Three measures on the ballot this year, Referendum 90 about sexual education, Charter Amendment 5 concerning appointing a county sheriff, and Charter Amendment 6 regarding allowing the county council to specify the duties of the sheriff sparked lots of conversation this election season.
The first of those, Referendum 90, was unofficially approved, requiring public schools to provide sex education for all K-12 students beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The curriculum for K-3 will be focused on teaching students about emotion regulation, understanding boundaries, and how to identify a trusting adult. Sexual content would not be required at this grade level. In addition, the curriculum would include information about affirmative consent. While students would be taught what affirmative consent means in a variety of different situations, the content taught at that grade level won’t be sexual. Parents are also allowed to opt their child out of the curriculum. Some families are happy that SB 5395 got approved because it will help children learn social and emotional topics that these parents feel students need to know. On the other hand, some parents feel that the topic of sexual education and affirmative consent have no place being discussed in the classroom. King 5 interviewed a mother of three, Lander Groff who believed that teachers shouldn’t be the ones discussing this topic. Groff feels the importance of sitting down with her kids to discuss these sensitive topics. She feels that it would be better for her kids to learn about sexual education from herself rather than a teacher in a classroom setting.
Charter Amendment 5 and Charter Amendment 6 were also controversial issues on the ballot this election, but were approved. Charter Amendment 5 was about making the King County Sheriff an appointed position rather than an elected position. By voting “yes,” voters supported the King County Sheriff position being appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the city council. By voting “no,” voters opposed returning the office of the sheriff to an appointed position and supported electing the county sheriff. By voting “yes” to Charter Amendment 6, Ballotpedia says voters support “giving the county council the authority to specify the duties of the sheriff, rather than current charter law which provides that the duties of the sheriff are provided through state law.” By voting “no” to Charter Amendment 6, voters oppose “giving the county council the authority to specify the duties of the sheriff, thereby maintaining that the duties of the sheriff are provided through state law.”
Charter Amendment 5 and 6 are so important because it helps to decide how decisions will be made and who will make them when it comes to issues currently relating to the county sheriff. These decisions impact our police force and how the police will enforce the government. The creation of Charter Amendment 5 and Charter Amendment 6 stems from calls for police reform following the recent events in the BIPOC community.
According to CrossCut, “If approved, Charter Amendment 6 would open up the duties of the King County Sheriff’s Office — which are all but cast in bronze by statute — for the King County Council to define. Proponents say it’s a means to bring in a more diverse array of voices to question the scope of policing in the county. ‘That could mean finding alternatives to 911 for people in a mental health crisis or even shrinking the size of the sheriff’s office,’ said King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay.”
The main opposition for Charter Amendment 5 and Charter Amendment 6 is the risk of less power for citizens since Charter Amendment 5 and 6 would give more control to the government. CrossCut also interviewed Stan Seo, a captain in the sheriff’s office and a ringleader on the “Save Our Sheriff” campaign opposing the amendments about why he opposed Charter Amendment 5 and Charter Amendment 6. Seo believes these charter amendments are a defunding measure and take power away from the people. Under the new law, just 10 people will make the decisions, which could result in a lack of voices being heard. Seo believes this is not in the public’s interest with important issues that many voices may need to be heard on.