By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
EVERETT — The 2014 general election in Snohomish County, which saw the worst turnout in years, is in the books.
Only 51.3 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 4 election certified Tuesday by the Snohomish County canvassing board. That’s the smallest percentage since 1978 when 45.9 percent of the electorate participated, according to county figures.
And it was bad enough that just Yakima, Pierce and Clark counties recorded lower turnouts than Snohomish County, based on information compiled by the Secretary of State’s office.
Voters who did participate elected two new state lawmakers and a new member of the Everett City Council and rejected tax hikes for road projects in Lynnwood, school buses in Arlington and a new fire station for unincorporated areas near Arlington.
They also kept Snohomish County Executive John Lovick and Sheriff Ty Trenary in the jobs to which they were appointed in 2013. Both men will have to run again in 2015 to secure a full four-year term in their respective offices.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Snohomish County’s newest state lawmaker planned to be sworn into office after the final tally of ballots became official.
Republican Mark Harmsworth, a Mill Creek councilman, will be the 44th District representative replacing Republican Mike Hope who resigned in July.
Harmsworth captured 53.2 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Mike Wilson in the county’s most expensive political contest this cycle. He’ll be representing residents of Mill Creek, Snohomish, Lake Stevens and parts of Everett and Marysville.
Democrat Strom Peterson, an Edmonds councilman, must wait a few more weeks to begin his two-year term as the new representative in the 21st Legislative District. He’ll succeed Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, D-Lynnwood, upon her retirement in January.
In Everett, Judy Tuohy joins the City Council after she unseated Councilman Richard Anderson, who was appointed in 2013 to the Position 7 vacancy created by Shannon Affholter’s resignation.
Tuohy plans to be sworn in at 11 a.m. Wednesday and take part in the council meeting at 12:30 p.m. The race was for a one-year unexpired term so Tuohy will have to run in 2015 for a full term.
Lynnwood voters turned down a measure to boost the local sales tax by two-tenths of a penny to pay for road improvement projects, while those in the Arlington School District rejected a two-year property tax hike to acquire new school buses.
In Fire District 21, voters resoundingly turned down a levy increase to pay for 24-hour staffing and a new fire station for the area.
On three statewide initiatives, the results in Snohomish County mirrored those throughout Washington.
Initiative 594, which is passing statewide with 59.3 percent, won backing of 57.7 percent of county voters. The measure will expand state law to require background checks on nearly all private sales and transfers of handguns.
Meanwhile, 52.9 percent of county voters turned down Initiative 591, a countermeasure intended to prohibit such an expansion of state law. Statewide, 55.3 percent said no to the measure.
And Initiative 1351, which requires smaller classes in public schools, passed in the county with nearly 50.9 percent. Statewide, it won with just under 51 percent of the vote.
Election officials never expected a huge turnout this year because the ballot did not contain contests for a U.S. Senate seat or statewide office that typically generates voter interest. This last occurred in 2002 and turnout was 56.9 percent in Snohomish County and 56.4 percent statewide.
This was a particularly down year for Snohomish County.
It also recorded the lowest turnout of any county in the August primary. Its final tally of 25.6 percent was the county’s poorest showing for a non-presidential, mid-term primary in two decades. Turnout reached 21.9 percent in 1990 and 22.7 percent in 1974, according to county election officials.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com