Nonpartisan: An idea whose time has come

  • By Evan Smith Enterprise
  • Friday, December 14, 2007 3:36pm

King County Councilman Pete Von Reichbauer has proposed making all elected county offices non-partisan.

It’s a good idea.

County officials should work for people, not for political parties.

Currently, the King County executive, county council members and county assessor are partisan; the sheriff is non-partisan.

In Snohomish County, the county executive and members of the county council are partisan; the assessor, auditor, clerk, sheriff and treasurer are non-partisan.

In all counties, the prosecuting attorney is a partisan office by state law.

King County’s newly elected prosecutor has proposed making all prosecutors non-partisan.

In Pierce County, the county executive is partisan; the auditor is non-partisan, as are the treasurer-assessor and sheriff.

Members of that County Council will be non-partisan in the county’s new rank-order voting system.

Whatcom County already makes all offices non-partisan — executive, assessor, auditor, sheriff, treasurer and all members of the county council.

Washington’s 34 non-charter counties are ruled by partisan three-person boards of commissioners, plus county assessors, county auditors, clerks, sheriffs and treasurers.

Meanwhile, outgoing state Treasurer Mike Murphy, a Democrat, has proposed making his office non-partisan. He wants his deputy, a Republican, to replace him.

Besides, it isn’t as if partisanship has made governance run any smoother in the charter counties.

The King County Council is 5-4 Democrat and few would hold it up as a model of efficiency. In Snohomish County, the Dems had held a 3-2 edge, going to 4-1 in January. Executive Aaron Reardon is Democrat, too, but that hasn’t helped relations with the council majority.

Let’s make these offices non-partisan: secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, lands commissioner, insurance commissioner and county prosecutor, plus all other county offices.

The Price was right

WSU missed another chance to bring back Mike Price as football coach.

Imagine, if Price had never left for ‘Bama’s riches.

There’d be buildings named for Mike Price all over Pullman.

Evan Smith is Enterprise Forum editor. Send comments to him at