Talk about invisibility to the general public, the upcoming King Conservation District Election this Thursday , March 19, 2009 wins the prize. It is a county wide election for one of three elected seats on the King Conservation District and you probably don’t even know its happening.
To make things even more confusing, the environmental candidate Mark Sollitto, while listed on the Washington State Conservation Commission website as a candidate, is actually not listed on the local King Conservation District website or on the written ballot because of a technical error – the 50 signatures of voters petition was not received in time and he is now running a write in campaign.
Surprisingly a write candidate can win in this election because of the overall dismal turnout in this election. In 2008 only 196 people voted. In 2007 only 1095 people voted on 2 candidates; in 2006 only 834 people voted on 2 candidates and in 2005 2 candidates and a write in candidate received a total of 481 votes.
For comparison purposes the overall number of registered voters in King County for the Special Election for King County Elections Director last month saw 250, 394 voters out of 1,117,869 registered voters actually vote.
There are two other candidates listed on this years ballot. Preston Drew is a forester and opposes the King County Critical Areas Ordinance. He is being supported by Republicans and conservatives. David Mauk is the other candidate and runs the Ascent Foundation. For Mark Sollitto to win, people need to write his name in as a write in candidate.
Mark Sollitto has been endorsed by the King County Conservation Voters. In an email from them, King County Councilmember Larry Phillips wrote,
“I urge you to vote for Mark Sollitto for King County Conservation District. My friend Mark Sollitto is running as a write-in candidate against an anti CAO, Cedar County property rights activist. Mark brings a proven record of over 30 years of consensus-based, conservation-minded results – he helped protect the 90,000 acre Snoqualmie Forest, Preston Mill, Rock Creek, East Sammamish Trail, Meadowbrook Farm and Cougar Mountain. Please join me, and the King County Conservation Voters in supporting Mark next Thursday.”
Mark Sollitto is a former elected Council member of North Bend , having served for two terms and recently retired from King County where he worked on land transfer issues for conservation areas being protected.
This year the King Conservation District had a budget totalling $5.8 million based on assessments of King County property. Unfortunately they don’t send out voter’s pamphlets or ballots to voters. You either know from a group you belong to that has an interest in conservation and natural resource issues or you miss this election completely.
In recent years the right wing so called property rights groups have worked the elections. Environmental groups have been less proactive in participating in the process which actually has a large budget for natural resources issues and grants and employs according to their website, 16 full time staff people.
Here a chance to vote and make a difference. Get out and Vote Thursday.
Polling Locations and times: Thursday March 19, 2009
AUBURN King County Library/Muckleshoot Branch – 39917 Auburn Enumclaw Road S.E. , Auburn WA 98092 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
BELLEVUE King County Library/Bellevue Regional Branch – 1111 110th Avenue NE , Bellevue WA 98004 Poll hours 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
CARNATION King County Library/Carnation Branch – 4804 Tolt Avenue , Carnation WA 98014 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
COVINGTON King County Library/Covington Branch – 27100 164th Ave. S.E. , Covington WA 98042 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
DES MOINES King County Library/Des Moines Branch – 21620 11th Avenue S. , Des Moines WA 98198 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
ENUMCLAW Enumclaw Public Library – 1700 First Street , Enumclaw WA 98022 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
ISSAQUAHKing County Library/Issaquah Branch – 10 W. Sunset Way, Issaquah WA 98027Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
NORTH BEND King County Library/North Bend Branch – 115 E. 4th, North Bend WA 98045 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
REDMOND King County Library/Redmond Regional Branch – 15990 N.E. 85th, Redmond WA Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
RENTON Renton Community Center – 1715 Maple valley Hwy., Renton WA 98057 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
SEATTLE Seattle Public Library (Downtown Main Branch) – 1000 Fourth Ave. , Seattle WA 98104 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
SHORELINE King County Library/Shoreline Branch – 345 NE 175th, Shoreline WA 98155 Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
VASHON King County Library/Vashon Branch – 17210 Vashon Hwy. S.W. , Vashon Island WA Poll hours 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
This dismal election process should be changed by the Washington State Legislature in the future. Voting for candidates for King Conservation District and the other 46 conservation districts in the state should be on a primary or general election ballot to afford people an opportunity to particicpate. The current process makes a mockery of fair public participation in an election process. Yet the public is being taxed to pay for the conservation districts.
In Snohomish County they are holding an election tomorrow where voting is from 2 to 6 PM at their office. This is for all of Snohomish County. That is absurd.