This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
The primary ballots haven’t all been tallied yet – thanks to the requirement that they only need to be postmarked by Election Day. But some things are already clear.
Just because it’s more convenient to vote now that the election is all-mail doesn’t mean people are suddenly voting in much higher numbers. As of Thursday afternoon, turnout was a lackluster 27 percent. In the last off-year election (2009), turnout was 19.2 percent.
Turnout this year wasn’t helped by the fact that voters in some communities might not have had much to get excited about; many only had a fire district levy measure on their ballot. City Council races were uncontested in Lakewood, DuPont, Eatonville, Edgewood, Fircrest, Roy, Ruston, South Prairie, Steilacoom and Wilkeson. In other cities, races were either uncontested or had only two candidates, so both automatically advanced to the Nov. 8 ballot.
That wasn’t the case in Tacoma and Puyallup; both had hotly contested races. Our choices for the Puyallup City Council races – Nicole Martineau, Steve Vermillion and John Hopkins – will all advance, as will the candidates we endorsed in the two Tacoma School Board races, Dexter Gordon and Karen Vialle.
A disappointment was Joe Atkinson’s failure to advance in the Tacoma City Council District 1 race. The winners – Anders Ibsen and Karen Smitherman – share similar perspectives on most issues and will offer voters little choice in November.
The outcome of the Puyallup School Board race for Position 2 was also disappointing. An outstanding candidate, Therese Ngo Pasquier, was less than a percentage point ahead of Dane Looker, a former football player who originally said he was pulling out of the race to run for the Legislature. But he didn’t withdraw in time to have his name removed from the ballot, and now he says he’ll take office if voters elect him and also try to get elected to the state House.
It’s distressing that someone who didn’t campaign, who seemed only marginally interested in the position and who has had minimal interaction with the school district could be neck and neck with Pasquier, one of the most impressive candidates to come along in recent years.
Puyallup voters need to do their homework before the general election; the outcome of the primary shows they weren’t paying enough attention to this race. Having an NFL career does not compare to the years of service Pasquier has given to the Puyallup School District.
Looking north to Seattle, voters there showed that they’ve had just about enough of all the dithering over the $2 billion deep-bore tunnel, part of a state project to replace the aging, earthquake-vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct. Nearly 60 percent of voters rejected efforts by Mayor Mike McGinn and other tunnel opponents to block the project.
The vote was probably more about moving on than any great love for a tunnel. It’s time for opponents to respect voters’ wishes and stop trying to stop this important project.
Now, on to Nov. 8, when a lot more races – and controversial initiatives – will be on the ballot. Voters will have no good excuse then for not returning a ballot.