What’s at stake on primary election day in Washington state

Aug 1, 2023, 1:21 PM | Updated: 1:42 pm

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An election worker opens envelopes containing vote-by-mail ballots. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s primary election day in Washington state. The three biggest counties in the Puget Sound area have much at stake, even though voter turnout is traditionally low.

King County

This election will change the face of the Seattle City Council with seven positions on the ballot. The top two candidates in each race advance to the general election in November. Each race has at least three candidates. Three incumbents, Tammy Morales, Dan Strauss, and Andrew Lewis, face serious challengers.

In Seattle’s District 7, incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who is running for a second term, has five challengers. They are Isabelle Kerner, business owner; Bob Kettle, retired U.S. Navy; Olga Sagan, owner of Piroshky Piroshky; Wade Sowders, software engineer at Amazon; and Aaron Marshall. Gee & Ursula did an in-depth series of interviews with District 7 candidates. The district represents in-town neighborhoods such as downtown, Queen Anne and Interbay.

The most competitive race for King County Council is for the District 4 seat which has three progressive Democrats against one another: Jorge Barón, a longtime immigrant rights advocate; Becka Johnson Poppe, a budget and policy manager for King County; and Sarah Reyneveld, an assistant attorney general.

Three of the Seattle School Board’s four seats are on the ballot. The school district’s new board will have to decide where to cut costs to avoid a $104.4 million deficit and will decide whether some schools should close because of dwindling enrollment.

The six-year, $564 million property tax levy funds job training and housing for veterans, senior centers, and food assistance programs for seniors. At 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, the tax would cost the median homeowner about $84 a year.

Pierce County

The Pierce County Council’s District 2 is among the races to watch, where Paul Herrera and Jamie Smith are the candidates.

Several city council positions are on the ballot. They include Auburn, Bonney Lake, Fircrest, Lakewood, Puyallup, and Tacoma.

In Edgewood, Dave Olson, Christi Keith, Tyron Christopherson, and Ryan Day are vying for mayor.

Pacific will be narrowing down the list for mayoral candidates Vic Kave, Kerry Garberding, and Nancy Franklin.

Sumner and Bonney Lake school districts are also up for grabs.

There are initiatives around the county. One is the Sumner Library Capital Facility Area (SLCFA). The SLCFA would be an independent taxing district, separate from the City of Sumner, Pierce County Library System, and Pierce County. Its sole purpose would be to fund a new Sumner Library to replace the existing library in Sumner, which needs major repairs.

In Tacoma, Proposition 1 would restore its EMS levy to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2024 and to adjust the levied amount for 2025-2029 not to exceed $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. If this is not approved, the City will still have the 2002 levy to pay for EMS, but in very reduced amounts.

Snohomish County

Major county races will narrow down the candidates for auditor. Following the 2020 election, state Rep. Robert Sutherland said he didn’t believe it was a fair process and that Democrats had cheated. Sutherland is running against Independent Garth Fell and Democrat Cindy Gobel. The auditor’s office heads four divisions: animal services, elections, licensing, and recording. The most prominent division is elections, which oversees voter registration, ballot boxes, and ballot processing.

In the last hours of campaign filing Friday, two candidates emerged to challenge two-term incumbent Dave Somers for Snohomish County executive. Republican Bob Hagglund and Democrat Christopher Garnett registered their campaigns on Friday, the last day to file in the state.

Edmonds mayor Mike Nelson is seeking reelection against three challengers: Diane Buckshnis, Brad Shipley, and Mike Rosen.

There are also races for school board and city council positions, as well as a crowded race for the Alderwood water district.

In six districts, voters can decide to restore or impose levies for fire and emergency medical services.

Check your election returns beginning tonight after 8 p.m. on MyNorthwest.com.

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What’s at stake on primary election day in Washington state