Saturday, June 21, 2008

Beverly Davidson volunteers to do Ranked Choice Voting education

Beverly Davidson, candidate for Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer, is running in a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race with five other candidates. Due to the strength of the field, it is unlikely that any candidate will receive a majority of the first choices.

Davidson's brochure has a section on RCV in which she notes this is the first year Pierce County will be using RCV. She goes on to say "Voters will rank their top three choices for all Pierce County Government elected officials on the ballot." She then volunteers to explain the process in detail.

It is nice that a candidate is volunteering to help with voter education. Of course, for Davidson to win, she will need voters to list her as either their first choice, second choice or third choice, so it is her self-interest to volunteer.

Good for Davidson.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pierce County Council poised for November shake-up

Bloggers Note: This article appeared in the Peninsula Gateway which circulates in the Gig Harbor area of Pierce County.

Chairman Terry Lee enters race for County Assessor-Treasurer
Paige Richmond
of the Gateway
Published: 03:51PM June 18th, 2008
The outcome of this November’s election could mean a new path for Terry Lee.

Lee, a Gig Harbor resident, has served on the seven-member Pierce County Council since 2003 and as chair of the council since 2006. He represents District 7, which includes the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula areas.

Although Lee’s term on the council isn’t up until 2010, he’s decided to enter the race this year for another position: County Assessor-Treasurer. If elected to the non-partisan position in November, Lee, a Republican, will leave both his council seat and the council chairman’s position open prematurely.

“If you’re in this role as an elected official, and you want to serve again, you look for opportunities,” Lee said about why he’s running for a position now instead of 2010. “If I waited until I term-limited off the council, I wouldn’t have anything to run for.”

Term limits are determining factors in this year’s council election. It’s not just national politics that could see a shake-up come this November; the Pierce County Council is poised for a change in leadership, too. Each member of the council is either up for re-election in 2008 or has entered a race for another county position.

“Part of it is because of term limits,” said Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy, who has entered this year’s competition for County Executive. “It’s not uncommon, in a county with term limits.”

Council members are limited to two terms in Pierce County. Those members who, like Lee, hope to continue serving as elected officials begin looking for new roles before their second term ends. Republican council member Shawn Bunney, for example, entered the race for County Executive this year, although his second term representing Council District 1 isn’t up until 2010.

Council member Barbara Gelman, a Democrat who represents District 5, is in a similar boat as Lee: She is also running for County Assessor-Treasurer, although her second term on the council ends in 2010.

Three of the council members — Democrat Timothy Farrell, who represents District 4, and Republicans Roger Bush and Dick Muri, who represent Districts 3 and 6, respectively — reach the end of their first terms this year and are running for re-election.

Democrat Calvin Goings’ second term ends in 2008, so the District 2 representative is making a run for County Executive.

Early last year, Lee had also announced his candidacy for the executive seat, only to withdraw shortly afterward. He said the decision was based on a desire to spend more time at home.

“I’ve been asked by a lot of people to do that,” Lee said about running for County Executive. “It’s a regional-type position, where I’m gone all the time. I’m getting to be at an age where having a private life is important to me, as well.”

The assessor-treasurer job, Lee said, fits best with his experience in both the private and public sectors. The position, which is being vacated by Ken Madsen this year, involves evaluating property for taxation.

Lee served on both the Pierce County Planning Commission and the Peninsula Advisory Commission addressing land-use issues before running for his council seat. One of his goals as assessor-treasurer, he said, is to provide public outreach about taxation.

“I think there’s a little bit of voodoo magic in property tax evaluation and assessment,” Lee said. “I think there’s a good opportunity to educate people about those things, and I’d like to do that.”

He said another of his goals is to provide tax relief for Pierce County residents who are “being taxed out of their homes.”

If Lee is elected to the Assessor-Treasurer’s seat in November, the Pierce County Republican Party would put forward three prioritized recommendations to replace him on the county council. The appointment would serve from January to November 2009, when the seat would be open for general election.

The appointed replacement, however, would not take Lee’s chairman role. That position would be chosen by the six other council members.

If Lee fails at his bid, he’ll continue as council member until 2010. By then, Lee could have another option for continuing his public service: Some Pierce County residents are attempting to add a measure to the 2009 ballot that would allow council members to run for a third term.

If the measure passes, Lee said he’d run again.

“I enjoy it. I just really enjoy it,” he said. “When I was first elected to the council, I thought, ‘If I could get a second term, that would be enough.’ But now, I’m not ready to retire.”

Roles to change in county

Each member of the seven-person Pierce County Council is running in this year’s election — some for re-election, some for new positions. Here’s a breakdown of the council members’ campaigns:

Two council members are running for County Executive. Calvin Goings, a Democrat from District 1, and Shawn Bunney, a Republican from District 2, are both running for the executive seat, which is being vacated John Ladenburg. Their terms end in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Democrat Pat McCarthy, the current county auditor, and former Republican Mike Lonergan, who has run for the seat twice before, are also in the race.

Roger Bush, a Republican from District 3, is up for re-election. He has served on the council for one term. Democrat Bruce Lachney is running against him.

Timothy M. Farrell, a Democrat from District 4, is up for re-election. He has served on the council for one term. Independent Ken Paulson is Farrell’s opponent.

Two council members are running for County Assessor-Treasurer. Barbara Gelman, a Democrat from District 5, and Terry Lee, a Republican from District 7, both reach the end of their second terms on the county council in 2010. Four other candidates — Dale Washam, Jan Shabro, Bernardo Tuma and Beverly Davidson — are running for the non-partisan position.

Dick Muri, a Republican from District 6, is up for re-election. He has served on the council for one term. Democrat Vincent Stewart is running against him.

Reach Reporter and Columnist Paige Richmond at 253-853-9243 or by e-mail at

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Secretary of State approves certification of voting system for Pierce County's Ranked Choice Voting

June 13, 2008

Contact: Brian Zylstra
Deputy Communications Director
(360) 902-4173

Olympia...Secretary of State Sam Reed has authorized Pierce County to use its voting equipment for the Ranked Choice Voting system for the Nov. 4 elections for County Executive, County Council and other county offices.

Reed, the state’s chief elections officer, approved the county’s voting system after the Voting Systems Review Board held a public hearing on the system and recommended approval of this provisional certification.

“I understand it’s critically important for Pierce County to have this software to carry out Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for the county’s citizens,” Reed said. “In fact, it is the only county in Washington using RCV. Our office recently conducted a test for the RCV system, and we approved the results. The software and equipment met the standards established in the testing process.”

In November 2006, Pierce County voters approved Charter Amendment No. 3 — Instant Runoff Voting, which provides that the election of all county officials, except judges and the prosecuting attorney, be conducted using Ranked Choice Voting. All qualifying candidates will appear directly on the General Election ballot.

Ranked Choice Voting allows Pierce County voters to rank their first-, second- and third-choice candidates for certain county offices. For the RCV races, no primary will be held. The RCV election will be held at the General Election.

Beginning this year, Pierce County will use Ranked Choice Voting to elect all county offices. The following county offices are up for election in 2008: Executive, Sheriff, Assessor-Treasurer, and County Council district positions 2, 3, 4 and 6.

All other races that Pierce County voters will vote on this year – including congressional, statewide and local – will appear on the August 19 Primary ballot.


Friday, June 13, 2008

MBA's First Choice: Pat McCarthy

This past week the Master Builders Association of Pierce County announced their first choice for Pierce County Executive is Pat McCarthy. Congratulations to Pat McCarthy.

Since the Pierce County Executive race is a Ranked Choice Voting election, voters will be called upon to list their second and third choices in this election. We wonder who is the second choice of the Master Builders Association. Is it Shawn Bunney or Mike Lonergan? We guess it is not Calvin Goings, but we could be wrong.

We hope that the Master Builders will let us in on the secret.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nader, Barr and Lonergan

When the media refers to Ralph Nader, almost always there are references to him being a spoiler and voters who vote for Nader as wasting their vote and/or really voting for McCain.

Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr is now the Libertarian nominee for President. Almost all of the media coverage of Barr dwells on whether or not a vote for Barr is wasted or really a vote for Obama.

Former Republican Mike Lonergan is running a third party campaign for Pierce County Executive. No one is talking about him being a spoiler. No one is talking about a vote for Lonergan throwing the election to one of the Democrats. Why?

Nader and Barr are running for President. The Presidential election is a plurality election where voters are only allowed to list their first choice and the candidate with the most first choices wins a state's electoral votes whether they have majority support or not.

Lonergan is running in the first major partisan Ranked Choice Voting election in the US. In this election, voters will be allowed to list their first choice, second choice and third choice. If one candidate receives a majority of the first choices, then that candidate wins. However, if no candidate receives a majority of first choices, then the candidate who has the fewest first choices is eliminated, that candidate's votes are reallocated to the second choices of the voters. If one candidate then has a majority of the votes, that candidate wins. If no one has a majority, then the process above is repeated. Thus, as long as the voters who list Lonergan as their first choice also list the Republican, Shawn Bunney, as their second choice, then Lonergan will not be a spoiler.

This is much healthier for democracy. Lonergan supporters can vote their conscience with their first choice, and still list Bunney or a different candidate as their second choice. This vote will not help elect their least favorite candidate, but merely properly reveal the voter's true preferences.

It also gives Bunney an incentive to ask for the second choices of Lonergan supporters. Bunney can be hurt by a possible undervote of Lonergan supporters. Bunney needs to encourage Lonergan supporters to cast that important second choice. He is likely to need those second choices to win.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Oregon Effort to Give IRV option to cities and counties

Some prominent candidates and elected officials are campaigning to provide Oregon cities and counties with the option to elect their public officials using IRV. We commend these officials for their efforts.

In the state of Washington, Senate Bill 6000 in the last session was voted out of committee, but did not make it through the Rules Committee. Several legislators expressed a desire to see what happens in Pierce County in November before giving cities the authority to use Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) or Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to elect their public officials.

Candidates have now filed to run for office in Pierce County and the voters will be treated to more choice in November. There will be partisan and non-partisan RCV elections on the ballot and some of the races promise to be quite competitive.

State legislators in Washington will be called upon to consider a local option in the 2009 session as well.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) races in Pierce County

For more information about the County Executive race, see here.

For more information about the County Assessor-Treasurer race, see here.

Now that filing week is over in Pierce County, we know who is running in each of the races, it appears as if we will have three very interesting RCV elections this November in Pierce County.

The County Executive race has been going on for months now and all four of the known candidates signed up to run this week. There will be one Republican (Shawn Bunney), two Democrats (Calvin Goings and Pat McCarthy) and one Executive Excellence candidate (Mike Lonergan). About the only thing insiders are willing to predict about this race is that no candidate will receive a majority of the first choices, so candidates will have quite the incentive to ask for second and third choices. This will be the largest partisan RCV race in modern US history. The Pierce County voters and elections department will be making history together.

The non-partisan County Assessor-Treasurer race has attracted quite a field of candidates. There are six candidates, all of whom have either held political office before or have run for political office before. Once again, it is unlikely that one candidate will receive over 50% of the first choices, so campaigning for second and third choices is likely to be a big deal. This race is a poster child for why the newspapers and other endorsers should tell voters about their second and third choices.

The partisan County Council seat for District #2 promises to be interesting as well. Joyce McDonald, the Republican, is the best known candidate as she is a sitting State Representative. However, this seat is currently held by Democrat Calvin Goings who is now running for County Executive. Two Democrats (Carolyn Merrival and Al Rose) are angling to fill Calvin's seat. They will have to work together to beat McDonald or else McDonald will win easily.

Pierce County voters will have many choices in November for county level offices and sparse choices at the state level. The contrast will be stark. We believe voters will prefer more choices to just one or two.

The non-partisan County Assessor-Treasurer race in particular will provide a nice example of how non-partisan RCV races could work in Washington. Next year's legislature would do well to watch this race and consider giving local jurisdictions such as cities, port districts and school districts the option to elect their officials using RCV.

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Candidate Filings in Pierce County RCV elections

For more information about the County Executive race, see here.

For more information about the County Assessor-Treasurer race, see here.

Pierce County will be using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to elect its county level officials this November. These races include County Executive, Assessor-Treasurer, Sheriff and 4 County Council positions. This past week was the week to file for these offices.

For County Executive, the following four candidates filed to run:

Shawn Bunney (R)
Calvin Goings (D)
Mike Lonergan (Executive Excellence)
Pat McCarthy (D)

For the non-partisan position of Assessor-Treasurer, the following candidates filed to run:

Beverly Davidson
Barbara Gelman
Terry Lee
Jan Shabro
Bernando Tuma
Dale Washam

For the non-partisan position of Sheriff, the following candidates filed:

Jesse Hill
R.P. Kollu
Paul Pastor

For County Council, District #2, the following candidates filed:

Joyce McDonald (R)
Carolyn Merrival (D)
Al Rose (D)

For County Council, District #3, the following candidates filed:

Roger Bush (R)
Bruce Lachney (D)

For County Council, District #4, the following candidates filed:

Tim Farrell (D)
Ken Paulson (I)

For County Council, District #6, the following candidates filed:

Dick Muri (R)
Vincent Stewart (D)

Editor's Note: We believe that the Jesse Hill running for Sheriff is actually the person better known as Robert Hill. It is possible that he may be ruled out of the race.

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