In the immortal words of Ryan O’Neal, “oh man, oh God, oh man, oh God, oh man, oh GOD!” Which is to say, there's an election happening right now. Yes. Another one. It truly never ends.
This time it’s the King Conservation District, which is about to hold an election for an open seat on the Board of Supervisors — a body that most people do not even know exists, as evidenced by the stunningly low voter turnout in these elections. Last year, 0.71% percent of eligible voters cast a vote. Zero point seven one!!! Jesus. (Here’s a far-too-long explanation of why the elections are held at such a weird time.)
So what the hell is the KCCD? Well, they were formed about a hundred years ago and they arrange environmental-protection programs across 34 towns, covering 2.2 million people, with a budget of $7 million. They do good stuff, by and large, like habitat restoration and native plant sales. And if there’s any silver lining to their obscure, weirdly-timed annual elections, it’s that your vote will have a much larger impact than in any other race. So! Let’s meet the candidates!
The incumbent! Elected in 2019, she’s running on her record. Areas of focus include protecting aquatic species like orcas and salmon, and doing her darndest to move the KCCD elections to the regular ballot. As board Chair, Haugen has been largely responsible for running meetings efficiently and moving grants along to community organizations like Black Farmers Collective, The Common Acre, and many more. Outside of her district work, she’s served on the board of 4Culture and as a Cascadia College trustee. She has a Master of Public Administration. If there have been any issues with her time on the board, I haven't heard about it.
A longtime educational finance expert with a BA in social work, Rossler mentions “cutting wasteful spending practices” in her candidate statement, though she doesn’t say what practices she has in mind. Her priorities: Working with private homeowners to improve wildfire resilience (a goal shared by the excellent Hilary Franz at Washington’s Department of Natural Resources) and providing incentives to landowners to “develop community work parties.” Praised for her contributions to a recent audit of Tahoma schools, she’s endorsed by the mayor of Maple Valley, a town overwhelmingly populated by homeowners over renters.
Torgerson owns a brewery (Four Horsemen in Covington) and this isn’t her first rodeo: She ran for King County Council last year, squeaking through in the primary and facing off against Pete von Reichbauer. (He won, 68.4% to her 30.6%.) In that race, her primary areas of focus were addressing King County’s “unreasonably burdensome zoning restrictions” that she saw as an obstacle to small businesses; improving incentives for green construction; and improving recycling efficiency. In this race, “unreasonable regulations” remain a topic of concern — but this time, she wants to deal with regulations that she sees as hindering conservation. (Which regulations? It’s a mystery.) Torgerson is also interested in promoting agricultural education programs, plant sales, and farmers markets.
A program manager at Zillow, Williams isn’t particularly specific about his intentions. His stated goals are universally inoffensive: Close collaboration; sustainable living practices; public awareness; and keeping an open mind. (Sure, but what has he prepared for the talent portion of the pageant?) In his career, Williams has advocated for public-private collaborations, worked for tax advisory firm Grant Thornton LLP, and has a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was also a sales associate at the Macy’s in Bellingham ten years ago.
How do I vote in the King Conservation District election?
It’s absurdly easy, even by Seattle standards. No printed ballot necessary — it’s all done online. (You can request a printed version if you want.)
Voting opens on January 18, 2022 and closes on February 8. Just head over here, enter your name and birthday, click your favorite candidate … and that’s. Done.
Out of over a million registered voters, fewer than ten thousand voted in the last KCCD election WHICH SURE SEEMS LIKE A PROBLEM!!! Oh well. Go ahead and cast your vote, congratulate yourself on contributing to the final tally, then go take a walk in nature as a little treat for being a good citizen.