King County’s incumbent Director of Elections Sherril Huff confirmed this morning what political insiders and a number of activists have been hearing over the last few days: She’s retiring from the job and will not run again this year.
In a news release sent to NPI, Huff said she had been planning to run for another four-year term, but decided against it for “personal and health considerations”.
She did not elaborate.
“It is with some sadness that I made this decision,” she said. “I love my job, my team of dedicated professionals, and the work we do to ensure transparent, efficient elections for the 1.1 million voters in our state’s largest County. I was looking forward to continuing this service, but after consulting with family, friends and colleagues, I am making the right decision to step down after this year.”
“I’m particularly proud of the advancements we have made in ballot tracking, improving technologies to speed counting and processing, and improving accessibility through vote by mail, drop boxes, multi-language voting materials, and other efforts to increase participation,” she added.
“I know I am leaving the office in a strong position as a state and national leader, and will enjoy the remaining months in office.”
Huff’s decision to retire creates an open seat, which will undoubtedly attract a few candidates. The position is one of two countywide jobs on the ballot this year. The other is Assessor, a job currently held by Lloyd Hara. He is seeking reelection and is opposed by challenger John Arthur Wilson. Both are Democrats.
Shoreline City Councilmember Chris Roberts, who is a colleague of mine on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC), plans to seek the position, and is working on launching a campaign.
Another candidate may be Julie Ann Wise, who serves as Huff’s deputy. Wise resides in Maple Valley and is eligible to seek the position. She has not made any comments that the team at NPI is aware of about seeking the position. But she could run.
King County voters made the position of elections director an elected one several years ago through a charter amendment. Prior to that, it had been an appointed position. Huff had been the previously-appointed director, chosen by Executive Ron Sims, and she successfully ran to keep her job in a special election, beating out a field of mostly unqualified candidates that included Pam Roach and David Irons.
Now that Huff is departing, King County will have its first really open election for elections director, a position that is unique in Washington State. (In the state’s other counties, elections are administered by auditors, who are directly elected.)