Backwards, forwards, time to fill out that top-heavy ballot

ARLINGTON – In a year that has seen its share of polarizing “up is down” and “down is up” political foolishness sure to add to voter fatigue and frustration, here’s a proposition.

When your absentee ballot arrives this weekend, try something different – start by voting on the measures relegated to the back of the ballot first, then work your way to the front.

That way you won’t miss the local propositions like the $107.5 million Arlington schools construction bond and a Tulalip Bay Fire District 15 measure for more firefighters that can get overlooked on a ballot top-heavy with initiatives and midterm federal and state races.

The Arlington bond back for its second bid to build and renovate school facilities and improve security did not gain the required 60 percent supermajority in February – falling 300 votes short, yet received 55.06 percent “yes” votes.

The bond would improve student, staff and community safety at all schools, build a new Post Middle School, add classrooms to Arlington High School, enhance learning environments and make the district eligible to tap state matching funds to buy land for a fifth elementary school.

The new bond would replace an existing one the district will pay off next year.

Taxpayers would pay $1.37 per $1,000 assessed property value toward Arlington school bonds in 2020.

With the old bond paid off and if the new one is approved, that rate would be $1.34 per $1,000 in 2021, said Brian Lewis, executive director of operations.

Meanwhile, the Tulalip Bay Fire District measure would raise property taxes from $1.16 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1.50 per $1,000, providing funds to hire three more full-time firefighters.

Of course, if you complete your ballot the usual way, the top slots are filled with statewide initiatives that would establish a new fee on pollution-causing emission sources, impose new restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic rifles and firearms storage, bar local governments from enacting new taxes on food, and enact laws changing standards for use of deadly force by law enforcement personnel.

Voters will also choose in the race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Susan Hutchison, past leader of the Washington State Republican Party.

Three Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives whose districts include Snohomish County are up for re-election, including 2nd Congressional District Rep. Rick Larsen of Arlington, who is being challenged by Libertarian candidate Brian Luke.

Voters will also decide among several incumbents and challengers in state legislative races whose districts overlap the north county area, including the 10th, 38th, 39th and 44th districts.

In judicial races, incumbent Judge Kristin Olbrechts faces challenger Jennifer Rancourt for the Position 1 judgeship in Cascade District Court in Arlington.

In addition, appointed Snohomish County Public Utilities District District 1 Commissioner Sid Logan is facing Mary Rollins for election to the three-party commission.

To be counted, ballots must be returned by or postmarked no later than Nov. 6. They can be dropped off in designated drop boxes, including in Arlington near the library at 135 N. Washington Ave. and behind Marysville City Hall at 1049 State Ave. Or, like the primary, they can be mailed back without a stamp, with the county paying the postage.

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