Off the Press

November 15, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Election comes to yawn-inducing close

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

Joshua Schaer promised a party to daughter Emily. Only, the grownups gathered in a room at the Issaquah Brewhouse almost certainly did not meet the expectations of a 3-year-old girl.

The election night party Schaer put on at the downtown pub included a star-studded — for Issaquah, at least — guest list (City Council members past and present) and hors d’oeuvres aplenty. Bruschetta, anyone?

But, as far as parties go, the event seemed a little dull, boring even. The host, however, is not to blame.

Election Day in Issaquah, at least in the 2009 and 2011 cycles, morphed into a humdrum affair. Incumbents claim lopsided leads and challengers offer cordial congratulations. Repeat.

The lone burst of results from King County Elections came just after 8 p.m., as guests at the brewhouse channel-surfed to see if Issaquah results appeared in the Seattle TV stations’ tickers. In a campaign season dominated by liquor and tolling, no local results appeared in the moments after the results dropped.

The run-up to the anticlimactic election night started in June, as the candidate-filing deadline passed, seemingly unnoticed by most people.

Only TJ Filley stepped into the fray, in part to attract attention to the $6.7 million pedestrian bridge spanning Interstate 90 and built, for the most part, using dollars from outside sources.

No challengers materialized in races for a trio of council seats — and enough changes could reshape the way the city does business.

I understand potential candidates’ reluctance to face Fred Butler, a respected leader in Issaquah and the Puget Sound region. The longtime councilman is a safe bet, perhaps even unbeatable.

But, for the untested candidates in uncontested races, appointed Councilwoman Stacy Goodman and Councilman-elect Paul Winterstein, challenges could have better prepared the victors for office and, at least, fostered a deeper conversation about city issues.

The campaign seemed to proceed on cruise control. Only opponents Filley and Schaer needed to reach out to potential supporters.

Kudos to Filley for agreeing to challenge a difficult-to-dislodge incumbent.

I heard the election night celebration Filley put on at Billy Bob’s Burgers & BBQ also needed some sizzle. The snoozer reflected less on the candidate and more on the process.

Perhaps in 2013, as more council seats open up and a mayoral race appears on the ballot, some candidates might decide to step into the electoral arena.

Then, just maybe, someone could pull off a decent election night party.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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