Issaquah man is sole candidate in King Conservation District election

February 21, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The election for a King Conservation District board seat starts Feb. 28 and, although only a lone candidate appears on the ballot, district voters in Issaquah and elsewhere can cast ballots online.

The monthlong election is for a supervisor seat on the board of the conservation district — the agency responsible for promoting sustainable use of natural resources, and providing information and technical assistance to landowners.

The candidate on the ballot is Issaquah resident Christopher “Kit” Ledbetter, longtime parks and recreation director at SeaTac City Hall.

On the Web

Voters can register and vote in the King Conservation District Board of Supervisors election after 12:01 a.m. Feb. 28. The election runs until 11:59 p.m. March 13. Voters can go to the district website, www.kingcd.org, to register and vote in a single session. Officials plans to offer a polling place at the district office, 1107 S.W. Grady Way, Suite 130, Renton, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 28 to March 12, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 13.

Christopher 'Kit' Ledbetter

“I’d like to contribute to making King Conservation District an organization that realizes and respects the values of the environment and serves as a good example for others to follow,” he said in a statement for voters. “I would hope to give the King Conservation District Board of Supervisors and staff a better understanding of suburban cities needs and desires.”

King County Elections does not administer district elections.

In 2011, district leaders shifted from a traditional Election Day to a 30-day online election in a bid to boost turnout.

Though the district encompasses most of the more than 1.1 million registered voters in the county, anemic turnout has defined recent conservation district elections. Even the shift from polls to online did not boost turnout. Only 2,295 voters participated in the 2011 election to choose Duvall farmer Eric Nelson for the board.

The election in March 2010 attracted 4,232 voters — a sharp increase from the 2,757 voters in the 2009 contest. Only 198 voters cast ballots in the 2008 supervisor race.

The upcoming election is scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. March 13. In addition to the online option, officials plan to offer a polling place at the district office.

The all-volunteer district board manages the district budget and offers guidance to staff members about conservation programs. Supervisors also help to identify critical conservation needs in the district and collection feedback about programs from residents.

The board includes three elected members and a pair of supervisors appointed by the Washington State Conservation Commission. Both elected and appointed supervisors serve three-year terms.

Landowners fund the district through a $10-per-parcel assessment fee. Though the district receives some funding from the state conservation commission — plus King County, state and federal grants — state legislators do not allocate dollars to the agency.

The district encompasses King County except for Enumclaw, Federal Way, Milton, Pacific and Skykomish.

The board administers conservation projects and other programs throughout the 63-year-old district.

In Issaquah, the district infused more than $320,000 into the project to restore a key stretch along Issaquah Creek in Squak Valley Park North. Crews completed the long-planned habitat-restoration project in late 2010.

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

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