Change marks Aug. 18 primary election

EVERETT — What do 83 men and women living in all corners of Snohomish County and a convent atop a hill in Woodway have in common?

Their names all appear on the 2009 primary ballot and their immediate futures will be determined by voters Aug. 18.

Today’s Herald includes a special section containing profiles of candidates and discussion of issues.

You’ll find out why incumbents, first-time challengers and perennial hopefuls are competing for jobs leading the county, several cities and school boards, and a handful of special service districts.

Countywide, roughly 367,000 people are eligible to participate in this election.

Ballots must be postmarked no later than Aug. 18 with the top two vote-getters in each race advancing to the November election.

For those living in the Everett School District, the retirement of a long-serving trustee combined with emotions stirred by the secret videotaping of a teacher in her classroom is bringing intrigue to races for two school board seats.

Three people are looking to succeed Sue Cooper, who is stepping down after a quarter-century on the board. Two others are trying to unseat incumbent Karen Madsen, who has been on the school board for a dozen years.

Three Snohomish County councilmen face re-election though only one needs to be concerned with this election.

Democratic Councilman Dave Somers of Monroe is confronting three Republican opponents in his bid for a second consecutive term, and third overall, in the 5th district.

Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little, business owner and former Snohomish mayor Steve Dana and Maltby activist Greg Stephens want to topple Somers from power.

History doesn’t favor the incumbent as district voters are reluctant to re-elect their council representative. Somers won a council seat in 1997, lost it in 2001 to Jeff Sax then regained it by defeating Sax in 2005.

Democratic Councilman Dave Gossett is opposed by Republican Bob Meador. Incumbent Republican Councilman John Koster faces the challenge of Democrat Ellen Hiatt Watson. Because these are partisan races, state law requires they appear on the primary ballot even though all four are assured spots in the general election.

Monroe residents are experiencing something new in the race for mayor — competition.

Mayor Donnetta Walser has been unopposed in two previous elections. She is seeking a third term and two people, city councilman Mitch Ruth and former Councilman Robert Zimmerman, are trying to prevent that.

Those residing in Woodway face one of the biggest decisions in the town’s history.

They have a chance to buy the Rosary Heights estate and its blufftop acreage from an order of Dominican nuns. Ultimately, a complex with a town hall, community center and environmental education center could exist on the property.

Buying the land and building requires passing a $6.2 million bond measure, which will add several hundred dollars to each property owner’s annual tax bill.

On the same ballot, Woodway residents are considering enacting a levy to raise money to prevent cuts in the town’s services.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

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