Opinion

Election highlights: What did we learn? | Bob Roegner

Everyone knows the results of last month’s election.

But we’re all still trying to figure out what it actually means.

Dow Constantine was elected King County Executive by a surprisingly large majority over Susan Hutchison. Constantine, with a significant Seattle base, was probably the most liberal of the primary field, and Hutchison was probably the most conservative. But Hutchison worked very hard, if not persuasively, to project a moderate image. At the same time, Seattle elected Mike McGinn as its mayor. McGinn may be the more liberal of all the candidates and the least known. All the King County Council members were easily re-elected or were unopposed. Lloyd Hara, a moderate, was elected King County Assessor over a large field. Hara’s prior management experience, along with name familiarity, appears to have made the difference.

Many Seattle voters were upset with incumbent Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and cast a “message” vote for his opponents in the primary. These voters probably anticipated they would vote for Nickels in the general election. Unfortunately, for the many people who think he might have been a better choice, those “message” votes cost Nickels his job.

McGinn will get a lot of help and advice, but he has no experience and will likely face a very bumpy road.

We also learned that outside Seattle, the public respects experience.

Constantine had more experience than Hutchison. Even though King County is beset with problems, the public wasn’t interested in someone who didn’t have a strong background in government.

The mayor of Kent, Suzette Cooke, won big over a strong opponent. And in Auburn, Pete Lewis won big over a weak opponent. Some have speculated that councilman Gene Cerino’s loss to newcomer John Partridge might have been a reaction toward Lewis by those who didn’t feel comfortable voting for Lewis’s opponent, Virginia Haugen.

On the Eastside, this question was asked: Could a person who was a mayor of one city move to another city and be elected again? Apparently experience counts, and the answer is yes. Former Redmond Mayor Doreen Marchione was elected to the Kirkland City Council.

Most suburban council members were easily re-elected. Here in Federal Way, longtime incumbents Linda Kochmar and Jeanne Burbidge won decisive victories.

What did we learn? We learned Seattle is still liberal, the rest of the county is moderate and conservatives still can’t win county-wide. It also appears that while the voters may not always like what they see, they will usually vote for the candidate with the most experience.

Of course, there’s always the exception — like the hairdresser who said, “I didn’t know any of those ladies running, so I voted for the one with highlights.”

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