King County Municipal League rates Kirkland legislative candidates

The Municipal League of King County released its ratings for 70 2014 legislative candidates, including those running in the 45th and 48th Districts. Two of the races showed challengers equal to or above the incumbent’s rating.

One of the biggest surprises was the rating for Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), who holds position No. 1 in the 45th District. Goodman’s rating dropping two places from “Outstanding” in 2012 to “Good” this year.

“In my line of work, we call that a two-step downgrade, which is really quite serious,” said Goodman’s opponent, Republican Joel Hussey.

Hussey maintained a rating of “Very Good” from when he challenged Goodman in 2012.

“I was mystified by this year’s rating,” said Goodman. “It’s difficult to understand how a candidate’s rating can bounce from ‘Very Good’ to ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ to ‘Good’ over the course of four elections, when I’ve continued to build a solid record of achievement in the legislature and I’ve remained accessible and responsive to my constituents.”

Goodman said that he respects the work of the Municipal League volunteers and honors their civic commitment.

“However, I believe their final ratings might be a reflection of the personal interview they conduct, more than any of the other material and information we provide to them,” Goodman said. “Impressions given during a personal interview are often hit-or-miss, so there may be too much of an unreliable, subjective element to the Muni League rating process, but I really do not want to be critical of the hard work they put in.”

Goodman said he is confident in his accomplishments in the legislature.

In the race for the 45th District Senate seat, both the challenger, Matt Isenhower (D-Redmond), and the incumbent, Andy Hill (R-Redmond) earned ratings of “Very Good.” Hill, who did not return a request for comment, increased his rating from “Good” in 2010.

“As a first-time candidate, it’s an honor to be judged as someone who is a skilled builder of consensus, understands the issues facing our state and inspires confidence,” Isenhower said. “The community leaders who volunteer with the Municipal League of King County go to great lengths to evaluate candidates’ effectiveness, character and knowledge. It’s not a resume measuring contest or a partisan judgment. Because they really seek to understand whether a candidate is prepared to make an impact, I think their ratings are particularly helpful to voters.”

The non-partisan process used 50 volunteers, who devoted more than 1,000 hours to collect the information. To determine candidate ratings, the volunteers reviewed candidate questionnaires, studied the public record, spoke with references and conducted interviews with candidates, according to the Municipal League’s website.

The questionnaire the candidates fill out includes information on the candidate’s background like other elected offices held, volunteerism, community work and employment.

The ratings are not meant as an endorsement by the league but rather to assess each candidate’s potential to be effective in office and ability to serve the community. Committee members then rated each candidate on four criteria: involvement, character, effectiveness and knowledge.

Former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride, in her first legislative race, earned a rating of “Very Good” in her bid for representative position No. 2 in the 48th District. She is running against Libertarian Tim Turner, who earned a rating of “Adequate.” The seat is currently held by Rep. Cyrus Habib, who is running for State Senate in the 48th District, currently held by Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), who is not running for re-election. Habib was one of just two candidates in the two districts to earn a rating of “Outstanding.” Habib’s opponent, Republican Michelle Darnell, earned a rating of “Adequate.”

The other candidate to earn a rating of “Outstanding” is longtime State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina). Hunter increased his rating from “Very Good” in 2012. Hunter is being challenged by Bill Hirt (R-Bellevue), who did not participate in the process and was the only candidate in the two districts to earn a rating of “Not Qualified.” Hirt did participate in the process in 2012 when he challenged Hunter and also earned the same rating.

State Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland), who holds position No. 2 in the 45th District, earned a rating of “Very Good,” while his opponent, Republican Brendan Woodward, earned a rating of “Adequate.”

The best rating a candidate can receive is “Outstanding.” The Municipal League’s website defines “Outstanding” as that the candidate “Has made numerous outstanding contributions requiring skills related to the office, is a path-finding and respected leader, brings knowledge and creativity to issues facing the office.”

“Very Good” is defined as “Makes significant contributions, is a skilled builder of consensus, inspires confidence in the way he/she would serve, is thorough and attentive to issues.”

“Good” is defined as “Has been active and effective in many roles, is capable of moving people to productive action, has strong record of participation in problem solving, shows satisfactory commitment to tackling issues.”

“Adequate” is defined as “Has a record of participation and interest, is effective on specific issues, has provoked questions about suitability as an office holder, will need significant time/energy to fill gaps in knowledge.”

The worst rating a candidate can receive is “Not Qualified,” meaning that the candidate “Doesn’t appear engaged, has a record that casts doubt on ability to be productive, hasn’t demonstrated ability to deal with responsibilities of office, has narrow focus, inflexible attitude or is otherwise troubling.”

An example of questions that are asked of the candidate include is “Describe your most important personal characteristics or traits as they relate to the office you seek;” “Please describe, in sufficient detail, one to three accomplishments or contributions of which you are most proud;” and “Please list or describe current and past activities in the community in which you have acquired skills that relate to the office you seek.”

The league did not have enough volunteers to rate candidates in the 1st District, which represents parts of north Kirkland.

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