Friday, February 16, 2007

Retirement to cost Port $200,000+

Long-time Port Commissioner Jack Fabulich has announced that he will not be running for re-election in the fall and this will likely cost the Port of Tacoma over $200,000. Why?

In most years, there is limited competition for Port Commissioner jobs at the Port of Tacoma, but with an open seat we are likely to see a crowded field to replace Commissioner Fabulich. It is great to see more choices for the voters, but there are costs.

Under our current system of electing non-partisan officials if more than two candidates sign up to run for a particular office, then the Auditor's office will run a low turnout August primary and reduce the field to two candidates going forward to the general election. This primary costs money. In examining the cost allocations of the September 2005 primary when the County itself was in a similar position, the allocation was $250,000+.

Is there a better way? In the State Legislature, Senate Bill 6000 and its companion bill, House Bill 2202 have been introduced as a solution to this problem. These bills would allow the Port District and other local entities to elect their officials using Ranked Choice Voting in the general election and eliminate the primary.

All candidates would move directly to the general election and voters would be allowed to rank the candidates in order of their preference. The absence of a primary means candidates will only need to run in one election, thus cutting the costs of running for office. This will encourage more voter choice, while saving money for the Port District.

The State Legislature can help the Port District and others by passing SB 6000 and its companion bill, HB 2202.



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