I have been following elections in King County for close to 40 years. But I still rely on local sources who may know more about the candidates in a particular area. If they are wrong, I will get a new set of local experts next year.
This week, we will look at selected races throughout King County. There are hot buttons in every community. I have selected a few races that may be of interest. The purpose of this column isn’t to tell voters who to vote for, although that may happen, but to let voters know who is raising the most money, who may have the most community support, and who is most likely to win.
The most well known candidates are running for city council, but there are many candidates running for school boards or low-key political jobs like special purpose districts, such as water and sewer commission or fire districts, that still require candidates to campaign, spend money and face an election. The candidate with the most money usually has the best chance of winning. Mailings and yard signs buy name familiarity. Due to the COVID-19 virus, many candidates are reluctant to doorbell, so money becomes even more important for reaching voters through social media.
As usual, Bellevue has some interesting races, though there are still two weeks to go. One is the race between longtime Bellevue City Councilmember Conrad Lee and challenger Dexter Borbe. Borbe was endorsed by the Seattle Times in the primary and has raised $49,239 so far toward the general election. Lee, the incumbent, has been on the Bellevue City Council for many years. He has raised $156,576 and should defeat Borbe in the general election. And in a demonstration that the costs to campaign are going up on the Eastside, both candidates in Bellevue City Council Position 4 will raise and likely spend over $100,000. Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis is already at $136,415. His opponent in Position 4, Ruth Lipscomb, has raised $106,944. But with that warchest, look for Nieuwenhuis to win. Bellevue City Council Position 6 is a little more pedestrian with Gina Johnson at $6,232, while Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson has raised $54,484, but is well known and may not have to spend as much. Robinson is likely the winner.
Being compared to Seattle is rarely a compliment, even though Seattle and King County frequently have good ideas that suburban cities copy. But you will see the Seattle comparison in many races this year as a scare tactic from conservatives.
Seattle has become part of Mercer Island politics, and controversy continues between moderates and conservatives over what to do with the homeless and public safety. The conservatives believe the homeless are coming from Seattle and don’t want them. The Mercer Island City Council actually passed an ordinance with that message a few months ago. Others understand that the homeless may be fellow Islanders who have lost a job, had a death in the family or had some other circumstance. Homeless people usually don’t wander too far from the community they lived in before they were homeless.
Mercer Island recently established some partnerships to work with the homeless, just as other communities have, and may want to pursue that approach rather than send their homeless to another city. Watch what the candidates say at community meetings, and if you do get a chance to talk to them, ask them questions. If you don’t know them, look to see who is endorsing them or look for names you know and trust. Do they know what they are talking about, or are they just fear-mongering to scare you into voting for them?
In Mercer Island City Council Position 2, Daniel Becker has raised $24,233 and incumbent Salim Nice has raised $18,789. Incumbents are hard to beat. Nice is likely the winner. In Position 4, Michael Curry has raised $16,407 and is facing Ted Weinberg, who has raised $28,224 . This open seat was previously held by Benson Wong. Advantage to Weinberg.
Mercer Island City Council Position 6 features Kate Akyuz vs. Lisa Anderl. Both have raised over $36,000, but Anderl has the incumbent advantage.
In Burien, the airport and climate change are the hot issues. In Position 1, Hugo Garcia has raised $53,382 against Martin Barrett, who has raised $34,582. Based on primary numbers, this could be a close race. In Position 3, Jimmy Matta has raised $81,608 while Mark Dorsey has only raised $2,355. Advantage to Matta.
In Burien City Council Position 7, Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx defeated several primary challengers while raising $22,555. She is facing Stephanie Mora, who has raised over $24,249. But Mora is a one-issue candidate with public safety as her issue. Advantage to Marx.
In Des Moines City Council Position 5, incumbent Traci Buxton is a property manager and has raised $11,946, while Ted Doviak has not raised any money. Buxton is the likely winner. In Position 3, Gene Achziger and Priscilla Vargas have both raised $13,000. The race is a tossup. In Position 7, Des Moines Deputy Mayor Matt Mahoney has a healthy fundraising lead over Soleil Lewis with $30,212 compared to Lewis’ $12,669. Lewis is a preschool special education teacher and is endorsed by Congressman Adam Smith and State Rep. Jesse Johnson. Mahoney’s financial advantage is likely to make the difference.
In Tukwila City Council Position 7, De’Sean Quinn has raised $18,402 and Jay Stark has raised $3,473. Watch Quinn in the future as he could be a candidate for higher office.
In Renton, there is no mayoral race this year, but Renton City Council Position 1 is a race worth watching. Joe Todd, who is the deputy chief technical officer for the county, has raised $54,825 and is facing James Alberson, a business owner, who has raised $35,744 and is supported by former Mayor Denis Law and Councilmember Ruth Perez. Alberson has notable support, but less money, and Todd looks like the winner. In Position 2, Carmen Rivera led the vote coming out of the primary and has raised $40,404. Her opponent, Ben Johnson, has raised $19,796, but Rivera looks like the winner.
In Auburn, Mayor Nancy Backus is running unopposed, but there are still council races to follow. In Position 4, incumbent Yolanda Trout looked strong in the primary with 51%. She has raised $8,000 and should prevail over Hanan Amer. In Position 2, Kate Baldwin should win over Wendee Odell.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.