Councilman Bob Ferguson — the Joe Lieberman of King County Politics — just issued a joint press release with Councilman
Raymond Shaw Reagan Dunn announcing that he would join the King County Council’s four Republicans in putting a charter amendment on the ballot that would make the County Auditor an elected office.
Just the kind of pandering, conniving politics I’ve come to expect from Ferguson, who seems intent on using his status as the Council’s swing vote to maximum personal advantage. It is also incredibly irresponsible and counterproductive if Ferguson’s goal is to actually stabilize and improve operations at Records and Elections.
Putting aside the larger issue that an elected Auditor would virtually assure that one of the largest elections jurisdictions in the nation will now be run by a political hack rather than a qualified professional, Ferguson’s ill-timed announcement may have just made it impossible to fill top-level positions in the interim. I’ve been told that the county is close to bringing in one of the nation’s top elections officials, but Ferguson may have created just enough uncertainty to scuttle the deal. And worse yet, Ferguson knew this before he made his announcement.
In their press release
Lieberman Ferguson & Shaw Dunn argue that King County should join the other 38 counties in the state that already administer elections under a separately elected official, but that’s just a red herring. Many of the state’s counties are tiny, and you just can’t compare their elections operations with that of a county that serves over a 1.2 million voters, about a third of the state’s entire electorate.
Indeed, even before the transition to all vote-by-mail King County already processes more mail-in ballots than any other jurisdiction save Los Angeles County. And of the top 20 voting jurisdictions in the nation (King County is number eleven),
the majority fourteen appoint their top elections officers, because such complex operations require elections expertise rather than political savvy.
Lieberman Ferguson and his Republican allies will pooh-pooh such arguments, continuing to point towards over-hyped controversies surrounding the 2004 gubernatorial election as evidence of the need for dramatic change. This despite the fact that the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks will honor King County Elections with its Best Practice Award in recognition of its mail ballot processing during the 2005 election.
“The King County Elections Office submitted an impressive examination of their mail balloting practices and the challenges election officials experience when conducting elections with an ever-increasing volume of mail balloting. Our members will be able to take the procedures outlined by King County and immediately put them to use in their own jurisdictions which is the whole purpose of NACRCs Best Practice program,” said Harris County Clerk and NACRC Chair Beverly Kaufman.
Yeah, but who cares about the improvements KCRE has made over the past two years if there’s political hay to be made by trotting out the 2004 election contest once again? And who cares if
Lieberman Ferguson & Shaw Dunn set back the County’s transition to all vote-by-mail — a transition that Lieberman Ferguson championed — when there are cozy little backroom deals to be made.
See, council scuttlebutt is that
Lieberman Ferguson & Shaw Dunn have a little vote trading pact going. Rumor has it that Shaw Dunn recently broke ranks to support Lieberman Ferguson’s efforts to squash a North Lake Union development project, and now Lieberman Ferguson is breaking ranks on the county auditor vote as pay back.
Either way politicizing the elections department is just bad public policy. Here’s hoping the ambitious
Lieberman Ferguson gets an earful from his constituents.
Oh, and if you’re one of those lucky folks who have had
Lieberman Ferguson ring your door bell, better give the button a wipe with a little Lysol. You just never know where his finger’s been.