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.