This is a year in which municipal and school board elections take front and center position. The real action is in local government, because most congressional and state elective positions are filled in even-numbered years.
There’s one big exception: Control of the state Senate, currently led by Republicans (they hold a one-vote majority) is up for grabs in an Eastside election. The battle in the 45th Legislative District is one of several state legislative positions that will be decided this year because of vacancies created by death or resignation.
The Aug. 1 primary ballot pairs off all legislative candidates and those for state and local races where more than two candidates are seeking a position. In all of the races, the top two vote-getters will move on to the November general election ballot.
Seattle has two City Council positions up for grabs, both with a slew of candidates (though not as many as the 21 seeking the mayor’s office). For King County and Seattle, there is one big ballot issue: a one-tenth of 1 percent for the arts and cultural access.
Some voters will also be expecting to see offices like the King County sheriff and the Seattle city attorney’s position on the ballot: Both are contested this year, but there are only two candidates and — because of the complexities of voting law — they, unlike the legislative candidates in two-person races, skip right to the November general election ballot.
State Legislative Races
45th District Senate
This is the big one — even East Coast media have discovered it. Voters in the district — which covers Kirkland, Sammamish Duvall, Woodinville and an unincorporated area east of Redmond — will be picking a replacement for the late Sen. Andy Hill, a highly-regarded Republican. If Republicans lose this seat, they can wave goodbye to their control of the Senate (assuming Democratic liberals don’t — again — alienate moderates so badly that someone flips to voting with the R’s). The stakes have led to mammoth campaign contributions that are currently past $1 million on the way to … a new record. The money is pouring in for both Democrat Manka Dhingra and Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund. Dhingra is a long-time senior deputy prosecutor for King County who oversees a mental health court. Englund has worked with the electronic currency firm Bitcoin, in nonprofits and on the leadership staff of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the prominent Spokane Republican. Parker Harris, a teacher who holds engineering and philosophy degrees, is on the ballot as an independent. The real battle will almost certainly be between Englund and Dhingra in November, but primary results sometimes help motivate contributors — in this case though, there’s little indication that anything will slow the gushers of money.
The real fight for control of the state lies ahead – Crosscut
The next national special election clash – Politico
The next multi-million-dollar special election is in Seattle – New York Magazine
48th District Senate (includes parts of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and several smaller cities, including Medina)
This is the only other legislative race in King County where a field of three candidates will be narrowed down to two for the November general. The primary lineup: Democratic state Sen. Patty Kuderer, appointed to fill the seat early in the year after incumbent Cyrus Habib became lieutenant governor; Richard Knierim, a laboratory physician and member of the College of American Pathologists who says he prefers the Independent Democratic Party; and Michelle Darnell, a paralegal and mother of four who is running as a Libertarian.
Other legislative races
There are two-way faceoffs for a 48th District position as state representative (Libertarian Ciaran Dougherty, a software engineer, vs. Vandana Slatter, a Democrat appointed to fill the position Kuderer had held before her Senate appointment); 31st District state senator (appointed incumbent Phil Fortunato vs. Democratic challenger Michelle Rylands, a business owner and former Army military police officer); 31st District state representative (appointed Republican Rep. Morgan Irwin vs. Democrat Nate Lowry, an Edgewood City Council member). Democratic state Sen. Rebecca Saldaña is unopposed in her bid to keep the 37th District seat she was appointed to after incumbent Pramila Jayapal won election to Congress. The 31st covers parts of south King County and north Pierce County; the 37th includes southeast Seattle and Renton.
Kuderer endorsement – Seattle Times
Seattle City Council
The city’s two at-large positions — representing the entire city — are up for election. The other seven positions, representing districts, will be on the ballot in two years.
Seattle City Council Position 8
Eight people are vying for the seat held by veteran Councilmember Tim Burgess, who decided against seeking re-election. And it’s a race in which almost all of the candidates are running real campaigns: Charlene D. Strong, the state Human Rights Commission chair; Rudy Pantoja, who promises to be a cage-rattler; Sara E. Nelson, a co-founder of Fremont Brewing; Sheley Secrest, an attorney who came close to a council appointment a few years ago; Jon Grant, a housing advocate and former Tenants Union director who ran a strong race against Burgess two years ago; Teresa Mosqueda, political director for the Washington State Labor Council; Hisam Goueli, an emergency room physician and son of Muslim immigrant parents; and Mac McGregor, a former business owner and educator who is running as the first transgender candidate for council. Nelson, Mosqueda and Grant look to be the frontrunners but this is an extremely interesting field.
Seattle City Council Position 9
Although she’s just coming up on two years on the council, incumbent Lorena González is a formidable enough presence in local politics that she apparently came close to jumping into the mayor’s race. She instead stuck with her re-election campaign for council. She now faces a half-dozen challengers: Ty Pethe, a longtime labor leader and employee with Seattle Colleges; Pauly Giuglianotti, a Boeing systems engineer; Ian Affleck-Asch, a 26-year-old first time candidate who says he hears residents’ concerns about the city’s direction daily as a grocery cashier; David Preston, a blogger about what he sees as corruption in local government; Eric Smiley, a former health care manager; and Pat Murakami, a business owner and longtime neighborhood activist. González has raised more money than all the other candidates combined and is considered a strong favorite.
King County Proposition 1: Sales tax for cultural access programs
The King County Council approved the ballot proposal, which would increase the sales tax by one-tenth of 1 percent to pay for cultural access programs. Among other things, the program would support cultural education in schools and provide funding for cultural groups to expand programming. The measure provoked considerable debate within the council, in part because of the already-heavy reliance on the sales tax and its impact on lower-income families. The Voters’ Pamphlet explanation and pro and con statements are here.
Access for All
No opposition website listed
Will the arts funding proposal survive? – Crosscut
More public funding for arts and culture – Crosscut, Guest opinion
‘Education, inspiration’: King County putting sales tax on ballot – Seattle Times
Sales tax for the arts? Not when so many King County services are struggling – Seattle Times editorial
Approved – Stranger endorsement
Yes – Seattle Weekly endorsement
King County Executive
Incumbent County Executive Dow Constantine faces three challengers, one of whom — Bill Hirt — states that he has no expectation of being able to win. Hirt says his candidacy is an attempt to draw attention to his Stop East Link Now blog about Sound Transit’s expansion plans. Also on the ballot are repeat candidates Goodspaceguy (welcome to Seattle if you think that isn’t his actual name) and Stan Lippman, also a regular candidate for office.
Port of Seattle
The five-member Port Commission oversees two of the biggest economic engines for the region, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and the port, now run in conjunction with the Port of Tacoma through an entity the two ports established. The port covers all of King County.
Port Commissioner Position 1
John Creighton, a commissioner since 2006, faces a formidable slate of challengers: Claudia Kauffman, a former state senator who is currently the intergovernmental affairs liaison for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; Bea Querido-Rico, a strategic planning program manager for the port who is on leave while campaigning; Ryan Calkins, who works for a nonprofit that helps low-income individuals start businesses and who formerly ran an import company.
Port Commissioner Position 3
Commissioner Stephanie Bowman faces challenges from Lisa Espinosa, former sustainability specialist with King County Housing Authority, and Ahmed Abdi, a Somali refugee and outreach manager at Fair Work Center.
Want to run for port commissioner? Expect to get paid peanuts – South Seattle Emerald
Abdi endorsement – The Stranger
Abdi endorsement – Seattle Weekly
Port Commissioner Position 4
With Commission President Tom Albro not seeking re-election, it’s a wide-open race. The candidates are: Preeti Shridhar, deputy public affairs administrator with the City of Renton; Richard Pope, a perennial candidate and attorney; Brooks Salazar, an industrial appeals specialist for the state of Washington; Peter Steinbrueck, former Seattle City Councilmember; Ray S. Armitstead, master mariner, retired; John Persak, policy advocate/Vice President of International Longshoremen Workers Union Local 19; Fernando Martinez, President and CEO of the Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council; Ken Rogers, who has 30 years in the aviation industry.
Seattle School Board
Three of the seven Seattle School Board positions are up for election this year, and the primary will narrow the fields to two in each neighborhood-based district. In the primary, only the voters in each district get to vote; in the general election, voters throughout Seattle will cast ballots for the candidates.
District 4 (Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia)
Incumbent Sue Peters isn’t running, setting up a scramble. The candidates are: Herbert Camet Jr., a veteran educator; Lisa Melenyzer, a fiscal specialist for a district middle school; Darrell Toland, a user interface and motion designer; Megan Locatelli Hyska, a principal at Dellaloca Design; Jennifer Crow, a health-care clinic supervisor; Eden Mack, a veteran advocate for education; and Sean Champagne, a personal banker at a credit union.
District 5 (Downtown, ID, Leschi, part of Capitol Hill)
Incumbent Stephan Blanford also decided against seeking re-election. The five candidates are: Omar Vasquez, a business and tax attorney who used to teach high school; Andre Helmstetter, a management consultant; Candace Vaivadas, a private investigator and tutor; Zachary Pullin DeWolf, a program manager for the county homelessness program, All Home; and Alec Cooper, director of strategic business development at Amazon.
District 7 (Southeast Seattle)
Incumbent Betty Patu faces two challengers: Chelsea Byers, vice president for instruction at an online web development site; and Tony Hemphill, a doctor of chiropractic in Seattle for more than 15 years.