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Fields of candidates will narrow and fire districts might merge in primary election

The Mirror

With new procedures for casting their ballots, Federal Way voters will narrow choices of candidates for City Council and School Board in next Tuesday’s primary election.

In Des Moines, voters will decide whether their fire district will merge with the Federal Way Fire Department.

The Position 4 race for Federal Way City Council pits incumbent Jeanne Burbidge against three challengers –– Mark Walsh, Bill Foulkes and Gayla Hardison. Two of the four candidates will advance to the general election in November.

The same scenario exists in the District 4 contest for School Board. Tom Madden, the appointed incumbent, also has three challengers –– Helen Stanwell, Jim Storvick and Bob Wheeler.

Choices also face voters here for the Democratic candidates for King County executive (incumbent Ron Sims has light opposition from two opponents) and Seattle Port Commission.

Also, Federal Way Fire Department is asking voters to let it collect $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. It’s the same rate that was approved last year.

Without the assessment, the department could face layoffs and cuts in service, according to officials.

In the fire department merger proposal, only Des Moines voters will decide the outcome because their district made the formal proposal.

Except for one commissioner in Des Moines, the fire commissioners and fire chiefs in Des Moines and Federal Way support the plan, which they say would improve efficiency and reduce administrative needs.

Des Moines’ fire chief and many of its firefighters would get pay raises if the merger is approved.

Countywide, about 30 percent of the registered voters will cast ballots in the primary, King County election officials predicted. Most will be by absentee ballot.

With the primary at hand, election officials this week sent notices to the 289,000-plus expected polling-place voters, reminding them of new voting procedures and the importance of properly marking ballots.

“We have done a number of things to improve accuracy, and we are reminding voters of the steps they can take to make sure they mark their ballots properly and follow new voting instructions,” said Dean Logan, the top election official.

The steps include:

• Bring personal identification. State law now requires voters to provide ID at the polls. Acceptable ID includes a Washington driver license or voter registration card, a utility bill in your name, student or tribal ID, or any government ID.

• To vote in partisan contests, voters must select a party preference and vote only for candidates of their party choice. Vote-counting machines are programmed to provide a second chance to voters to make sure their ballot is counted correctly. If a party isn’t selected, only votes for non-partisan candidates and issues will be counted.

On election day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling places and other information is available at www.metrokc.gov/elections.

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