Letters to the editor | Feb. 29 edition

Readers write in about politics, a proposed dog park, and more.


Consider Ranked Choice voting

I have received the Washington State Elections Voters Pamphlet for our March 12 Presidential Primary Election.

Please be aware that many candidates are listed who have already dropped out.

If you are voting Republican, do not waste your vote on Chris Christie, Ron Desantis, or Vivek Ramaswamy. They have already dropped out of the race.

A vote for any of the three is a wasted vote that will not help to nominate a Republican for President. If you want your vote to count, the choices are either Donald Trump or Nikki Haley.

A similar situation exists for the Democrats. Marianne Williamson has also dropped out. The only remaining choices are Joseph R Biden Jr. or Dean Phillips.

A vote for Marianne Williamson is also a wasted vote.

In 2020, many Washington State voters wasted their vote by casting a vote for Elizabeth Warren, who had already dropped out.

According to Fair Vote: “We found a stark difference between the ballots which were counted immediately and those which were counted over the following ten days. On the morning following election day, two-thirds of ballots were in and those ballots included a 34% rate of votes for candidates who had withdrawn prior to election day. That rate is one of the highest we’ve seen throughout the primary season.”

A bill in the Washington State legislature would change our presidential ballot to a Ranked Choice ballot. This bill (HB 1592) has died in the current 2023-2024 legislative session.

If we had a Ranked Choice ballot, voting for a candidate who had dropped out would not be wasted. The voter’s choice would simply be transferred to their next choice.

It’s time to bring our voting method up to the modern era!

Melvin Mackey

A republic, if we can keep it

After reviewing the King County ballot for the upcoming Presidential Primary, it’s my view that for freedom to endure, a critical number of U.S. citizens must understand that the framers of our Constitution intended for the U.S. government to be “of, by and for the people.” That means each citizen has the responsibility to understand the Constitution and be dedicated to preserving, protecting and defending it.

Those who wrote and approved this ballot and anyone who signs it, in my view, do not understand what they need to do or know to live up to that responsibility. In fact, I see no evidence that those who are listed as candidates understand what I just said. If you don’t understand what I just said, it is probably because you were never taught in school what you needed to understand to remain living in a free society.

If we all don’t wake up now, we soon may never know again what real freedom looks like and feels like in our lifetime.

Mark Goldman


We call for public process around dog park proposal

As walkers, bikers, horseback riders, nature lovers, conservationists, and park stakeholders, we are writing with concern about the proposed off-leash dog park on the newly acquired King County Wax Orchards Park on Vashon Island along Old Mill Road. We enjoy and appreciate this special park and want a voice in its future management.

We are surprised a proposal is moving forward given the lack of public process and transparency around it, especially the requirement to amend the County Charter to accommodate off-leash dog parks on Parks property in unincorporated King County.

We strongly believe the Old Mill Road site is not appropriate for the development of an off-leash dog park.

Among the concerns:

  • It is not consistent with established and continued use for passive recreation or the historic agricultural setting.
  • A fenced and graveled dog park would mar a pristine, undeveloped meadow that is particularly scenic and has unparalleled sightlines.
  • Without costly new infrastructure and maintenance a dog park would have significant adverse environmental and user impacts, such as but not limited to: degradation of surface water; impacts on wildlife habitat, diversity and behavior; increased traffic and parking congestion; and potential conflict between off-leash dogs and horseback riders who have used the trails for decades.

We ask that King County Parks staff, decision-makers, and elected officials:

  • Provide a thorough review of alternative sites.
  • Conduct a comparative site analysis, including assessment of environmental conditions, historic and existing use, infrastructure availability, and cost.
  • Present this information to obtain broad public input on any project proposal and site suitability before proceeding with a fenced off-leash dog park.
  • Engage in an open and transparent public process and gather input from all stakeholders, not only single-user special interests.
  • Use clear and consistent communication with all island residents about decision-making, timelines, and progress.
  • Ensure enjoyment of passive recreational use of scenic open space is not diminished.

Nearly 200 people have signed their names to this letter. Their names can be found here.

If islanders are interested in adding their names to the list of signatories, please fill out the form here.

We look forward to engaging in the stewardship of this iconic site and beloved island property.

Friends of Wax Orchards Park executive board: Steve Abel, Laurie Geissinger, Beth Lindsay, and Jil Stenn

Protect Wax Orchard Park from improper usage

I’m not opposed to dogs or an off-leash dog area on Vashon. I’m strongly opposed to King County Parks locating an off-leash dog area in the iconic pasture seen from the corner of Old Mill Rd. and 220th.

It is illegal to locate a dog park there and would require changing County code, a bait-and-switch on voters who approved funds to preserve and protect this natural area. A dog park in that meadow would ruin one of the most beautiful and environmentally sensitive areas on Vashon, which should be preserved for all to enjoy.

To say it will only be part of the field is akin to saying there is a smoking section on an airplane. Who will want to walk in the pasture, stroll in the nearby woods or sit by the lovely pond if the entire area is subject to the constant noise of barking dogs, bad odors, ugly fencing, porta-potties and the absence of wildlife present now? These and dog waste runoff into the watershed are all known impacts. The damage of even temporary placement in this sensitive location would take a very long time to reverse.

Additionally, Vashon is officially an Equestrian Community with regulatory obligations to avoid harming equestrian use of roadways and parks. You could not find a better example of significant harm to decades-long use of the area by equestrians. Any equestrian will attest that off-leash dogs, fenced and not, can spook horses and create a serious threat to the safety of riders, and increased parking will further threaten safety by blocking the trails along the roads and entrances to the woods that equestrians use.

There are more appropriate county-owned areas close to town without such negative impacts to wildlife, watersheds, scenery, equestrians and peaceful enjoyment by all – places where people without outdoor space for their dogs and perhaps limited mobility will have more convenient access. It is terrible land stewardship to consider an off-leash dog area at the Wax Orchard Park. I encourage islanders to speak up against it.

Email our representative at teresa.mosqueda@kingcounty.gov or, to learn more, email friendsofwaxorchardpark@gmail.com.

Kerry Coughlin

Speed limits

Apply the Diamond Principle: Define the Problem

Regarding reduced speed limits on Vashon Highway, I caution that we create unintended consequences if we make them too slow. Define the problem. Are the current speeds unsafe to travel at 50mph between SW 127th St and SW 153rd St on Vashon Highway, and at 40mph between SW 182nd and SW Cemetery, when people abide by the speed limit, and are not distracted or under the influence?

If so, then we need to lower the speed limits. However, if it is safe at the posted speeds then lowering the speed limits is not the solution. If the problem is that drivers are driving over the speed limit in these zones, enforce the speed limit. If the problem is that more drivers are distracted or high, then enforce those laws.

If the problem is that you want to live on an island where no one is in a hurry, and everyone drives slower than on the mainland, calm your inner dictator and remember that you share the roads with people who have all sorts of reasons to drive safely, but at reasonable speeds.

I have observed many places in Seattle and Tacoma where the speed limit has been lowered to below what the roads were designed for, that cars stream past flashing speed limit signs screaming that everyone is going too fast. The new speed limits did nothing to change the speed at which drivers drive — it’s just that now everyone — conservative and reckless drivers alike — are breaking the law and getting habituated to ignoring speed limit signs. Let’s acknowledge that driving is inherently dangerous, and accept that we all take that risk and responsibly.

Let’s identify the correct problem and solve for that, so that our laws mean something, and we can actually make the roads safer, not just pretend to make them safer.

Celina Yarkin