Opinion

Noble's resignation and sentencing shake up King County assessor race | Bob Roegner

With his June 18 resignation as King County Assessor, and his sentencing June 19, Scott Noble brought to a close a 16-year record — and left an office he had worked hard to improve.

The “official” race to replace him has now begun in earnest. However, the “real” race has been unfolding since that fateful night in January when his car went the wrong way on I-5 and crashed into another car, injuring two people. While Noble may have entertained some thought of retaining his office, he and those close to him had to know that a felony conviction, and thus forfeiture of office, was the only probable outcome. When the public learned of the incident several weeks later, the negative reaction was fairly swift and maneuvering to replace him was immediate, though low key.

Under the county’s succession agreement, Noble’s chief deputy Rich Medved automatically became acting assessor upon Noble’s resignation, and he retains the office until the King County Council appoints an interim assessor. The interim assessor serves until the election is certified.

But the timing of Noble’s resignation became an issue. He needed to resign by June 1 to ensure both a primary and general election. By waiting to resign until June 18, there will be only a general winner-take-all election for the remaining two years of his term. A special filing period has been scheduled for Aug. 19-21.

County Council Chair Dow Constantine, among others, urged Noble to resign prior to June 1. One of the others to urge an early resignation was Noble deputy and chief beneficiary of Noble’s departure, Rich Medved.

Some saw Medved’s comments as disloyal and politically distancing himself from Noble since he was planning to run for the office. Others wondered if it weren’t a little more tactical than that. Since Noble could still fire him, many thought it seemed unlikely he would publicly rebuke his boss. Many election watchers also thought it was to Medved’s advantage to only have to run in the general, since his name familiarity is relatively low and his county residency fairly brief. At the same time, former Seattle official and current Port Commissioner Lloyd Hara was making the rounds telling people of his interest in the job. Both Medved and Hara are Democrats, but Hara has run county-wide before and has been active in county politics for years. Hara would be a formidable opponent for Medved.

Those that feel Medved’s criticism of Noble’s date of departure was “managed” point to a recent e-mail Noble sent out. In the e-mail, Noble urges support for Medved and is critical of Hara’s voting record at the port. That Noble would offer an endorsement of this nature had he not “approved” of Medved’s statement seems unlikely. But will Medved and Hara be the only candidates to file? While Hara may be better known than Medved, there may be other candidates more well-known than Hara. If a “name” candidate gets in the race, the dynamics could change. Also, even though the position is non-partisan, we still haven’t heard from the Republicans.

Early on there was speculation about former county council member David Irons and current state Sen. Pam Roach (R-Dist. 31). What if one of them gets in the race and the Democrats split the vote? There are a lot of possibilities, but just for fun, let’s add one more.

Rich Medved’s credibility as a candidate is somewhat based on the fact that he is the acting assessor. What happens if the county council passes over him and names someone else as the interim assessor? Study the candidates. This could be a fun race to watch.

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