King County Elections: What You Need to Know

King County Ballot Drop Box
Thomas Allen // The Watchdog

It’s that time of the year again. Blue and white drop boxes have popped up in many places, from libraries to city halls to other public places, and ballots have been mailed out. It’s time for an election.

This Tuesday, August 3, is the day of the August Primary Election, and it will serve two main purposes. The first is to decide in a nonpartisan election where two candidates will run against each other in the November General Election, and the second is to put ballot measures, or changes to state or local law, on the ballot to be decided by voters in an election. There are many things at stake in this election. All of the candidates have different platforms, are focussing on different issues, and if elected, will prioritize different policies. It is not too late to send in a ballot; the deadline for having ballots postmarked is August 3. Ballots can also be returned by dropping them off in a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. this Tuesday. Ballot drop boxes are usually located at city halls and public libraries. For a full list of locations, click here. If you are not registered to vote, you can still go in-person on August 3 to register and vote in-person at your nearest vote center, which can be found by following this link.

King County has one ballot measure for this election: Proposition No. 1. This proposition would add a property tax to support children and families in need or at risk, whether that be through homelessness prevention or health services. Proponents of this ballot measure argue that the property tax would support children and families most affected by the pandemic and by generational trauma caused by systemic racism. There was no argument against this measure submitted. Proposition No. 1 needs a simple majority, which is more than half of voters in favor of it in order to pass. 

As suggested by the name, the King County Executive, Dow Constantine, heads the executive branch of King County. That means that whoever is elected would be in charge of operating the county government and making sure that things in King County run smoothly. Whoever is elected will almost certainly play a major role in how things will progress and change in the lives of those who live in King County.

Dow Constantine and his platform prioritize helping King County recover from the pandemic by providing funding to the people and businesses most impacted by the pandemic. His platform also places emphasis on advocating for social and climate justice, which are echoed by his work as King County’s executive. Running to unseat Constantine is the former State Senator for District 34, Joe Nguyen. He has based his platform on making housing affordable in King County, fighting climate change, reforming the criminal justice system, improving public transportation and rebuilding the economy to support those who live in King County through supporting workers and low-income communities. A previous interview has indicated that he intends to prioritize supporting homeless residents of King County if elected.

Further down the ballot for the King County Executive is Jonathan Crines, a security guard focusing on the platform of reforming the institutions he believes promote discrimination. He also intends to change the education and justice systems, public infrastructure, and environmental and healthcare policy. However, there are no campaign expenditures reported, and Mr. Crines does not have an active website for his campaign.

Bill Hirt is a former Boeing engineer and a perennial candidate whose candidacy is based on being someone who does not believe that white supremacy is a threat or that systemic racism exists. He is running because he is against “Democrats dominating [sic] state and local governments and most of the media.”

The final candidate in the primary, Goodspaceguy, is another perennial candidate whose platform is based on the need for colonizing space. He has yet to share how he plans to achieve his goals as King County Executive. He is also vehemently against socialism and the minimum wage, believing that it is unconstitutional and its promotion is crime.

King County is also run by a council, which acts as the legislative body of King County. As such, council members have the job of representing their respective districts when making and passing county ordinances. These elected officials will affect the residents of King County just as much as, if not more than, the county’s executive. They will act as a check against and balance out the power of the King County executive. There are three seats that need a primary election this year, and those are the seats for District 3, District 7 and District 9. 

District 3, which is the district encompassing Duvall, North Bend, Fall City, Snoqualmie and Sammamish, currently has three candidates running against each other in the primary election. The current council member, Kathy Lambert, is a former teacher and Republican state legislator who has worked to end homelessness and help victims of domestic violence. She also helped start the Safe Place program, which provides assistance to King County youth in crisis. Running against her is Democrat Joe Cohen, a telecom attorney whose platform focuses on helping the economy, particularly helping small businesses recover from the pandemic, along with reforming the criminal justice system, protecting the environment, promoting transparency within the King County government and making sure everyone has access to high-speed internet. Finally, Democrat Sarah Perry is a small business owner and non-profit executive who, if elected, supports working with tribal nations, police accountability, prioritizing affordable housing, improving public transportation, and mental, child, and elder care.

District 7 includes South King County, which includes the city of Federal Way and surrounding areas eastward. The current council member is Pete von Reichbauer, a Republican and army veteran who supports improving transportation and public safety in South King County. Saudia J. Abdullah is currently the Community Corrections division director for the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. Her platform includes helping small businesses recover from the pandemic, improving the infrastructure in King County, helping homeless residents of King County, and reaching the goal of having zero youth in detention through improving social services for kids. Lydia Assefa-Dawson is a former City Council member for Federal Way who is now running on the platform of making it possible for living wage salaries, creating more jobs, promoting financial stability, reforming the justice system, and helping veterans, displaced workers and small businesses recover from the pandemic. Dominique Torgerson is a small business owner from rural King County. She is running on a platform of overhauling zoning codes and making King County more environmentally friendly.

District 9 includes Maple Valley, Enumclaw, and vast parts of rural King County going eastward. The current county council member is a Republican. Reagan Dunn is running to represent the interests of rural King County by using his experience with the justice system to help his district recover from the pandemic, keep taxes low, help those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and fight crime by giving law enforcement what they need. Running against him is Chris Franco, a progressive veteran who is running to create more jobs, improve King County’s infrastructure, reform the tax system in order to stop taxes against middle and lower-income families, make housing affordable, and protect the environment. Ubax Gardheere is a community organizer who is running on making sure that everyone can have access to jobs, affordable housing and healthcare. She is also running to reform the criminal justice system and create an economy that supports everyone in King County. Kim-Kanh Van is an immigrant, immigration attorney, and former Renton City Council member whose platform includes reducing homelessness, helping to safely and equitably reopen the economy, creating more police accountability and expanding public transportation.

Last year, during the presidential election, it was stressed time and time again that local elections make a bigger difference than the presidential election does. It is even more important as Washington reopens and the COVID-19 Delta variant rages on. For example, the people that get elected into public office at the county level will do far more to affect the life of the average resident of King County than someone in a federal office, such as Senator Cantwell. It is important to vote for the people that represent you and your values, so make sure to vote by August 3!