County to be repaid over $100,000 for special election

OLYMPIA – Washington taxpayers will shell out nearly $800,000 for last year’s special election triggered by Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to quit Congress to campaign.

Most of that money will go to reimburse Snohomish, King and Kitsap counties for their expenses tied to conducting the election to fill the final month of Inslee’s term in the 1st Congressional District.

State election officials notified the counties last week that the checks should be sent this month. Payment had been held up a few weeks because the funding is in the budget agreement signed June 30 by Inslee.

The final tally of $791,339.40 is less than the $1 million estimate former Secretary of State Sam Reed put forth when the election was announced.

Of the total, Snohomish County will receive $106,576.13, King County will get $529,057.02 and Kitsap County will collect $55,706.21. The amounts are tied to each county’s share of registered voters in the district at the time of the contest.

The state also pumped $100,000 into a voter education campaign consisting of radio, television and online ads explaining the reasons for the special election. The counties chipped in some money too.

This all began when Inslee, a Democrat, resigned his congressional seat March 20, 2012 to campaign full-time against Republican Rob McKenna. Inslee left with seven months remaining in his term.

His decision led to an oddball situation requiring two elections for one seat in two very different geographical regions.

Redistricting created new boundaries for congressional districts for the 2012 elections but federal rules required the special election be held within the old boundaries of the 1st District.

That meant for the special election ballots went to voters in an area stretching from south Snohomish County through King County and into Kitsap County. The area included Mukilteo, Edmonds, Lynnwood and part of Monroe.

While those voters picked someone to complete Inslee’s term, voters in the redrawn district chose a successor to serve a two-year term representing an area from Medina in King County to the Canadian border. The new boundaries include farmland and small towns of east Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Democrat Suzan DelBene of Medina defeated Republican John Koster of Arlington in both contests.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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