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Smith on Politics: Redistricting, Re-election Dominated 2012

What's ahead in 2013? Filling the King County Council seat for District 1, a state proposal for limiting towing fees and an initiative on initiatives from Tim Eyman.

We may remember 2012 as the year that many of us voted in two congressional districts, that all of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park became part of the 7th Congressional District and that Shoreline and Lake Forest Park were separated into two legislative districts.

Yet all of those changes brought little change in whom we sent to Congress and the state Legislature.

The 7th Congressional District added Shoreline, Edmonds and Woodway to the Seattle-centered district, along with the parts of Lake Forest Park that hadn’t been part of the district before. That and the loss of parts of south Seattle made the district a little less friendly to longtime Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott. McDermott, who had won 83 percent of the 2010 vote against an independent candidate, won in 2012 with 79.65 percent against Republican challenger Ron Bemis.

Voters who had been part of the old 1st Congressional District ended up voting for a short term in the old district at the same time that they voted for a full term in the new district.

Jay Inslee’s resignation from Congress to run for governor left a vacancy in the old district; so voters in the old district elected Democrat Susan DelBene to fill the last month of Inslee’s term. DelBene also won a full term in the new district that stretches from east of Lake Washington to the Canadian border.

Legislative redistricting put Shoreline and Lake Forest Park in different districts.

Shoreline stayed in the 32nd Legislative District, along with Woodway, south Edmonds and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, with the district adding Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace and part of northwest Seattle. Lake Forest Park and Kenmore moved from the 32nd District to the 46th District, along with northeast Seattle.

Redistricting didn’t hurt incumbent Democratic 32nd District State Reps. Ruth Kagi and Cindy Ryu. Both won with 72-73 percent of the vote.

In the 46th District, appointed incumbent Democratic State Sen. David Frockt won without opposition, and appointed incumbent Democratic State Rep. Gerry Pollet defeated fellow Democrat Sylvester Cann in a race where no Republicans ran. The other 46th District position also featured a Democrat vs. Democrat contest. Democrat Jessyn Farrell defeated fellow Democrat Sarajane Siegfriedt for the position that retiring Democratic State Rep. Phyllis Kenny is vacating.

Ferguson's 2012 election as AG sets battle for county position

County Councilman Bob Ferguson won election in 2012 as state attorney general. That will leave a vacancy for the last year of his term representing Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and the rest of the 1st County Council District.

The eight remaining Council members will appoint a replacement to fill the position through the 2013 election. Then, voters will pick someone for a new four-year term.

A citizens’ committee already has narrowed a field of 13 applicants to five: Seattle attorney Rod Dembowski, Shoreline City Councilman Will Hall, Democratic 32nd District State Rep. Cindy Ryu, Shoreline Planning Commission member Keith Skully and King County Deputy Ombudsman Chuck Sloane.

County Executive Dow Constantine will nominate three of the five for Council consideration, with votes from five Council members required for appointment.

Dembowski, Hall and Ryu already have registered with the State Public Disclosure Commission as candidates for the position in the 2013 election, a step that allows them to raise and spend money for the August primary and November general election. Dembowski has reported raising $58,511 and spending $1,323.

Pollet says he will re-introduce legislation on towing charges

State Rep. Gerry Pollet of the 46th District says he will re-introduce legislation to limit what towing companies can charge drivers for return of impounded vehicles.

Pollet noted last week that his bill on the subject had passed the House of Representatives in 2012 but died in the Senate.

Pollet said that the legislation would provide statewide safeguards against predatory-towing practices.

He said that his proposal set “common-sense standards,”

He said, “Citizens are being slammed with charges upward of $2,000 to spring their towed vehicles from an impound lot.

"Our state must implement reasonable safeguards protecting people from predatory-towing practices," he added.

He said that the purpose of the legislation he will re-introduce in the upcoming session is "to shield every Washington resident from having to go through this nightmarish ordeal and financial hit."

"It's simply and unacceptably outrageous that some towing companies are charging folks more to recover their car that was parked in the wrong place than what a criminal is fined for a misdemeanor," he said.

"Parking your car in the wrong place for some fairly brief period of time is hardly what any reasonable person would call a serious offense. Frankly, it’s time for our state laws in this area to get real.

"People are being dinged with towing charges of $800, sometimes $1,500, and sometimes even as much as $2,000," he said.

Towing-industry representatives with whom I've talked agreed to support a law that would have allowed the city of Seattle to adopt an ordinance with a fee cap very similar to what the city eventually adopted.

"I hope to facilitate the reaching of an agreement on language on the part of the city and industry."

He said towing operators with a responsible track record shouldn't be punished "and fewer people will lose their car when they are towed because towing companies can sell impounded vehicles if they are held more than 15 days."

Eyman proposes initiative on initiatives

Tim Eyman already has filed petitions on an initiative for the new year.

He calls it an initiative to protect initiatives. It would protect signature gatherers from harassment, prevent local governments from keeping initiatives off the ballot and lengthen the time for gathering signatures from six months to one year.

Currently, sponsors of initiatives to the people have from early January to early July to collect signatures, and sponsors of initiatives to the Legislature have from mid-March to early January for signature gathering.

Eyman on Thursday turned in about 345,000 signatures for Initiative 517, an initiative to the Legislature. State elections officials now will check to see if at least 253,000 are valid.

If the initiative has enough signatures, it would become a bill in the Legislature. The Legislature could pass it into law, but if the Legislature defeats it or ignores it, it would go to a November vote.

Eyman noted that 99 percent of initiatives to the Legislature go to the November ballot without legislative action.

If the Legislature amends it, the ballot would have two questions: ”Should this measure be enacted?” and “Whether you voted yes or no, do you favor Version A or Version B?”

Eyman pointed out legislators have proposed an alternate version only once in the 100-year history of initiatives in Washington.

Here is the proposed ballot title:

This measure would set penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition-signers; require that all measures receiving sufficient signatures appear on the ballot; and extend time for gathering initiative petition signatures.

About this column: Journalist and Shoreline resident Evan Smith has covered local issues for more than two decades. His politics column appears on Patch regularly.

Tom Jamieson January 07, 2013 at 01:11 AM
And yet the King County redistricting story, though it would be extremely timely now, given the imminent appointment of a replacement for Bob Ferguson in Position 1, remains untold!?
Tom Jamieson January 28, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Though this article's headline was promising, it failed to tell the King County 2012 redistricting story. At least the Seattle Met Daily finally did: http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/as-redistricting-commissioner-king-county-council-hopeful-dembowski-argued-for-boundaries-that-placed-his-house-in-district

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