Public safety tax proposal still falling short in vote count

EVERETT — A proposed sales-tax hike to support public safety agencies throughout Snohomish County continued to fall short in the second day of vote tallies from Tuesday’s primary election, as the front-runners for some elected offices shifted.

The countywide proposal to raise the sales tax by 0.2 percent — an extra 2 cents on a $10 purchase — was being rejected by 50.5 percent of voters. The margin remained slim and narrowed slightly from Tuesday, with 659 more votes opposed out of nearly 72,000 cast.

A similar 0.1 percent sales-tax increase for criminal justice services in the city of Marysville also remained on an unsuccessful trajectory, with 53.6 percent of voters opposed. Supporters were 417 votes behind.

Both measures had been close in Tuesday’s initial ballot count, when the countywide proposition was failing by 823 votes and the one in Marysville by 398 votes.

Snohomish County’s elected leaders endorsed the criminal justice sales tax as way to bolster the ranks of police, prosecutors and other public safety professionals. They also pledged to embark on new approaches to combat a rise in opioid use that they have labeled an epidemic. The tax measure would raise an estimated $25 million per year. The county would collect 60 percent, with 20 local cities divvying up the rest based on population. Legal and public safety functions account for 75 percent of the county’s operating budget.

The field for the top-two primary changed in one key race — at least for now.

Guy Palumbo, a fire commissioner from Maltby, gained a thin advantage Wednesday over state Rep. Luis Moscoso in a bid to replace retiring state Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe in the 1st Legislative District. Palumbo led Moscoso, a fellow Democrat, by 76 votes. Moscoso had been ahead of Palumbo by 35 votes on Tuesday. They both have about 30 percent of the vote now.

The winner will face Republican Mindie Wirth, of Bothell, who garnered 42.3 percent of the total.

In the race for a Public Utility District commissioner’s seat, Gordon Sibley was ahead of Larry Wagner by 444 votes. They’re angling to face two-term incumbent Tanya “Toni” Olson in the Nov. 8 election. Olson had 42 percent of the vote Wednesday and Sibley slightly more than 22 percent.

The primary also previewed what could be a hard-fought County Council race this fall pitting incumbent Hans Dunshee against Lake Stevens City Councilman Sam Low. Dunshee, a Democrat who was appointed to the job earlier this year, was trailing the Republican Low by 576 votes Wednesday, giving the challenger 51.6 percent of the total.

Dunshee and Low are the only contenders for a one-year term representing the council’s District 5. Dave Somers left the seat after being elected county executive last fall. Another election would take place in 2017 for a full four-year term.

The Auditor’s Office expects to to release updated results at 5 p.m. Thursday. By Wednesday, elections workers had counted 18.5 percent of the ballots that were mailed out.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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