Politics, Public Service


Backers of Ralph Nader's candidacy for president are confident that the consumer advocate will appear on Washington's November ballot. Seattle School Board member Sally Soriano, a Nader supporter in 1996 and 2000, is leading the local effort to win him a spot on the ballot. "We have a pretty easy state," says Soriano. Minor party or independent candidates for president have to submit just 1,000 valid signatures, collected at "conventions" from registered voters, by Aug. 24. In June, Soriano and her allies held one such convention on the four corners of Broadway and East John Street on Seattle's Capitol Hill, where they stood with petitions in hand. Soriano says the Nader effort here has not been targeted by counter- organizing efforts of Democrats, as in some states. While Nader was a factor in Washington in 2000, when he won 4.14 percent of the state's presidential vote, compared to Democrat Al Gore's 50.15 percent and Republican George W. Bush's 44.57 percent, this year Nader might not be as important. For one thing, this time Nader would appear on Washington's ballot as an independent, rather than a Green Party member, so he wouldn't have the benefit of party backing. In addition, in 2004 left-leaning voters seem much more focused on defeating Bush than on expanding the country's political palette. A recent survey of statewide voters by the Republican-leaning pollsters Strategic Vision put Nader's support in Washington at only 1 percent. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Public Service

How long has social worker and activist Joe Martin been saving souls in Seattle? Seems like forever, although for someone with a cause, that's never long enough. Martin, 53, is a busy social worker for the Pike Market Clinic by day and is a homeless/antipoverty/antiwar advocate by night. His heart's with the underdog for whom he finds housing, funding, food, and medical and dental care. He tells the story of how so many poor people let their teeth go that "when they bite into a sandwich, they leave a tooth in it." A good Irishman, Martin also finds time to lift a pint and play with the Clay Pipe Band at Conor Byrne's Public House in Ballard. He lives modestly, believing, as the Irish say, "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at who he gives it to." It's unselfishness with little recognition—until now. Last week in Georgetown, the Low Income Housing Institute held a ceremony for the opening of its renovated, 42-unit facility, once called the Pine City Inn. Today, it is Martin Court, "named after Joe Martin," LIHI said in its invite, "a compassionate housing activist." Residents of Martin Court, a renovated 1940s motel, will be able to stay for up to two years as they transition to permanent housing. What does Martin think of all the attention? "It was a very nice ceremony," he allows. But, he notes, "the best part is that a lot of needy people will have a place to live." It's his version of the Irish proverb: "The most beautiful music of all is the music of what happens." RICK ANDERSON


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