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Federal Way pro-school group misses key election deadline
A volunteer group that supports Federal Way Public Schools has missed the publication deadline for pro-levy statements in the voters pamphlet.
The Feb. 14 special election contains two levy proposals that, if approved, will generate money for Federal Way schools. Prop. 1 calls for an Educational Programs and Operations (EPO) replacement levy. Prop. 2 seeks a capital projects levy aimed at rebuilding Federal Way High School.
Citizens for Federal Way Schools authored statements for the voters pamphlet in support of both levy proposals. The group president emailed the statements 16 minutes past the 4:30 p.m. Jan. 3 deadline. In addition, the group's statement for Prop. 2 (capital projects levy) exceeded the 200-word limit by 12 words.
This week, King County Elections initially rejected both statements. The deadlines are in place because of the work involved in preparing the ballots and voters pamphlets to comply with federal law, said Kim Van Ekstrom, communications officer for King County Elections.
The county is required to translate ballot measures into other languages such as Chinese and Vietnamese. With pro and con statements in the voters pamphlet, each side is allowed to review and rebut the other side.
For the Federal Way ballot measures, an exception will be made for printing the pro side's Prop. 1 statement, Van Ekstrom said, because no one filed a statement against Prop. 1.
However, an opposing statement was submitted for Prop. 2. Therefore, an exception cannot be made for publishing the pro side's Prop. 2 statement, Van Ekstrom said.
"These deadlines are predetermined and posted," she said. "The second measure (from the pro side), it was late and over the word limit. We don't have sufficient time to make exceptions."
King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, who represents the Federal Way area, expressed his disappointment over the rejection of the pro committee's statements. He emailed elections director Sherril Huff, asking her to resolve the issue because "so much is at stake for the children of the school district."
"This is a case where the director of elections should make a decision based on common sense," von Reichbauer told The Mirror.
The Mirror left a message seeking comment from the president of Citizens for Federal Way Schools. Click here to read the group's statements as well as the rejection letter from King County Elections. The con statement for the capital projects levy was co-authored by Federal Way resident and former school board member Charlie Hoff, along with Kurt Peppard, who is active in the District 30 Democrats. (Read it here)
Special election details
The Feb. 14 special election for both levy proposals will cost the school district about $200,000, according to the district. The special election is necessary because teachers must be notified by May 15 if they will have a contract for the next school year, and teachers’ salaries are wrapped up in the EPO levy, according to the district.
If Federal Way voters reject either levy, the district can present the proposals to voters on one more ballot in 2012, likely in April. Both proposals need a simple majority (50 percent plus one) to pass.
The ballots and voters pamphlets for the special election will be mailed together on Jan. 25. Voting for the Feb. 14 special election will be done entirely by mail.
For mail and online voter registration and transfers for the special election, the deadline is Jan. 16.
The special election ballot includes the following participating jurisdictions:
• Auburn School District
• Federal Way School District
• King County Fire Protection District
• Renton School District
• Tukwila School District
• Vashon Island School District
To learn more, visit kingcounty.gov/elections.