restored by making the elected offices nonpartisan.
An effort to do so is now underway in King County. Citizens for Independent Government is gathering signatures to place Initiative 26 before King County voters this August. Initiative 26 will make the offices of King County Executive, King County Council, and King County Assessor nonpartisan, giving voters the freedom to select from all candidates for these county charter offices without having to declare a party.
Nonpartisan county government will improve competition in elections. Partisan primaries are often uncontested, limiting the field to one candidate from each party before voters have an opportunity to weigh in. This discourages many qualified candidates who are not firmly rooted in the partisan structure and takes focus off local issues, which are predominately nonpartisan.
King County primarily works with local nonpartisan governments, including city councils and fire, hospital, and utility districts. County officials should view basic services through the same nonpartisan lens. That is why the Suburban Cities Association of King County, made up of elected officials representing 37 of King County’s 39 cities, has supported nonpartisan council elections. Over 25 mayors and city council members from Snoqualmie to Federal Way have also joined countless citizen supporters in endorsing Initiative 26.
Nonpartisan reform is not new to King County. Many of the original freeholders supported nonpartisan offices while drafting the county charter in the late 1960s. It was again recommended during the merger of King County and Metro in the early 1990s, but each attempt was rejected by the parties and the partisan county council. In 1997, the King County Council again refused to place the issue of partisanship before voters, ignoring recommendations from the Municipal League, the League of Women Voters, and its own Charter Review Commission. In King County’s 39-year history as a home rule charter county, the public has never been allowed to vote on this fundamental issue.
King County voters can finally have that opportunity by signing a petition to place Initiative 26 on the ballot. Together, we will improve local government while sending a message to our local leaders and political parties that elections should be about choice and local government should be about service.
• Joe Fain is the chair of Citizens for Independent Government and has served as staff to both Republican and Democratic members of the King County Council as well as the nonpartisan King County District Court.
Kyle Twede, owner of Twede’s Cafe, is the Valley Record’s latest Citizen of the Week.
The award is co-sponsored by the Snoqualmie Valley Record and Replicator Graphics.
Twede is the man behind the pies at the annual Cherry Pie Eating Contest, a fixture in North Bend’s Festival at Mount Si (formerly known as Alpine Days).
Twede also helps a local man, Al Cullens, who resides in the North Bend transitional home, support himself by keeping a container behind his business for aluminum cans that the man collects. Twede takes them into Seattle periodically for collection and crushing, and brings the cash proceeds back for Cullens.
“It takes a lot of gumption to go out and collect cans,” Twede said of Cullens, who is in his ‘80s and has difficulty walking because of problems with his knees. “He’d be a citizen of the week.”
Twede’s pies get sloppily devoured every summer during the Festival at Mount Si. He is happy to be part of the fun.
“I love it, the little kids eating the cherry pie,” he said. “We like to be part of downtown, we want the locals to come. Anything we can do to promote the downtown.”
Twede’s Cafe gives to local schools, and the owner isn’t averse to feeding the homeless when they sometimes visit.
Twede has a minister’s license and has married people in North Bend.
“[Couples] come to me and ask me to perform the service,” he said. Twede asks for a $150 fee for his ministerial duties, then donates that to charities following the service.
Twede is married and lives outside of North Bend. Born and raised at Eastgate, he attended Issaquah schools, joined the armed service and traveled the world.
“I came back here after traveling all over, because it’s probably the prettiest place I’ve ever been,” Twede said. “Washington is really beautiful.” Twede has loved the Valley for its small town feel.
• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition? Send your ideas to email@example.com.