Tag Archives: city council

Ballots other than butterfly

Election Day came and went, and the Walla Walla County’s Web site put up the results of the vote the next day. After looking at the statewide referendum and initiative results, I skimmed down to the city council tallies, and as expected, I did not win the Position 3 race. Technically unopposed, each of the three people running for the open slots on the council won by more than 95 percent of the votes cast. But I did note something interesting: Positions 1 and 2 received more than 97 percent, but Position 3 only got 96.35 percent. What was going on here? Were people getting fatigued—after all, they’d voted for two statewide contests, a state representative, a school board member, port commissioner, and depending on the ballot, other local offices, before getting to the city council seats. I could infer that some of the lost votes. Surely there wasn’t something qualitatively different about the guy running for the third slot, was there? Or did I really get 1 percent of the vote with my 3-week-long Facebook-focused write in campaign?


I had to know.

I emailed the county elections board, not without a fair amount of irony, because several months ago I’d applied for the job of county elections supervisor (hey, I’m grasping at the employment straws here, what can I say). I figured they wouldn’t remember me, or even if they did, that they’d respond to me anyway. I presume the conversation would go something like this:

County Employee #1: Hey Glenda, get a load of this?

Glenda: What, Ralph?

Ralph: That nutjob Everett guy wants to know how many votes he got yesterday.

Glenda: Isn’t that the guy who tried to get your job, Ralph?

Ralph: Sure is. Apparently he had some jerky write-in thing going.

Glenda: Wow, he really is crazy. I bet he named himself after the city of Everett.

Ralph: If he did, he should have stayed west side, then. What a loser!

After having such a conversation, they collected themselves and replied to my email, saying that the county is only required to tally write-in votes if the person on the ticket didn’t get a majority of the votes. Since we can go ahead and say that 96.35 percent is a majority of the votes cast, I don’t think I’ll ever know how many votes I really got, but I’m betting it was more than 20, and certainly more than Mickey Mouse and Yoda combined. I am a little reminded of Richard Pryor’s “None of the Above” campaign in Brewster’s Millions, which, when I first saw it, made absolutely no sense to my 12-year-old brain. Why on earth would anyone cast a vote for no one?

But I’m glad that I started a dialogue, at least among some Walla Wallans, about their local government and how it seems to work (or not, as the case may be). Nobody I talked to seemed to know what these councilmen-elect stand for, what their goals are, how they feel about things like repairing the 25 percent defective water infrastructure in the city.

Along the way, the woman running to retain her seat in the state legislature, Laura Grant, intimated to me that should I want to run “for real” next time, I should let her know. So I think I’ll try to put my toes in the water and see how things really work around here. And sheesh, find some stimulus money for the pipe and road rebuilding, people. That’s got to be better than raising water rates by 50 percent.

In the meantime, I’ve been working of putting several recipes into a cookbook for some holiday presents to our family. This started out as a small idea and has grown rapidly, the point that many more people want a copy of the cookbook than we can afford to produce. So starting next week, I’m going to open a new page on this blog dedicated to our cooking and baking, and links to other foodie blogs we like. I hope you all enjoy it.

Running for difference

Walla Walla has a City Council. This I knew before we moved here. The Mayor position is filled on a rotating basis with someone from the Council, voted on by members of the Council themselves. So the good citizens of Walla Walla don’t directly vote for a mayor. Representative government at its best?

Possibly not. I received my ballot in the mail on Friday, which I still find unsettling as a process, this whole vote by mail thing, and looked at what was on it. The Referendum 71, to keep or ditch domestic partner benefits for Washington State, and the Initiative 1033, to gut funding for programming from libraries to nursing homes, I already knew about. There are signs all over for the state representative job, so I knew I’d see that on the ballot. I’d heard a peep about the two men running for the commissioner of the Port of Walla Walla, but not much, and I’d heard absolutely nothing about the three people running unopposed for the open slots on the Council. Unopposed. All three of them.

What was this about? Were they all shoo-ins? Or did no one care who sat on the Council?

I ran to the Internet—okay, I didn’t run, seeing as my laptop was a few feet away—and looked up information on the races. Well, when I say “looked up,” I typed in a few keywords (namely, walla walla election city council 2009), and then voila, I got bupkus. Maybe on page 2. Nope. One article on the contested Port Commissioner job, and nothing else. Apparently “Walla Walla” is a link at the bottom of many pages on Washington State politics, skewing my results. Three pages into my search I gave up.

On the Walla Walla city Web site it lists the current members, and with five minutes more of digging, I found the name of the mayor, Dominic Elia. Sheesh, no need to put your names out there, folks, you’re only running the city.

So where were these people who were campaigning for positions 1, 2, and 3? What were their ideas about making the city a great place to live and work? Where did they think we need improvement? How are they prepared to handle the tax revenue issues in these difficult times? And my biggest question of all:

Why didn’t you jackasses move the snow off the streets last year?

Feeling frustrated and fanciful after inking in oval after oval on my ballot, I wrote in my own name on Position 3. Too bad for you, Daniel Johnson, who I’m sure will be elected anyway. I sealed up the envelope, avoiding the paper cut of last year, and put my poll tax—I mean, stamp—on the front.

Later that day, a friend who’d just lost her grandmother came over for some apple crisp and tea. As we were chatting, I mentioned I’d audaciously written myself in to the council, figuring I’d be right down there with Mickey Mouse and Yoda. Her reaction surprised me.

“I’m voting for you!”

“Oh, really, you don’t need to do that,” I said, waving my hands in front of me like they’d save me against her 18-wheeler of a response.

“No, I’m writing you in, and I’m telling all my friends to do it, too!”

Oh my God. How . . . how, fantastic. I mean, there’s no way I could win, what with 30,000 registered voters in the county and me knowing exactly 138 people here. So they would be throwing away a vote for one seat in an unopposed race. Low stakes. So why not tell her to shout from the Blue Mountain range if she wanted to?

I’m up to 12 votes at this point, and kind of tickled pink. Maybe I should have a motto, but everything I come up with seems to have a serious drawback:

Vote for Everett Maroon, Because Maroon Means Mayor in Arabic

Because Someone on the Council Should Be Able to Rock a Bejeweled Blitz Game

Putting Walla Walla’s Nondriscrimination Clause to Work!

He’s Even Named After a City in Washington

Because Who Cares, Really?

I may even take a picture of myself mailing in my ballot.

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