Voters across the state had their say Tuesday night on the cost of car tabs and the resurrection of affirmative action. In Snohomish County, they also weighed in on who should lead their cities and protect their safety.
Here are five takeaways from the first night of ballot counting.
Tim Eyman is less unpopular than car tabs and Sound Transit
It’s no secret Tim Eyman has bent or broken most every rule in the state’s election conduct rule book. Polls show he’s no longer held in high esteem by most who know of him. But when Eyman gives voters a chance to lower the cost of car tabs — as he did with Initiative 976 — they overlook his unscrupulous behavior to secure the savings. I-976 was passing in 35 of the state’s 39 counties Tuesday night, though it was pretty even in Island and Thurston counties. Close to two-thirds of voters in Snohomish and Pierce counties backed it. A lot of them likely suffered sticker shock following passage of Sound Transit 3 and counted on getting some relief. It didn’t happen.
Tuesday they exacted their revenge though Sound Transit lawyers will be busy trying to minimize the damage.
Affirmative action is still a bad idea to many
A generation ago, Washington voters barred the state from using affirmative action in deciding who to hire, admit to public colleges and award contracts. On Tuesday, nearly 52 percent cast ballots to keep the prohibition in place. Voters in 35 counties — the same ones backing I-976 — were rejecting Referendum 88, and by extension Initiative 1000 which seeks to remove the prohibition. Backers of affirmative action aren’t throwing in the towel. Referendum 88’s fortunes hinge on King County, where it enjoys great support and where the largest pile of ballots are left to be counted. But if they come up short, there are rumblings of trying again in 2020.
Where did all those conservatives come from?
Democrats in Snohomish County should be mildly concerned by what transpired Tuesday night. Majorities in the county backed lower car tabs and opposed affirmative action — the exact opposite positions of the Democratic Party.
Sheriff Ty Trenary, who was embraced by the party’s biggest names for pushing a mindset of compassion before corporal punishment of wrongdoers, is out. Brian Sullivan, a Democratic county councilman and political mainstay this century, trailed in his bid for county treasurer. And though Megan Dunn is winning a county council seat, her 52 percent in a district that’s always elected Democrats makes for a closer result than some anticipated. For Democrats, there’s much to review about their party’s performance. Less so for Republicans. They won a few city council and mayoral races and their party leaders appear to be cranking up the machinery for 2020.
This seat of power isn’t getting surplussed
A protracted tug-of-war for power between Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson and her detractors on the City Council ended Tuesday. Voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure to get rid of the strong-mayor form of government in favor of one in which the council hires a manager for the city. And the electorate booted Councilman Scott Whelpley, an architect of the failed measure and vocal critic of Gregerson, from office. He is losing his re-election bid to a fellow councilman, Richard Emery.
A kibosh on kabooms is a good thing
Finally, fireworks may soon be out as a potential entertainment option in neighborhoods of Arlington and unincorporated urban areas of Snohomish County. Leaders of the city and the county wanted voters’ advice on whether to ban them. The answer they got was a resounding yes. Voters need to be vigilant. Politicians, as Eyman will tell you, don’t always do what the electorate wants.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.