Kline, Liu advance to November ballot
The proposed annexation of the Town of Twisp to Okanogan County Fire District 6 was overwhelmingly approved by both town and district residents in the Aug. 1 primary election.
In other local results, the renewal of an excess levy was handily approved by voters in Okanogan and Douglas Counties Hospital District No. 1 (Three Rivers Hospital); and Methow Valley School Board incumbent Frank Kline and challenger Mike Liu moved on to the Nov. 7 general election for a seat on the board.
The Okanogan County Auditor’s Office released results from the first batch of counted ballots on Aug. 1. At the time, the auditor’s office said it had about 70 ballots to count and would issue an updated tally on Thursday (Aug. 4).
However, the county courthouse was evacuated Wednesday, and closed on Thursday and Friday, after the auditor’s office reported receiving an envelope with an unidentified substance. An updated count was expected on Tuesday (Aug. 8).
Twisp’s annexation to the fire district was assured by the early vote totals. Within the town, the vote was 184 yes votes (86%) to 31 no votes (14%). Fire district residents were approving the annexation by 1,416 yes votes (93%) to 114 no votes (7%). Each of the jurisdictions has to independently approve of the annexation for it to pass.
If the annexation is approved, Twisp residents will see their taxes increase by 61 cents per $1,000 of property value when they become part of the district.
Currently the town has an agreement with the district to provide fire protection services in Twisp through 2023, at an annual rate of $60,000. That agreement is renewed each year.
The “effective date of annexation” would be the date on which election results are certified by the county, in this case Aug. 15. If an annexation is approved, the existing fire protection agreement would remain in place until the district began taxing town residents in 2024.
When Twisp becomes part of the fire district, town residents will be eligible to vote in elections affecting Fire District 6 operations, and will be eligible to run for positions on the district’s board of commissioners. Currently, Twisp residents have no direct say in the operation of the fire district.
The Town of Winthrop annexed into the fire district in 2017, leaving Twisp as the only valley town still contracting for protection. Winthrop had also previously had contracts with the fire district for protection.
District 6 is the largest fire district in the state, covering 300 square miles of rural terrain from Gold Creek to Lost River with four fire stations.
Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster asked voters, including residents of the Methow Valley, to renew a one-year property tax levy to support the hospital’s 24/7 emergency department services.
In last week’s returns, the combined total for the hospital district levy proposal was 1,828 (70%) in favor of the levy extension and 798 (30%) opposed. In Okanogan County, the vote was 1,707-661 in support of the levy. Douglas County residents of the district were voting against the proposal, 137 no to 121 yes.
The proposed levy rate of 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value is the same as that was approved in 2022 for the current year. Three Rivers Hospital would receive about $1,145,000 in 2024 from the excess tax levy.
District voters approved a levy lid lift in August 2016 for a perpetual property tax levy. The maximum amount that can be collected is 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, and the current rate is about 54 cents per $1,000. These levy funds account for about 5% of the hospital’s total annual revenue.
Only one of the three Methow Valley School board positions up for election had more than two candidates. In the three-way race to determine who will advance to the Nov. 7 general election in the contest for the District 5 position (at-large), Kline drew 1,088 votes (61%); Liu 520 votes (29%); and JT Sawyer 162 votes (9%).
Kline, a real estate agent, is running for his sixth four-year term on the board. Liu had a 36-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, the last nine as Methow Valley district ranger. Sawyer has worked as a wildland firefighter and smokejumper and, for the past five years, has run a commercial fishing business in Alaska.
In other board races, incumbent Judith Hardmeyer-Wright will be challenged by Austin Lott of Winthrop for the District 1 board seat. Jennifer Zbyszewski and Scott Larson, both of Carlton, will vie for the District 3 position being vacated by incumbent Mary Anne Quigley. Board members Dana Stromberger and Gary Marchbank are not up for re-election.
Other races in November
In all races with two or fewer filed candidates, those candidates advanced directly to the general election and were not on the primary ballot. Filing closed in May 19 with a mixture of contested and uncontested races, and one significant absence from the candidate lists. Here’s a roundup of races:
• Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, who has held that office since 2010 and has been re-elected three times, is not running for another term. Incumbent Twisp Town Council member Hans Smith also is not seeking re-election to his current position, because he is running for mayor to replace Ing-Moody. Smith is unopposed.
Incumbents Mark Easton and Alan Caswell did not file for re-election. Elliot Thrasher is running unopposed for the Position 3 seat now held by Caswell. Will Menzies, a former Town Hall employee, seeks the Position 4 seat now held by Easton and is unopposed. Tim Matsui is seeking the Position 5 seat that Smith is giving up to run for mayor, and is unopposed as well. All are four-year terms. Council members Katrina Auburn and Aaron Studen are not up for re-election.
• In Winthrop, incumbents Seth Miles (Position 4), Ben Nelson (Position 3) and Bill McAdow (Position 5) all filed for re-election and are unopposed. Mayor Sally Ranzau and council members Joseph O’Driscoll and Kirstin Vanderhalf are not up for re-election this year.
• The sole candidate to replace Jerry Palm for a six-year term on the three-member Fire District 6 board of commissioners (Position 3) is John Lindsey of Twisp. Commissioners Miles Milliken and Darold Brandenburg are not up for re-election.
• In Hospital District 1 (Three Rivers Hospital), board incumbents David Garcia and Tracy Shrable both filed for re-election to six-year terms.
• In the City of Pateros, incumbents George Brady and Michael L. Harding are seeking re-election, and are unopposed. Frank Herbert is running unopposed to fill the position now held by Megan Sherrard.
• In Cemetery District 1, incumbent Commissioner Gary L. Marchbank filed for re-election; in Cemetery District 2, incumbent commissioner Leone C. Edson filed for re-election.
All of the local offices are non-partisan.