[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
Letter to the Editor:
This is election filing season for Burien City Council candidates. As of May 18, 2017, 17 candidates have filed to run for four Burien City Council positions (Positions 1, 3, 5, 7) that are up for re-election. This means that these individuals have to file with King County elections for a position by Friday, May 19, 2017. Candidates can withdraw from filing for a position up until May 22, 2017. Within two weeks of the date a person has become a candidate, they must file a Personal Financial Affairs Statement and a Candidate Registration with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), if required. Candidates for office must be registered to vote in the jurisdiction they are running for office in. City Council positions are nonpartisan. This means candidates are not supposed to be controlled by political parties. However, a number of candidates forget to check with the jurisdiction they are filing in to see if there are additional rules for running for office.
As an example, according to the Burien City website, in the Council-Manager form of government, the city voters elect seven citizens at large to serve on the City Council. To be a candidate for office, an individual must be a registered voter and live within the city limits for at least one year prior to filing for office. Each councilmember is elected to a four-year term. This means that candidates for City Council must have resided for 365 days in Burien prior to having filed to be a candidate for Burien City Council.
Candidates can’t start collecting money/donations for their campaigns until they have officially filed with King County and there are limits to the amount of money they can collect from each donor during the election cycle. If a position is not open for election, elected individuals can’t collect money for re-election at some later date. It is in violation of PDC rules.
So how do citizens learn about who is running for election in their jurisdiction?
Typically, the media sources in their area allow them to write one free announcement to be publicly posted/released. That has been the case here in Burien with the local media sources. Historically, the B-Town Blog has sponsored a “Meet the Candidates” forum for the primary election in August and another one for the general election in November. This forum is announced and open to general public to attend.
The PDC has an online site that citizens can check for information about local candidates also. Simply search the PDC site database for local candidates by city, 2017. Click on the candidate’s name-details. The C-1 form gives information about the candidate, mailing address, phone number and who are the people running their campaign. Clicking on details provides information about who is donating to the candidate’s campaign. Click on expenditures to see what the money is being spent on for this campaign. Independent expenditures tells whether an outside Political Action Group (PAC) is funding ads or printing flyers, etc. to get this person elected. In-kind contributions tells whether someone or group is giving supplies or services to this candidate. It is always important to know who is providing funding to get the candidate elected to the Council. Are they citizens and businesses from inside the city (city-invested donors) or are they outsiders trying to control who gets elected to the City Council?
Of course another source of candidate information is an internet general search of the candidate’s name or the King County assessor’s records for property ownership in the city. Candidates who are business owners or residential property owners have a stronger vested interest in the future of the city because they have invested their money in the City. For incumbent candidates who are running for re-election, citizens can go to the King County Election site and look at their previous campaign statement that they posted in the Voter’s Pamphlet and see how well they have done living up to the promises they made when they last ran for election. It is important to remember that candidates are not legally bound to live up to their campaign promises. That is why citizens and the media have to be vigilant and do their research to keep politicians honest to their promises. Be educated on the candidates and remember to vote.
– Robert Howell
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