Election Orientation, Part II
More Local Primary Election Detail.
In case you missed it, here’s the link to last Friday’s post. It contains links to resources that might be of use in assessing the candidates. Many readers said they found Friday’s post helpful.
Vicky Dalton (the Spokane County Auditor—the person in charge of Spokane County Elections) wants to remind everyone that ballots sent in by mail must be postmarked by Election Day (August 3) if mailed (so, if mailing, be sure to put it in the mail a day or two before just to be safe). Or, to be even more sure, deposit your ballot by Election night (Tuesday, August 3) at 8:00 pm in one of the many white ballot drop boxes. (Click here for drop box locations.)
This is the first election for the new local voter's pamphlet, the “Spokane County Official Local Voters’ Pamphlet” your household should have gotten in the mail around the same time as your ballot. A voters’ pamphlet with every election was mandated by Washington State HB 2421, Section 6 that was signed into law on April 3, 2020.
One reader pointed out that the Progressive Voters Guide does not cover the City of Spokane Valley. That is unfortunate. There are four seats up for election on the City of Spokane Valley City Council, with Positions 4, 5, and 7 appearing on the primary ballot. (Position 1 is mentioned below.) The hard right is making a play for Position 7 to unseat the much more moderate incumbent, Linda Thompson, backing Laura Padden, wife of Mike Padden, the incumbent hard right Republican state senator from legislative district 4 (Spokane valley north to Mt. Spokane). The contributors to Ms. Padden’s campaign are a list of right wing locals that should give anyone some pause. (Beyond Linda Thompson and Laura Padden other two candidates for position 7 have reported no contributions at all, so, although they are the justification for this race appearing on the primary ballot, they are not waging active campaigns.)
Many readers found it confusing that candidates they’ve been following did not appear on the primary ballot they received. Here’s the rule: If a seat is up for election but no more than two candidates have filed for that seat then that contest won’t appear on the primary ballot. We have a “top two” primary system in Washington that determines who will appear on the November general election ballot. If one, two, or no candidates have filed for a given seat, we already know that they will appear on the general election ballot (so why clutter the primary?).
The example I gave was the City of Spokane City Council District 2 seat, for which only Betsy Wilkerson (incumbent) and Tyler LeMasters have filed to run and, hence, do not appear on the primary ballot. There are other examples in the county. The City of Spokane Valley City Council Position 1 seat race has only two filers, Rod Higgins, the far right incumbent and attendee at Northwest Grassroots, and the more centrist candidate, James “JJ” Johnson. It requires some clicking, but this orientation is supported by checking out the contributors to the two campaigns by visiting pdc.wa.gov. Here’s Higgings. Here’s Johnson. Higgins and Johnson will also appear only on the November general election ballot, not in the primary.
The PDC (Public Disclosure Commission) is a great resource that should be more used. One might ask what good sunshine on campaign finance is if hardly anyone looks at what is illuminated. (The PDC website is not terribly user friendly, but it is accessible with a little perseverance. See Primary Guides or Primaries!! for some tips.)
In the western part of Spokane valley signs have appeared for Chris Cargill for City of Liberty Lake City Council. Yes, that’s the Chris Cargill who is the Eastern Washington Director for Washington Policy Center (WPC), a Koch-funded, right wing “think tank”—and Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ policy and propaganda provider. There are three seats up for election in the City of Liberty Lake. Only one of those seats has two filers and, as a consequence, the Liberty Lake’s City Council seats also do not appear on the primary ballot. The Spokane County Elections website rather cryptically says, “The August 3, 2021 Primary Election is a partial county election” and one finds that the City of Liberty Lake is not listed as “participating”. The reason Liberty Lake isn’t “participating” is simply that there is no position in the city’s government for which more than two candidates have filed.
More on election, especially the races for two two positions on the Spokane Public Schools (District 081) Board. Although my focus is on Spokane area elections, I hope what these posts provide is useful ideas for researching candidates for these sometimes rather obscure positions. Representative government works because we elect people whom we trust to represent our values and interests on boards, councils, and legislatures. Our homework is to figure out who will best represent those values and interests.
Keep to the high ground,