Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tim Farrell endorses Goings, McCarthy and Lonergan

For more postings about the County Executive race, click here.

Pierce County Councilmember Tim Farrell (D) has taken time out from his re-election campaign against Ken Paulson (I) to endorse Calvin Goings (D) as his first choice, Pat McCarthy (D) as his second choice and Mike Lonergan (EE) as his third choice in the County Executive race. Farrell is shown in the picture waving yard signs from all three choices.

Farrell notes that he has enjoyed working with Goings on the County Council and looks forward to working with him as County Executive. Farrell's endorsements are in line with the "One, Two, Blue" video put out by the Pierce County Democratic Party.

Farrell encourages all voters to list all of their choices. In the heavily contested County Executive race, no candidates is likely to received a majority of first choices, so second and third choices are likely to decide the race.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barbara Gelman for Assessor-Treasurer

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

By Barbara Gelman

Thank you for the opportunity to provide additional information on why I am asking for your vote as the next Pierce County Assessor Treasurer.

I have spent the last 20 plus years in public service representing the citizens of Pierce County. For eight of those years, I served as Assessor-Treasurer (AT). My knowledge of the RCW’s, State Department of Revenue, and County processes and procedures relating to the AT Office, place me well above any other candidate in terms of background and experience. I will be a ble to hit the ground running from day one. No on-the-job training will be required.

I also still have strong relationships with staff within the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office. I have a reputation for hiring good people and establishing clear and comprehensive policies and procedures. I worked hard to ensure that systems were in place to help employees do their work more efficiently, and to make sure information was available for the public easily and quickly.

Additionally, it is widely acknowledged that Customer Service is my number one priority. I believe in an open-door policy and will commit to making my office accessible to all the citizens of Pierce County. We are there to serve you! During my tenure, the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office was recognized for its customer service and customer friendly atmosphere. If elected, I will commit to insuring that attit ude is reinstated.

I will also work hard to assure the taxpayers of Pierce County that over $89 billion work of assessed property is fairly, accurately, and honestly appraised. Nobody should pay more than they are legally responsible…not one penny more! I will also pledge to offer assistance with the appeal process for any citizen who believes their appraisal is too high.

I will be honored to receive your vote.

Thank you,

Barbara Gelman

For information about Jan Shabro.

For information about other candidates.


Social Conservatives and Republicans: Mike Lonergan and Shawn Bunney

In the heavily contested Pierce County Executive race, many observers are giving Pierce Councilmember Shawn Bunney a good shot at winning the County Executive race, but he will probably need second choices from social conservatives to obtain a majority.

Earlier this year, Bunney voted with the three Democrats on the County Council to give health benefits to the domestic partners of county employees. Some social conservatives were upset by Bunney's vote.

Originally, Mike Lonergan was talking about running for County Executive as an independent. When Bunney voted for the domestic partner benefits, some social conservatives encouraged Lonergan to try to run as a Republican. Lonergan went to the Pierce County Republican convention and attempted to get approval to run as a Republican. Lonergan fell one vote short of obtaining that right.

Lonergan decided to continue his campaign by starting his own party, the Executive Excellence party, as a way of emphasizing his strengths in the race. Lonergan is still in the race.

Social conservatives are now deciding whether or not to list Lonergan as their first choice. Many of them are likely to do so. The big question is "Will they list Bunney as their second choice?" If they do this, they may well help elect Bunney while registering their dissatisfaction with Bunney's position on domestic partners.

If Bunney succeeds in winning a majority in this year of Obama, it will be a real political feat. To win the majority, he will need the second choices of the voters who select Lonergan as their first choice.


Release RCV vote results sooner, not later

This editorial appears in the Tacoma News Tribune today.

According to the Pierce County voter’s pamphlet, “the world will be watching” to see how ranked-choice voting is handled here when it is used for the first time in the state of Washington.

It looks like the world will have to hold its breath and wait – along with Pierce County voters and the candidates in the four county races affected: executive, assessor-treasurer, sheriff and County Council District 2.

After the polls close Nov. 4, the auditor’s office will release an immediate tally of how many first-place votes each candidate receives as well as updated first-place votes each day as more ballots are counted.

But it won’t release the number of second- and third-place votes each candidate gets, and it won’t apply the algorithm that allocates those second- and third-place votes – and determines the winner – until the Friday after the election.

Even though the computer software being used on the RCV ballots apparently quickly tabulates and updates the results, Auditor Pat McCarthy says it makes sense to wait until most ballots have been received. A memo from her to the candidates states that applying the RCV algorithm earlier than Friday on a smaller number of ballots “would unnecessarily increase the risk of the appearance of fluctuating results.”

But voters are familiar with fluctuating results. They’ve seen the lead in close races tip back and forth between candidates over the course of days, even weeks. (Remember the wild 2004 gubernatorial race?) Voters understand that the count can change as more ballots arrive in the days after the election.

Even if the auditor’s office doesn’t apply the computer algorithm that determines the final winner, the very least it should do is release a daily tally of all the votes, not just the first-place votes. That way voters can see what’s going on in almost real time. And it would help dispel suspicion that anything untoward might be going on in the auditor’s office.

That’s no small consideration. McCarthy is a county executive candidate whose race is one of those on the ranked-choice voting ballot. And she’s already raised some hackles by putting a survey on ranked-choice voting in the ballot that included a signed note. If anything, she should bend over backwards to increase transparency in her office’s proceedings.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jan Shabro for Assessor-Treasurer

By Jan Shabro

People should vote for me, Jan Shabro, as their next Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer because:

I have both the experience and credentials to be a good administrator.

I have a Masters degree in Administration from Pacific Lutheran University. In the private sector, I served both as manager of a successful business and instructor to middle management at Boeing. In the public arena, I was a school teacher who instructed hundreds of students, conferenced with parents and collaborated with colleagues. I was elected twice as a Pierce County Council member and served as both chair of the council and various committees. I served four years as a state representative. My peers elected me as caucus chair where I presided over meetings as we analyzed complex legislation. And I dealt with a variety of staff issues.

I will work for customer satisfaction.

When elected, I will convene a committee of citizens to find ways to make the office more customer friendly. We will investigate ways to: make online tax payment more affordable (currently there’s a 2% charge for each transaction); remind people to pay their property taxes on time and avoid costly fines; effectively educate people in the appeal process when they disagree with their assessments; and other issues that concern citizens.

I will advocate for lower property taxes.

I will be a strong advocate for you, the taxpayer. As a state legislator, I voted against legislation that would raise your property taxes and voted for laws that would lower property taxes. And, as your next Assessor-Treasurer I will continue to fight for state laws that provide property tax relief.

Consequently, with my administrative experience, commitment to customer satisfaction, and pledge to work for lower property taxes, I, Jan Shabro, am your first choice for Asssessor-Treasurer.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Dave Seago: Release all elections results on Election Day

Dave Seago (in a posting on the Tacoma News Tribune editorial blog) has called for the Pierce County Elections Department to release all election results at the same times. In particular, Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy announced her department intends to wait until Friday evening to release the preliminary results on county level elections.

"McCarthy currently plans to release on election night only the totals of first-place rankings candidates receive in the RCV contests. These include races for county executive, County Council, sheriff and assessor.

I don't think it makes any sense for the auditor to arbitrarily release only part of the preliminary results on election night. Voters understand full well that first-night results can change, especially after enduring the aftermath of the 2004 governor's race in Washington.

And because McCarthy herself is a candidate for county executive, she needs to avoid any possible perception that she would be privy to the full results before other candidates and the public.

McCarthy needs to be purer than Caesar's wife at this point. That means releasing all the results, right away.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government (I'm a board member), state Auditor and former Pierce County auditor Brian Sonntag, and RCV proponents agree on that score.

In following discussion, "ballot image file" refers to a computer file that contains all the information from voter ballots used to determine the results of the RCV election. The file includes each voter's rankings of the candidates in each RCV race."

State Auditor Brian Sonntag says:

"If returns are available .... and being published .... how do you NOT
publish ALL you have?"

The Pierce County Auditor's office should release results for ALL races on Tuesday night.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ranked choice voting improves voters’ say in outcomes

Below is an excerpt from an oped article by Richard Anderson-Connolly and Kelly Haughton in the Tacoma News Tribune.

"Pierce County voters are participating in record numbers in a historic ranked choice voting (RCV) election with more choices and more security than any previous election.

RCV is simply better than the top two, the system used for statewide offices. It’s more efficient, more democratic and more secure. (For a description of RCV, see The News Tribune’s front-page article Oct. 12 or visit the auditor’s Web page.)

RCV produces a majority winner in one election, not two. Top two is just another term for a two-round runoff. The primary election reduces the choices, and the second picks the winner."

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Blogger likes Ranked Choice Voting

A local blogger writes about his voting experience with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).

"The weird thing was that our local elections were “ranked voting.” This forced me to actually look at all the candidates and really figure out who to put in the second and third slots. Basically, we all vote for our top three in order and the winner is the one that eventually gathers the most moss, er, votes as everything lumps together. In Washington we hate parties because we are founded on the grange system…the grandfather of the caucus kind of, I guess. We just don’t want to tell anyone what “party” we are, and then we have gone all the way to the Supreme Court to keep from having to do such a silly thing. The idea is that I can participate in the process for both parties, as long as I vote for one candidate one time. That’s about as simple as I can put it.

I really liked the ranked-choice voting. It did make me read more and make a few more phone calls before I filled out the ballot."

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

McCarthy's name didn't belong on survey

Anonymous. The News Tribune. Tacoma, Wash.: Oct 23, 2008. pg. B.6
Full Text (366 words)
(Copyright (c) 2008 The News Tribune)

Election officials can't look like they have their thumbs on the scale, especially when they are on the ballot.

Pat McCarthy knows that. So what was the Pierce County auditor thinking when she signed her name on a voter survey stuffed into the envelopes bearing mail ballots that will decide her bid for Pierce County executive?

The answer, we hope, was that she wasn't thinking.

The survey registers somewhere between "What's the big deal?" and "How dare she!" on the outrage meter. Some
voters for whom the Pierce County executive race is somewhat of an afterthought in this presidential election year - might not even make the connection.

The intent -to gauge voter response to the county's new ranked choice system -is commendable. But the execution was awful. McCarthy should have been more careful in a year when she was running for election.

Sure, the Secretary of State's office's says McCarthy has done nothing wrong legally. She probably hasn't. But a more telling question is, what would Sam do?

Secretary of State Sam Reed, known for his scrupulous administration of elections, is extra-cautious about using the trappings of his office to get his name before voters. A ballot stuffer that Reed's office put out to explain August's Top Two
primary included no names from the Secretary of State's office.

McCarthy's survey is certainly not the only case of Pierce County executive candidates using public funds to boost their candidacies. To a certain extent, such publicity is a perk of elected office. But coming this close to the election, her case is the most troubling.

We give McCarthy the benefit of the doubt - not because we endorsed her as the second best candidate in the bunch last Sunday, but because we've watched her the past six years.

Her administration of the auditor's office has been above board, professional and customer service oriented. The survey appears to be largely patterned after a similar voter poll she conducted in 2004 when the state introduced the pick-a-party primary.

But this is a blemish on her record. The ballot envelope is sacred. The county's chief elections official should know that more than anyone.

Credit: The News Tribune

Pat McCarthy defiled polls by signing letter

by Peter Callaghan. The News Tribune. Tacoma, Wash.: Oct 23, 2008. pg. B.1
Full Text (655 words)
(Copyright (c) 2008 The News Tribune)

It wouldn't be a real Pierce County election without some Shameless Self-Promotion using tax dollars.

County Council members being "interviewed" on the government cable channel. Creative name-dropping in the voters pamphlet. Mailed invitations to town hall meetings in the middle of campaign season.

Call it SSP, the incumbents' edge.

But until now the promotion had stopped short of the polling place and its current equivalent, the vote-by-mail envelope. Not anymore.

Inside each ballot packet is a survey addressed to "Dear Voter." It asks them to fill out a short survey explaining how they feel about the new ranked-choice voting system. It's signed "Pat McCarthy Pierce County Auditor."

In case you vote-in-person folks are feeling left out, the same survey will be handed out at each polling place.

The idea is not just to gauge voter opinion. When she used a similar survey to ask people about the "top two" primary in 2004, it kept angry voters from writing nasty messages on the ballots themselves. McCarthy, who wasn't on the ballot that election, used the information when she testified to state legislators about unhappiness with top two.

All this would be fine, of course, except for one thing. McCarthy is in the midst of a close campaign for county executive. Her last-minute boost in name identification has the other candidates complaining.

McCarthy says she is the auditor and it's her job to do things like this. And state elections supervisor Nick Handy has her back, saying he sees nothing wrong with it.

Since the survey was done in the spirit of gaining understanding, let me try to explain to Mrs. McCarthy and Mr. Handy what's wrong with it.

The ballot envelope is the polling place. It should be an electioneering-free zone just as polling places are, by law. Try walking into a polling place with a Barack Obama T-shirt or a John McCain button. The election workers are supposed to tell you to take it outside until the button is gone or the shirt is covered.

Would such passive campaigning change the result of the election? Probably not. But after months and months of loud and often nasty campaigning, Washington state thinks the ballot place should be a sanctuary of sorts. And the last thing we need is a competition where each side must match the polling-place-by-polling-place campaigning of the other.

We have grown cynical. We roll our eyes when elected officials use their office to get their name out there. But McCarthy has shown great restraint, at least since being elected herself and especially when compared to her predecessor. When Cathy Pearsall-Stipek had her name in the voters pamphlet five times and her picture three times, it meant only one thing - she wasn't on the ballot that year. If she was, the number would be higher.

When McCarthy was Pearsall-Stipek's deputy, McCarthy's name was plastered in the pamphlet and on mailings as she was preparing to replace her boss, who was term-limited.

But the current voters pamphlet has her name listed just once, other than in the section on county executive candidates and an explanation of how to mark ballots where she has equal billing to Shawn Bunney, Mike Lonergan and Calvin Goings.

Well done, I thought. Voters will be sensitive enough this year given McCarthy's role in counting the ballots and declaring a winner. Why
give them more cause for suspicion?

Then came the mailed ballots.

McCarthy claims she has the right to put her name on materials like this. Maybe she does. But the County Council required that no names appear on ranked choice voting informational materials, and this should count.

There's a difference between what elected officials can do and what they should do. The survey would be fine without her name, so I can conclude only that the reason to include it was self-promotion in a close campaign.

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Release the Results!

Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy has announced her intention to wait until Friday evening or Saturday morning after the election to release the "as of" results of the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) elections. There are no systems reasons why her department needs to wait so long to release these results.

Candidates, the media and the public will want to see these results much earlier in the process. Waiting so long will introduce unneeded suspicion of the process since McCarthy herself is a candidate in one of the hotly contested races. The media, the public and the candidates should pressure McCarthy to release results earlier.

The Auditor's Office has spent money buying software to quickly tabulate the results for RCV races. Now the department needs to use the software in a timely way. The public understands that "as of" results just represent the results based on the ballots which have been tabulated "as of" the time of the release. We have seen races change as more votes are counted. One obvious example was the last Governor's race.

The public wants to know if the contest is close so far or a blowout. The Auditor's office can allow the public to know this information by releasing the results on Tuesday and/or Wednesday evenings. The public is encouraged to email the Auditor's office to demand an earlier release of RCV results. Here is her email address:

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One, Two Blue Video

The Pierce County Democrats are promoting the idea of voters listing the Democrats as first choice and second choice in the County Executive and County Council races. It is a clever little video worth viewing.

The Democrats will likely need first and second choices to win these two races. The party is promoting the use of these first two choices. This is good strategy for the Democrats to use to improve their chances of winning these seats for the party.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mike Lonergan: Executive Excellence candidate for Pierce County Executive

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

Mike Lonergan is the Executive Excellence candidate for Pierce County Executive and a sitting member of the Tacoma City Council. Lonergan's campaign emphasizes his experience as CEO of various non-profit organizations plus his stands on social justice. Lonergan asserts he has more executive experience than any other candidate in the race. In his role on the Tacoma City Council, Lonergan has participated in a wide variety of regional boards and committees, so his experience in government is extensive as well.

Due to the new Top 2 election system in the state of Washington, amongst state level races, there are no significant third party candidacies on the ballot in November. Lonergan is running in a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race and, as a result, can ask for people to vote for him as their first choice and major party candidates as their second and third choices. Lonergan is not having to face the "wasted vote" argument in his campaign. This allows Lonergan to focus on the issues rather than the argument that "you don't stand a chance". List Lonergan as your first choice, if you believe he is the best candidate. Recognize that he just might win if he receives enough first and second choices.

Lonergan's campaign has had a vigorous yard sign component, just like the other three candidates in the race. Lonergan has participated in all of the debates and candidate forums around the county. He is clearly knowledgeable about the issues facing the County Executive and merits serious consideration for one of your choices, if not your first choice.

Lonergan has added to the quality of the debate in this race and deserves serious consideration. For many, his stands on the issues mean he will not be their first choice, but the same can be said of other candidates in the race. List your first, second and third choices in the Pierce County Executive race. Those second and third choices will likely have an impact on the winner of this race.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Negative Campaigning Costing Votes in County Executive Race?!?

Supporters of Calvin Goings (D) have been blasting fellow Democrat Pat McCarthy for receiving the endorsement of the Master Builders Association in their race for Pierce County Executive. Some Goings supporters are going so far as to recommending McCarthy be the fourth choice in this Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) election. In most political races going negative is a winning strategy. This negative campaign strategy is not likely to help elect a Democrat.

In RCV elections, the winner is required to receive a majority of the votes. In this particular race, there are four candidates: Shawn Bunney, the Republican; Mike Lonergan, running under the Executive Excellence banner; Goings and McCarthy. Voters are allowed to list their first, second and third choices. It is quite unlikely that Goings will receive a majority of the first choices in this race. As a result, to win he will need second and third choices from voters who support other candidates as their first choice. Democrats Al Rose and Carolyn Merrival face a similar situation in the County Council, District 2 race.

Since the Democrats have two candidates in both the County Executive race and the County Council, District 2 race, the county party is working to raise money for an ad campaign encouraging voters to cast both their first and second choices in these two races for Democrats. In the County Council race, Merrival and Rose have endorsed each other as their respective second choices. Should voters follow their endorsements, one of the Democrats will likely carry that seat despite a strong Republican candidate in State Rep. Joyce McDonald. Cooperative campaigning by Democrats can occur and is likely to protect a traditionally Democratic seat on the County Council.

Goings' attacks on McCarthy are likely to lead some voters who select McCarthy as their first choice to select either Bunney or Lonergan as their second and third choices. Indeed, out on the campaign trail we have heard the phrase "Anybody But Calvin" (ABC). On the blogs, there are people recommending McCarthy as first choice, Bunney as second choice and Lonergan as third choice. Now, this is pretty negative as well. But it sounds, at least partially, like a reaction to the negative campaigning of Goings' supporters.

This leads one to speculate that some of the ABC adherents are turned off by Goings' negative campaigning and are voting for the other candidates as a response. If this effect is widespread, then it could cost Goings votes and maybe the election.

The dynamics of RCV elections are somewhat different from the dynamics of Top 2 elections. In the race for Governor, the two candidates have gone heavily negative and each believes it will help them to get elected. In this County Executive race, going negative may be costing candidates votes.

If Rose or Merrival wins the Second District County Council seat and Bunney wins the County Executive seat, we will wonder if the negative campaigning of Goings cost the Democrats this seat.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

News Tribune lists First and Second Choice in Executive Race

The Tacoma News Tribune has made the following endorsements in the County Executive race:

First Choice: Shawn Bunney (R)
Second Choice: Pat McCarthy (D)

The editorial board has endorsed a Republican and a Democrat in the race. The board appears to vote for the person, not the party. In reading their editorials, they seem to be an independent group, except for a strong favoritism for incumbents.

"All four candidates are serious contenders with impressive credentials." Indeed, the first commenter on the News Tribune website advocated Calvin Goings as first choice and Mike Lonergan as second choice. This election is likely to be quite a barn burner. We expect voters second and third choices to have a significant impact on the outcome of this race.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ranked Choice Voting elections start

Pierce County voters will be receiving their Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) absentee ballots in the mail today or Monday. There will be far more choices for the county level RCV races than the state level Top 2 races. For example, in the countywide races, there are four candidates in the County Executive race, six in the Assessor-Treasurer race and three in the Sheriff's race.

Part of the excitement is no one is quite sure who will win several of the county level elections, so your vote counts. The County Executive, Assessor-Treasurer, County Council, District #2 and #3 races have no clear cut favorite to win. On the other hand, Congressman Norm Dicks will win re-election his Top 2 election whether you vote for him or not.

Since RCV requires majority winners, your second and third choices in the County Executive, Assessor-Treasurer and County Council, District #2 races are likely to impact the ultimate outcome. Voters should be sure to list their second and third choices in these races.

Help democracy work. Vote in the county level elections. Be sure to put your RCV ballot back in the return envelope when you return it.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

News Tribune Assessor-Treasurer endorsements

The Tacoma News Tribune editorial blog posted their intention on Monday to endorse

First Choice: Terry Lee
Second Choice: Barbara Gelman
Third Choice: Jan Shabro

in the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer race.

Since this is a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race where voters will be allowed to list their first choice, second choice and third choice, the News Tribune is making the three endorsements in the race. This is particularly important in this race since there are six candidates in the race and it is likely no one candidate will receive a majority of the first choices. As a result, second and third choices become important to determining the winner.

This is good information for the voters of Pierce County. Thank you to the News Tribune for providing this public service.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

King County Council votes to study IRV/RCV by 5-3

Note: Brie Gyncild attended the King County Council meeting today and files this report to fans of RCV.

Hi all,

Several of us attended the King County Council meeting this afternoon, and IRV has moved to the next phase in this county. Bob Ferguson introduced the legislation and shepherded it through Larry Gossett's committee. Today, Dow Constantine spoke eloquently in favor of IRV just before the vote.

Our folks, Rich Anderson-Connolly and Brita Butler-Wall spoke in favor of the motion. Technically, no one was supposed to speak, but because we'd been misinformed, they let a couple of us slip in.

From here, the Citizens Election Oversight Committee takes up the issue. The committee is tasked with evaluating IRV, identifying pros and cons, and reporting back to the Council by January 2, 2010. Councilmember Ferguson came out and spoke with us for a moment after the vote, and he told us that the Council holds the CEOC in high esteem. He says they're a good group of people who do their work well, and that the Council almost without exception accepts their recommendations. He also said the CEOC would want to talk with us, of course.

And we know now where we have work to do before the Council eventually votes, assuming the CEOC recommends moving forward with IRV. Strong supporters appear to be Councilmembers Ferguson and Constantine (who worked on this issue in the state leg). Other aye votes were Councilmembers Gossett, Phillips, and Patterson. Nay votes came from Councilmembers Dunn, Hague, and Von Reichbauer. Councilmember Lambert was absent.

We're one more step forward on this lengthy process!