Several results from the 2011 election – both locally and across the nation – reveal voters repudiating extremist policies and candidates that have unjustly targeted immigrants, workers, and women. Election results in Arizona, Ohio, Mississippi, and Washington provide inspiration for communities who have been used as scapegoats during an economic crisis and should serve as a warning to politicians and candidates heading into next year’s election.
In some key city, county, and state races, OneAmerica Votes interviewed candidates, asking them tough questions about their priorities and how they would represent immigrants during their time in office and made some endorsements. We also studied the initiatives and made recommendations.
OneAmerica Votes was encouraged by the results of two initiatives: first, the overwhelming support for Initiative 1163 which requires basic certification and training requirements for long-term care workers and, second, the defeat of Initiative 1125 which would have had have a terrible impact on public transit around the state. We’re also thrilled that Seattle voters chose to continue supporting the vital Family and Education Levy. Unfortunately, Initiative 1183 passed which will privatize liquor stores across the state and make alcohol more accessible to minors.
In the six races that OneAmerica Votes endorsed a candidate, five won. All Seattle City Council candidates who OneAmerica Votes endorsed – Bruce Harrell, Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, Tom Rasmussen, and Jean Godden – were victorious (though we endorsed both Ms. Godden and Bobby Forch for Position 1). Unfortunately, Richard Mitchell, who we endorsed for King Council Council, District 6, wasn’t successful in his race. An immigrant himself, Richard reflects the changing demographics of King County’s Eastside and impressed us with his vision for the district. OneAmerica Votes congratulates those we supported with their victories and encourages those who didn’t win this time to consider running again in the future.
The following is a statement from OneAmerica Votes Chief Executive Officer Pramila Jayapal:
“Voters across the country clearly sent a signal that extremist and divisive policies will not be tolerated. There has been a concerted and well-funded attack in recent years on immigrants, workers, and women. These attacks come from politicians and corporations who want to create an America where state government is weak and corporations rule, where wages are depressed while the income gap is increased.
These attacks were dealt a serious setback in these elections when voters renounced this direction for our country. In a historic election in Arizona, voters in suburban Phoenix recalled Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona’s ‘show me your papers’ bill. Candidates in both parties should be improving their tone on immigration leading up to the 2012 election after such a visible anti-immigrant crusader was kicked out of office.
Voters in Ohio resoundingly stood up for working families and collective bargaining rights in the face of vast and secretive corporate political spending. For the first time in years, civil rights leaders fought alongside unions to defeat SB5, a cornerstone of the Koch brothers’ attack on public workers. Voters in Mississippi defended a women’s right to choose by resoundingly defeating a constitutional amendment that would have criminalized reproductive choice.
Here in Washington, voters overwhelmingly supported I-1163 which will provide stronger training for Washington home-care workers who are disproportionately people of color and immigrants. The loss of Initiative 1125 hands anti-government crusader Tim Eyman another defeat. In Seatac, two of three candidates who expressed anti-immigrant views, including some who pit seniors against refugees in campaign literature, were soundly defeated, while the third trails in a race that is too close to call.
The 2012 election will no doubt be the most expensive in our history. The shadowy front groups who are gearing up to take away hard-fought rights for immigrants, workers, and women should view this election as a cautionary tale. At the same time, these elections provide a hopeful reminder that immigrants and communities of color, workers, and women aren’t disparate voting blocks, but a united community and part of the 99%.”