WAESN Voting Guide 2020

As a 501(c)(4), one of Washington Ethnic Studies Now’s (WAESN) purposes is to advocate at all levels of government for the advancement of Ethnic Studies and anti-racist practices and policies in public education. As such, we are providing our first, ever, election guide with our choices for state and national level candidates, resolutions, advisory votes, and referendums. We surveyed members of our Executive Team and Advisory Board to determine our recommendations.

Political Offices

President of the United States of America

Joe Biden is the candidate with over 71.4% of our board members’ support. Howie Hawkins received 14.3% of our vote, as did “nobody,” which was an option for all elected positions. This endorsement is more about opposing Trump, and very much not about supporting Biden. Biden holds a lot of responsibility for today’s mass incarceration of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous men and its far-reaching repercussions. 

To be quite honest, there is no candidate we are endorsing this cycle that received our enthusiastic support. More than any election year I can remember, this year is more about holding on to hope out of fear of fascism. Joe Biden is nobody’s first choice at WAESN, but we are endorsing his candidacy, nonetheless.

Washington State Governor

Jay Inslee is the candidate we’re endorsing for Washington State Governor. He received 85.7% of the board members’ support. The other 14.3% went to “nobody.” Governor Inslee receives a decent amount of support from WAESN because of the strong stands he’s taken against Trump’s xenophobic and fascist policies. 

WAESN would feel better about supporting Governor Inslee if he more vocally supported current racial justice movements, including Black Lives Matter, defunding the police, and abolishing ICE. We hope that Governor Inslee uses this upcoming term to surrender some of his power and authority to leaders of Color, particularly grassroots leaders and organizations to move faster toward racial justice in our state.

Washington State Lieutenant Governor

The endorsement for Lieutenant Governor is split 50/50% between Denny Heck and Marko Liias. These are two, mediocre, white, male candidates, both Democrats, each with their strengths. Both have ties to education. Marko supports labor organizing and Denny has a lot of experience as an elected. There’s really nothing that stands out as extraordinary about either candidate.

Washington Secretary of State

Gael Tarleton receives our endorsement with 66.7% of our board members’ vote. The other 33.3% went to “nobody.” Again, this is more a vote against the Republican candidate than support for Tarleton. 

Tarleton has more experience than Wyman, and therefore is more qualified, but this is a race between two mediocre white women who have done nothing for BIPOC citizens of Washington State. Tarleton has been a politician in Washington for 12 years with nothing significant to claim as an accomplishment.

Washington State Treasurer

Duane Davidson is the current, Republican treasurer, which is one reason we are endorsing his opponent, Mike Pellicciotti. Davidson laments about state debt while supporting the regressive tax structure in our state that harms working-class citizens, who are disproportionately BIPOC citizens, and benefits our state’s most wealthy residents. 

While we are not excited about endorsing Pellicciotti (he received 83.3% of the board members’ votes, with the remaining votes going to “nobody”), he does have a record of social justice work. Should he win the election, we would like to see him advocate progressive tax structures and redistribute tax revenue to support BIPOC communities, particularly for education.

Washington State Auditor

I feel like a broken record. We are endorsing Pat McCarthy for auditor but for no other reason than her opponent being such a horrible option. McCarthy received 66.7% of our board members’ votes with 33.3% going to “nobody.” Neither candidate has experience in politics, except McCarthy, whose only experience is her current position as state auditor. 

Her opponent, Chris Leyba, is a cop. Nope. Is this a joke? A police officer as state auditor? They can’t hold themselves accountable. How are we supposed to trust them to hold an entire state accountable?

Washington State Attorney General

Bob Ferguson is the candidate that comes closest to receiving an enthusiastic endorsement from WAESN, having earned 100% of our board members’ votes. I suppose now is the best time to say #WashingtonElectionsSoWhite. We support Ferguson for defense of our Constitutional rights that have come under attack by our current president, but we would love to see candidates of Color who would kick it up a notch (or several).

While Ferguson has earned our support, we call on him to do more about migrant babies in concentration camps and stop the persecution and deportation of Latinx migrants and other migrants of Color. We also ask that he try to look less like Bill Gates.

Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands

Here we go again… WAESN is endorsing Hilary Franz for commissioner of public lands with 83.3% of our board members’ votes, but only because her opponent is a Republican. The remaining votes went to “nobody.” On paper, Franz’s opponent, Sue Kuel Pederson, has more expertise on land management, but WAESN cannot support any candidate from a party that so fervently denies climate science. 

Unfortunately, neither candidate mentioned climate change as an issue that needs to be addressed, nor did either candidate address tribal sovereignty and the land rights of Indigenous tribes. Whomever is elected to this position needs to do a better job, or we need to advocate more qualified candidates to run.

Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This position brings us to our first conundrum. WAESN is endorsing Chris Reykdal over his Latina opponent, Maia Espinoza, with 85.7% of the board’s votes. The remaining votes went to “nobody.” WAESN is very specific in supporting and amplifying the voices of BIPOC, especially in leadership positions, but we cannot get behind Espinoza.

Most notably, Espinoza calls for a halt to mandatory sex education in schools stating that it, “exposes our children to inappropriate material like teaching 4th graders about sexual positions and teacher-led role play.” This is absurd. Reykdal has supported this legislation, as does WAESN. WAESN has recently connected with Reykdal about some of our concerns and demands around racial justice in education. We have hope that he will do the right thing.

Washington State Insurance Commissioner

Mike Kreidler received 66.7% of our board members’ votes with the remaining votes going to “nobody.” This is another situation in which WAESN is supporting a white man over his BIPOC opponent, Chirayu Avinash Patel. Kreidler is the more experienced candidate, but that’s about all we can say about him; another mediocre candidate.

Reasons we can’t support Patel, other than his party affiliation, include the fact that he lists Reagan, Jefferson, and Nixon as some of his role models. He also states he wants to use this office to advance his desire to major in every subject in college. It’s unfortunate that we can’t support the BIPOC candidate.


Referendum 90 Mandatory K-12 Sexual Health Education

One hundred percent of our board members voted to approve this referendum. It’s significant to note that all of our Executive Team members are educators and all of our Advisory Board members are BIPOC students. Research overwhelmingly supports implementing sexual education curriculum to improve outcomes for young people, including

  • increased self-esteem;
  • increased confidence to engage in consensual relationships;
  • decreased teen pregnancy rates; and
  • decreased STD rates.

Advisory Votes 32-35

To save time and space, I am combining these issues here, all of which deal with tax on business in various forms. WAESN is in favor of voting to maintain all of these taxes. In our opinion, businesses in our state are not taxed enough, which has led to scarce resources for education. Additionally, some of the taxes, including the tax on carry-out bags, encourage more environmentally sustainable practices.

Joint Resolution 8212 Investing Public Money

WAESN supports a yes vote for this resolution with 66.6% of the board members’ votes, but with the understanding that it’s complicated. WAESN is an organization that centers BIPOC youth, and the reality is that young people are at risk of not receiving social security benefits when they’re ready to retire, and BIPOC are disproportionately impacted by changes in social security.

WAESN does not support privatizing public funds, but there isn’t a better solution on the table. It is our hope that we can provide stronger social security programs, in general, that don’t require us to depend on capitalists. At the same time, we can’t allow people to slip through the cracks while we wait for a better solution.


  1. Very racist recommendations, biased against white candidates. Mike Kreidler is not “mediocre” and your describing him that way shows your prejudice and ignorance. If your advice regarding candidates is this bigoted, I hate to think what our public school curriculum would be like were this state to adopt your “philosophy” of education. Do better, please.

    1. Hi Marian,

      I decided to go ahead and publish your comment to put your ignorance on display as a learning tool. Racism against white people does not exist. Please provide empirical, peer-reviewed evidence that white people are systemically oppressed in the United States, otherwise, recognize that you are on the wrong website. Our “philosophy,” more specifically, our mission as an organization, is to center BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), so if that’s not something you’re interested in, you are welcome to leave this space entirely. If you’re interested in educating yourself, I recommend the book, “Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America,” by Ijeoma Oluo.

      Not only are we doing better, we’re moving forward with or without folks like you.

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