Washington 2024 Special Election: Renton voting for higher minimum wage

Feb 14, 2024, 5:53 AM

election renton minimum wage...

An employee hands food to a customer through a Burger King drive-thru. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Minimum wage workers in Renton are poised for a raise, as voters appear to have passed an initiative giving the city some of the highest starting wages in the country.

Preliminary results from Tuesday’s special election in Washington showed Initiative 23-02 passing with 57.5% of the ballots in favor of the increase. King County Elections officials said approximately 20% of all registered voters in Renton returned their ballots by the 8 p.m. Tuesday deadline.

The next group of ballots will be released after 4 p.m. Wednesday.

More on voter turnout: 2023 King County election had the lowest voter turnout in nearly 90 years

As of Jan. 1, Renton’s minimum wage is $16.28 per hour. If the initiative is officially approved, that wage will jump on July 1 to $20.29 for employers with more than 500 workers, and $18.29 for those employing between 15 and 500 people. Businesses with fewer than 15 employees are not impacted by the new rules.

Initiative organizer Guillermo Zazueta said supporters did the legwork to ensure the voters marked their ballots.

“The culture of voting is so much less in special elections,” Zazueta told KIRO Newsradio. “I think this is all grounded in community work.”

Zazueta stated nearly a third of all workers in Renton earn less than $19 an hour, and this raise will mean a lot to them and the city.

“They’re going to have a little more money in their pocket every paycheck, and we’re also going to see they’ll be re-circulating that money into the local economy,” Zazueta added.

Those opposed to the increase argued some employers may have to reduce the number of employees they hire while also increasing prices for shoppers and restaurant customers.

More special election results

Other election results revealed Kitsap County’s North Kitsap School District levy is failing. The first round of returns showed the “no” votes leading the “yes” votes 63% to 37%.

This election drew statewide attention because School Superintendent Laurynn Evans was put on paid administrative leave over claims she stole campaign signs opposed to the election. Evans has since denied the claims. She is currently on leave while prosecutors investigate the allegations.

Levy renewals passed in Bremerton and Bainbridge Island while Tahoma, Tukwila and Vashon Island levy proposals are trending toward passing.

In Pierce County, Auburn’s Proposition 1 — which would replace the expiring educational programs and operations levy — has a wide approval margin of 62% of the vote.

Puyallup School District levy voters are rejecting Proposition 1 by just 35 votes in the first ballot release.

Tacoma’s Proposition 1, a $650 million bond that would replace five deteriorating neighborhood schools, has been approved. The money will also be used to upgrade existing operable campuses within Tacoma. The two propositions in the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District, including the Educational Programs and Operations Levy which funds 16% of the total district budget, have also passed.

More from Lisa Brooks: Tony Delivers provides a local alternate to food delivery in Seattle

In Snohomish County, all of the Arlington and Edmonds School District propositions are passing. Early results in the Lakewood School District show voters narrowly rejecting propositions.

Marysville voters have approved a levy continuing a sales tax to pay for transportation improvements.

In Thurston County, the North Thurston Public Schools propositions are both ahead, as is a levy replacing an expiring tax in the Olympia School District.

For additional results from the Washington Special Election, please visit the Secretary of State’s website and click on your county.

You can read more of Lisa Brooks’ stories here. Follow Lisa on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Washington 2024 Special Election: Renton voting for higher minimum wage