For those of you who are glad the election season is over and think your life will return to normal for a year until the next election cycle, think again.
You’re going to have an election in February involving a lot of people you may never have heard of — running for one of the most important jobs in King County government.
During the just completed election, voters in King County made several changes to the county charter. Most were good changes, but of only minor political consequence. Two were big. First, voters established all county offices as non-partisan for future elections.
That means the executive, council and assessor join the sheriff, which is already non-partisan. The prosecuting attorney needs the approval of the state Legislature, so it will remain partisan for the time being.
The vote officially opens the door for a challenge to incumbent Executive Ron Sims by fellow Democrat Larry Phillips.
Phillips’ campaign planning has been in full stride since last spring. A “name” Republican could get into the race with the hope that under the “Top Two” primary, the two Democrats will split the vote and give the non-partisan Republican a shot at the survivor in the general election.
Second, the voters also reaffirmed their primary decision to move the Director of Elections from appointed to elected. Several candidates have been waiting somewhat impatiently in the wings for the opportunity to run for this position. The election will be next February and will not have a primary, and the position will be non-partisan. Democratic King County Council Member Julia Patterson from SeaTac said she was interested, but now may be reconsidering, and Republican State Sen. Pam Roach from South King County has already made campaign moves. However, she may reconsider as her time to campaign will be limited once the Legislative session begins in January.
Speculation abounds that Seattle resident and Democrat Jason Osgood’s losing run at the secretary of state’s office was really more designed to create name familiarity for a run at the county elections position. The same speculation surrounds Republican Marcia McCraw’s unsuccessful bid for lietenant governor.
Others who have expressed interest include Port Commissioner Lloyd Hara, former Republican county councilman David Irons and Steve Excell from the secretary of state’s office. Anthony Hemsted, former Maple Valley city manager, and Ross Baker from the county council staff are also said to be considering the race. Others are encouraging Joe Fain from council member Pete von Reichbauer’s office to run. Fain ran the successful campaign to convert county offices to non-partisan.
This will be a short election season, so name identification and the ability to raise money quickly will be key. Filing will be in December. This is an important position, so watch closely to see who actually signs up.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at email@example.com.