Time may have no meaning during the coronavirus pandemic, but even COVID-19 can’t stop Washington elections, and your chance to pick who is going to represent you in the state legislature is just around the corner.
Ballots are expected to be mailed out this Friday, July 17, and your last chance to register to vote online or by mail is July 27. At this point, in-person registration is still available up through election day on Aug. 4, with the King County Election Department’s office at 919 Southwest Grady Way in Renton, and Pierce County’s at 2501 S. 35th St. Suite C in Tacoma.
King County’s election office is providing curbside service “where voters will be directed to park, stay in their car, and all service will be handled right there,” Communications Officer Halei Watkins said. “We are asking that those who come see us in person practice social distancing and wear a mask. Our staff will be masked, gloved, and may be wearing face shields. We are currently installing plexiglass, additional signage, and floor decals inside our building to provide guidance.”
Voters who want to register but cannot do it online, through mail, or in person are encouraged to call 206-296-VOTE (8683), Watkins continued.
Pierce County’s election office is asking voters who want to register in person to call 253-798-VOTE (8683) before arriving in Tacoma, Elections Supervisor Kyle Haugh said. However, a registration drive-through is being organized for Aug. 2, 3, and 4, where voters can arrive unannounced to get registered.
Of course, those who are already registered can vote by mail (ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 4) or by dropping their ballots off at a drop-box location. King County voters can find their drop boxes at the Enumclaw library or at the Tahoma School District building in Maple Valley; Pierce County voters can find theirs at the Buckley library, the South Prairie Fire Department, or at the Wilkeson town hall.
MEET THE CANDIDATES
There are three candidates vying for each of the 31st Legislative District’s two seats, meaning the primary will weed two people out of the race while the remaining four continue into the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Running for Position No. 1 is Buckley resident Zach Stover, Bonney Lake resident Katie Young, and Auburn resident and incumbent Rep. Drew Stokesbary.
Stokesbary, who was elected in 2014, is the ranking minority member in the House Appropriations Committee, a member of the House Finance Committee, and the former Minority Floor Leader.
His bid for re-election comes with some heavy endorsements, including the Seattle Times (in 2018) and the Tacoma News Tribune (in 2018 and 2020), the Stand For Children education organization, the Washington State Fire Chiefs, the Pierce County Affordable Housing Council, Association of Washington Businesses, the Washington Retail Association, the National Rifle Association, and Washington Dairy Families.
During his two terms, he has been the prime sponsor on five bills signed into law, which include bills that streamlined small business regulations, allowed tribal law enforcement agencies access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database, and protected funding for King and Pierce County flood control districts.
Stover, who has no party preference, currently serves as a loan officer in Puyallup. He was previously an operator on the Seattle Tunnel Project and was chosen to represent the STP miners in opposing “right to work” legislation in 2017. He was also elected to be a delegate in the 2016 primaries up to the state level.
Young, a Democrat, has no elected experience, but has racked up a few endorsements from the Pierce County Democrats, King County Democrats, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, FairVote Washington, and the Retired Public Employees Council.
For the past 10 years, Young has worked as a freelance director and stage manager, but also volunteers her time with De-Cruit, a nonprofit that provides free art therapy to military veterans.
In the race for Position No. 2 is Lake Tapps resident Thomas Clark, Sumner resident Eric Robertson, and Tacoma resident Jerimy Kirschner.
Clark, a Democrat, is a six-year Navy vet and Boeing retiree, and has no election experience.
Robertson, a Republican, is looking to get back into the political scene, having already served as a legislator from 1994 to 1998, where he was also the Majority Caucus Chairman and won multiple “Legislator of the Year” awards.
He was also a state trooper and captain before, during, and after his time in the House, and was appointed to be the U.S. Marshal for Western Washington by former President George Bush, holding the office from 2002 to 2007.
His years of service have helped him garner a long list of endorsements, including the Tacoma News Tribune, former Sens. Dino Rossi and Joe Fain, Rep. Stokesbary, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, Pierce County Councilmembers Pam Roach and Dave Morell, and Mayors Pat Johnson of Buckley and Neil Johnson of Bonney Lake. He’s also endorsed by the Washington Fire Chiefs, the Master Builders Association Affordable Housing Council in King and Snohomish Counties, and the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association, among others.
Kirschner, a Republican, has no elected experience, but has five years of small business experience and nine years as an attorney under his belt. This includes pro-bono work with the Child Advocacy Project, which offers services to survivors of abuse and their families.
He currently serves of the Pierce County District Court Municipal Liaison Committee, and has secured endorsements from Rep. Morgan Irwin and Orting Mayor Joshua Penner, and Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro.