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August 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Election Day: Which races to watch tonight and why

(Illustration by William Brown / Op art)

(Illustration by William Brown / Op art)

Tuesday is the deadline to mail in your election ballot for the primary election.

Trying to figure out how to vote? Here is all the information from King County Elections. If you can’t find a stamp, the division provides drop-off ballot boxes around the county.

Here are our editorial board’s recommendations to voters. We interview and research them so you don’t have to.

And here are the races worth watching closely tonight when the first batch of results are posted at 8:15 p.m. Here is the King County election results website.

Seattle mayor:

The primary is supposed to be a referendum on Mayor Mike McGinn’s rocky four years.

Sen. Ed Murray

Sen. Ed Murray

But expected turnout is low (King County elections predicts 35 percent) and McGinn is a strong campaigner, so his fierce support among progressives may let him squeak into the November general election. State Sen. Ed Murray, the favorite among business and political leaders (and the Seattle Times), has run like a front-runner, with a cautious but slick campaign that is probably enough to advance.

Look for ex-city councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, with a good last name and a distinct vision for Seattle, and current councilmember Bruce Harrell, who has a compelling personal political story, to also get double-digit support. — Jonathan Martin

Seattle City Council:

Albert Shen

Albert Shen

Seattle City Council Position 8 made it onto the ballot because there are three names, but one of them, David Ishii, is a street musician who hasn’t raised a nickel. Really this is a two-way race between incumbent Mike O’Brien, who has raised $94,529 and challenger Albert Shen, who has raised $136,373. Shen also has the endorsement of this newspaper. He is, however, a political first-timer.

This is a non-partisan position, but both are candidates are Democrats: O’Brien came out of the Sierra Club and is a Mike McGinn loyalist, and Shen, a civil engineering consultant, is a Gregoire appointee to the Seattle Community College Board of Trusteesand is endorsed by several Democratic organizations.

The thing to look for is how well Shen does. If he is close to O’Brien, there is a race. — Bruce Ramsey

Seattle School board:

Stephan Blanford

Stephan Blanford

The outcome of two contested Seattle School Board races could usher in a fresh start for the embattled board. Or it may be more of the same bickering and infighting than has come to characterize the board overseeing the state’s largest public school system.

Incumbent Betty Patu is running unopposed for a second term. Of the three people vying to replace board President Kay Smith-Blum, who opted not to run again, Stephan Blanford went into the final day of the primary election with the most support. For the seat held by former board president Michael DeBell, two good candidates, parent activist and freelance writer Sue Peters and Suzanne Dale Estey, The City of Renton’s former economic-development director, make that race a tough one to call.

Suzanne Dale Estey

Suzanne Dale Estey

Fresh faces can offer a contrast to a board often polarized on opposite ends of policy issues. It does not mean smooth sailing for here on out but new energy coupled with improved board training can only help. From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s scathing 2012 report on the board’s dysfunction to the board’s own recent harsh self-evaluation, the argument for change has been made. And now here it comes. — Lynne K. Varner

Port of Seattle Commission:

Stephanie Bowman

Stephanie Bowman

The race for Port of Seattle Position 3 is an electoral test for Stephanie Bowman. She ran for the Legislature a year ago in the 11th District (she lives on Beacon Hill) as a business-endorsed Democrat, and lost in the primary. Earlier this year, when a vacancy opened up on the five-member port commission, the other commissioners went through a public process to find an appointee. They found her. She’s the one the other commissioners want. She has also raised the most money, $36,728, compared with less than $10,000 each for her opponents.

Her opponents are libertarian Andrew Pilloud, a young software engineer at Isilon Systems, and Michael Wolfe, sales manager at Useadeal and chair of the 37th District Democrats. — Bruce Ramsey

King County parks levy:

The fate of the King County parks levy is one to watch. Proposition 1 funds park maintenance and pays for park and trail acquisitions, with a 40-percent bump in the tax rate.

Someone assumed county voters could never be against parks and open space. The presumption will be tested. — Lance Dickie

Bellevue City Council:

The Bellevue City Council elections open a window on a community with growing economic and ethnic diversity. Two city council seats are on the primary ballot, and it will be interesting to see how the challengers will do.

City Hall has been the comfortable realm of the Lairds of Bellevue, where council office comes with a kind of legacy authority. Over time tradition has not provided the leadership and innovation the city needed, and qualified challengers stepped forward. — Lance Dickie

Comments | Topics: 2013 elections


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