The upcoming local election should be an exciting one.
San Juan County could possibly have one of its own in the state Legislature for the first time since Violet Boede of Orcas Island served in the state House in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.
Islanders will vote for San Juan County Superior Court judge for the first time (we used to share judges with Island County).
San Juan Island voters will elect a new County Council member from San Juan South, as well as vote on the position from Friday Harbor.
All told, voters will decide on the offices of three County Council members and a Superior Court judge, and a new state senator and two state representatives for the 40th Legislative District.
At the state level, voters will decide the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, attorney general, commissioner of Public Lands, superintendent of Public Instruction, and insurance commissioner. And of course, voters will cast their ballots for Washington state’s representatives to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and for president and vice president of the United States.
This is also the year of the first “Top Two Primary.” The Top Two Primary was passed by the people of Washington state in 2004 as Initiative 872. The major parties sued to prevent its implementation, and the Top Two Primary had been in the court system ever since.
On March 18, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision and upheld the state’s right to implement Initiative 872.
The court concluded that the Top Two Primary is not intended to pick the parties’ nominees for the General Election. Rather, the purpose of the primary is to winnow the number of candidates to two, allowing voters to select the two most popular candidates to advance to the General Election. The two candidates with the greatest support advance to the General Election, regardless of party affiliation.
The court also ruled that since Top Two Primary had never been tried, the parties could prove no harm from it. So all eyes will be on Washington state this year to see how this new system works.
The Top Two Primary does not affect local candidates, as most of our local offices are non-partisan. Other candidates will now express a preference for a political party, or no preference of party, when they file for candidacy. This preference will be stated beside the candidate’s name on the ballot; a candidate’s preference does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party.
What does this mean to voters? Voters will no longer be required to “pick a party” on their ballot, and will be able to choose among all candidates for each office. Candidates on the ballot will include not only candidates who prefer major political parties, but also candidates who prefer minor political parties.
Candidate filing week is June 2-6. Candidate filings may be submitted by mail starting Friday. Candidate packages are available now at the Elections Office.
Ballots for the Aug. 19 primary will be in the mail by Aug. 1. Now is a good time for voters to make sure their registration information is current.
To report name or address changes, for example, or to request a temporary forwarding address, call the Elections Office at 378-3357.
Local choices could make some history