Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A look at what will be on the ballot this year in Martin Luther King Jr. County

2009 may be what's known as an "off" election year, but just because there aren't any federal-level contests this year doesn't mean there's nothing important on the ballot... quite the contrary, especially for the 1.8 million people who call the state's largest county, named after Martin Luther King Jr., home.

With filing period rapidly approaching, now's as good of a time as any to take a look at what we're going to be voting on in just a few months. (The general election isn't until November, but the primary election is almost exactly three months away).

Statewide ballot measures
At the top of the ballot in King County will be any initiatives and referenda that qualify for the ballot. We expect Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 to be on there, thanks to Michael Dunmire's money, which is being used to pay mercenary petitioners.

Permanent Defense is already gearing up to ensure voters understand destructive impact I-1033 would have on Washington's economy.

There's also the possibility the right wing will qualify Referendum 71, an effort to force a vote on the recently passed domestic partnerships expansion legislation, but that is less likely. Nevertheless, Equal Rights Washington is preparing to mount a decline to sign campaign and galvanize support to protect the new law.

Countywide races
The marquee race of the year will be the competition for King County Executive. It's a crowded field: Four elected Democrats want the job, along with Republican Susan Hutchinson, formerly of KIRO TV, and the five of them will doubtless face other candidates with less name recognition in the primary.

King County voters must also decide who will be our sheriff for the next four years. (The incumbent Sheriff, Sue Rahr, has announced she's seeking reelection.)

It's not yet clear whether will voters will additionally need to select a new Assessor... it depends on what happens to the incumbent, Scott Noble, who is being prosecuted for two counts of vehicular assault. If Noble is convicted, he will be forcibly removed from his position. So far, he has refused to resign, despite repeated calls from all directions for him to step down.

Finally, a majority of the positions on the Seattle Port Commission will be up for election this year. Commissioners John Creighton and Lloyd Hara are running for reelection; Commissioner Davis has wisely decided to retire.

Three candidates have announced plans to run for Davis' seat so far: Rob Holland (who has already been endorsed by the King County Democrats), Thomas Albro, and Thom McCann (who unsuccessfully ran for Port Commission in 2007).

County council races
The five odd numbered county council positions are all up for election this year. Republicans Pete Von Reichbauer, Reagan Dunn, and Kathy Lambert are expected to seek reelection, as are Democrats Bob Ferguson and Julia Patterson. No serious challengers to any of the incumbents have yet materialized.

Mayoral races
Voters in Auburn, Beaux Arts Village, Black Diamond, Duvall, Enumclaw, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kent, Milton, Seattle, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, and Yarrow Point will choose someone to represent them as their city or town's chief executive for the next several years. Of the mayoral races, Seattle's is easily the most high profile.

Incumbent Greg Nickels is seeking a third term; his challengers currently include Joe Mallahan, Michael McGinn, James Donaldson, and Norman Sigler. City Councilmember Jan Drago is reportedly thinking about jumping into the race.

City council
Most cities and towns in King County have at least one or two city council races this year. We'll especially be keeping an eye on council races in Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue here on the NPI Advocate. We'll try to cover what's happening in other cities as well, particularly cities on the Eastside, which receive little coverage from the Seattle Times and Seattle TV stations.

There are quite a few folks running for Seattle City Council this year. The major declared candidates are:
School district
Most school districts will be holding elections for some of their director positions, including the Seattle School District, which has been woefully mismanaged by its current board (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D). Federal Way is another school district that could use some new directors.

Special district
Residents of rural King County may not have city races to be concerned about, but they will be electing (or, more likely, reelecting) commissioners for an array of fire protection, water, sewer, and utility districts, plus a couple parks & recreation districts. Voters on Vashon Island will decide who will represent them on the board of commissioners for their own airport district, which for some reason is called the King County Airport District.

(Just so there's no confusion, this district has no jurisdiction over Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. SeaTac is governed by the Port of Seattle).

Judicial and prosecutor
King County voters will probably retain Anne Ellington in her capacity as Court of Appeals Judge for Division 1, District 1. Voters in Federal Way, Kent, and Renton will get to decide who they'd like to have sitting on their municipal court benches (assuming those positions are contested).

Lastly, Seattle voters will decide who will be their City Attorney through the end of 2013. (Thomas Carr is the incumbent).

Anything I missed?
Feel free to mention it in the comment thread.

So there you have it - that's what is on the ballot this year in King County. We may not be voting for President this November, but 2009 will still be an exciting election year. Nothing less than the future of King County is what's at stake.


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