Brad Toft concedes state Senate race to Mark Mullet

November 9, 2012

NEW — 10:05 a.m. Nov. 9, 2012

Less than 24 hours after urging supporters to wait for more election results, Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft conceded a hard-fought state Senate race to Issaquah City Councilman Mark Mullet early Friday.

Toft could not overcome the lead Mullet, a Democrat, posted on election night, and then continued to maintain as subsequent results arrived. In the most recent results released Thursday by King County Elections, Toft trailed Mullet, 54 percent to 46 percent, out of 50,681 ballots tallied.

“There’s a disappointment in what happened, but the cause goes on,” Toft said in a message to campaign supporters Friday.

Mullet declared victory after the initial election results landed Tuesday, and then disputed Toft’s assertions about a possible turnaround in subsequent days.

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King County Metro Transit holiday schedule starts on Veterans Day

November 9, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 9, 2012

King County Metro Transit bus riders should prepare for reduced service in upcoming weeks, starting Nov. 12, as the nation observes Veterans Day.

The transit agency operates on a reduced weekday schedule on several holidays through January — including a full week of reduced service at the end of December.

The planned reductions arrive during a slow period, as Metro Transit experiences a reduction in weekday riders — estimated to reach 15 percent or more systemwide.

The mass transit agency uses a Sunday schedule for several of the upcoming holidays. The reduced weekday schedule features more bus service than on weekends, but less service than on regular weekdays. Officials estimate the limited schedule saves Metro Transit about $1 million per year.

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King County voters renew levy for police fingerprint services

November 8, 2012

NEW — 5 p.m. Nov. 8, 2012

King County voters overwhelmingly approved a $118.9 million property tax levy to continue funding criminal fingerprint identification services for local law enforcement agencies, including the Issaquah Police Department.

Proposition 1 asked voters to keep the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, in operation through 2018. The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to the King County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies.

The proposed renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home.

Issaquah officers used information from AFIS 2,100 times last year to determine if a jail inmate was evading a warrant, concealing a criminal record or using a false identity.

Investigators use the AFIS database to match fingerprints and palmprints to criminal suspects. The system is managed by the sheriff’s office.

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Brad Toft: State Senate race is too close to call, despite Mark Mullet’s lead

November 8, 2012

NEW — 12:10 p.m. Nov. 8, 2012

The contest for the 5th Legislative District state Senate seat is too close to call, Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft said Thursday, despite a 3,307-vote lead for Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet.

The race attracted attention in recent weeks for the insults the candidates lobbed at one another and, for a time, observers said the match-up could determine state Senate control. However, Republicans did not gain enough seats on Election Day to crack the Democrats’ majority in the chamber.

Mullet held about 54 percent — or 23,216 votes — to Toft’s 46 percent — or 19,909 votes — among more than 43,000 ballots counted in the race so far.

King County Elections is scheduled to release additional results at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Committee removes $20 roads fee from King County budget

November 8, 2012

NEW — 11:15 a.m. Nov. 8, 2012

The committee responsible for crafting the 2013 King County budget dropped a plan to charge unincorporated-area residents a $20 vehicle-license fee to fund road maintenance, officials announced Thursday.

The proposed $7.6 billion budget contains $685 million for the general fund — the source of dollars for elections, law enforcement and other basic government functions. King County Council budget team members said 73 percent of dollars from the fund go toward public safety and criminal justice programs.

The proposed budget does not dip into cash reserves or the county’s rainy day fund.

In September, King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed a $20 fee to fund road maintenance and storm response in rural and unincorporated areas.

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Businesses offer Veterans Day freebies to honor military service

November 8, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 8, 2012

Freebies abound for veterans and active-duty military personnel for Veterans Day, as local businesses seek to honor military members’ service.

The offerings include complimentary burgers, car washes, haircuts and more. Other businesses rolled out programs to aid veterans and active-duty personnel.

Brown Bear Car Wash is offering free Bear Essentials car washes to all current or former military members on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The company operates car washes in Issaquah at 22121 S.E. 56th St. and in Sammamish at 3050 228th Ave. S.E.

“The event is our way of demonstrating appreciation for those who currently serve our country and have made sacrifices on behalf of all of us,” Brown Bear Car Wash President Vic Odermat, a U.S. Marine veteran, said in a statement. “It reflects our bond to the communities we serve, including a large armed services presence here.”

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Mark Mullet maintains state Senate lead over Brad Toft

November 7, 2012

NEW — 6:50 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012

Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet maintained a lead of more than 3,000 votes over Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft in the latest round of results, as the candidates awaited resolution in the 5th Legislative District state Senate race.

Mullet held about 54 percent — or 23,216 votes — to Toft’s 46 percent — or 19,909 votes — among more than 43,000 ballots counted in the race so far.

The total released at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday added 4,012 ballots to the 39,174 ballots tallied in the race on Election Day.

Mullet, owner of Zeeks Pizza in the Issaquah Highlands and a city councilman, declared victory during a party at the restaurant, moments after the initial results landed Tuesday.

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King County delays election results due to equipment problem

November 7, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012

King County Elections planned to release results at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, but officials delayed the report until 6:30 p.m. due to a problem with the ballot-scanning system.

Officials attributed the problem to the ballot-scanning system the record volume of ballots handled by the elections office. The equipment vendor is on site at the elections headquarters in Renton, and resolved the problem by 6 p.m., officials said in a statement.

The elections office plans to include about 50,000 ballots in the next tally.

King County is the largest county in the United States to conduct all-mail elections.

Ballots continue to arrive at the elections office. Officials received about 985,000 ballots so far — or 84 percent turnout in the general election to date.

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King County prepares to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as supporters claim victory

November 7, 2012

NEW — 3:30 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine is prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as Referendum 74 supporters claimed victory in the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington.

Dow Constantine

But not so fast, came the response from opponents. R-74 challengers said uncounted ballots from outside left-leaning King County could spell defeat for the measure.

In the initial results released Tuesday, R-74 led in the tally  52 percent to 48 percent, among more than 1.9 million ballots statewide. The measure relied on deep support in King County; R-74 garnered support from 65 percent of local voters.

Constantine, a longtime same-sex marriage supporter, hailed the milestone hours after the organization behind the campaign to approve R-74, Washington United for Marriage, claimed victory.

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Chad Magendanz readies for transition from Issaquah School Board to Legislature

November 7, 2012

NEW — 3 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012

Republican Chad Magendanz triumphed in the race to represent Issaquah and the 5th Legislative District in the state House of Representatives, and in process, set up a vacancy on the Issaquah School Board.

Chad Magendanz

Magendanz cruised to a comfortable lead against North Bend Democrat David Spring in the initial election results released Tuesday, 55 percent to 45 percent. The candidates vied to succeed retiring state Rep. Glenn Anderson, a Republican and lawmaker for a dozen years.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out of campaign mode — which has been the focus for the last year — and rolling up my sleeves and really getting into the tough problems to solve down in Olympia,” Magendanz said in a Wednesday interview.

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