Final Election Returns: Jail Tax Rejected

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Fri, Nov 06, 2015, 4:37 pm  //  John Servais

Duplicate checking, one step in the opening board at the county auditor's office as ballots are verified and counted today.

The jail sales tax is dead.  Rejected by the voters of Whatcom County.  A simple majority of 51.42% of voters has said 'NO' to the measure that was strongly promoted by the three most powerful men of Whatcom County government: Prosecuting Attorney David McEachran, County Executive Jack Louws, and Sheriff Bill Elfo. The citizens said no.  

Virtually all ballots have now been counted for this election. At most, maybe 600 challenged votes remain to be added to the yes or no tally for this measure. It has failed. What will happen next is a topic for later. 

Satpal Sidhu has won the County Council seat with a 50.71% total to 49.29% for Kathy Kershner; 29,160 votes for Sidhu and 28,339 for Kershner. With the difference over one half of one percent, there will be no automatic recount, although one could be requested and paid for by someone.  

All other contests were decided by yesterday or on election night last Tuesday. You can click over to the auditor's election returns web page to read all the numbers.  We are also keeping that link at the top of the right side column of links.

The voter turnout as of today is 60,672. After counting the challened ballots in the next two weeks, the turnout will be right about 61,000. This will be a 47% voter turnout.  Average over the years for Whatcom County is 59% turnout, with a high of 83% for the 2012 presidential election. With no city of Bellingham challengers to City Council and mayoral seats, the Bellingham turnout will probably be shown to be lower than the rural county.  

Today, Friday, only 329 ballots were received in the mail and 197 of them were invalid as postmarked after 8 pm Tuesday. Some more valid ones could show up Saturday as the postal service is slow in delivering.  And there remain 669 challenged votes, most of which simply require a signature or verification of a signature.  Those voters are being contacted and have a couple weeks to show up and confirm the validity of their ballot.  These few late votes will not change the results of any of the elections. In total, 61,471 ballots were received.  

The 14 ballot drop boxes that County Auditor Debbie Adelstein has been placing around the county are really working. Two thirds of all ballots returned were dropped into the boxes. 66.3% to be exact. Only a third were mailed. You can view a map - below - of where all the boxes were located in the county. Six new ones were added this year - and more may be added for the next election. Point Roberts and Lummi Island are two places being considered. Anyway, it is nice to know the drop boxes are working so well. Most of us have to hunt for a stamp these days. 

We want to thank our Auditor, Debbie Adelstein and her Chief Deputy, Diana Bradrick, for managing the ballot processing so well this week.  Diana is also the Elections Supervisor and has put in a full week. We are pleased to have final results before the weekend, despite the slow deliveries of the US Postal Service.

Locations of the 14 ballot drop boxes for 2015. We maintaine a link to this info on the auditor's website during each election.

Related Links:

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Michael Chiavario  //  Fri, Nov 06, 2015, 7:07 pm

Tip Johnson’s piece on Nov. 6 on Louws stonewalling complaints about the election process is consistent with my experience with Louws on matters concerning the Parks Department. In the last year and a half two Parks employees have filed formal complaints with HR about improper treatment by Parks administration. One complaint was never properly investigated and rejected as invalid by HR whose Director Karen Goens answers directly to Louws. The second complaint received a response that appeared more energetic and thorough at first: An attorney was hired to interview all current Parks employees about their experience with Parks Administration. The attorney was likely hired because several former and current employees had contacted Louws and Council about their complaints about morale and management actions at Parks. The attorney’s report stated that virtually all current union employees were not happy with Administration to put it mildly. Only union exempt employees had mostly positive things to say about the Parks Director, Mike McFarlane. Louws response to the attorneys damning(but also partly incorrect) conclusions was to tell employees to basically get used to a different style of management than that of the previous Director and to promise to personally attend the next staff meeting. Exempt employees have no union protection from potentially punitive responses of the Director. Former employees were not interviewed. Some of these employees had waited until after retiring from Parks to take up their complaints with Parks due to well founded fears of retaliation from the Director. Parks is a dysfunctional department that stays within budget. Perhaps Louws values that fact more than he values an efficient and high morale department that prioritizes properly. Much could be said about that, but not in this comment. So to summarize, the first employee complaint was stonewalled. The second was treated with window dressing of giving the appearance of substantive action by hiring an attorney - a waste of money considering how her report was treated. Too bad that our County has an Executive that values hierarchical power and control over valuing employees and their skills and knowledge. Thanks, Tip for sparking this discussion with your piece.


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