get blind support for anyone out there because “at least we got something” so that people like Obama can accurately call themselves more of a Nixon-era Republican and even so-called “progressive” Democrats do not even bat an eye. People are tired of this. There needs to be an anchor to the left of the Democrats if we want to see any real changes. What’s wrong with some socialism in America? Socialists have been a part of every other democratic system in the world, even our neighbors in Canada. And even radical socialists. Stop acting like cowards and falling for that kind of rhetoric. Even if you think some of what Spear says is not possible, it is far less “crazy” than just going along with the way things are.

          • sreve treadway, you are a TROLL! Neither Chopp nor Spear are lunatics. Chopp is a corrupt(ed?) hack and Spear is an idealist with fresh, needed ideas. If you think that’s ‘lunatic’, well, you might be crossing your diagnoses. Perhaps YOU are the… oh never mind.

          • The Socialist parties in Europe and Canada are very different than what we think of as socialism. They are basically moderate parties, or perhaps slightly left of center, very similar to the Democratic Party here in the USA.

    • Chopp did not stop increased funding for education. Republicans controlled the Senate the last two years and opposed any revenue increases. Prior to last year’s Washington State Supreme Court decision, for most of the previous 20 years any tax increase required a 2/3 vote of the Legislature or a vote of the people. Voters in this state passed 3 Eyman initiatives to support that position I-960 in 2007, I-1053 in 2010 and I-1185 in 2012. Blame voters and Tim Eyman for not funding education adequately.

      • Yeah right Steve. Frank Chopp along with a dem controlled senate are the ones that starved education funding when times were good. no, instead the libs in oly increased social services spending and health care spending, both of which yield little over time in outcomes, while increasing education spending at a much lower rate. yeah, i know all the seattle lefties want to raise everyone’s taxes but luckily for the rest of us, the state’s nonlefties disagree. remember frank’s great tax increases of 2010? only to get repealed? trying to blame republicans for this state’s ills show how bereft you are of intellectual honesty.

        • What nonsense spinning myths – when Eyman’s 2/3 voting requirements along with I-601 were in place for 20 years. Democrats never had a 2/3 vote majority for raising revenue in both House and Senate during that time. And yes the voters made the decision to put that in place. Franks Chopp did not pass the 2/3 voting requirement to raise revenue – voters did. If you have any great ideas to fund education then run an initiative and get voters to pass it. The legislature isn’t the only way to pass laws.

          • Yeah but even if that’s true, Chopp could have worked to repeal that law with another one. Dems in this state usually just suck. Gregoire did almost nothing to to keep the gum and soda tax. Dems always whine and make excuses while Republicans get busy changing stuff to their whims, and crazy Eyman-types get laws passed. The truest crazy is the one who defends the WA state dems who, based on the numbers, should be dominating the conversation but so don’t -because they’re collectively such mediocre lemmings and bendover paste-eaters.

        • Nice reply – I did not say stupid voters I said the voters put the 2/3 vote requirement in place – so they are responsible for preventing more funding for education unless you want to cut all other funding by the state. And remember while the 2/3 vote requirement was in place until last year, it also by Eyman’s definition said a 2/3 vote was needed to repeal any tax loophole. And for the last 2 years Republicans have run the senate and refused to move most democratic legislation. So don’t blame Chopp.

  6. “Spear was born and raised in northern Virginia and lived in Florida before moving to Seattle in 2011 with her husband…”

    So she has lived here for only three years? This fact gives me very little credibility to speak to and understand the challenges and opportunities of our area. I will not be voting against her.

  7. Spear bills herself as a climate scientist, but is oddly non-specific on what her climate science credentials actually are. She has a Masters in Marine Science, and has her name on at least two papers concerning sedimentary plankton in the Gulf of Mexico. The last of these papers was published in 2011, while she was still at the USGS in Florida. I’d be interested to know what else she has done in terms of academic work or employment in the industry, because as far as I can tell her credentials as a climate scientist are weak at best.

    • Getting your work published is a Herculean task, as anyone in academia could tell you. In the meantime, if I recall correctly, she has been working at the UW Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture as a researcher of microscopic sea life and carbon content of biological calcium carbonate in the Puget Sound.

  8. It’s always entertaining reading the abject cluelessness of Seattle’s lefty crowd. Thanks for giving me a laugh. The only good thing you fools have ever done is vote to legalize weed. Now go back to your regularly scheduled kvetching, business-bashing and unicorn chasing while intelligent people do things that matter. Enjoy your little socialist time in the sun; it will end soon.

  9. If anyone doubts the impact Sawant, 15Now, and socialist alternative had on getting the $15 minimum wage, ask yourself if you could have imagined a 9-0 vote for $15 a year ago? Ask yourself why hasn’t New York City, or Chicago, or LA passed this yet? If it is just SEIU, fastfood workers, and progressive democrats which lead to this, then why haven’t those cities passed a $15 minimum wage?
    This is what we are talking about at the state level. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and Spear and Socialist Alternative will be agitating in Olympia constantly for the issues Capitol Hill cares about.
    Re: free busing in the metro, why not? Many companies already cover the cost of a bus pass. Many of us don’t want a future were commuting by car is the norm. We already make many public goods free- you don’t pay to park in most residential areas, parks and public bathrooms don’t charge access fees, and there is no fee to swim on life guard public beaches. Other cities provide free muesuems, zoos, downtown parking, etc. Seattle could be a model, with transit as a public right.

        • Sigh. Our roads are almost all toll-free. So, why should non-drivers pay for buses? You’re right! Let’s toll EVERY road (but subtract fuel taxes, minus an environmental degradation fee and congestion fees) and, also, charge bus fares. Agreed :-)

    • The big difference is that private companies pay for the free bus passes their employees enjoy. If Metro somehow became free, the taxpayers would foot the bill. Metro can’t even afford all the routes it runs now. How in the world would it afford to offer free service?

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