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Court Ruling Sets Up Fight Between Two Seattle Early Learning Plans

Seth Wenig
AP Photo

An appeals court has affirmed that a pair of early education ballot measures will appear on the ballot not as two yes-or-no votes, but as a multiple-choice question.

The ruling upholds an earlier decision, which established that Seattle voters who support expanding preschool can’t vote “yes” on both the measures before them in November. Instead, they’ll have to pick which one they like best.

It’s a victory for the city, which has proposed a small preschool program as a step toward universal pre-K. That plan will now go head-to-head with a union-backed measure to create a training institute for educators and hike their pay.

The latter campaign, Yes for Early Success, argued the two measures shouldn’t have to compete.

“We don’t want to put down city halls attempt to establish some kind of pre-K here in the city of Seattle. Unfortunately that’s just what they’ve forced us to do,” said Heather Weiner, a spokeswoman for Yes for Early Success, the union-supported measure.

A statement from the Quality Seattle Preschool campaign called the ruling a “win for voters,” because the people will be able to choose which of the two “incompatible plans” they prefer.

Heather Weiner said she’s unsure whether her camp will ask for an emergency appeal from the Supreme Court. The deadline for submitting ballot language is this Friday.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.