In Our View: Election brought shakeups and minority rule

7:31 am November 21st, 2013

Some thoughts about how the general election went:
• Can you name a town that had a bigger shakeup than Eatonville in its elected officials?
Some of the changes were going to happen no matter what the results of the election. Councilman Gordon Bowman gave up running for re-election in order to go for mayor, so win or lose, his council seat was up for grabs.
His opponent and the winner in the mayoral race, Treasurer Mike Schaub, would have remained treasurer if he’d lost. But now he must give up his current post, which the council must fill with an appointee.
And then there is the surprising defeat of Ray Harper, who ran for a council position instead of another term as mayor. Bob Walter’s victory shows Harper the door after eight years as a fixture at Town Hall – the first four as a council member, the last four as mayor.
Where’d Harper go wrong? First, give Walter his due. He ran an articulate campaign and offered voters clear, sensible positions and ideas. But turmoil during Harper’s tenure – his budget-soothing proposal to disband the police department and replace it with Pierce County Sheriff deputies, crtiticism over privately donated money for a trail project being used temporarily to cover town expenses, and the firing of a town clerk for improper handling of town funds – likely put some voters in the mood for a change. They also might have decided if Harper’s too busy with his job with Boeing to be mayor, as he said he is, that he could wind up being too pressed for time to be on the council, too.
• About 4,600 of the 11,165 people in South Pierce Fire and Rescue’s District 17 who were eligible to vote did. Can it be said that if more had participated, the district’s bond measure would have passed? Maybe.
Despite the relatively slim turnout, the bond came close to getting the 60 percent supermajority required under state law for approval. Its supporters may be wondering what else they could have done to get more voters to cast ballots with the presumption that enough would be “yes.” Opponents, on the other hand, may feel vindicated.
Either way, the minority once again rules in bond votes. Well less than half of about one-third of the total registerd voters defeated the measure that South Pierce Fire wanted in order to upgrade and modernize its fire stations.
• Speaking of voter turnouts, the town of Eatonville continued to have one of the highest voter turnouts – on a percentage basis – of any town, city or district in Pierce County. After having one of the top showings in the primary election last August, about 51 percent of the 1,527 registered voters in Eatonville cast ballots in the general election that wrapped up Nov. 5. Only eight other of the 74 voting jurisdictions topped 50 percent. There were a lot of places where turnouts were in the 20 to 30 percent range. And countywide, the turnout was running about 37 percent, well below the 46 percent that county election officials had predicted.
Kudos to Eatonville folks for getting off their voter pamphlets and taking an interest in local politics.

The Dispatch editorials are written by editor Pat Jenkins.

One Response to In Our View: Election brought shakeups and minority rule

  1. Bobbi Allison Reply

    November 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    In response to your editorial on the election, here are my comments:
    Yes, University Place had a council shake up, with a long standing incumbent voted out of office by shady campaigning by the victor. And this year again, Milton’s Mayor’s race was a doozie. There is life outside of Eatonville. Replacing the Treasurer’s position is not needed. The Council has tried to do away with that position before the last election two years ago, and did not meet the timeline, so allowed it to stand. The position is not needed and should be eliminated. Ray did have a demanding job with Boeing, and our newly elected mayor also has a demanding job with the state of Washington. I do not believe that the Town and its residents will be served well because of this, and as Ray pointed out, being the Mayor is a “full time job”. With so many laws that outline the governing of a small 4th class town, such as Eatonville, whoever is elected cannot do too much damage. That saving thought is what is getting me through when looking ahead to the new leadership (mayor) of the town. Remember: Council sets policy, the Mayor manages its resources, employees, and budget. Above all, its the Council who has the real power, it also can strip the mayor of his powers should things get out of hand. Going forward, I will keep the Town in my prayers, heaven knows it will need them.

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