King County executive candidates should follow Jarrett's lead and release questionnaires
State Sen. Fred Jarrett's call for candidates in the King County executive race to release answers to more than a dozen questionnaires is a campaign gimmick, but a good one, because it provides voters valuable information.
AS campaign gimmicks go, state Sen. Fred Jarrett's challenge to fellow candidates in the King County executive's race to release questionnaires from various interest groups is imaginative.
Candidates seek name familiarity to survive the primary and advance to the general election. This particular publicity stunt has the added advantage of providing information voters need. Jarrett's release of answers to 16 questionnaires enhances the overall campaign.
He reveals his thinking on questions posed by various groups, ranging from the political arm of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce to environmental groups, bicycle advocates and unions. Groups use the information to help determine their endorsement.
State Rep. Ross Hunter, another candidate, took Jarrett's challenge in stride and released some questionnaires immediately on his Web site, saying he wants voters to know as much as possible about him. He subsequently released several more, but is still answering two additional questionnaires.
County Councilmember Dow Constantine, responding to media pressure, put answers on his site after Hunter posted his. Better late than never.
In fairness, candidates do not have to release questionnaires. But the county executive performs a very important job. Four male candidates with ties to the Democratic Party are running in the nonpartisan race against well-known Susan Hutchison, who tried to run as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006.
A spokesman for Hutchison said she was studying the idea but had not released the questionnaires.
County Councilmember Larry Phillips said he would post his questionnaires, at least those made public by the various groups. At last check, the answers were not posted on the candidate's Web site.
Polls show Hutchison has higher name familiarity than the other candidates, so conventional wisdom says she will make it through the primary even if she doesn't release the information and sits out numerous public forums.
By this calculation, the four other candidates will slug it out for the second spot on the ballot. Constantine seemed to be angling for camera time with a pointed attack on Hutchison for skipping campaign events and for being too conservative for the county. She may be, but while the news conference and response produced publicity for Constantine it did not provide much useful information.
Jarrett's call to release questionnaires has more potential because it provides voters with information.
Citizens seek a strong manager with bright budgeting ideas. They benefit from as much information as possible about five major candidates vying for a very important regional job.
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