Elections chief announces he’s running for county auditor

Garth Fell says colleagues will determine when he should recuse himself during the 2019 election.

Garth Fell

Garth Fell

EVERETT — Garth Fell has overseen more than a decade’s worth of ballot counting and recounting for Snohomish County.

Now the steadfastly neutral elections manager plans to get some first-hand political experience. Fell announced Tuesday that he’s running in 2019 to lead the county auditor’s office where he works. The auditor’s job is a four-year, non-partisan position.

“It certainly is a new process for me, but my reputation as an independent, non-partisan official will serve me well,” Fell said Tuesday.

Fell’s boss, Auditor Carolyn Weikel, faces the three-term term limit for elected county officials and cannot run for re-election. In a news release about Fell’s campaign launch, Weikel lauded him as “an experienced, proven professional dedicated to making local government responsive, transparent and accessible.”

Fell has worked as Snohomish County’s elections manager since 2007, overseeing voting on everything from presidential and gubernatorial contests all the way down to fire and water district commissions. He has national and state certifications.

For seven years, Fell doubled as Snohomish County’s recording manager. Before his current job, he worked as an assistant elections superintendent in King County.

Fell says he stays clear of partisan politics, on the job and beyond the workplace.

The 45-year-old lives in Meadowdale. Outside work, he enjoys hiking and music. He is married with three adult children and serves in his local church.

Fell said he intends to make arrangements with colleagues to ensure that his political activities don’t conflict with his government duties. They’ll decide when he can stay involved and when he needs to recuse himself.

“We desire to be as transparent as possible during that process,” he said.

Beyond overseeing the elections manager, other responsibilities of the county auditor include document recording and animal control. The office issues licenses for certain types of businesses and works in partnership with the state to issue vehicle and vessel licenses.

The job will pay $136,356 next year.

Also facing a term limit in 2019 are County Clerk Clerk Sonya Kraski and County Councilman Brian Sullivan. Sullivan is running to replace term-limited Treasurer Kirke Sievers.

County Executive Dave Somers, Sheriff Ty Trenary, Assessor Linda Hjelle and County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright are up for re-election, as well.

The official filing period for candidates is in May.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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