King County Director of Elections – Sherril Huff v. Mark Greene

Sherril Huff has been running the King County Elections department since before it was an elected position, and has been doing a good job. Her opponent, Mark Greene, is running for the position because he holds a grudge over having lost the Republican primary for the 9th district to Paul Lord. In his mind, King County Elections stole (or allowed someone to steal) the election from him, and then destroyed the evidence.

There’s a slim chance he might be right, but I’m going with Occam’s razor here. If Mark Greene was really about elections reform, he’d make sure to oppose computer balloting without a verifiable paper trail. He doesn’t. He’s just a crank.

I’ll be voting for Sherril Huff.

King County Superior Court

Position No. 1:

Position No. 22:

Position No. 37

I wouldn’t know these candidates from Adam. And I wouldn’t know how to evaluate a judicial candidate for the most part. So I’m just going to vote what The Stranger tells me to vote in these races.

Bradshaw, Hill, and Rietschel. Other folks, sorry for not knowing your strengths. You might have been good.

King County Charter Amendment No. 8 – Nonpartisan Elections

Shall the King County Charter be amended to make the offices of King county executive, King county assessor and King county council nonpartisan, and to establish the nonpartisan selection of districting committee members?

The primary effect of this change would be to obscure the party affiliation of Republicans in a heavily Democratic county. Some districts are less Democratic leaning, but the county continues to trend more and more to the left.

Sure, the counter-argument is that a candidate can put his endorsements of parties in his statement. But if a Republican doesn’t want to be identified as a Republican, he/she just omits it.

If it actually got rid of party influence in elections, i’d be for it. But it’s just hiding things, so I oppose.

King County Charter Amendment No. 7 – Charter Amendment by Citizen Initiative

Shall King County Charter Section 800 be amended to establish a new process for citizens to directly propose amendment to the King County Charter and to increase the signature threshold for citizen-initiated charter amendments from 10% to 20% of the votes cast in the last election for county executive, as provided in Ordinance No. 16221?

This amendment is a mixed bag. Right now the King County Charter does not have an explicit process for being amended by citizen initiative. Because of the Washington State constitution and the state Supreme Court, however, we have an initiative process. I didn’t go search for the case, but I suspect the state initiative petition right holds for every government in Washington. However, the current process is pretty damn cumbersome. First, you have to collect signatures amounting to 10% of the previous turnout for King County Executive. Then, an election is held to decide whether to place the charter amendment on a later ballot. Let me repeat that in different words. We have an election, a full election, to decide whether or not to have another election. I think that’s because it isn’t part of the charter, so we can only enact ordinances by initiative. And an ordinance cannot change the charter, it can only propose a ballot measure to change the charter.

So, the good part is it eliminates the duplicative second election.

The bad part is that the number of signatures is raised from 10% to 20%. I don’t think one percentage is any more magical than another, but we’re not inundated with ballot measures proposed by the people. Most of the measures on the current ballot were proposed by a charter commission or the county council. An argument could be made that this is still necessary because we wouldn’t have the filtering step of the first election. I’d prefer we remove the extra election first, and then see if we need to raise the signature bar later.

I know, it’s not often I agree with Tim Eyman. I’m not opposed to raising the signature requirement on principle. I’d just prefer to wait and see.

On balance though, I think it’s a good charter amendment and I’ll vote for it. I can live with the higher threshold, and I like reducing the cumbersome process.

King County Charter Amendment No. 6 – Budget Deadines

Shall Sections 410 and 420 of the King County Charter be amended to impose deadlines that are twenty days earlier than existing deadlines for county agencies to submit budget information to the county executive and for the county executive to present a proposed budget to the county council, as provided in Ordinance No. 16208?

Again, sure. This is fine. And again, why are we voting on this? Purely procedural an uncontroversial, as evidenced by absolutely no one opposing it (no statement against). This should be able to be changed by the council itself without the expense of an election.

King County Charter Amendment No. 5 – Establishing Forecast Council and Office of Economic and Financial Analysis

Shall the King County Charter be amended to require the establishment of a forecast council and an office of economic analysis, as provided in Ordinance No. 162077?

Sounds good to me. Any government could use good economic analysis in its decision-making. I wonder about a couple of things though. First, could this be pooled with other governments so it’s not duplicating something Washington State or Seattle or Bellevue are doing? Second, why is this part of the charter? Seems pretty procedural to me and should just be voted on by the county council. But I’ll vote yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 4 – Additional Qualifications for Elected Officials

Shall Section 630 of the King County Charter be amended to authorize the county council to establish additional qualifications for separately elected officials who head executive departments, as provided in Ordinance No. 16206?

Officials that meet the definition for this are the sheriff and assessor, and if amendment no. 1 passes, the elections director. Right now the county council can add additional qualifications only on the sheriff position.

As I noted above, I don’t think any of these positions should be elected. However, if they are going to be elected, I think it’s up to the voters to decide if their are qualified or not. I don’t want the county council to game the system. If the council wants to add additional qualifications, let them be advisory. They decide the qualification, then publicize how well candidates meet it. But if voters want to have someone in the job who doesn’t hold up well to this qualification, it’s their own neck. But don’t hamstring people voting.

King County Charter Amendment No. 3 – Regional Committees

Shall Sections 230.10, 270.20 and 270.30 of the King County Charter be amended to reduce the number of county council members on regional committees, establish a vice-chair position on regional committees, authorize the regional policy committee to adopt its own work program, add authority for regional committees to initiate legislation, modify regional committee procedures, and authorize the addition of nonvoting members to the water quality committee, as provided by Ordinance No. 16205?

Sounds good to me. We reduce the number of county council members, so things like this have to be done. I know very little about these committees though. Which brings me to a different point that isn’t covered by the measure. Why are we voting on this? This is the sort of thing that really shouldn’t be part of the Charter. Instead it should be a regular ordinance or just county council procedures. In other words, something that the council could enact on its own. We don’t need ballot measures for basic procedural stuff like this.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2 – Prohibiting Discrimination

Shall Section 840 of the King County Charter be amended to add disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expresion to the prohibited grounds for discrimination in county employment and county contracting, and to limit the prohibition against discrimination in county contracting to contracts with non-governmental entities, as provided in Ordinance No. 16204?

This one is a big duh!

It should obviously be enacted. I know the libertarians and bigots will not be happy (and no they aren’t the same group generally). For the libertarians, this is the difference between theory and reality. To the bigots, I don’t care what you think.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 – Elected Elections Director

Shall the King County Charter be amended to provide that the position of a county director of elections be created as a nonpartisan elected office.

The push behind this charter amendment comes from anger over the 2004 gubernatorial election and continued elections problems since then.

The theory is that an elected elections director will improve elections. For the moment, I’ll take that at face value.

However, how it will improve elections is dubious. In fact, I think it will make it worse. Elections directors who haven’t been able to get elections procedures right have resigned or been pushed out. If elected, I can’t see that being the case. An election is not a referendum on technocrat qualifications. It’s a popularity contest. (Though it could also be viewed as a contest of groups as well.) Rather than being accountable for quality, it becomes accountability to the interests of the dominant popular group.

And that’s really what I think is the reason why this is being pushed. An appointed elections director doesn’t have to kow tow to what Republicans want, so they need a way to get control.

Plus, do we need the costs associated with another election? We don’t need all the elected positions we have in the country. Frankly, I think we should make the sheriff position appointed as well. We don’t need more than an elected executive an council.