The Seattle Procrastinator’s Guide to the Election: Part 2

Editor’s note: Learn about statewide races in part one of our election guide.

From reshaping King County’s Sheriff’s Office to funding public transportation there are a number of big measures on the ballot. Keep reading for our breakdown of the measures and the judicial races.

🏛 Judicial

Often, judicial races are overlooked. They don’t get the “hype” that other races do even though they’re just as important which is why we felt it was important to highlight these races in our guide. 

There are three levels of judicial races on the ballot pertaining to folks in King County: the Washington State Supreme Court, the Washington Court of Appeals, and the King County Superior Court. Ballotpedia breaks down what each of these courts is responsible for. 

But to make things a little more tangible, here are some major decisions these courts made that you’ve probably heard about. It was the State Supreme Court that upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2006. It was a King County Superior Court judge who sided with the South King County cities in their lawsuit against County Executive Dow Constantine regarding his decision to change the county’s deadly-force inquest process. 

***Asterisks indicate the incumbent in a race.*** 

Recommended Reading:

  • Most Washingtonians not sure who they’ll vote for in states 2020 supreme court races (NW Progressive
  • Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis defends seat against Federal Way Judge David Larson (The Spokesman-Review)
  • Supreme Court Justice Helen Whitener defends seat against former school administrator Richard Serns (The Spokesman-Review)
  • Judicial Candidate Evaluation Ratings (King County Bar Association)
  • Most of WA’s judges are running unopposed. Does it matter? (Crosscut, 2018)

🗳 State Supreme Court Justice Position 3

Dave Larson

  • Ran for a seat on the state Supreme Court in 2016
  • Presiding Judge of the Federal Way Municipal Court since 2008

Raquel Montoya-Lewis*

  • Appointed to the state Supreme Court in December 2019 by Gov. Inslee
  • First Native American justice on the state’s highest court

🗳 State Supreme Court Justice Position 4

Charles W. Johnson*

🗳 State Supreme Court Justice Position 6

Richard S. Serns

  • Superintendent of schools in Winlock School District
  • Adjunct Professor of School Law at Seattle Pacific University

Helen Whitener*

  • First Black woman to sit on the state Supreme Court
  • Former Pierce County Superior Court Judge
  • Appointed by Inslee to the state Supreme Court in April

🗳 State Supreme Court Justice Position 7

Debra L. Stephens*

✅ District Court & Court of Appeals, Division 1, District 1

All races are unopposed.

✅ King Superior Court, Judge Position 13

Hillary Madsen

  • Endorsed by Judge Theresa Doyle, who is retiring and leaving the position open
  • King County Family Law Court Appointed Advocate
  • King County Prosecuting Attorney Trial Fellow

Andrea Robertson

  • Advanced Trial Advocacy Instructor, UW School of Law
  • Designated a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters
  • Endorsed by FUSE Washington

✅ King Superior Court, Judge Position 30

Dough North* 

  • Elected to the Superior Court in 2000
  • Endorsements include Mayor Jenny Durkan and former Mayor Tim Burgess

Carolyn Ladd

  • Judge Pro Tempore for Seattle Municipal Court
  • Endorsements include Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, former King County Councilmember Larry Gossett and the National Women’s Political Caucus

❓ Measures:

➡️ Referendum #90
Context: The Democrat-run House and Senate passed Senate Bill 5395 earlier this year which the governor signed into law. The bill itself dictates that all public schools must provide “comprehensive (and age-appropriate) sexual health education” that is consistent with state standards. Included was the allowance for students to be excused at their parents’ request. This referendum asks voters like you to reject or approve the bill.

Recommended reading:

  • Sex ed mandate sparks bitter Washington state ballot fight (Seattle PI)
  • Referendum to repeal sex-ed law gets twice the needed signatures to put it on ballot (The News Tribune)
  • Washington’s new comprehensive sex education law could go to the ballot box as a referendum (The Seattle Times)

➡️ Seattle City Proposition No. 1 Funding for Transit and Related Transportation Needs
Context: This proposition would permit up to a 0.15% sales and use tax that would expire April 1, 2027. It would replace the current tax which is 0.1% which is set to expire on December 31, 2020. If you’re interested in the city’s public transportation, you’ll want to take a closer look at this. Revenue from the tax will be dedicated to transit services benefitting Seattle residents. 

Recommended reading:

  • ‘How will public transit survive?’ An examination in Seattle and Portland (The Evergrey)
  • Mayor Durkan Announces Six-Year Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposal to Aid in Equitable COVID-19 Recovery (SDOT Blog)
  • Council votes to place Transportation Benefit District renewal on November ballot (Seattle City Council Insight)
  • Washington Is Stuck Funding Transit with a Sales Tax (The Stranger)
  • Washington voters, get ready for a dozen tax-advisory votes and one measure reminding us of mass destruction (Seattle Times)

A quick word on advisory votes…

If you don’t understand what these are and why there are always so many of them, then you’re not alone. 

Here’s the deal: What you mark doesn’t actually matter. These votes are simply “advisory.” Tim Eyman — the same man who was caught stealing a $70 chair from Office Depot — was the one who created the advisory votes. Eyman’s initiative made it so every time the Legislature passes a tax increase they must put an advisory vote on the ballot of the next general election.

A quick look at some of the other measures on your ballot…

➡️ Constitutional Amendment #8212
This was a resolution passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. If approved, the Washington State Investment Board would have more options to manage the state’s Long-Term Care Trust Fund which helps the elderly in the state to afford the long-term care services they need. 

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #1: Inquests
This amendment would clarify that an inquest is required “when an action, decision, or possible failure to offer appropriate care by a law enforcement agency might have contributed to a person’s death.”

Before it simply stated an inquest was required for “any death involving a member of a law enforcement agency.” It would also provide an attorney for the decedent’s family in the inquest proceeding, paid for by the county. 

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #2: Affordable housing
This amendment would let the county lease, sell or convey property for less than the full market value if the property is used for affordable housing. 

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #3: More inclusive language
This would simply change official references of “citizen” to “resident” or “public” to better reflect that the concept of citizenship is not required to “access certain aspects of the county government.”

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #4: Subpoena authority over the sheriff’s office
This would let the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) have subpoena powers over the King County Sheriff’s Office. The OLEO would have the power to subpoena witnesses, documents and other evidence related to investigations and review of county law enforcement officers.

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #5: Making the King County Sheriff an appointed position
To give context, this position has been an appointed position before. It wasn’t until 1996 that it was an elected position after a 30-year stint as appointed. Those pushing for this move hope it would make the office more accountable.

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #6: Department of Public Safety
This would allow the King County Council to establish the structure and duties of the department of public safety and the sheriff’s office. Basically, this is about who gets to deal with the scope and control the department and sheriff’s office have. 

➡️ King County Charter Amendment #7: Prohibiting discrimination
This would prohibit discrimination in county employment and in county contracting on the basis of status as a family caregiver, military status or status as a veteran who was honorably discharged or who was discharged as a result of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

➡️ King County Charter Proposition #1: Harborview bond
This would authorize the county to make public health, safety and seismic improvements to Harborview Medical Center’s facilities. 

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