Jailmeasure passes as county residents turn out in force

Published on Thu, Nov 4, 2004 by eg Olson

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Jail measure passes as county residents turn out in force

By Meg Olson

Local voters turned out in force for an election that combined hot local issues with a tight presidential election.

County auditor Shirley Forslof had predicted an 80 percent voter turnout and the county issued 77,000 absentee ballots – twice as many as were issued in the 2003 general election. “I think we’ll be close to 80 percent when the rest of the absentees are counted,” said Forslof. That would top the 2000 general election which drew 75 percent of registered voters to cast a ballot.

Whatcom County’s jail initiative won strong support from county voters, more than 60 percent favoring the measure as county elections finished processing polling in the county’s 119 precincts. “We’re optimistic with this trend it’s going to pass,” said Whatcom County sheriff Bill Elfo. “I think the voters of Whatcom County are very discerning and they put public safety first. This is an effort that has had support from Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, businesses, labor – a wide section of the community came together.”
The measure will increase the county sales tax by 0.1 percent, adding an additional ten cents in tax to a hundred dollar purchase, and the funds will be used for jail construction and operations.

Tuesday night’s preliminary results left the races for top executive too close to call. Whatcom County and Washington voters favored Senator John Kerry (D-MA) as the next U.S. President and many went to bed on November 2 hopeful he still had a shot at the oval office. That race saw some resolution by Wednesday morning as networks reported a Kerry concession, but the even tighter race for Washington’s governor was still deadlocked, with state attorney general Christine Gregoire (D) and state representative Dino Rossi (R) each holding 49 percent of the vote. County voters showed a slight preference for Gregoire in local results.

Elected seats in state government went largely to incumbents. Lieutenant governor Brad Owen (D), secretary of state Sam Reed (R), treasurer Mike Murphy (D), auditor Brian Sontag (D), commissioner of public lands Doug Sutherland (R), superintendent of public instruction Terry Bergeson (NP) and insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler (D) were all poised to keep their jobs. In the race to replace Gregoire as state attorney general Deborah Senn (D) was losing ground to Rob McKenna (R), who held 52 percent of the vote.
Races for both federal and state legislative spots were decisive, with strong support for incumbents. U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D) defeated republican congressman George Nethercutt (R), winning 54 percent of the vote according to preliminary results.

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D) crushed challenger Suzanne Sinclair (R) with a 63 percent landslide after preliminary vote counts. “I think it’s a reflection of a lot of good work people in the Bellingham and Everett offices do,” Larsen said. He indicated he would continue to focus on jobs in Whatcom County, emphasizing the importance of keeping Intalco open and preserving that employment base. Larsen will also continue his efforts to keep traffic moving across the border. “We’ll be trying to get our border crossings to a place where we can take advantage of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver,” he said. “That means putting infrastructure and the right number of people there. That’s how we’ll address the issues of the security of our country and the issues of facilitating legitimate trade and travel.” He added he would continue to emphasize in discussions with the Department of Homeland Security the need for unique solutions to the unique challenges of local borders.

At the state level former Blaine mayor John Hobberlin (R) lost his bid to oust longtime state representative Kelli Linville (D), who won 59 percent of the vote countywide. Despite Hobberlin’s hometown advantage most Blaine voters favored Linville who led in everything but ward three absentee voters.

Incumbent Doug Ericksen (R) retained the other 42nd district state representative position, defeating Robin Bailey (D).

Four state initiatives and one referendum were on the ballot in the November 2 general election. Initiative 872, asked voters to approve a state primary system in which voters could choose from all candidates on the ballot and the two top picks, regardless of party affiliation, would go to the general election. Preliminary counts indicated the measure was winning approval by 60 percent of voters. Initiative 884, establishing an extra one percent sales tax to create an education trust fund dedicated to the state’s schools, was rejected by 61 percent of voters. Voters turned down a property tax break, 61 percent rejecting initiative 892. The measure would have allowed the same gambling machines in non-tribal gambling establishments as are now permitted in tribal casinos, with some of the proceeds to offset property taxes. Initiative 297, imposing tighter regulations for radioactive and non-radioactive hazardous waste, referred to as the Hanford cleanup bill, was approved by almost 70 percent of voters.

Voters put the brakes on charter schools, 58 percent rejecting referendum 55, narrowly approved by the 2004 state legislature. The measure would have authorized the creation of charter schools, run by independent non-profits under contact to local school boards and allocated public funds.

Chuck Snyder is the projected winner of a seat on the bench as a Whatcom county superior court Judge, earning 54 percent of the vote to Mac Setter’s 46. Mary Kay Becker, Barbara Madsen and Richard Sanders were winners in the races for three positions on the state supreme court.

Results won’t be final until the election is certified and all the votes are counted November 17.