Initial returns from Pierce and Kitsap counties showed GOP state Rep. Jan Angel and Democratic state Sen. Nathan Schlicher separated by only a few hundred votes. This race will take awhile to call.
Both parties view the 26th District Senate seat as crucial to control of the Senate in the 2014 elections. A GOP-led caucus controls the Senate with a narrow 25- to-24 vote majority. They want to increase their buffer, while Democrats want to retain the seat, hoping it will give them momentum to regain the majority next year.
More than $2.8 million flowed into the race, setting a new state record and fueling an intense advertising campaign.
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Schlicher, in a phone call Tuesday night, said “this is a long way from over.” Angel could not be immediately reached for comment.
Public-defense measure ahead
A measure to create a King County department of public defense was leading handily 59 to 41 percent in initial results Tuesday.
Charter Amendment No. 1 would amend the King County charter to create a department of public defense.
The amendment is part of the process — after a class-action lawsuit regarding benefits — of making public defenders county employees, rather than contracting with nonprofit corporations to provide that service.
Supporters said this step was necessary to implement a new public-defense structure resulting from the lawsuit’s settlement agreement. Public defenders became county employees July 1, requiring restructuring of the system.
There was no organized opposition to the amendment.
Medic One levy is passing
King County’s Medic One levy was passing by a wide margin in initial election returns Tuesday — 83 percent to 17 percent.
The property tax would cost the average King County household about $107 a year until it expires again in 2019. That’s $3 less than homeowners have been paying each year under the expiring levy.
The rate is 33.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, for six years. It would raise nearly $700 million for emergency services.
King County’s EMS system serves about 2 million people and has the highest reported survival rate of cardiac arrest — 57 percent, according the Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Measure to fix streets failing
Tacoma voters were rejecting a city measure that proposed to ask utility companies to pay higher earning taxes to fix the city’s busted streets.
Tacoma Proposition 1 was failing by a large margin on initial returns, according to the News Tribune. The measure would have raised up to $11 million to fill potholes, construct 46 school-zone improvements, repave 510 blocks and synchronize 70 Tacoma traffic signals.
Mixed opinions on tax increases
Voters in initial returns delivered mixed opinions about tax increases that the Legislature passed last year.
Voters were asked for nonbinding opinions on five increases: an expansion of the estate tax; elimination of a tax break for some telecommunications services; and minor shifts in taxes affecting commuter air carriers (maintain); property assessments; and insurance for pediatric oral care.
They appeared closely split on three of the increases and against two others — regarding the telecommunications tax and insurance for pediatric oral care.
The increases are already law and, officials say, will almost certainly stay that way regardless of the final results of the nonbinding tax-advisory votes.
The votes are the result of a Tim Eyman-sponsored initiative that sends any action by the state Legislature deemed a tax increase to the next November’s ballot.
John Urquhart re-elected sheriff
King County Sheriff John Urquhart was re-elected Tuesday.
He was unopposed.
Times staff and news services