Itâ€™s Election Day! Time to get your ballot in, either by mailing it before the last pickup today, or by delivering it to a ballot drop box before 8 p.m.
The nearest drop boxes to Beacon Hill are located downtown, at the King County Administration Building (500 4th Ave), and in the International District at the accessible voting center at Union Station (401 S. Jackson St.). Both are open until 8 p.m. There are no drop boxes in Southeast Seattle.
If you have lost or damaged your ballot, you can vote the old-style way in a voting booth at the accessible voting center, until 8 p.m. tonight. Bring your identification. There have been lines there for this in the past — in 2010, the wait was more than 3 hours during the evening hours. Get there early if you can. If you are in line at 8, you will get to vote.
It’s Election Day, and while the focus on one specific election day has dimmed somewhat since we switched to vote-by-mail, it’s still the deadline for turning in your ballot. Ballots must be postmarked today or returned to a ballot drop box by 8:00 pm to be counted. (If you get your mail to the mailbox after the final pickup of the day, you won’t get a November 8 postmark, even if the final pickup is before 8 p.m. Be careful to check pickup times.)
If you would rather not use a stamp to mail in your ballot, you can drop off your ballot at one of the county’s official ballot drop boxes. The nearest ones to Beacon Hill are located downtown, at the King County Administration Building (500 4th Ave), and in the International District at the accessible voting center at Union Station (401 S. Jackson St.). There are no drop boxes in Southeast Seattle.
If you have lost or damaged your ballot, or if you are one of the up to 21,000 voters who did not receive ballots, you can vote the old-style way in a voting booth at the accessible voting center, until 8 p.m. tonight. Bring your identification. However, the Union Station voting center is one of only three in the entire county, so be aware that there may be lines at peak periods. Get there early if you can.
The first batch of results will be posted to the King County Elections page tonight at 8:30 p.m., and thereafter at 4:30 daily. Unfortunately, the 8:30 batch is the only batch of results that gets posted on Election Night these days, making Election Night parties a bit less suspenseful.
Today is Primary Election Day. Ballots must be postmarked today to be counted. If you prefer not to use the mail, you can drop off your ballot by 8 p.m. at one of the official drop boxes. The nearest one to Beacon Hill is at the King County Administration Building, 500 4th Avenue. (The BHB notes that there are drop boxes in Northeast Seattle and Northwest Seattle, but none in Southeast Seattle or West Seattle.)
You may also vote in person at one of the accessible voting centers, which are open to all voters. This is what you need to do if you’ve lost or damaged your ballot. The nearest voting center is at Union Station, 401 South Jackson St.
Last night a man fell down at 14th Avenue South and South College Street and it took an hour and a half for medical personnel to arrive. I witnessed a small part of this sad event during an evening jog (which occurs more rarely than it should). Around 7:15 pm, I passed by a man lying on his back half in the grass and half on the sidewalk. Embarrassingly, I ran past without stopping since it looked like a few other folks were within a couple of yards and, I rationalized, must be helping the downed man. I continued running a half block before guilt and a smallish tinge of good Samaritan ethic overcame me. Back near the fallen man were two men sitting on a wall paralleling the sidewalk (perhaps waiting for the bus—is there even a bus stop there?—or more likely keeping an eye on the fallen man), they replied to my query that the police had been called but no one had come. A woman standing much closer to the fallen man told me she had called 911 but no one had shown yet. I looked at the man on the ground who appeared incoherent and noticed the cane and bottle of prescription drugs lying next to him.
I called 911 and was happily shocked to be connected to an operator after only a few rings. The operator acknowledged that emergency services had been notified but were backed up (he said the police were very busy) and the fire department had been sent.
I hung up and reported the news to the folks nearby. The man sitting five yards away on the wall replied, “y’all shouldn’t have voted down those taxes last night, now we’ll never get any help.” (I may have actually inserted the ‘y’all’ since I’m in the minority of Seattleites using that gender neutral contraction, but that was the gist of it.) I’m not sure if by “y’all” he was referring to voters in general (and presumably he didn’t vote), or perhaps he meant Seattle voters (and thereby he was visiting from out-of-town or out-of-state), or he meant white people (and I don’t feel up to presuming the level of disenfranchisement he must have felt with our government if that was the group he was putting me into). Of course, I let him know that I too was sickened over the shortsighted and fiscally irresponsible outcome from Tuesday’s election.
A fire truck and four staff did arrive shortly thereafter. The man sitting on the wall stood up and waved them over and told the personnel that he had seen the man fall and watched a few people try to help him back to his feet unsuccessfully. He added that it had happened an hour and a half ago and the fallen man was complaining of being cold; he had watched over the fallen man because this wasn’t the safest neighborhood. The fallen man reeked strongly of alcohol, and I couldn’t actually discern anything he said, but he did mumble a few times while I was there.
Fallen, drunken individuals are not uncommon on Beacon Hill. I’ve previously encountered one before who was far more vocal (loudly so) and sitting in her own urine. After determining that she had no idea where she lived, I called 911 only to be told that they couldn’t do anything unless the woman wanted help, which she didn’t (my call set off a serious of loud and angry protestations from her that I feared would wake up the neighborhood at 3:00 am). However, the sitting man’s accusation that Washington’s poor decisions on the recent initiatives would further contribute to slower response times for our emergency services seemed to ring true for me. None of the initiatives actually concerned funding Seattle city emergency services (although 1107 has been predicted to raise $272.3 million for state government and $58.2 million for local governments through June 2013, and 1098 would have reduced state property and B&O taxes while raising around a billion more dollars for education and healthcare through an income tax on the wealthy), but money in the government is money that can be spent on all sorts of programs and services that benefit us all.
It’s achingly apparent to me that the man sitting on the wall nearby had it right. Perhaps I’m just feeling as disenfranchised as his accusation may indicate he feels, but I ask myself, will I ever stop to help someone if I know it’ll take over an hour for help to arrive? What if it takes five hours? Will people in Seattle become as heartless as those in New York city where more than 20 people walk past a man bleeding to death without helping?
I don’t want to be the type of person that walks past people in need, but, to be honest, I do it all the time. I’ve given money to people begging on the street, and I’ve given money to people that weren’t begging but looked to need it all the same. I’ve also ignored people that looked like they needed money and those that begged for it. I don’t know who needs it the most and I’m not sure it isn’t going to buy drugs. I’d rather my money went to a well-organized institution that would make our communities safer and healthier. I’d rather everyone in the community pay as they can for those services. For me, that institution is our government. It’s too bad the majority of Washingtonians don’t agree.
Leaves are starting to turn and clouds are staying around for days instead of hours.Â There’s that certain crispness in the air and football on TV (Go, Pack, Go!).Â It must be election season.
Tica and I have been walking the blocks of North Beacon Hill since 2003.Â We’ve watched election signs go up for Kerry, Bush, Rossi, Gregoire, Obama, McCain, Rossi, Gregoire… plus the monorail, levies, school board elections, parks, and more.Â This year, there just isn’t the same showing–for any issue or any candidate. Where are the yard signs? Is it too early in the season?Â Are candidates not producing them in the same way? It can’t be that Beacon Hill has become less interested in politics.Â The 36th District is active, engaged, smart and passionate.Â Both Democrats and Republicans in Beacon Hill vote.
Candidates are falling over themselves to attend and organize forums, townhalls, and walks in Beacon Hill and other parts of Southeast Seattle.Â The City is working on a Neighborhood Plan to decide how high buildings in the Beacon Hill “urban village” will be.Â There are changes proposed to improve the safety of cyclists on our streets.Â I know our neighbors have opinions–get involved! Attend meetings if you can, read up on the issues if you can’t, and talk to your neighbors.
Most importantly, register to vote and confirm that your ballot is on track to be mailed to your current address.Â All voting is by mail in Seattle.Â Go to My Vote to be sure that you’re going to get your ballot.Â Do you have a new roommate or neighbor?Â Do you know someone who just turned 18?Â Monday October 5th (today!) is the last day to register or change your address online.Â If you have never registered in Washington, you have until October 26th to register in person.
We have several important choices on the ballot this November.Â There are two new candidates for Mayor: Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan.Â We’re choosing between several City Council candidates AND there’s a race for City Attorney and King County Executive.Â We are also voting on two statewide initiatives that could have lasting impact: I-1033 (a Tim Eyman initative) and R-71, a referendum to roll back approve or reject domestic partnership benefits.
Learn about the candidates and their values.Â Understand the implications of the initiatives.Â Vote.Â That’s even more important than yard signs.
(Editor’s note — corrected R-71 reference. If you vote “approve” on R-71, that is to approve the new state domestic partnership law. If you vote “reject,” your vote would be to repeal the law.)
Quite nearby is another event, the Mid-Autumn Festival of Lights (Trung Thu) at John C. Little Park, 6961 37th Avenue South. This event is free, and includes moon cakes, storytelling, lanterns, face painting, and more celebratory fun. It’s from 6:00-9:00 pm, so you can easily attend both events.
Mike McGinn had a whirlwind day in Southeast Seattle.Â He started off in Columbia City, opened his new office near Othello Station, more in the ID, then to Jefferson Park Community Center at 8:00 pm.Â He was up-front about being tired, but made it clear he was happy to be in Beacon Hill.
About 25 of our neighbors came to share their ideas with Mike.Â He was engaging, patient, and smart.Â He listened and responded thoughtfully.Â He does not seem like a politician.Â Will people vote for someone who doesn’t seem like a politician?Â I hope they do.Â Mike McGinn is working very hard to establish personal connections–he’s not slick or packaged.Â He’s honest about not knowing the answer to everything.Â Attending a McGinn event is a refreshing change from closely-managed rallies with talking points.Â
Campaign volunteer (and Southeast Seattle community activist) Thao Tran introduced him by name, then Mike shared his personal history.Â He’s originally from Long Island, New York.Â His parents were both involved in public education: his dad, a school administrator, his mom a pre-K and Kindergarten teacher.Â Mike and his wife have three kids in Seattle public schools.Â Public education is very important to McGinn, on a personal level.Â He’s committed to improving the quality of Seattle public schools.
He moved to Seattle in 1989, practiced law for a while, then founded Great City–a nonprofit striving to “enhance our quality of life, help preserve our regionâ€™s natural beauty, and make Seattle a model of economic and environmental sustainability.”Â Mike explained that Great City was–in part–responsible for putting the Pro Parks Levy on the ballot and helping pass it.Â Â Mike got the community organizing bug.Â He threw his name in for mayor, believing that the race needed to be about the future.Â He won the primary, and is running against Joe Mallahan to be our next Mayor.Â It’s a surprise to everyone–including Mike.Â He says, “Everyone expected this race to be between Nickels and someone.Â It’s not–it’s between two new guys.Â That gives a chance to talk about the future.Â We still need to learn from the past–but let’s talk about the future.”
The Beacon Hill town hall topics included bringing jobs to the Hill, making it easier for small businesses (including home businesses) to survive and grow, making our parks safer and improving internet connectivity on the Hill and around the city.Â McGinn addressed concerns from two neighbors about a gun ban in parks violating civil liberties by saying that he supports the proposed ban because he believes it will make our parks safer.
McGinn’s campaign is run entirely by volunteers.Â He rides his bike, takes mass transit, and relies on rides from supporters to get to events.Â Â He’s gotten the most press from his vocal opposition to a deep-bore tunnel replacing the Alaskan Way viaduct.Â Neighbors asked Mike about the tunnel and how he would do things differently.Â He laid out a clear, succinct argument.Â Google “Mike McGinn tunnel” to hear it.
I was more interested in how he felt/what he thinks about all the other issues facing Seattle.Â We’ve heard a lot about how McGinn opposes the tunnel.Â It turns out McGinn supports a lot of other things:Â improving public schools, supporting neighborhoods, making Seattle safer, saving money, creating a broadband public utility, and lots of other things.Â His campaign established a website so you can share your thoughts: www.ideasforseattle.org.
Are you registered to vote at your current address?Â Have you researched the candidates and the issues on the ballot?Â Be a good neighbor; be an informed, engaged voter.Â Attend meetings, read materials, talk to your neighbors.Â We are choosing a new mayor for the first time in eight years.Â This decision will shape our neighborhood for years–if not decades–to come.
Tomorrow is election day! The only way to vote in the primary election is by completing the ballot you received in the mail. There will be no in-person voting for this election.
Every vote counts, so be sure to complete your ballot and turn it in before Tuesday, 8/18. This election decides who will move forward to compete in the November election for King County Executive, Seattle Mayor, and many other important positions.