Most everything you need to know about the political beliefs of “We Believe – We Vote” can be found in the graphic at the top of their website. The “T” in “vote” is a Christian cross, right next to an American flag superimposed upon a bald eagle.
We Believe – We Vote has for the past five years made it their mission to use "biblical and traditional values to make informed voter recommendations to the faith-based community."
WBWV sits down with candidates, asking them to weigh in on issues ranging from the U.N.'s “Agenda 21” to whether “the state should ban licensed therapists from using their clinical judgment to help a minor turn away from unwanted same-sex attraction,” and ends up producing one of the more unusual, more in-depth local voter guides out there, one they’ve encouraged pastors to send their flock flocking to.
This week, We Believe – We Vote published its candidate evaluations. The interesting part isn’t who the group loved more (Hint: Republicans), it’s the details.
The group is led by Penny Lancaster, a retired Central Valley school teacher who has long been moonlighting as an anti-pornography and anti-casino crusader, though she prefers the phrase “pro-family.” (Her name came up earlier this year when Inlander writer Heidi Groover talked to people at Miss Kitty’s in our East Sprague cover package.)
“It really bothers me when I see how many people don’t vote,” Lancaster says. “And I think a lot of people don’t vote when they don’t know who to vote for.”
Years ago, she says, her reputation as an activist led to friends asking her who to vote for in elections. “I started feeling convicted that I had not done a very good job of reviewing candidates,” she says. That led to her bringing together a group of conservatives of “many different stripes” to interview candidates, debate over their merits and then offer endorsements. Today, its board of 35 people includes 6th District Rep. John Ahern, former city councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin and Dick Erb, the former VP of Operations for the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family.
WBWV specifically targets local churches, including a statement for pastors to put in church bulletins or project on the overhead screen as the election approaches:
“It is our privilege and duty as Christians to vote in the General Election by November 4. As your pastor, I am not endorsing any candidates, but I recommend www.WeBelieveWeVote.com as a website with a number of non-partisan resources available for your review.”
And in previous years, some pastors have done just that. “I’ve heard people say, 'Oh yeah, we have that in our bulletin,'” Lancaster says. “We have over 400 pastors on our email contact list, and 2,000 individuals. We’re hoping to have an impact on the election.”
The website even features a guide discussing what churches can and can’t do politically to avoid the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. (“In fact, you may be surprised at how much influence you can have,” one line of the guide reads.)
“I think our position is that pastors are shepherds of their flocks. … They should give [their parishioners] encouragement to be good citizens to investigate the candidates,” Lancaster says. “They should be connecting what the Bible says about culture and life and death to what’s going on to the culture today.”
That’s where things get tricky: It’s easy for churchgoers to agree on what the Bible says about loving your neighbor, it’s less easy to agree on what it says about, say, the expansion of Spokane’s Urban Growth Area.
The group doesn’t believe in using land-use and zoning laws to restrict development in most cases, but does believe in using it for moral reasons, like squashing casinos and strip clubs. The site justifies that (mostly) pro-private property, free-market stance through a Bible verse in Genesis that simply says, “Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.”
And their gun-rights support is justified through an Old Testament passage from wall-builder Nehemiah: “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor…”
That socially conservative viewpoint infuses their assessments of even less partisan races. District Court Judge Gregory Tripp gets criticized for being “vague in articulating his view on ‘the law of nature and nature's God' as being the foundation of the rule of law” while WBWV expresses concerns over Supreme Court Justice Debra Stevens endorsement “by GLBT Bar Association of WA.”
Despite the many controversies Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea has weathered, the group calls Shea “the incumbent with a good Biblical moral and ethical record; has served the district honorably.” Lancaster elaborates that she has personal knowledge of Shea beyond what’s been reported in the media.
“I know Matt well. I heard the backstories on all of that,” Lancaster says. “I was there when he was going through that divorce.”
Shea, state Rep. Kevin Parker, Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Sen. Brian Dansel and County Treasurer Rob Chase all get the maximum five stars in their ratings. (The Democratic candidates aren’t even listed on the general election handout; Lancaster says it’s because they all got less than three stars.)
Most liberal candidates refused to sit down with WBWV for an interview. Baumgartner's opponent, Rich Cowan, and prosecutor candidate Breean Beggs, however, were exceptions.
“I haven’t turned down anyone who wanted to talk with me so far,” Beggs says. “My father was a minister, and I come from a faith background. My politics are different, [but] I thought it would be an interesting conversation. And it was an interesting conversation.” Beggs' big area of interest, after all, is the one where WBWV has veered away from a traditional social conservative stereotype: The group is a big supporter of criminal justice reform, linking to this website.
A Smart Justice-style system, Lancaster says, “is a better use of taxpayer money. You get people back on the job and taking care of their families.”
Most interesting are the sections of the evaluations listing concerns for even very conservative candidates: Shea “on occasion has lacked tact and patience when working with others,” the group writes, while his opponent “lacks political experience.” Rep. Jeff Holy “supports some level of public sector union authority” and Sheriff’s Ozzie Knezovich’s “‘commanding presence’ may have a tendency to be intimidating.”
Rep. candidate Diana Wilhite gets dinged for having concerns “about ‘fairness’" and being willing to raise taxes in some situations, while her opponent Bob McCaslin, Jr., is criticized for having “limited solutions to problems of government over-reach, unions, and health care.”
You can read the whole thing at the link below:2014_Candidate_Evaluations_GENERAL_2.pdf
Did you check into your social media outlets this morning and find yourself inundated with images like this:
I sure did. No matter what stream I looked at, I'd find someone I followed nagging me about registering to vote.
On Twitter, it was comedian, actor and Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter:
On Facebook, it was the Drive-by Truckers, one of my favorite bands:
My first thought? "How do all these people KNOW I just moved to a new state and need to update my voter registration? Thanks a lot, Obama!"
Second thought — there must be something going on, and indeed there is: it's National Voter Registration Day!
What, you still had to go to work today? The boss didn't put up streamers or balloons? Yeah, same here.
Even so, it's a good reason to remember to get your democratic process on with this "holiday" aimed at encouraging people of all political stripes to make sure they're registered before this fall's election. It's such a popular idea that National Voter Registration Day has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State. More than 1,000 organizations are taking part, including the diverse likes of trade unions, colleges, conservation groups, libraries, ministries and healthcare companies.
How easy is it to register to vote? I just did it in the middle of writing this blog post, thanks to the handy National Voter Registration Day website that lets you register in any state in the union. Of course, you can go straight to the Washington state Secretary of State website to register online, download voter registration forms or have them mailed to you. You WILL have to sign your registration and mail it in, and be sure it's postmarked at least four weeks before election day (that would be Tuesday, Nov. 4) to be eligible to vote. You can also just drop in your closest Driver Licensing Office, like the one on Lidgerwood Street in Spokane, and register right there.
So get on it!
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility launched its TV advertising campaign yesterday to promote Initiative 594, a statewide ballot measure to broaden background checks on all gun purchases.
The ad, titled "Prevent," features former Bellingham Chief of Police Don Pierce. Citing FBI data, in the ad, Pierce credits current background check laws with stopping more than 40,000 people — "felons, domestic abusers, you name it" — from purchasing guns in Washington state.
I-594 would close the so-called "gun show loophole" allowing people to buy firearms online or at gun shows without submitting to a background check. The initiative grants several exceptions, however, including for immediate family members who exchange guns as gifts and people who temporarily borrow guns for hunting, sport or self-defense. Antique gun sales and transfers also are exempt. I-594 faces a competing measure this November, Initiative 591, which would prohibit the state from mandating additional background checks unless required by federal law.
Watch the new ad below.
Tea party conservatives scored a surprise out-of-nowhere victory over Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week. But they struggled to find a house representative willing to challenge to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy for the Majority Leader position — until Raul Labrador stepped up. Read our collection of coverage, corralled here. (Bloglander)
But all was not well for Mr. Labrador last week. He presided over a disaster of an Idaho GOP convention, where conservative delegates banned the credentials of delegates from three different counties, and adjourned without accomplishing basically anything. (SR)
It’s another nature-versus-development fight in Spokane, this time over 23 acres of South Hill bluff near Latah Creek. Activists are asking County Commissioners to use Conservation Futures funds to purchase the property and prevent a developer from building a condo development. But there may not be enough time. (SR)
After last week’s stabbing at STA Plaza, police managed to take into custody another man armed with a knife and issuing threats. (KXLY)
Remember when liberals predicted that the U.S. invading Iraq would plunge the region into chaos? Remember when conservatives predicted the U.S. leaving Iraq would plunge the region into chaos? Welp. (Washington Post)
Health products can often be a bit scammy. Crowdfunding makes that scam even easier. (The Atlantic)
DAD OF THRONES
We won’t embed it because, you know, spoilers, but here’s a link to a Very Happy Father’s Day Montage inspired by last night’s Game of Thrones. (YouTube)
As America continues to grapple with its underfunded, overburdened and often splintered mental health system, national media have increasingly sought to shine a light on problems and potential solutions. For its part, the Guardian launched a new series this week on the county's "broken system."
The series includes a number of stories about how families cope with the many gaps in care and treatment options. It also includes guest columns from leaders in the field, including the former president of the American Psychiatric Association and the sheriff of Cook County in Illinois, home of the largest mental health facility in the country — a jail.
Many aspects of mental health care have come under renewed criticism in the wake of last week's mass killing near UC Santa Barbara. The LA Times finds the system never had much of a chance to intervene despite multiple red flags ahead of the killings.
The Inlander's State of Mind series has taken on many of these issues at the local level. This week we wrote about how a shortage of psychiatric beds in North Idaho results in police officers being tied up for hours or days waiting with mental health patients.
We also have a guest column from Ron Anderson, president of the Spokane chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Previous Inlander State of Mind coverage has explore Idaho treatment limitations, mental health first aid skills, doctor shortages, life at Eastern State Hospital, Spokane jail mental health services and the troubled history of mental health care. A full list of this year's stories can be found at inlander.com/StateOfMind.
Amid national outcry over treatment delays within the Department of Veterans Affairs, Spokane's VA hospital says it's making progress toward better care after a 2012 report identified problems. (Inlander)
Three people have been charged with beating a man to death for stealing drugs and cash. The victim's body was found in Kootenai County earlier this month. (SR)
Spokane City Councilmembers are looking for ways to make crosswalks safer after the October collision that killed a 5-year-old girl who was crossing Monroe Street with her mother. (KREM)
Three megaloads have been stuck near Clarkston, Wash., for five months waiting to receive permits. (CdA Press)
The Seattle City Council will vote Monday on an ordinance to require a $15 minimum wage for nearly all workers, phased in over the next seven years. (Seattle Times)
Police knew about the videos Elliot Rodger posted online threatening his "Day of Retribution" before killing six people last week, but they never viewed them. (AP)
Conflict in Syria continues to ravage that country, with nearly 2,000 people dead at the hands of the government so far this year. (BBC)
Former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer wants to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from embattled owner Donald Sterling for $2 billion, the highest price ever paid for an NBA team. (Businessweek)
U.S. officials say Edward Snowden never raised substantial concerns about unconstitutional programs during his time at the NSA. He disputes that. (Reuters)
Two students were declared co-winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee after they ran through the entire official word list. (WaPo)
If you don't already have your tickets for our two-day, 80-band music festival that starts tonight, the bad news is they go up in price today. But the good news is they're still a steal: $15 a day or $25 for both days. (Remember: 80 bands!) If you have bought your wristbands, pick them up before 5:30 pm at Inlander HQ (1227 W. Summit Pkwy) or from 5-9 pm at our will call booth at Stevens and Sprague. To plan your weekend, learn about the bands here, check out the full schedule here and find recommendations based on what you're into here.
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