Thanks to the civic-minded group Unifying for Democracy, islanders have an excellent chance this evening to hear from several of the 11 candidates running for state senate. We hope everyone with a free evening will take advantage of the opportunity. And then, even more importantly, we hope registered voters will vote in the Aug. 7 primary.
Those who have been paying attention this political season — or who have simply opened their ballots and looked — know that along with a proposition about funding for fingerprinting, we are voting on just a few races: U.S. senator and representative, state senator and two state representatives.
Tonight’s forum at Ober Park will provide an opportunity to hear from the candidates about broad issues — home affordability, education and gun safety, among others — as well as Vashon-specific issues, including challenges with the ferry system and shoring up our primary health care services.
We applaud the organizers for making this event happen. Full disclosure: Shortly after the candidate filing deadline, island activist Hilary Emmer approached The Beachcomber and Voice of Vashon’s Susan McCabe about hosting a similar forum. At The Beachcomber, we declined because of the number of candidates involved and the time that organizing such an event would require. That makes us even more appreciative of the island volunteers who made this happen — and for McCabe for moderating and Voice of Vashon for recording the event for later broadcast.
Primaries sometimes draw particularly low numbers of voters, and we do not want that to happen this time around. At the federal level, we would like to see a strong show of support for Sen. Maria Cantwell, who has nearly 30 opponents running against her, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who has just one — and, alarmingly, the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes his organization as a hate group. State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon are running unopposed, but we think it is vital that Vashon has strong representation in the state senate. It is up to us to make that happen.
One of the front runners in the state senate race, Shannon Braddock, has the most endorsements, but as she says, endorsements don’t vote. When she was on Vashon recently, she noted that she lost her Seattle City Council race in 2015 by 39 votes — so she is not taking anything for granted and said she will not stop campaigning for the primary until the end. Whether or not you intend to vote for Braddock, that message is clear: Sometimes an astonishingly small number of votes can make a big difference. Neither candidates nor voters can afford to be complacent.
In many recent elections, Vashon has had higher voter turnout than surrounding communities, including in last year’s August primary. Then, Vashon had a voter turnout of 41 percent, compared to King County’s 34 percent. We would like to do even better than that this year.
There are few places that voting is easier than in Washington, where ballots come to us, and we can vote over a period of weeks — at any time day or night. Postage is not required for either the mail or the ballot dropbox.
If you need to brush up on who’s who, come tonight — 6:30 p.m. at Ober Park — turn to the voters’ guide or look online at King County Elections.com for candidate information.
And one more thing. When you vote, think about asking friends and family to join you.