Lack of school levy information in voters’ guide surprises Issaquah voters

January 21, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 7:40 p.m. Jan. 21, 2010

The voters’ pamphlet mailed by King County Elections baffled Issaquah School District voters when the guide arrived in mailboxes earlier in the week: The guide contained no information about the three district levies on the Feb. 9 ballot.

The district stretches from Sammamish to Newcastle, and includes Klahanie, Preston and other parts of unincorporated King County.

Four Lakes voters, for instance, received a pamphlet with information about the Enumclaw and Tahoma school districts’ levies, but nothing about the local levy. Four Lakes is part of the Issaquah district.

Meanwhile, voters in Klahanie received pamphlets with information about the county library levy and the Vashon Island School District levy. The seven-page guide mailed to residents in the ZIP code contains no information about the Issaquah district levies.

Guides mailed to Issaquah district voters also included information about the King County System Library levy lid lift — another measure on the February ballot.

A King County Elections spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

The school levy replacement package put on the ballot by Issaquah officials includes a $172.5 million maintenance and operations levy, a $1.7 million transportation levy, and a $38.4 million technology and critical repairs levy.

Taxpayers would pay an estimated $4.81 for every $1,000 of assessed property for all three levies and the remainder of the 2006 bond, if voters approve the measures.

Organizers at Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the nonprofit organization running the pro-levy campaign, said they received e-mails and calls from voters asking where information about the levy measures is in their pamphlets.

Many residents believed it was a mistake by King County Elections, but the missing information was not an error, Volunteers for Issaquah Schools Co-Chairwoman Kelly Munn said.

In fact, school district officials have not run the measures in the voters’ guide for quite some time, she said. The fact was news to her.

“The real deal is we’re never in it,” Munn said. “We haven’t been in it for multiple elections but as a person and a campaign manager I thought we were. I didn’t know.”

After speaking with district Communications Director Sara Niegowski, Munn said she discovered the decision not to be in the voters’ guide was made years ago, before many of the current district administrative officials worked in the Issaquah district.

“It’s through a comedy of errors that we’re not,” Munn said. “I didn’t think to ask, because in my mind we are always in there, and in the district’s mind we’re always not.”

The lack of levy information in the pamphlet boils down to an honest mistake, Munn said. But she said she was disappointed with the development, because many volunteers worked hard to get the their message out and keep a dialogue open with the community.

“Some districts run stealth campaigns. We don’t. That’s why we’ve been working so hard to talk to the community,” Munn said. “To not put it in the voters’ pamphlet makes it look like were doing something or makes it look like we’re hiding something. We’re not.”

Munn said she doubts the issue will jeopardize the pro-levy campaign.

“I don’t think we’ll be hurt. We will be fine, as evidence when we did the phone banking. It was unusually supportive,” she said.

Issaquah City Councilwoman Maureen McCarry, a member of the levy committee, said she was concerned by the lack of information.

“It’s very, very important to get voter turnout,” McCarry said.

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2 Responses to “Lack of school levy information in voters’ guide surprises Issaquah voters”

  1. adam on January 22nd, 2010 7:57 am

    I am against the King County Library levy. They want $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, which they advertise as an average of $32 for a $400,000 house. DO THE MATH PEOPLE! 0.50 x 400 = $200. Now, ask yourself, are the services offered by King County Library WORTH $200 per year. (Or, if you live in a below-average house, is it worth even $100 per year?) I have visited the library three times in the past year. I could have instead purchased the two books that I borrowed for $50 to $75 used on eBay (and then been able to actually write in the books instead of photocopying the pages I needed) and I could have bought a coffee at Starbucks (between $2 and $4) and used their free wireless. Even when I needed used the library, I could not find all of the resources I needed (engineering textbooks) and had to make a visit to UW with a friend who is a student because UW refused to offer inter-library loan. King County is large enough that they ought to have the resources to offer its citizens the tools to advance in their careers. Is a library really worth what we are paying for it, or would we be better to send a message that they need to be more innovative with a smaller budget, just like the rest of us? You decide.

  2. Anonymous on January 26th, 2010 9:50 am

    To raise money, why doesn’t the library start charging for every library card (for users over 18) and increase their late fees. Those who use the library should pay for the service. Those who don’t use the library (or who use it seldomly) should not have to bear the burden of paying for it. I feel the same way about the amount of taxes I pay for schools. One-third of my property taxes goes to public schools. I have no children and get NOTHING from those tax dollars. If you choose to have children, you should be responsible for the cost of schooling them.

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