Smith on Politics: Democratic Precinct Caucuses Sunday

Why Special Election isn’t earlier; Election material now in three languages

Democrats in Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and around the state will meet in precinct caucuses Sunday a 1 p.m.

People can find the location of their local caucuses by going to the state Democratic Party web site at http://www.wa-democrats.org/caucuses and entering a name or address.

The Democrats don’t require caucus participants to show identifying documents.

Participants in the precinct caucuses will elect delegates to the 32nd or 46th district caucuses April 28 and to the King County convention April 29, and send resolutions to the County convention.

The legislative district caucuses will elect delegates to both the 7th Congressional District caucuses May 20 and the State convention June 1-3. The County convention will send resolutions and platforms to the State convention. Both the District and State conventions will send delegates to the National Convention Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C.

More candidates entering race to replace 46th District Rep. Phyllis Kenney 

The number of candidates seeking to replace 46th District State Rep. Phyllis Kenney is growing.

I wrote last month that two candidates were seeking Kenney’s seat and two more were running for the other seat in the District that will include Lake Forest Park beginning with this year’s election,  

The number of candidates for Kenney’s seat is now five.

One of the two new candidates is Democrat Shelley Croker, a bankruptcy attorney, who also has worked with organizations helping homeless people and helping at-risk youth.

Another is Democrat Dusty Hoeler, a project manager for a non-profit organization that does residential energy audits and retrofits homes to make them energy efficient.

The only Republican is Joseph Morton of Seattle.

The three new candidates join Democrats Jessyn Farrell, an attorney who is co-chair of the Puget Sound Regional Council, and Sarajane Siegfriedt, a member of the King County Board of Equalization, chairwoman of the King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee and a member of the board of the 46th District Democrats.

Appointed Democratic State Rep. Gerry Pollet faces a challenge from Sylvester Cann, another Democrat, who had applied for the vacancy when David Frockt won appointment to the Senate last year.

Democrat Frockt is the only candidate for the last two years of the Senate seat that he holds by appointment.

Candidates file May 14-18 for positions on the August primary ballot. The top two vote getters in the primary advance to the general election.

Why Special Election isn’t earlier  

Shoreline and the north part of Lake Forest Park will vote in both the August primary and November general election for a short term in the old 1st Congressional District on the same ballots that will have the election for a full term in the new 7th District.

There have been proposals for an earlier election that would fill the position in the old district for four months rather than four weeks. That would be a general election for the short term at the time of the August primary, but that would require a change in State law, and it would leave us with an election in which the top vote getter among as many as nine candidates would win a seat in Congress for nearly four months.

The election could have been held in April if Inslee had resigned before March 6, but Inslee says that he waited until after that date in order to save the State the cost of a spring special election, an election that would have been more costly than an election at the time of the schedule primary and general election.

Cost of the special election

State officials say that they’ll have to send King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties about $770,000, but county officials expect that the cost to the three counties could be as little as $20,000. A formula creates the inflated amount. So, it’s just a transfer from one level of government to another.

The special election could be expensive for candidates, too. Candidates who want to run for both the short term and the full term will have to pay the filing fee of $1,740 twice

A real cost is the $225,000 that Secretary of State Sam Reed has requested from the Legislature for additional voter education about the special election.


Election material now in three languages

King County ballots and other election material will be in three languages starting this year.

Ballots and voters’ pamphlets will be in English, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Federal law requires that electoral jurisdictions print material in any foreign language when a certain percentage of the voting population uses that language but isn’t functional in English.

Chinese passed the threshold in King County after census of 2000. The 2010 census put Vietnamese into the same category.

Why not Japanese or Spanish? Apparently most citizens who use those languages know enough English to be able to vote in English.

About this column: Journalist and Shoreline resident Evan Smith has covered local issues for nearly two decades. His politics column appears on Patch every other week.


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