It is Past Time to pay attention to the local Primary election that closes on August 3
HOUSEKEEPING: Next week I plan not to publish. A week of summer vacation! I will return to your email box on July 5th.
POST: Primary elections are fundamentally important to our democracy. These mid-summer contests in Washington State are easy to ignore, but don’t make that mistake. Ballots will be mailed July 14 - 16, 2021. The August 3 deadline to turn them in is only six weeks away. Do your homework now. Talk over what you learn with friends and family and influence the result by encouraging others to pay attention and vote. Voter participation in primary elections is typically meager. Consequently, each vote cast in the primary counts for more, proportionately. A committed (or riled) group can limit the choices available on the general election ballot in November.
The August primary often doesn’t draw much attention in the news. The highest profile elections in this off-off year primary are for seats in municipal government, but there are also a slew of candidates for judicial positions and local boards. There are one hundred and ninety-eight candidates who have filed for various elective offices just in Spokane County. It is a daunting, but interesting list. Here’s the link.
You can greatly simplify the choices and see who will appear on your primary ballot by accessing your list through your voter registration at VoteWA.gov (and while you’re there, check and, if necessary, update your registration). Once you access your registration click on the tab “Who Filed?” in the left hand column to see the candidates on your ballot.
Even then some orientation is useful. On my list of elective hopefuls, I see twelve candidates for judicial positions, ten of whom are running unopposed (see the last column, “ballot order”).1 Then come two candidates for CITY OF SPOKANE C D 2 (i.e. Council District 2, see map). Betsy Wilkerson is the incumbent Council Member in C D 2. She is challenged by Tyler LeMasters. Wilkerson, in my opinion, is doing a great job. She will get my vote. (But see below for the other two races, those in Council Districts 1 and 3. Together these three races will determine the make up of the City Council. Learn and talk about all three.)
But, whoa!, next up on the list are a total of thirteen candidates in the running for two positions on the District 81 (aka “Spokane Public Schools”) school board. Surely, among these candidates there are some folks you will want to appear on your November ballot—and just as surely there are some you’d rather not. Figuring out which is which is going to require some homework.
Washington State requires that campaign contributions be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission. The data presented there is valuable, but it is only of use if one takes a few minutes to learn how to navigate on the PDC website, pdc.wa.gov. To check out contributions to candidates for Spokane City Council or “SCHOOL DIRECTOR, SPOKANE SD 081” (aka Spokane Public Schools School Board) be sure to first set the election year at 2021. You can either click (or add) your voting address or click “Show all Campaigns”. Successive clicks will take you to a list of candidates for those each of those two sets of electoral contests, the Council or the Board. Here are the click sequences: (MUNICIPAL/CITY OF SPOKANE/CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, CITY OF SPOKANE) or (SPECIAL/SPOKANE CO/SCHOOL DIRECTOR, SPOKANE SD 081)
Unfortunately, these PDC listings are not sorted by the individual contests for particular seats, that is, the candidates for the three contested seats on the City of Spokane City Council are all lumped together. To sort that out for yourself visit https://my.spokanecity.org/citycouncil/members/ and find yourself on the map—or find your City Council District under “My Elected Officials” at voter.votewa.gov . Here they are in grouped by District:
District 1 (NE): Luc Jasmin $33,752.78, Naghmana Sherazi $19,739.12, Jonathan D. Bingle $24,249.60.
District 2 (S Hill): Betsy L Wilkerson $43,031.00, Tyler LeMasters $9,378.19
District 3 (NW): Lacrecia "Lu"Hill $22,984.77, Zack Zappone $23,850.70, Mike Lish $18,934.00, Christopher Savage $8,681.00, Karen M Kearney $6,314.28
Click on the name to see the details of contributions and expenditures. Explore. See who is backing whom. Google the candidate websites and check out their Facebook pages. Form an opinion. Donate.
Do the same with the School Director races (SPECIAL/SPOKANE CO/SCHOOL DIRECTOR, SPOKANE SD 081). Note that seven of the twelve filers so far report no campaign funds at all. In the Position 3 race, so far only Melissa Bedford reports receiving contributions. In contrast, Position 4 has attracted six contestants, three of whom have raised money. Riley Smith is in the fundraising lead by a small margin with $5,612.54. Click on names to find out who is offering financial support. Look up the candidates on Facebook or search for a website. Formulate an opinion as to why there are so many vying for Position 4 and so few for Position 3. How is each candidate aligned? Donate. Talk with your friends and neighbors about these races.
Take note that the progressivevotersguide.com for the August Primary elections should be available right around the time ballots are mailed in mid-July. I find the Progressive Voters Guide a very useful reference.
Keep to the high ground,
Some of these judicial candidates, I doubt will actually appear on my ballot since they are candidates for superior court positions in other counties. Computer glitch, programmer error?