Filing week for candidates is full of surprises

A column by Valley resident Roger Ledbetter.

Candidate filing week (May 11-15) is an exciting time because it reveals whose running for elected office. Now we know who will be on our Aug. 4 primary ballots. There were surprising results.

Washington state is divided into 49 Legislative Districts. Each district elects one senator and two representatives to the Legislature in Olympia. Snoqualmie and North Bend are in the 5th Legislative District, which goes north past Carnation, south to Enumclaw, west to Issaquah/Sammamish and east to Snoqualmie pass.

The 5th District historically trends red, but filing week had unprecedented results.

Democratic State Rep. Lisa Callan filed for re-election, drawing no opponent. Her work as vice-chair of both the budget/finance committee and the human services/early learning committee makes it formidable to challenge her.

Democratic State Rep. Bill Ramos drew a Republican and a “Unity Restoration” opponent. The Unity Restoration Party appears to be a party of one: Cyrus Krohn, who is challenging Ramos as an “independent,” creating U&R as the vehicle to do it, but that belies his record of Republican involvement. He was an intern to Vice President Dan Quayle and was director of the Republican National Committee New Media Division. A digital marketing professional, Krohn calculates running as U&R is better than running as a Republican. The other candidate in the race for District 5 is Ken Moninski, who registered as a Republican.

Ramos serves on the transportation committee and played an important role in getting money allocated to fix State Route 18. Currently, Ramos is absorbed on how Washington can safely reopen and recover while facing 20% drop in revenue because of COVID-19

The 5th Legislative District race for Senator will be fascinating to watch as it pits two qualified Democratic candidates against each other. The Republican candidate dropped out, leaving incumbent Mark Mullet facing a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Ingrid Anderson.

At the recent general meeting of the 5th District Dems, neither candidate could muster the two-thirds vote to win endorsement. A motion to solely endorse Anderson was defeated with 65 votes for and 55 votes against. About 80 votes were needed to pass.

Mullet is valued for his years of steady service and many accomplishments for the community. Anderson explains she is running because of his votes against investments in mental health, special education, K-12 and higher education as well as the environment.

Anderson grew up in the Snoqualmie-North Bend area and still lives here. She is an emergency room nurse, and is vice chair of the Washington State Nursing Association’s PAC Board of Trustees. Anderson is working towards her MSN degree to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Democrats (and likely many Republicans) gave an enormous sigh of relief at learning Rep. Matt Shea (R-District 4) isn’t running for re-election. Great energy was expended trying to expel Shea from the Legislature after a report commissioned by the House found he had “planned and participated in domestic terrorism against the United States before and during the armed takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.” Shea’s manifesto, “Biblical Basis for War,” outlined strategies for a religious war and advocated “killing all males” who don’t embrace Shea’s “Christianity.”

Filing week had troubles. VoteWA is the “modernized system elections system,” implemented by Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and the system had problems. One snafu involved Precinct Committee Officers (PCO). State code requires PCO candidates to swear they’re members of the party they represent. PCOs are party representatives who communicate with voters in their precinct and “get out the vote.” Wyman neglected to include an oath in the PCO filing form. Neither party wants members of opposing parties masquerading as their PCOs. Democrats alerted the SOS of the problem. When the form was changed, 600 PCO filings were deleted in King County alone. Also, the Stranger reports some Democratic PCOs indicated they could only file as Republicans.

Democratic Representative Gael Tarleton of the 36th Legislative District filed to challenge Wyman for SOS. I participated in a Zoom discussion with her on May 16, and Tarleton said if elected, software will be tested before implementation.

Tarleton has an impressive background. With a master’s degree in government and national security studies, she worked from 1981-1990 as a senior defense intelligence analyst. From 1990-2002, she was director of SAIC Global Technology. From 2007-2013, she was elected as Port of Seattle Commissioner. Currently, Tarleton is in her fourth term representing the 36th District.

Tarleton lists several things she would like to accomplish as SOS. Her top priorities are to increase participation, encourage voter registration, and guarantee Washington’s elections are secure. She believes there are many opportunities for interstate cooperation between SOS’s, such as plans for holding elections during crises, having a national test agency for election equipment, and developing a national plan to protect elections from foreign or domestic interference.

Acknowledging Washingtonians have historically been opposed to declaring party affiliation, Tarleton suggested “ranked choice voting” should be investigated, as an alternative to the “top two primary” has a number of problems including undemocratic results.

In a future article, I will explain how ranked choice voting works, and why it would be better than the top two primary. In the meantime, please stay safe.

Roger Ledbetter is a politically-active resident of the Valley. He and his family have lived in Snoqualmie since 1979.

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