I confess, I was following the candidate filings for local elective offices every day last week, right up until Friday afternoon when sign-ups for the November general election closed. I’m always curious about who’s going to re-up, who’s going to challenge the incumbents, and who’s going to forego re-election. It matters. Besides, I’m a bit of a local politics junkie.
I don’t spend a lot of time handicapping the outcomes of filing week, because I’ve learned over the years to expect surprises. It would be less interesting if it was predictable. Even so, last week’s filings likely raised a few more eyebrows than usual.
The big news, political-arena wise, is of course the decision by Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody not to seek re-election. She’s been the only Twisp mayor I’ve known since I arrived here in 2011 (Winthrop has had a few more), which will take some getting used to. While Ing-Moody has her critics, the 70% of the Twisp electorate who supported the mayor in her 2019 re-election bid will probably miss her.
Ing-Moody has been an uncommonly resourceful and persistent community leader, doggedly championing her town’s growth and improvement, and earned a wider profile through her presidency of the Association of Washington Cities. She’s basically made being mayor her job — which is not something you see often in towns the size of Twisp — and built productive relationships with local and state elected officials.
In fact, Twisp’s elected municipal lineup is going to look a lot different in January 2024, and we already know exactly what it will be. While the 2019 council races were contested, this year’s won’t be. Council member Hans Smith is the sole candidate to take Ing-Moody’s mayoral gavel, and the three council positions up for election will each be filled by newcomers as Mark Easton and Alan Caswell also step away from the council table.
At the other end of the spectrum, every open position on the Methow Valley School Board will have a competitive race, and one of them will even require a runoff in the August primary. Two incumbents are being challenged, and a third will not seek re-election. While our school district has been, compared to many others around the country, relatively strife-free, interest in our kids’ education remains keen. That may help explain the full slate of candidates.
I’m not sure what explains the situation in Winthrop. One of the three Town Council incumbents, Ben Nelson, filed for re-election. The other two incumbents, Bill McAdow and Seth Miles, did not — nor did anyone else file for those positions. So, for two-fifths of the Winthrop Town Council seats, there are precisely zero registered candidates.
That may well change in August, when the county Auditor’s Office opens a three-day special filing period for offices that drew no takers during the regular filing. Let’s hope so.
The three-member Okanogan County Fire District 6 board will see the departure of longtime Commissioner Jerry Palm, who has helped steer the district though a lot of change. There is one candidate for his position.
With only one elective race to narrow down in the August primary, we probably won’t see a lot of electioneering for the other contested positions much before this fall. The candidates will mostly be out of sight, but we should not let them be out of mind. It’s not too early to start asking them their intentions, as we would if they were in competitive situations.
Aside from elected offices, pretty much everyone in the Methow Valley will have a say in two upcoming ballot proposals. One, likely coming in August, will ask voters to approve the annexation of Twisp to Fire District 6. Town residents and current residents of the district all get to vote, and both jurisdictions must approve the measure. Absent some odd controversy, that should be a slam dunk, as it was when Winthrop annexed to the fire district in 2017.
In November, voters who live within the Methow Valley School District boundaries will face a monumental question: whether to support creation of a recreation district that would support construction and operation of a year-round aquatic facility to replace Twisp’s Wagner Memorial Pool. Friends of the Pool is mounting an aggressive campaign to make case for the much-needed community asset.
Relax for now. We have no immediate decisions to make. But even when the election results seem pre-ordained, it’s our civic duty to be aware of who our leaders will be and what the issues are. We’ll try to help you with that through our coverage over the next several months.