Washington voters in the Nov. 5 general election will decide on two statewide ballot measures, a state constitutional amendment and dozens of local ballot issues and races. Use this guide to explore key races and learn more about what’s on the ballot.
Here’s some information to get you started:
- The election is mail-only, although counties provide accessible voting centers for people who need assistance completing their ballots.
- Ballots must be postmarked, put in a drop box or returned in person to your county elections department by 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 5. Be sure to sign the ballot envelope.
- Ballots are postage paid. You don’t need a stamp to mail it to your county’s elections office.
- Oct. 28 is the last day to register to vote or update your information online or by mail. You can register in person during business hours at your county’s elections office up to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
- More information: King County Elections, Snohomish County Elections, Kitsap County Elections, Pierce County Elections.
Jump to coverage of:
- Initiative 976 (car-tab taxes)
- Referendum 88 (affirmative action)
- Statewide measures
- Seattle City Council
- King County Council
- King County Proposition 1 (Medic One)
- King County director of elections
- Port of Seattle Commission
- Seattle School Board
- Eastside and Renton races
Key endorsements: Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman is the primary backer of the initiative. An array of interest groups, including the Washington State Labor Council and Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, have endorsed the No on I-976 campaign. The Seattle Times Editorial Board also recommends rejecting the meaure.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, the opposition campaign raised about $3.5 million, with Microsoft, Amazon and Vulcan among top donors. A committee used by Eyman for several different initiatives raised about $63,500, largely rolled over from past committees.
Key endorsements: The pro-affirmative action campaign is supported by the Washington State Labor Council and other labor groups, the King County Democrats and Microsoft. Former governors Dan Evans, Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke helped pen the pro-campaign’s voter pamphlet statement. The opposing campaign, which was spearheaded by a group of Chinese immigrants who got the measure on the ballot, is endorsed by the King County Republican Party. Helping write its voters pamphlet statement were Mary Radcliffe and talk radio host John Carlson, both of whom helped lead the 1998 campaign to ban affirmative action, and Thomas Jarrard, a past chair of the Washington State Veterans Bar Association.
Campaign contributions: The pro-affirmative action campaign, known as the WA Fairness Campaign, raised $737,000 as of Oct. 16. Its biggest donors are the Group Health Community Foundation and the ACLU of Washington. The opposing campaign, known as Let People Vote, has raised nearly $1.1 million, but most of the money was spent getting the measure on the ballot. Its biggest donors include the restaurants Sizzling Pot King and Dong Ting Chun, and the American Civil Rights Coalition. Another campaign opposing the measure, Grassroots Against i1000, raised $32,120 as of Oct. 14.
Tax advisory votesThe dozen advisory votes on the ballot are nonbinding — meaning they don’t change anything. They let voters give a symbolic up or down to revenue bills approved this year by the Washington Legislature. Some of those bills helped finance Washington’s new $52.4 billion two-year state operating budget. Others fund new programs, like the payroll tax that creates a benefit program for people to help afford long-term care as they age. Another piece of tax legislation this year funds university tuition for low- to median-income students.
Senate Joint Resolution 8200Voters will decide on Senate Joint Resolution 8200, a proposed amendment to the Washington Constitution. The state constitution currently allows for continuity-of-government planning in the event of mass casualties by an enemy attack on the United States. But that doesn’t cover other human-caused or natural disasters. The proposed amendment would expand the authority of the state to draft contingency plans for those events.
Proponents say the amendment is necessary to properly prepare for the megaquake and ensuing tsunami that, when it comes, will be one of the worst disasters the country has seen. Opponents see the measure as vaguely-worded and worry the expansion of powers would be misused.
Seattle City Council
District 1The race: Attorney Phillip Tavel, right, is challenging Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold as she seeks a second term representing West Seattle residents. Business-backed political groups seeking to shake up the council after last year's failed head tax have backed Tavel, while Herbold has emphasized her longtime policy experience fighting for workers and renters.
Key endorsements: Herbold has been endorsed by the King County Democrats, MLK Labor council and The Stranger, while Tavel has the endorsement of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political-action committee, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht and The Seattle Times Editorial Board.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Herbold had raised $175,600, with more money from business-backed independent campaigns spent against her than those backed by unions have spent to support her. Tavel had raised $159,600, while political-action committees like the Chamber's Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy had spent $169,000 in support of him.
District 2The race: Tammy Morales, left, a community organizer who nearly unseated incumbent Bruce Harrell in 2015, is matched against Mark Solomon a crime-prevention coordinator with the police department. District 2 includes the Chinatown International District, Georgetown and Southeast Seattle. The seat opened because Harrell decided not to run again.
Key endorsements: MLK Labor council and 2017 mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver are backing Morales, while Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and The Seattle Times Editorial Board are supporting Solomon.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Morales had raised $179,600, while Solomon had raised about $132,600. Independent political-action committees associated with service-worker unions have spent about $13,300 on Morales, while committees associated with the Chamber, more moderate or conservative voters and Seattle’s firefighters union PAC have spent about $184,400 on Solomon.
District 3The race: Two-term incumbent Kshama Sawant, left, is facing challenger Egan Orion, an LGBTQ leader and small-business advocate, in the District 3 council race that’s playing out as a test of whether Seattle voters still support the incumbent's fist-in-the-air brand of activism. The matchup is the most expensive of the year, drawing big spending by business PACs funded by Amazon and other corporations looking to take down the city’s socialist council member.
Key endorsements: Sawant is endorsed by 17 labor unions, including the Seattle Education Association, as well as Councilmember Mike O’Brien and The Stranger. Orion has several union endorsements, too, including Fire Fighters Local 27, and is backed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the editorial board of The Seattle Times.
Campaign contributions: Sawant had raised over $389,000 as of Oct. 16, with more than half coming from outside Seattle. Orion had raised nearly $364,000, with more than 90% from inside Seattle. He’s also been backed by more than $340,000 in spending by PACs, largely funded by businesses and the firefighters union PAC.
District 4The race: Shaun Scott, left, a writer and political organizer, is facing Alex Pedersen, a former council aide to Tim Burgess. District 4 includes Eastlake, Wallingford, the University District and many Northeast Seattle neighborhoods.
Key endorsements: State Rep. Frank Chopp and former Gov. Dan Evans are backing Pedersen as is The Seattle Times Editorial Board, while Councilmember Mike O’Brien and former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell are supporting Scott.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Pedersen had raised $185,700, while Scott had raised $177,800. Independent political-action committees associated with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, more moderate or conservative voters and Seattle’s firefighters union PAC have spent about $95,200 supporting Pedersen.
District 5The race: One-term incumbent Debora Juarez, left, stresses her experience and attention to local issues in this North Seattle district. She faces challenger Ann Davison Sattler, who says the city has failed in its response to homelessness and that the City Council is not responsive to constituents.
Key endorsements: Juarez is endorsed by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, The Stranger and MLK Labor council. Sattler is endorsed by The Seattle Times Editorial Board and Kenmore Mayor David Baker.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Juarez had raised $148,700, including $79,500 from democracy vouchers, while Sattler has raised $50,800 and is not participating in the democracy vouchers program. Juarez has received about $7,000 in outside support from both the Seattle Fire Fighters union PAC and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s PAC.
District 6The race: Former Councilmember Heidi Wills, left, faces former council aide Dan Strauss, in a race in which both candidates assert they would step into the job ready to go. It’s been a good-natured campaign, with the candidates agreeing on much. Wills has been more open to continuing the sweeps of unauthorized homeless encampments while Strauss wants them halted unless there’s a public health or safety reason for clearing them.
Key endorsements: Strauss is endorsed by The Stranger, MLK Labor council and City Councilmembers Teresea Mosqueda and Sally Bagshaw. Wills is endorsed by The Seattle Times Editorial Board, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Wills had raised about $222,600, including about $107,000 from democracy vouchers, while Strauss had raised about $176,000, including about $124,000 from democracy vouchers. Wills has received more than $100,000 in outside support from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s PAC and about $60,000 from the Seattle Fire Fighters union PAC.
District 7The race: Andrew Lewis, right, an assistant Seattle city attorney, faces Jim Pugel, a longtime police leader who served as interim Seattle police chief in 2013. District 7 runs from Pioneer Square to Magnolia, including downtown, South Lake Union and Queen Anne.
Key endorsements: MLK Labor council and the King County Democrats have endorsed Lewis, while the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and The Seattle Times Editorial Board have endorsed Pugel.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Lewis had raised about $142,100, while Pugel had raised $190,300. An independent political-action committee associated with the hotel-workers union has spent more than $148,200 on Lewis, while committees associated with the Chamber, hotel owners and other groups have spent about $90,200 on Pugel
Metropolitan King County Council
District 2The race: Larry Gossett, left, a local civil rights icon and member of the County Council for a quarter century, faces the toughest reelection of his career, against Girmay Zahilay, an immigrant, Ivy League-educated lawyer and education advocate. Zahilay won the primary handily and is loath to criticize Gossett, saying he prefers to look forward. Gossett says he’s proven and experienced as an advocate for working people.
Key endorsements: Gossett is endorsed by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, all eight of his colleagues on the County Council and The Seattle Times Editorial Board. Zahilay is endorsed by King County Democrats, The Stranger, and state Sens. Joe Nguyen, Mona Das and Bob Hasegawa.
Campaign contributions: Zahilay had raised $157,500 and Gossett had raised $123,500 as of Oct. 16.
District 4The race: Veteran legislator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, left, faces transit advocate Abigail Doerr, in an intergenerational race. Both women are progressive Democrats and agree on much, but Doerr stresses energy and fresh ideas while Kohl-Welles stresses experience and collaboration.
Key endorsements: Kohl-Welles is endorsed by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, all eight of her colleagues on the County Council and The Seattle Times Editorial Board. Doerr is endorsed by Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, King County Young Democrats and Transit Riders Union.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Kohl-Welles had raised $147,000 and Doerr had raised $91,300.
District 6The race: Incumbent Claudia Balducci, right, is running for a second term representing the Eastside, focusing on housing affordability and transportation. Her opponent, Bill Hirt, a perennial candidate, says he has “no desire to win” but wants to draw attention to his anti-Sound Transit blog.
Key endorsements: Balducci is endorsed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and state Sens. Makna Dhingra, Lisa Wellman and Patty Kuderer. Hirt had no endorsements.
Campaign contributions: Balducci had raised $125,900 as of Oct. 16. Hirt has not reported raising any money.
District 8The race: Incumbent Joe McDermott, right, is running for a third full term after six years in the state Legislature. He faces Michael Robert Neher, a political newcomer motivated to run by outrage over proposed safe injection sites and violent street crime.
Key endorsements: McDermott is endorsed by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Alliance for Gun Responsibility, The Seattle Times Editorial Board and MLK Labor council. Neher has no endorsements.
Campaign contributions: McDermott had raised $129,700 as of Oct. 16. Neher had not reported raising any money.
King County Proposition No. 1
Medic One – Emergency Medical Services Replacement of Existing LevyThe race: Proposition 1 would continue funding the countywide Medic One emergency medical system for another six years. The levy would collect nearly 27 cents property taxes per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a home assessed at $612,400, the county's median value, would pay $165.35 a year. Medic One has been in place since 1970 and provides emergency care to people who call 911.
Key endorsements: The measure is widely embraced by politicians throughout the county. It has no organized opposition.
Campaign contributions: No organization has reported raising money for or against the measure.
King County director of elections
Key endorsements: Wise is endorsed by King County Executive Dow Constantine, The Seattle Times Editorial Board, Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht and five members of the Metropolitan King County Council. Greene has no endorsements.
Campaign contributions: Wise had raised $11,900 as of Oct. 16. Greene had not reported raising any money.
Port of Seattle Commission
Position 2The race: In the Port Commission’s most competitive race, newcomer Sam Cho, left, former legislative assistant and owner of a $2 million a year egg-product export business, faces attorney and former Bellevue mayor Grant Degginger. On the commission’s plate in the coming years is Sea-Tac Airport modernization, estimated to cost more than $4 billion. The winner will replace Commissioner Courtney Gregoire, who did not seek re-election.
Key endorsements: Cho racked up endorsements from port unions, former Gov. Gary Locke and The Stranger. Degginger is backed by business interests, former Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani and The Seattle Times Editorial Board.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Cho had raised about $115,300, largely from the Washington State Democrats and the Asian American community. Degginger had raised $114,300, largely from the business community, including Microsoft president Brad Smith, Alaska and Delta airlines, and major port customer SSA Marine.
Position 5The race: Incumbent commissioner Fred Felleman, left, overwhelmed challenger Garth Jacobson, in the August primary, winning 72% of the vote. Jacobson, an attorney, has lambasted congestion at the airport. Felleman has made conservation his biggest priority.
Key endorsements: Felleman is endorsed by local elected officials, port unions, conservation groups and The Seattle Times Editorial Board. Jacobson has not received any endorsements.
Contributions: As of Oct. 16, Felleman had raised $52,000, including from the Washington State Democrats, unions and business interests. Jacobson had raised $400.
Seattle School Board
District 1The race: Based on money raised and their performance in the August primary, longtime parent advocates Liza Rankin, left, and Eric Blumhagen may be the most equally matched candidates vying for a Seattle School Board seat this year. Naval architect Blumhagen led artist Rankin by 3 percentage points in the primary to represent the district’s northernmost area. Their platforms for more support staff, accountability and cultural competency at the district are largely the same.
Key endorsements: Blumhagen is endorsed by the 32nd, 36th, 43rd and 46th Legislative District Democrats, Laborers Local 242, School Board members Leslie Harris, Scott Pinkham and Eden Mack, and The Seattle Times Editorial Board. Rankin is endorsed by the 37th Legislative District Democrats, Seattle Education Association, Teamsters Local 174, and School Board members Jill Geary and Zachary DeWolf.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Rankin raised $20,900 with nearly $3,000 from the Washington State Democrats, and Blumhagen raised $25,800, about half from his own money.
District 2The race: Lisa Rivera Smith is the only candidate running to succeed Rick Burke, who is not seeking reelection to his seat representing north central Seattle. Rivera Smith is the co-president of Lincoln High School’s PTA and a former newspaper reporter.
District 3The race: Education-policy researcher Rebeca Muñiz, left, is less known among voters in her race against consultant Chandra Hampson. The two are running to succeed School Board member Jill Geary. Both pledge to work on institutional racism in the district. Hampson touts her time as president of the city’s parent-teacher association, while Muñiz points to her work with marginalized youth at AmeriCorps and research on the school district’s racial-equity initiatives.
Endorsements: Muñiz is endorsed by the 46th and 43rd Legislative District Democrats, UAW 4121, King County Young Democrats, and School Board members Eden Mack and Scott Pinkham. Hampson is endorsed by the Seattle Education Association, King County Democrats, The Seattle Times Editorial Board and School Board members Jill Geary and Zachary DeWolf.
Contributions: At $26,700 as of Oct. 16, Hampson had raised more than any other School Board candidate this year. Muñiz’s campaign hasn’t sent the state financial information since April, when she had $3,800.
District 6The race: Molly Mitchell, right, Seattle Central College’s student support director, is challenging the School Board president and incumbent Leslie Harris for the West Seattle seat. Harris, a paralegal, led comfortably in the primary, but Mitchell’s racial-justice work earned her the endorsement of the Seattle teacher’s union. Challengers for this seat, including Harris herself, have ousted incumbents the past two elections.
Endorsements: Mitchell is endorsed by the Seattle Education Association, Local 609, One America, Seattle School Board member Jill Geary and former District 6 Board member Marty McLaren. Harris is endorsed by the 34th, 36th, 46th Legislative District Democrats, The Seattle Times Editorial Board, Seattle/King County Building & Construction Trades Council, and School Board members Eden Mack, Scott Pinkham, Zachary DeWolf and Rick Burke.
Contributions: As of Oct. 16, Harris had raised $10,200 while Mitchell had raised $16,400.
Bellevue City Council
Position 1The race: John Stokes, who has served on the City Council for eight years, including two years as mayor, is seeking a third term against Holly Zhang, who owns a jewelry in Bellevue.
Key endorsements: Stokes’ top endorsements include Fuse Washington, the Eastside Business Alliance and the Affordable Housing Council. Zhang has not received any formal endorsements.
Campaign contributions: Stokes has raised $31,130 and Zhang has raised $11,725 as of Oct. 30.
Bellevue City Council
Position 3The race: Jeremy Barksdale is facing Stephanie Walter in the race for the Position 3 seat, which is being vacated by Mayor John Chelminiak. Barksdale is a user experience researcher at Unity Technologies and Walter is a finance professional at Overlake Hospital.
Key endorsements: Barksdale’s top endorsements include Mayor John Chelminiak, Bellevue Firefighters and The Seattle Times. Walter’s top endorsements include the Eastside Business Alliance, Seattle King County Realtors and the Affordable Housing Council.
Campaign contributions: Barksdale has raised $82,562 and Walter has raised $81,123 as of Oct. 30.
Bellevue City Council
Position 5The race: Incumbent Janice Zahn is facing a challenge from J.D. (Jingdong) Yu, an engineer at T-Mobile. Zahn was elected to the City Council in the 2017 midterm election to fill the seat vacated by Vandana Slatter, who now represents the 48th District in the state House of Representatives.
Key endorsements: Zahn’s top endorsements include Mayor John Chelminiak, King County Executive Dow Constantine and The Seattle Times. Yu’s top endorsements include Humane Voters of Washington, Bellevue Transportation Commission Chair Lei Wu and the Alliance of Chinese Associations of Washington.
Campaign contributions: Zahn has raised $61,389 and Yu has raised $74,399 as of Oct. 30.
Bellevue City Council
Position 7The race: Three-term incumbent Jennifer Robertson faces challenger James Bible, a prominent civil-rights attorney and former member of the Seattle King County NAACP.
Key endorsements: Robertson’s top endorsements include the Eastside Business Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and The Seattle Times. Bible’s top endorsements include King County Democrats, the Washington State Progressive Caucus and Fuse Washington.
Campaign contributions: Robertson has raised $116,580 and Bible has raised $26,164 as of Oct. 30.
Mayor of Redmond
Key endorsements: Birney’s top endorsements include Marchione, King County Executive Dow Constantine, The Seattle Times Editorial Board and the Eastside Business Alliance. Fields’ top endorsements include former Redmond Mayor Rosemarie Ives, Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins and King County Democrats.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Birney had raised $97,600 and Fields had raised $21,100.
Mayor of Renton
Key endorsements: Maxwell’s endorsements include King County Democrats, the Renton Education Association and Gov. Jay Inslee. Pavone’s endorsements include Renton Mayor Denis Law, the Renton Police Guild, The Seattle Times Editorial Board and four Renton City Council members.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 16, Maxwell had raised $106,000 and Pavone had raised 68,500.
City of Medina
Proposition No. 1The race: Medina voters will decide whether to approve a six-year tax-levy increase the city says will fill a looming budget deficit and maintain its current level of municipal services. The measure would increase the city’s property-tax rate by 20 cents, to 84 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in 2020, and additional increases of 5% each year until 2025. The city of sprawling, multimillion-dollar mansions is projecting a $500,000 deficit in 2020, which Medina officials say could deepen to $3.3 million by 2025 without a property-tax increase.
- BALLOT ISSUES AND RACESInitiative 976 (car-tab taxes)
- Referendum 88 (affirmative action)
- Statewide measures
- Seattle City Council
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