Senator Palumbo: Help for Seattle Depends on Allies Outside the City

It’s sad and ironic that I had to make a trip to a farm in the distant reaches of Pierce County to hear a loud and enthusiastic support for jobs and economic growth in Seattle. And who were these people, gathered in a barn at the Wilcox Farm, cheering for jobs and growth? Republicans of course! Meanwhile, miles away, in Seattle Mayoral candidates and local lefties and progressives were actually considering the benefits of fewer jobs and less growth in Seattle. Yes, Seattle socialists and progressives aren’t at all worried about Amazon’s consideration of expanding beyond Seattle; they could care less and even welcome the idea. One Democrat, though, stands out from all the rest, State Senator Guy Palumbo.

I met Senator Palumbo at State Representative JT Wilcox’ annual salmon bake, held on his families iconic farm near Harts Lake in deeply rural Pierce County. What were we even doing there? Well, for me, I long stopped being active in the Democratic party that locally has drifted further and further left, embracing self-defeating policy ideas like an income tax and rent control. I find that Republicans in Olympia speak my language when it comes to housing. I don’t have to spend lots of time persuading them that, yes, supply and demand applies to the housing market.

In Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber’s Maud Daudon said that Amazon’s recent discussion of a new headquarters was a “wake up call.” I hope the Chamber enjoyed its nap, because the rest of us have been wide awake over the last 4 years as the city has become overrun with really divisive and destructive rhetoric and policy; over and over again the City Council and Mayor that has enjoyed the Chamber’s undying support, have imposed an ever widening net of horrible anti-jobs, anti-growth, and anti-housing policies. While the Chamber was asleep, the rest of the state has noticed, including Senator Palumbo who represents the 1st legislative district which straddles King and Snohomish Counties.

Palumbo was singing our song recently on Jason Rantz’ radio show decrying the nuttiness of Seattle’s dominant political class, a group that sees job growth as destructive.

There is nothing more environmental that we can do than to build upwards (aka Manhattan) and to have people live and work in the same area … they did the right thing for our city, but somehow, that’s a problem.

That Palumbo sounds like a Republican on this issue isn’t surprising when you consider that the Democratic party in Seattle isn’t for jobs anymore and socialists are tipping the political scale further and further away from the basic notion, supported by Democrats since the 1930’s, that jobs are the path out of poverty and economic collapse.

I have no strong opinion about Democrat Mankha Dhingra, the candidate poised to win a State Senate seat in the state’s 45th district, currently controlled by the Republicans. I have not paid close attention to the details of the race, and like most everyone else recognize that a win by Dhingra means that Democrats will control both houses of the legislature. That’s a big problem for housing policy in the state and in Seattle; legislative Democrats are more conservative, generally, than Seattle Democrats. But having their hands on the levers of power, unchecked, could spell trouble on a wide range of issues and certainly no progress on key issues like trying to figure out why non-profit, subsidized housing, is so unbelievably expensive.

That’s why Senator Palumbo’s role is going to be so critical. Palumbo is a moderate, who supports charter schools and who worked at Amazon. He has demonstrated independence, and he likes data. Those of us in Seattle hoping to at least quarantine the outbreak of a virulent strain of socialism that has infected City Hall are going to have work with both Republicans and Democrats outside the city. The razor thin majority held by the Democrats in the Senate means the moderate and thoughtful Palumbo has leverage over the Senate, and thus over the whole process. Palumbo is principled, but pragmatic. I think he’ll hold the line on efforts to make things worse for jobs and housing in Seattle and, perhaps, work affirmatively to tie the hands of a City government that is increasingly irresponsible and dangerous.

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