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“Partisan” Elections Take Place in Renton, Says Councilmember

Recently, Councilmember Randy Corman took to Facebook to post about the local elections and his “concerns” of some candidates being partisan. In his post he makes it seem as though candidates Joe Todd and Carmen Rivera are conspiring with local Democrats to control the city government. Oddly, he ends it claiming their opponents are not running partisan campaigns, but this is not entirely accurate.

Renton conservatives have long enjoyed over a decade of nonpartisan elections, but that has not resulted in a nonpartisan government. Despite Renton’s “nonpartisan” elections, it continues to buck progressive goals through its own actions: fighting police reforms in court, refusing to issue a vaccine mandate for city employees, and delaying reforms to city leadership appointments while rushing the appointments of straight white men to high-up city positions. One could go further in pointing out the city’s highly-advertised partnership with business owners, prioritizing business needs (which lean conservative) where there exists no comparable partnership with Renton tenants or labor in the same capacity (which lean progressive).

Instead, this speaks to the two-tier system which Renton conservatives weaponize against progressives while ignoring their own actions. When progressives share their opinions on public policy they are painted as “bullies” by the same people who endorse Ben Johnson known for his violent, defamatory, and extremist comments (directly on Randy Corman’s blog!) While James Alberson and Ben Johnson received the endorsement of the King County GOP, only Carmen Rivera and Joe Todd are cast as “running partisan”. Looking at the finances and affiliations tells us a very different story.

James Alberson ran in 2019 for city council, also receiving the King County GOP “recommendation”. A look into his PDC reveals that he uses Sierra Heights Consulting NW, who also was used by Washington Senator Phil Fortunato, a Republican who calls the health guidelines “authoritarian”. Alberson also spent thousands with TV ads group EZTV Spots whose president, Doug Basler, ran for King County GOP chair and also ran as a Republican against congressional Representative Adam Smith. For a supposedly “nonpartisan” campaign, it is heavily aligned with big money Republicans, and not moderate ones either. Basler is quoted in The Seattle Times as “an anti-abortion Christian” saying the “abortion industry is out of control.”

I don’t need to even touch on Ben Johnson. Considering his history of comments with no public apology, no one can be certain he is remorseful about those positions or has committed actions demonstrating in any significant way he wants to undo the harm he has caused.

Renton conservatives would like to pretend that “there is no democratic or republican way to take out the trash”, but the city is so much more than a garbage service. This past year has proven that local governments are a focal point for conservative vs progressive politics with complex situations. Maybe there is no partisan way to take out the trash, but Republicans have proven they are partisan when it comes to racial justice, public health, and democracy. Let’s not be misguided that there is no risk electing conservatives to nonpartisan positions.

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