Sammamish couple hails same-sex marriage milestone

November 13, 2012

Washington voters’ groundbreaking decision to approve same-sex marriage elicited a simple — but heartfelt — response from a Sammamish couple: thank you.

Referendum 74, buoyed by strong support in King County, authorized same-sex marriage in Washington. Dana and Sage Alixander, longtime partners married in California before Proposition 8 outlawed same-sex marriage, hailed the historic decision in Washington.

Dana Alixander offered a “collective thank you” to R-74 supporters not long after the measure inched ahead in election night results.

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Chad Magendanz transitions from school board to Legislature

November 13, 2012

Chad Magendanz

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

Magendanz defeated North Bend Democrat David Spring, a candidate for the seat in 2008 and 2010. The challengers vied to succeed retiring state Rep. Glenn Anderson, a Fall City 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 a day after the election.

Magendanz said decisions made in Olympia often frustrated the school board and Issaquah School District leaders.

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Proposition 1, fingerprint identification services levy, passes overwhelmingly

November 13, 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 renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home.

Investigators use the AFIS database to match fingerprints and palmprints to criminal suspects. The system is managed by the King County Sheriff’s Office.

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.

Dave Reichert wins another term in Congress

November 13, 2012

Dave Reichert

Redistricting ended almost a decade of close challenges for control in the 8th Congressional District, as voters re-elected Republican Dave Reichert by a comfortable margin after a campaign unlike other recent contests for the seat.

In a landslide, Reichert, a former King County sheriff and Auburn Republican, defeated Issaquah Democrat Karen Porterfield, a nonprofit professional and adjunct instructor at Seattle University.

Reichert held on amid vigorous challenges from Democrats in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, but redistricting last year reshaped the district. The state commission responsible for redrawing the political map snipped Eastside cities from the district and added Eastern Washington communities.

The result created a seat observers said is reliably Republican — and offered little suspense as Election Day came to a close. Reichert led by 18 points in the initial election night results and continued to hold a commanding lead.

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Voters choose John Urquhart for King County sheriff

November 13, 2012

John Urquhart

John Urquhart is King County’s next top lawman.

Urquhart defeated the incumbent sheriff, Steve Strachan, 57 percent to 43 percent, after a contentious campaign.

Strachan, a former Kent police chief, and Urquhart, a former sheriff’s office sergeant and spokesman, locked horns about the agency’s future. The contest to lead the King County Sheriff’s Office hinged on a series of audits into how the agency operates.

The sheriff oversees a budget of about $150 million and about 1,000 employees, and leads the largest local police organization in the state after the Seattle Police Department.

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Issaquah police plan no immediate changes after Initiative 502 legalizes marijuana

November 13, 2012

In a milestone, Initiative 502 legalized marijuana for recreational use among adults 21 and older in Washington.

In the days after the measure passed, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg dismissed 175 cases involving people 21 and older for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

The law outlined in I-502 is scheduled to take effect Dec. 6. Meanwhile, Washington Liquor Control Board officials must formulate rules to grow, sell, tax and regulate marijuana.

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Voters support supermajority for tax increases

November 13, 2012

The measure backed by anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman, Initiative 1185, reinforces existing state law requiring any tax increases imposed by the Legislature to receive approval from a two-thirds majority in each legislative chamber or approved by a majority of voters.

The measure requires majority legislative approval for additional or increased fees.

Washington voters approved a two-thirds legislative majority for taxes in 1993, 1998, 2007 and 2010. The measure on the Nov. 6 ballot garnered support from more than 60 percent of voters statewide.

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In turnaround, voters OK charter schools in Washington

November 13, 2012

Supporters of charter school Initiative 1240 declared victory Nov. 10, as the measure hovered at about 50 percent support and elections officials statewide continued to count ballots.

The measure aims to allow up to 40 charter schools statewide in the next five years, though the high-performing Issaquah School District is not a likely candidate for such a school.

Opponents said charter schools in other states have a mixed track record and could siphon dollars from other public schools.

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Maria Cantwell discusses jobs, stumps for votes in Gilman Village

November 13, 2012

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell focused on the economy and education during a campaign stop at Issaquah’s Gilman Village early Nov. 2, and urged voters to return ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Maria Cantwell

Cantwell’s 26-city “Jobs for Washington” bus tour across the state stopped at the Issaquah Coffee Co. In remarks to a group of sign-toting Democrats and local dignitaries, she emphasized efforts to aid small businesses since the economy collapsed in 2008.

“In my opinion, a lot of money went to Wall Street and the five big banks, and Main Street got the short end of the stick,” she said. “Well, we worked hard to try to correct that by passing a new bill to help support community banks who would lend to small business. In fact, that program helped banks from Issaquah to Bellingham increase their lending to small businesses by as much as 24 percent.”

Cantwell said Eastside residents — and a workforce defined by Boeing engineers and Microsoft programmers — value quality education.

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Issaquah drop box buzzes as voters return ballots, shatter records

November 13, 2012

Cathy Gulezian, of Maple Valley (left), watches sons Brady, 2, and Dylan, 4, place ballots for her and husband Ken in a ballot drop box attended by King County Elections workers Michele Phelps and Jon Gentry at Issaquah City Hall on Nov. 6. By Greg Farrar

The ballot drop box outside Issaquah City Hall transformed into a nucleus of activity as Election Day stretched into night, and voters raced to deposit ballots before the 8 p.m. deadline.

King County Elections staffers, dressed in aprons the same shade as traffic cones, directed voters to the secure box. The elections office opened the box last month and, as the ballot deadline approached and after post offices closed, more and more ballot-toting voters arrived.

“Unlike during tax season, the post office does not stay open longer hours for voting,” Lynne Miller, a King County Elections spokeswoman, said just before 7 p.m. Nov. 6.

Elections staffers used atomic clocks to determine the precise 8 p.m. deadline at ballot drop box sites countywide.

King County Elections forecast 87 percent turnout countywide — a hike from the 84 percent record set in 2008. (The county relied on a combination of mail ballots and polling sites in the last presidential election.)

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