Leader by a landslide
November 12, 2013
By Peter Clark
Voters overwhelmingly choose Fred Butler to replace longtime mayor
Fred Butler will serve as Issaquah’s first new mayor in 16 years.
After a cordial campaign, where Butler and opponent City Councilman Joe Forkner repeatedly praised one another, initial reports show a 75 percent victory for the 12-year council veteran. King County reports having counted 4,414 ballots out of 19,250 registered voters.
At his election night party at Gibson Hall, Butler extolled the difficulties of running a mayoral campaign.
“There are few people in the room that know what it is like to put yourself in the position to run for public office,” he said. “By my estimate, I knocked on about 3,000 doors.”
In the end, he said he found the strength to run with the belief of his friends, family and Issaquah voters.
“What really helped was your support and your encouragement,” he said to the gathered people and the city at large. “When I was down, I would go doorbell and that provided encouragement. Thank you for being on this journey with me.”
He said he and Forkner had decided early on to run an honest, ethical campaign and felt both had succeeded. He praised his opponent, calling him a good friend.
Butler ran a campaign that largely sought to maintain the current administration’s goals and see long-term plans, like the Central Issaquah Plan, to fruition. Forkner did not deviate too much from that program in his bid.
While Forkner lamented a busy schedule between council work and his full-time job, the retired Butler hit the pavement hard. He spent much of the past few months going door to door, finding out what meant most to voters and how they wanted to see the future of Issaquah unfold.
Butler’s campaign was no doubt helped by his fundraising prowess. His more than $24,000 was the largest amount seen in Issaquah’s political history. He also welcomed a staggering number of endorsements from Eastside mayors, local leaders and regional companies. Forkner managed to raise a little more than $7,500 and gathered a handful of endorsements, including one from The Issaquah Press.
Butler’s victory party was attended by current Mayor Ava Frisinger and former Mayor Rowan Hinds, who joined in congratulating the new mayor-elect.
“The best advice I’d give is don’t screw up,” Hinds said, laughing.
Frisinger spoke positively about having a successor, and the candidates.
“It feels good,” she said. “Regardless of the outcome, I think Issaquah would have been well-served.”
Forkner’s Nov. 5 event at the Issaquah Brewhouse brought out his supporters to watch results come in and gave him a chance to thank voters for the chance to run.
“I feel really good about the campaign,” Forkner said at the warm gathering where family and fans chatted, wearing “Vote for Joe” stickers. “Running a campaign is complicated and there is just so much to do. It is what it is.”
Forkner saw his biggest campaign flaw as not being the typical, polished candidate.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it helps to be a politician and that’s my biggest downfall,” he said. “I know how to work.”
King County elections will continue posting results from the mailed ballots as they come in most days at 4:30 p.m. until Nov. 26, when the Canvassing Board will certify the final results. Results are available at kingcounty.gov/elections.