Residents of Vashon-Maury Island decisively voted to establish a hospital district, elected commissioners to oversee health care services and renewed a levy that would help prevent the closure of the park district.
The two ballot measures known as Proposition 1 — to create a hospital district and renew the parks district levy — were among the most talked-about initiatives in the 2019 election, but so was the race for school board between incumbent Bob Chasan and his opponent Bob Hennessey, a former school board member.
The results of the election will not be certified until Nov. 26, according to King County Elections.
On Friday, King County Elections reported “higher-than-expected turnout” among county residents in this year’s election, with 48.5% of active registered voters returning their ballots.
The same day, King County Electins posted results two more times, adding 160,000 ballots to the overall count, leaving less than 10% more to count.
“With all of the late returns in this General election, our team is working incredibly hard to ensure meaningful results are available before the long weekend,” Julie Wise, director of elections, stated in a news release. “Thanks to our voters, media, campaigns, and community partners for their patience and support as we continue to tally the votes we received from across King County.”
Wise’s office does not plan to post more results on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
The hospital district Proposition 1 had received 71% of the vote, while 29% opposed it.
In the hospital district board of commissioners race, Donald P. Wolczko had received 70.40% percent of the vote against John J. Staczek, who had 28.91%, in the race for position 1 on the board.
Staczek told The Beachcomber in an email, “I was pleased with my race. I ran it clean as I had intended. My competition was good (and) I learned what I needed to learn. There are things to learn after any competition.”
Staczek said efforts to form a hospital district have been a long time coming.
“We did it. We did it because we knew it had to be done,” he said. “Our time was running out. Now, we’re going to do the big work.”
Eric Pryne, the only uncontested candidate in the commissioners race, had 88.66% of the vote against his opponent, Bill Swartz, who had 10.51%, in the race for position 2 on the board.
Swartz had said previously he was not running for personal reasons and could not get his name off the ballot before the election.
At the election night party at Vashon Brewing Community Pub, Swartz told The Beachcomber he was “super pleased with the results” and “the people picked what I think is a very strong board of commissioners.”
LeeAnn Brown had 66.70% percent of the vote against, Bill West, who had 32.59%, in the race for position 3 on the board.
On his apparent loss in the commissioners race, West said, “I’m feeling disappointed and relieved. It’s going to be a monster job.”
He said he’d like to attend board meetings as member of the community who cares about health care.
“It will be an interesting process,” West said. “It’s not so much what I hope they’d do, it’s what I expect and that is building on the work that was already done by the health care collaborative. They did a massive amount of investigation and fact-finding. I would expect them to tap into that knowledge base that’s already there.”
Wendy Noble had 89.23% percent of the vote over Dan Erin, who had 10.10%, in the race for position 4 on the board.
“It’s a lot higher than what I expected, but I’m grateful for the support,” Noble said. “I just hope that I can satify the voters of Vashon and be receptive and responsible and provide a good clinic for us.”
The Beachcomber has not heard back from Erin despite an email sent to him and multiple phone calls to his residence.
Tom Langland had 81.27% of the vote over Bonny Olney, who had 18.27%, in the race for position 5 on the board.
“I’m relieved,” Langland said. “Even though I’m sure I don’t fully fathom the magnatude of this job, I’m still very excited about the opportunity.”
Olney issued a statement to The Beachcomber via email on the outcome of the election.
“Congratulations to all our new commissioners and to the many people who put in countless hours of their time to help this measure succeed!,” Olney wrote in a statement to The Beachcomber.”The commissioners who have been elected as well as all who ran are a very dedicated and committed group. Each and every one wants to make sure the district is successful in meeting the needs of our community. There is a lot of work ahead including many hours of tasks required by the state to form the district, so please be supportive of your commissioners as they volunteer their time in the service of others.”
In the race for director position no. 1 on the Vashon Island School District Board, margins were still tight, with Hennessey leading with 52.08% of the vote, while Chasan had 47.62%. The other candidates, incumbent Toby Holmes and Zabette Macomber, ran uncontested races for their seats on the board.
The Vashon-Maury Island Park and Recreation District levy passed with an overwhelming “yes” vote of 79.94% to 20.06% voting “no.”
“I am thrilled; of course I’m thrilled,” said Elaine Ott-Rocheford, executive director of the Park District, in an interview. “This is a wonderful display of how the island feels about their parks and I think it’s fantastic.”
After island voters rejected the Vashon Park District’s bid last April to raise its four-year levy rate from 41 cents to 52 cents, commissioners debated for weeks about what to try again in the November general election.
Ultimately, commissioners selected a 45 cent levy, which they said would be enough to account for the district’s financial goals and for tackling urgent repairs at park facilities.
The campaign of the last five months for the district’s next attempt at passing a levy focused on supporting more programs and general maintenance while slashing 1.3 million in capital projects from the four-year levy cycle ahead. Commissioners hinged many of the district’s financial and maintenance goals on the passage of the earlier 52 cent levy measure, but after it failed, most plans for completing outstanding capital improvement projects were put on hold.
With 45 cents, the district eliminated planned staff wage increases while curtailing its anticipated budget to expand programming. But the 45 cent levy would still allow commissioners to set aside a $400,000 minimum reserve for cash flow management and use during emergencies.
Revenue generated by the levy for the district would be capped at 1% growth per year in accordance with state law.
The levy must be voted on every four to six years and provides the bulk of the district’s operating funds — about 80%. The last levy the district passed was for 50 cents in 2015.
Three Vashon-Maury Island Park District commissioner races for incumbents Karen Gardner, Hans Van Dusen and Bob McMahon were uncontested.
For a complete look at all the races and results thus far, log onto https://aqua.kingcounty.gov/elections/2019/nov-general/results.pdf.