November 7, 2017 General Election crib sheet
Welcome to the November 7 general election ballot and recommendations
Its an off-year election and there are very few positions in question in any single location. As always, I’m behind because there are a lot of locations to be covered. Ballots are (or should be) in your hands already. Don’t lose your ballot in a pile of junk mail. Just do it and get the ballot turned in.
As always, here’s the basic information:
Ballots must be returned no later than November 7.
You can mail your ballot as long as the postmark is on or before November 7. To be sure that happens, get your ballot in the mail before 4:00 pm. Remember, it needs a stamp if you mail it.
New news on where you can drop your ballot. A new ballot drop box has just been installed in Langley, right in front of the post office. You can drop your ballot into one of the 6 special collection boxes at:
Island County Elections Office 400 N Main Street Coupeville
Oak Harbor City Hall 865 SE Barrington Oak Harbor
Trinity Lutheran Church 18341 Hwy 525 Freeland
Langley Post Office 115 2nd Street Langley
Ken’s Corner Red Apple 4141 Hwy 525 Clinton
Camano Annex 121 N East Camano Dr Camano
Deadline for dropping in the collection boxes is 8:00 pm on November 7.
For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone 360-679-7366 M-F 9:00 – 4:00
Marianne’s usual disclaimer. I’m not telling you how to vote. I’m just telling you how I would/will vote. You, obviously, will decide for yourself.
Here we go again with the “advisory measures”. This is Tim Eyman’s revenge against the people of Washington. His initiative requires the bizarre and somewhat nasty language in the voters’ pamphlet, and mandates that the first option is to “repeal.” What is happening here is that the legislature has passed various fiscal bills. Eyman’s initiative demands that we all vote on those bills. While the language says this will cost $X.00, what that really means is that it will bring in $X.00 in revenue. Oh, and no matter how the vote goes, it is merely advisory and there is no need for the legislature to pay it any attention.
Advisory Vote No. 16 – Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1597. The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, the food fish excise tax rate on certain salmon and game fish, costing less than $1,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.
This tax should be:
The Office of Financial Management projects that this tax will take in about $546,000 in the next 10 years. www.ofm.wa.gov/ballot The Final Bill Report
( http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1597&Year=2017 ) explains that this is actually the result of the restructuring of wholesale fishing license & permit fees. It was requested by Dept of Fish & Wildlife. I trust that they know what they’re doing in this instance.
I will be voting to __ maintain
Advisory Vote No. 17 – Engrossed House Bill 2163. The legislature expanded, without a vote of the people, the business and occupation tax and narrowed certain retail sales and use tax exemptions, costing $565,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.
This tax increase should be:
Remember that “costing” in this case means that the state will be taking in this amount. The big issue here is not the B&O tax (well, for Boeing it is). Rather, it is the fact that Washington will, as of 1-1-18, charge sales tax on on-line purchases. That $500 mil represents the sales tax the state is currently losing out on because Amazon and Ebay and others are taking advantage of the loophole. So we’re closing a loophole here. Judging from Bloomberg’s Washington Marketplace, they’re not thrilled. We should be. Remember that the state is under a $100k/day penalty until it fully funds basic education. Closing this loophole is a big part of meeting that obligation.
https://www.bna.com/washingtons-marketplace-sales-n73014461488/. The Final Bill Report, found at http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2163&Year=2017 gives more information than most of us want, including the legal basis for imposing the taxes.
I know, it will be a drag to have to pay tax on eBay purchases, but its got to come from somewhere, and the out-of-state tax exemption actually hurts in-state retailers. I’m not thrilled with paying more, but I do want to see education funded, so
I will be voting to ___ maintain
Advisory Vote No. 18 – Engrossed House Bill 2242. The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, an additional state property tax for common schools, costing $12,949,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.
This tax should be:
If $12.9 billion looks like a lot of $$, it is. Unfortunately its not enough to fully fund education in this state, but it’s a good start. Yes, its coming out of the hides of property owners, and that is a drag. ESB 2163 (see above) is closing the sales tax loophole, which helps raise another half billion. Its got to come from somewhere, and the people and government of Washington seem adamantly opposed to a state income tax.
The state of Washington is between a rock and a hard place on the issue of funding education, and I have to say that the Republicans who dominate the Senate are not making this any easier. They are claiming that the McCleary mandate (that $100k/day fine) has already been met and that this property tax is unnecessary. Oh yeah? Even with this tax, its still not enough to meet the needs of basic education. Within the antediluvian and terribly unfair tax structure, this is the best anyone has been able to come up with. Again, I’m not thrilled at having to pay more in taxes. But at $100k/day, the state is losing $36.5 mil/year on nothing, while teachers remain underpaid and under-supported and the kids get less than the education they need and deserve. Until we reform the entire tax structure in Washington and re-order the state’s priorities, this is the best we can do.
I will be voting to ___ maintain
Proposition 1 – Island County Fire Protection District #1 – Property Tax Levy Lift. https://www.camanofire.com/
I won’t write out the whole thing, but this would authorize the Camano Fire District to increase its property tax levy from the current $1.10/$1000.00 assessed value to $1.35/$1000.00 assessed value.
https://www.camanofire.com/levy-lid-lift/ Not surprising, really. Population has increased. Number of emergency calls has increased. Tax rates by law (thank you Tim Eyman) are not allowed to increase by more than 1% without a vote. Since inflation is a lot more than 1% (my yogurt just went up 8% overnight), there is no way the fire district, or any other service district, can keep up. So they ask for a levy lift. Personally, I like the idea that if/when something really bad happens, there is someone available whose business it is to help. Its sort of like buying insurance. Sure, you could do without it, but you sure miss it if you need it and don’t have it.
I can’t vote on Camano, but unless there is something going on that I don’t know about,
I would vote Yes.
Proposition 1 – North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Property Tax Levy Lift
This one is asking for an increase from $0.76/$1000.00 assessed value to $1.11/$1000.00 assessed value. This is pretty much the same issue and the same pitch as the Camano levy lift, except that North Whidbey has a whole lot more controversy around the issue. A former fire commissioner insists that the current board is wasting money and wouldn’t need the levy if they were more frugal. This is one can of worms into which I refuse to dive. Sorry folks, I can make no recommendation because I just don’t have the time or energy to research all the ins and outs of this particular situation. It sounds truly gnarly. Given the fact that both candidates for the only contested fire district position oppose the levy, I am inclined to agree with them.
Luckily, I can’t vote on north Whidbey. If I could, I would vote no.
Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue General Obligation Bonds, $7,376,000.00.
Same story, different chapter. Instead of a levy lift, the Central Whidbey fire district wants to go with a bond, mostly for capital improvements. The thing about bonds is, you have to pay them back. In this case, that will be done by a $0.22/$1000 increase in the levy. The plan is to double the size of the Race Road fire station and replace 3 fire engines. At least they’re specific about how they’re going to spend the money.
Evidently the Coupeville fire station, right on Main Street, is staffed by volunteers. It was enlarged not all that long ago and has overnight accommodations. The Race Road fire station is staffed by paid people but has no overnight accommodations. So it becomes a question whether it requires $7 mil to upgrade the Race Road fire station and buy 3 new fire trucks.
And since I just found out, the Central Whidbey fire district runs from just north of Mutiny Bay to just south of Libbey Road.
I have now listened to the League of Women Voters discussion on this topic, and know a whole lot more. The vote-no folks say that most of the increase in call-outs has been in Coupeville (which makes sense since that is where most of the people are) and that upward of 80% of those call-outs are for medical emergencies and not for fires. They point out that Whidbey General provides EMS services and that there is unnecessary duplication. Which leads me to conclude that the bond issue is premature. It would be good for the agencies to sit down together and determine who will do what. Based on such a determination, the fire district could then decide on its future needs. I suspect people would be far more ready to vote for a levy increase after such consultation.
I can’t vote on central Whidbey, but I would vote no, with the caveat that the hospital and fire district work up a memorandum of agreement and resubmit an appropriately amended levy proposal.
North Whidbey Park & Recreation District Operation and Maintenance Levy
The current levy of $0.17/$1000.00 is expiring. The district wants to extend that expiring levy. North Whidbey Parks & Rec has something I dearly wish we had here on the south end – a public swimming pool. Its fairly old and fairly expensive to operate. Its not all the parks & rec district does, but it’s a big part of it. And there are those who do not love a swimming pool and have been lobbying against it for years. I’m not at all clear on their reasoning. No levy = no pool. This levy rollover was on the August primary ballot and went down then. This is the second try.
I would be only too happy to vote Yes.
I’m not going to comment on candidates who are running unopposed. Unless I know and like them, I do not vote for unopposed candidates.
Coupeville Town Council, position 4
Christine Crowell email@example.com
She’s a retired attorney who was recognized for her many hours of pro-bono work. She’s been in Coupeville since 2004 and loves the small-town-ness of the place. She is going through a personal/family crisis which is making her very much not available, unfortunately. In the Whidbey News-Times archives I found a great poem she wrote as a letter to the editor just before last year’s fateful federal election. In a letter this February she called herself a proud liberal and an avid patriot who respects and supports the Constitution. I found a phone number for her, but it went over to a fax screech. My sense is that this is someone who, as a ‘recovering’ attorney has the background to understand how governments work. I wish I could find information on Coupeville-specific issues.
Brett W Rebischke-Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
I was able to contact Mr Rebischke-Smith via email and he was very forthcoming. He directed me to the League of Women Voters’ Coupeville event (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu9vqJAu2c0) at which he was able to present a statement but was not allowed to take questions because his opponent (or, as Mr Rebischke-Smith put it, his alternative) was not available. My sense, from his statements at the event and in response to my email, is of someone who is intelligent, well intentioned, and who cares a great deal about the town. I’m not sure how much he knows about the workings of government. He does not express an opinion on any specific issues. He does say that he has a knack for cutting through positions to find solutions, which he says could be incredibly useful in Coupeville, especially right now. I wish I had the time to ask him what he meant by that.
If I voted in Coupeville, I would be in a deep quandary. Lord luv a duck, what a problem. You’ve got two great candidates. I think Coupeville would do well with either one.
Langley City Council, position 1
Burt Beusch email@example.com
I attended the League of Women Voters’ candidates’ night (Thank You for organizing these!) in Langley. There were many questions about the sewer system. Some months ago the mayor, in an off-the-cuff statement, suggested offering Langley’s sewer capacity to Freeland. Candidates were asked their opinion of this offer. Mr Beusch made the startling statement that such an arrangement would offer the city additional revenue, but that it would not be a long term arrangement, that Langley would want to take back that capacity as it grows. Huh? So after some years, and a bunch of new construction in Freeland, Langley is going to pull the plug? This was either a colossal mis-statement or Mr Beusch really does not understand some important fundamentals. He also expressed opposition to the idea of a safe injection site for opioid addicts. In response to a question about how to deal with the empty commercial buildings in downtown, Mr Beusch seemed to imply (and maybe I’m reading in here) that the city was at fault for the Dog House not being renovated. He said that the Historic Register had become a problem. In response to a question about whether Langley should institute a minimum wage, Mr Beusch became a bit heated, saying that was the state’s business, that the city has no right to dictate wage levels, and that the minimum wage was not intended to support a lavish lifestyle ($15.00/hour is lavish?) but was intended to be a low floor. Ok, that got me going.
On the question of the high sewer hook-up fees Mr Beusch said they were preventing growth and infrastructure improvements and were imposing a hardship. He said he would work with council and staff to deal with this issue. This is yet another issue which fries my cookies. There is a reason hook-up fees are high. They are intended to reimburse the city for the huge capital expense it undertook in building the sewage treatment plant and sewer system. Its got to come from somewhere, and hookup fees are the only real source for recouping that outlay. The treatment plant was supposed to cost $1.2 mil but came in at $5.8 mil. Clearly Mr Beusch has not done his homework on this issue. In fairness, he is not alone in that.
To his credit, Mr Beusch recognized that some of Langley’s bluffs are “scary” and that the aquifer is precious and must be protected. It bothered me that he consistently ran overtime. It felt like he was intent on having his say in spite of the clearly laid out rules. Oh, and he vehemently denied having donated $5k to Trump.
Christy Korrow firstname.lastname@example.org
Checking out Christy’s Facebook page I see that she has used the questions from the LWV forum as a jump-off point for more in-depth discussion. This is a good thing. She is obviously already thinking about the issues which were raised.
On a personal note, Christy arrived at the forum in rather an upscale dress (to my downscale way of thinking). I commented and she assured me it was Good Cheer’s finest. Since 90%+ of my clothes come from Good Cheer I could only applaud her fine taste. I feel I can understand Christy because, while she has business sense, she does not have business (stuffed shirt) head. I know her from her participation in Upper Langley. To have home-schooled her kids is a major accomplishment (I’m the mom who used to yell in frustration at her son because he couldn’t spell). She’s an organic farmer, which as a co-founder of Whidbey Tilth I really appreciate. To have worked through the entire process of actually developing a co-housing project and having people living in houses in the project is a major accomplishment as well. The reason their neighbors’ place is called Talking Circle is because of the many years those folks spent talking before actually doing. I know Upper Langley went through a similarly long process.
On the specific matter of sewer hook-up fees, Christy had the info at her fingertips. She cited the various city staff who had presented information to the PAB. She stated clearly that hookup fees fund capital improvement while utility fees fund operations. Good start. Christy was the only candidate who was aware of the County Wide Planning Policies and how those influence the allowance of individual septic systems and sewer expansion. I do disagree with her that sewer expansion will lead to protection of the bluffs, but that opinion was expressed by all the candidates.
All in all I like Christy because we share similar background experiences and it feels like when I talk to her she listens. That is a good thing. And incidentally, she studies the issues and the options for dealing with them.
If I could vote in Langley I’d vote for Christy Korrow
Langley City Council, position 2
Bill Nesbeitt email@example.com
Mr Nesbeitt was a no-show for the LWV candidates’ forum and his facebook page has not a single word about his ideas or position. He did provide a statement which was read out, and my notes are pretty negative. He said that Langley is beautiful, he was asked to serve, he wants a happy, healthy, safe, surviving, and thriving community with a strong business base focused on small business. He knows taxes are necessary but says they must be wisely allocated for fiscal and social health.
Ok, I got exactly nothing out of that. Reading the report in the Record, Mr Nesbeitt stated that the city wasted a lot of money debating the Sanctuary City proposal. While he’s willing to go with the inclusive resolution which was passed, he felt even discussing Sanctuary City was an example of bad government management. For me the bottom line is the closing line in the Record article. He says he’s seen both good and bad in Donald Trump. Sorry. Lost me right there.
Dominique Emerson firstname.lastname@example.org
I have dealt with and watched Dominique for years and years. We have different viewpoints on many issues affecting Langley. We share a rock bottom respect for human rights. I’m thinking of circles of agreement. While people can argue, if they are within a circle of agreement they don’t need to argue about the fundamentals. Inside the circle there is a certain set of beliefs, standards, ways of thinking on which all agree. Dominique and I are inside the circle of caring about what happens to people and the environment which supports them. And we are inside the circle that says there is nothing good about the current occupant of the White House.
If I could vote in Langley I would vote for Dominique Emerson.
Langley City Council, position 5
Peter Morton email@example.com
Peter is relatively new to Langley, although he has lived on the south end for some time. He’s a retired Boeing engineer and manager who has both the tech background and the strong progressive bent to be able to address major issues comprehensively. He’s definitely an info sponge. I am a bit notorious for overwhelming people with info. Didn’t bother Peter a bit.
I attended an interview with Peter by Whidbey Island Progressives. Very interesting. He was definitely comfortable with people who self-identify as Progressive. He’s come up with a phrase to describe any issue which polarizes Langley. He calls it a funicular. Makes sense to me.
Peter raised what he considered the 3 main issues in his campaign: 1) leadership and action. He feels that Thomas does not take enough of a leadership role, and intends to do so. 2) he sees the Comprehensive Plan and the city’s budget as action documents which lack mission and focus. He wants to develop a clear mission statement and focus for the direction of the comp plan and the budget. 3) he claims that Langley has a reputation as being business unfriendly and he wants to change that. He wants to encourage multi-family housing and simplify the permitting process.
I like what I see in Peter Morton. As ever, we may disagree on some specifics, but I am convinced that he is open to facts and able to draw reasonable conclusions from them.
Thomas Gill firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve known Thomas for years, both in his capacity as a city official and in his unofficial capacity as the guy who keeps the tech working. He performs a great service, the value of which I’m not sure city officials fully appreciate. When I first met him he had that typical tech-guy libertarian lean. I’ve watched that change over the years to a more community oriented way of thinking.
I’m actually sorry to see Peter and Thomas running against each other. I would like to see both of them on the council. Since that is not going to happen this time around, if I could,
I’d be voting for Peter Morton.
North Whidbey Parks & Recreation Commissioner, position 2
Mukunda-Krishna Tyson email@example.com
I could find absolutely no information about this person.
The website is that of Oak harbor High School, where Mr Chargualaf teaches civics and American government. Doesn’t tell me a whole lot about what he would do on the Parks & Rec district, but it does tell me that he deals with high school students every day.
Shane Hoffmire firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Hoffmire charged the Parks & Rec chair with conducting an executive session 9-28-17, at which she ordered Mr Hoffmire to conform to the opinions of the majority or be removed. Quite the story in the News-Times. I know the rules of public conduct and it sounds like Mr Hoffmire did the right things and the chair did all the wrong things. I’m amazed he hasn’t lost his taste for this. I admire a fighter who knows the rules and uses them. I think he is trying to salvage the Parks & Rec district in the face of some serious mis-management.
Knowing nothing else, I would vote for Shane Hoffmire. He deserves it.
North Whidbey Parks & Recreation Commissioner, position 5
Patricia Hardin email@example.com
I could find no facebook page or website, but found several letters to the editor in support of the swimming pool and other activities for kids. Good for her.
Dan Brown firstname.lastname@example.org
Evidently Mr Brown is passionate about the pool and has little patience for the current chair of the Parks & Rec commission. One has the impression that he is not alone in that opinion. It is possible he could use a little anger management therapy but obviously his heart is in the right place.
With the limited information I could find, as much as I admire Mr Brown and hope he continues to be involved, I think a vote for Patricia Hardin would probably lead to a more functional board. Luckily both of them are passionate supporters of keeping the pool open.
If I voted in Oak Harbor, I would vote for Pat Hardin.
South Whidbey Parks and Recreation Commissioner, position 5
Bigi Giese – email@example.com
The only relevant information I was able to find about Ms Giese was in today’s Whidbey Record. The Facebook page is strictly personal. It appears that Ms Giese has a fair amount of experience in sports. Not sure how well that may translate into overseeing a parks & rec agency. She’s been on the island all of a year (is my old-timer snottiness showing?) which seems like not long enough to know how things work here.
Matt Simms – firstname.lastname@example.org
There are lots of hits on Google relating to the Parks & Rec district and Matt’s role there. He’s been on the board for many years. If I had any complaint about Matt, it would be that he, like most other Parks & Rec people, has a stronger focus on the rec part than the parks part. I, of course, want more land protected in an undeveloped state. But that’s just a quibble.
I think its important for people to have more than a short history on the island before jumping into positions of management/authority. I want to know that they understand how things work here and what is important to most of the people. I think Matt has been doing a good job for us.
I’ll be voting for Matt Simms
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue District, position 1
T.J. Lamont – email@example.com
Gerald Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org
I think you would do well with either of these men. They seem to agree that the district has been mis-managed until recently and that throwing more money at it will not cure that. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (how’s that for archaic? No one even has records anymore, and kids don’t even know what they are) but if North Whidbey Fire & Rescue finds itself tripping over other agencies, its time to sit down and work out a Memorandum of Agreement about who covers which base. We want all bases covered. We don’t want agencies tripping over each other to do that.