Ballot measures, local races heat up today's Wash. election


by Associated Press and

Posted on November 3, 2009 at 9:10 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 26 at 12:58 PM

SEATTLE - It's election day in the state of Washington. Secretary of State Sam Reed expects about half of the state's 3.5 million voters are casting ballots. About 98 percent of the vote is by mail. Ballots must be postmarked or dropped off today. Pierce County still has some polling places.

Statewide, there are two ballot measures, an initiative and a referendum, that are being decided.

Tim Eyman's latest plan for smaller government is now in the hands of voters. Initiative 1033 would cap the amount of money going to state, county and city governments. Any tax income exceeding the revenue cap would be used to lower property taxes.

Referendum 71 asks Washington voters whether they approve or reject the "everything but marriage" law for same-sex couples. If it stands, the law gives domestic partners the same rights under state law as married couples.

Today's off-year election is mostly about mayors, city councils and school boards.

In Seattle, two political newcomers are vying to be Seattle's next mayor.
Joe Mallahan, a T-Mobile executive, and Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn outpolled Mayor Greg Nickels in the August primary and advanced to Tuesday's election. Nickels had been dogged by criticism of his handling of a snow storm last year.

Following the primary, Mallahan and McGinn -- both Democrats -- set out to establish their names among Seattle voters, but no clear leader has emerged. The position is technically nonpartisan.

Mallahan won key endorsements from established local politicians and unions, including Gov. Chris Gregoire. McGinn has run a volunteer-fueled campaign, and has gained the backing of environmentally minded voters.

Also in King County, voters will decide the next county executive, choosing between County Council Chairman Dow Constantine and former TV news anchor Susan Hutchison.

Tacoma voters will be electing a Mayor. Mayoral candidate Jim Merrit, an architect,  is facing challenger Marilyn Strickland, a member of the City Council.
Future expansion of Kirkland is being voted on. Proposition A asks if Kirkland should annex Finn Hill, Kinsgate and North Juanita areas. A yes vote would make Kirkland the 12th largest city in the state.

Three state House races are on the ballot in Eastern Washington. Voters will fill vacant seats for districts that cover Walla Walla, Pullman and Sunnyside. The winners will serve out terms through next year.

Shortly after 8 tonight we should start hearing results from today's election.