This week, the shadow of national politics and polarization continued to loom over the country.
Congress is debating the formation of a special commission to investigate the events surrounding the infamous Jan. 6 Capitol Building insurgency. The Justice Department is challenging a lower court judge’s order to release a memo apparently clarifying the exact extent of election meddling and Trump administration ties to Russia in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. It’s all as dizzying as it’s always been, which has seemed to be the case for quite some time.
However, on a more local level, where there aren’t nearly as many scandals and cooperation isn’t quite as strained, many of your island neighbors have entered the political process themselves, filing with King County Elections to compete for public board seats, including at the school, fire and park districts. We say bravo to them.
Last Friday, May 21, was the deadline for filing. All of the candidates will appear on the ballot for this year’s general election on Nov. 2. A primary on Aug. 3 is only for races with three or more candidates running, and there are no island races with that many people vying for a seat.
Renee Henson, an islander with a background in non-profit public relations and development, is running for the Director No. 2 position on the school board. Allison Krutsinger, Deputy Director of Government Affairs at the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families, and Kristen Cohen, are vying for Director No. 4. They are all aiming to replace outgoing board members Rheagan Sparks and Spring Hecht, who are not seeking reelection.
With Brigitte Schran Brown stepping down, Pam King, a Seattle-based property manager, is running unopposed for Commissioner Position No. 3 at Vashon Island Fire & Rescue. John Simonds, an islander and frequent critic of the fire district, and Ron Smothermon, who works in production management for commercial photographers, are vying for Commissioner Position No. 5.
Several islanders have also stepped forward to serve on the Vashon Park District board, including Joshua Henderson, who is currently filling Karen Gardner’s remaining term on the board and is running for Commissioner Position No. 1. Sarah George is seeking the position of Commissioner No. 2. Commissioner Position No. 4 is being contested by Steven Brewer, director of marketing and communication for the Vashon-Maury Chamber of Commerce, and Keith Prior, a retiree of the University of California, Davis.
Alan Aman, the Chief Operating Officer of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, is running unopposed for Commissioner Position No. 3 in King County’s Public Hospital District No. 5, the island’s health care district, where Commissioner LeeAnn Brown is not seeking reelection.
Kaye Pierson, Truman O’Brien and Bob Therkelsen are running uncontested for Commissioner Positions No. 1, 2 and 3 respectively of King County’s only Airport District. And Lisa Devereau is running unopposed for the position of Commissioner No. 3 at Vashon’s Cemetery District.
No one filed to run for a position on the Vashon Sewer District. After two terms as commissioner of Water District 19, Bob Powell is not running for reelection. Robin A. Pfohman is vying for Commissioner Position No. 3 in his stead.
Local elections may not get the pundits talking, but they matter greatly. Many local issues should be on voters’ minds as they decide what their priorities are and examine these qualified candidates, whether it is ensuring our students have equitable access to a quality education or maintaining accountability or premier municipal services.
And serving the public is not a job to be taken lightly. We hope that these individuals who have chosen to run are motivated by a desire to improve the quality of life on the island for all residents and do serious work.
We are fortunate to be able to participate in this process as both voters and candidates and to make decisions for our community, which we all undoubtedly care greatly about.
If you would like to know more about what is happening at King County Elections, to check your voter registration (very important) and learn more about candidates and ballot questions, visit kingcounty.gov/depts/elections.aspx.