Ballots are ‘in the mail’ for Aug. 17 primary

Candidate selection

The primary election set for Aug. 17 will decide the two top candidates in races for the U.S. 8th Congressional District seat, which covers all of Seattle's eastern suburbs, and which is currently held by Republican Dave Reichert.

Nine Washingtonians, including likely challenger Democrat Suzan DelBene, have filed their candidacies with the elections office.

In the 41st District that covers Mercer Island, there are three lively races for the statehouse, but only one race in the August primary. That race is for Position #1 presently held by Islander and Democrat, Judy Clibborn, who has two challengers. They are Stephen Strader, a Republican, and Orion S. Webster, an Independent.

The top two finishers go on to the November ballot.

Voter initiatives

As well as deciding races for the Nov. 2 general elections, the vote on Aug. 17 will also decide on a number of important initiatives.

Among those to have gathered the required 240,000 signatures to make the Aug. 17 ballot are: a proposal to privatize liquor sales in Washington, a plan by Bill Gates Sr. to shift the more of the state’s tax burden to the wealthy and away from property and business and occupation taxpayers, and a Tim Eyman initiative to require a supermajority in the state Legislature to raise taxes.

• Liquor sales initiatives

Issaquah retailer Costco is one of the major backers of I-1100, one of two initiatives to privatize liquor sales. If passed, it would mean that retailers like Costco would be able to sell spirits which are currently only available in state-run liquor stores.

I-1100, and a similar proposal, I-1105, would change not just where liquor is sold, but also how the state would collected liquor sales revenue, which currently brings in more than $300 million a year for public safety and education.

Supporters, mostly large retailers and grocery chains, say the state should not be in the business of selling booze, and could better employ its resources elsewhere.

Opponents, which include school advocates and public safety groups like Keep Our Kids Safe, describe the plan as being “an irresponsible measure backed with millions in funding from out-of-state liquor corporations that are putting their pursuit of excess profits above the interests of the people of Washington State.”

Keep Our Kids Safe claims I-1100 and I-1105 would wipe out millions in state revenue for essential services like public safety and schools.

While I-1105 includes provisions for the State Liquor Board to replace the revenue it currently receives from liquor sales with new taxes to fund schools and public safety, this plan is complicated by Tim Eyman's I-1053.

If passed, I-1053 would mean the legislature would need a two-thirds vote to approve any new tax. Given the currently political climate, that could mean our schools and public safety resources would lose the revenue they receive from liquor sales, and be left without any new sources.

• Insurance reform

Initiative 1082, Comprehensive Insurance Reform is backed by the Building Industry Association of Washington, would allow private carriers to compete with the state-run workers compensation program.

Insurance carriers offering coverage in competition with the state-run program. The 1082 campaign delivered about 345,000 signatures, meaning it will also receive a 3 percent check. State elections officials hope the I-1082 check will be finished on Wednesday.

• High-earners income tax

I-1098, supported by Bill Gates Sr., would create a state income tax on high-wage earners and would reduce the state share of the property tax and lower the B&O tax on many businesses.

• Repeal of sugar taxes

I-1107 would repeal new taxes on certain candy, pop, beer and bottled water. With sugary, unhealthy foods like these seen as being major contributors to the nation's public health woes and obesity epidemic, the legislature instituted taxes on these items to help fund public health programs. I-1107 is funded entirely by soda pop lobby group, the American Beverage Association.

Legislative initiatives

The Legislature has sent three other measures to the statewide ballot this fall:

• Referendum 52, which would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013.

• House Joint Resolution 4220, known as the Lakewood Police Officers Memorial Act, which would amend the state constitution on bail requirements for judges.

• Senate Joint Resolution 8225, which would amend the state constitution relating to debt limits for the state.

Get ready to vote

Ballots have been mailed today, July 28, to all registered voters. People not currently registered to vote in the State of Washington have until August 9 to register in person at the King County Elections Office to be eligible to vote in the Aug. 17 primary. For more information go to

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