South County Politics: Election storylines

Tuesday’s elections in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace will answer several big questions. Here are some that I’ll be watching:

Can Lynnwood’s mayor hold off a councilmember’s challenge?

Can Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith hold off a challenge from City Councilmember George Hurst?

Recent Lynnwood mayors have faced councilmember challenges with mixed results.

Twelve years ago, then-Mayor Mike McKinnon faced two councilmembers in the primary before losing to then-Councilmember Don Gough in the general election.

Eight years ago, then-incumbent Mayor Gough faced three councilmembers before defeating then-Councilmember Jim Smith.

Four years ago, Gough got past two councilmembers in the mayoral primary before losing to Nicola Smith, then a political newcomer.

Will Edmonds Port voting be totally by slate?

Expect three close elections between three incumbent Edmonds Port commissioners and their three challengers.

I expect voters in the Port District to either re-elect the three incumbents on the Tuesday ballot or elect the slate of challengers. Or will voters surprise us, and mix their selection?

We have supporters of the three Port of Edmonds incumbents and supporters of the three challengers, but will anyone look at the three individual contests?

However they vote, they’ll have to look to the last three items on their ballots. That may leave the election to the most committed voters. The passion may be stronger on the side of the challengers.

What will come from one MLT councilmember challenging another?

Mountlake Terrace City Council incumbent Kyoko Matsumoto Wright faces a challenge from fellow Councilmember Sean Richards, who is in the middle of his own four-year term.

Richards says he wants to win a new four-year term and help appoint a fresh face to fill the last two years of his current term.

If he loses to Wright, Richards would keep his current place on the council.

He doesn’t have much support in his challenge.

Most other councilmembers have endorsed Wright, as have local Democrats and the Daily Herald editorial board.

Richards should know the perils of such a move.

He first won his seat on the council six years ago by defeating an incumbent councilmember who had challenged a fellow councilmember unsuccessfully two years earlier.

Can Chan hold on in Fire District 1?

Incumbent Snohomish County Fire District 1 Commissioner David Chan took only 43 percent of the votes in a five-way primary contest in his bid for a third six-year term.

Challenger Michael Ellis needs to pick up votes from people who supported the losing candidates in the primary and those who didn’t vote in the primary.

The district includes unincorporated areas south of Everett to the King County line.  Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Brier contract with the district for service but don’t vote in district elections.

Will Lynnwood voters opt for council stability?

Will Lynnwood voters break their pattern of defeating incumbent councilmembers?

We’ll tell from the results of a contest between incumbent Ian Cotton and challenger Shannon Tysland and another between incumbent Ruth Ross and challenger Rosamaria Graziani.

The Lynnwood council will get one new member as voters choose a replacement for retiring Councilmember Christopher Boyer. Candidates are Van AuBuchon, a former councilmember, and Christine Frizzell, who lost a close council race two years ago.

How close will Johnson and Thompson be in Edmonds?

The contest between Edmonds Council incumbent Kristiana Johnson and challenger Josh Thompson already is one of the most expensive in south Snohomish County, and it’s likely to be one of the closest. This could be the one that keeps us checking right through certification of results Nov. 28.

Will MLT voters finally approve a civic campus?  

Mountlake Terrace has scaled back the size of its request from those that have failed in recent years and has included past opponents in its planning this time. Working against it is that  levy and bond proposals all over the state are feeling fallout from the Legislature’s move to increase state property taxes.

Will voter turnout keep going down?  

Turnout in off-year elections continues to decline. County Auditor Carolyn Weikel has predicted a 37 percent turnout countywide.  However, County Elections Manager Garth Fell said Monday that early ballot returns indicated a projected turnout of about 30 percent. He attributed the low number to a lack of statewide or countywide ballot measures.

–By Evan Smith
Evan Smith can be reached at 

  1. Fire District 1 Commissioner David Chan took ONLY 43% of the votes in a five-way primary contest. Just wonder what that “ONLY” means while all other candidates’ percentages are in the “teens”.

  2. It means that he got less than 50% of the vote, so if the challenger picks up the other three candidates’ votes (all from people who did not support Chan) then he has a good shot at winning.

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