Election decisions are at hand

Key local decisions for voters in next Tuesday’s primary election include a fire district levy and the narrowing of the field in a race for the Legislature.

Key local decisions for voters in next Tuesday’s primary election include a fire district levy and the narrowing of the field in a race for the Legislature.

Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety has Proposition 1 on the ballot. If the measure is passed by voters in the district, which includes Maple Valley and some Covington areas, it will allow the district to restore its property taxing level to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

An example of what that translates to for taxpayers is that if a home costs $350,000, its owner will pay $38.50 per year toward the fire district, or $3.20 per month, district officials said.

Much of the district’s revenue comes from property tax revenue via the levy. It pays for essentials such as fuel for fire trucks, salaries of personnel, and the daily operating expenses of running the district.

Fire chief Tim Lemon said Proposition 1 restores an existing levy and isn’t a new tax. If it’s not approved, “our expenses will exceed our revenues. Then we’ll be spending our reserves and our reserves will be burned up by 2010,” he said.

The district’s service area covers 55 square miles, including a two-square-mile corner of Covington. It has six fire stations, three of them staffed 24 hours a day with firefigthters and three staffed with volunteer personnel. There are 60 employees and 36 volunteers. Equipment includes 22 vehicles – seven fire engines, one water tender, one wildland fire engine, four transport aid cars, one special operations response vehicle, one portable air trailer, three command vehicles and four support vehicles.

Voters in District 47 are choosing two finalists from three candidates for state representative Position 1. The incumbent, Democrat Geoff Simpson, is being challenged by Democrat Leslie Kae Hamada and Republican Mark Hargrove. Under the top-two system for primaries, the two leading votegetters, regardless of political party, will advance to the general election in November.

All three candidates are residents of Covington, which is part of the district along with Black Diamond and some Kent and Renton areas.

Simpson, a state legislator since 2000, is a former Covington City Council member. Hamada has been active in social and volunteer work.

Hargrove is a Boeing pilot instructor and an Air Force veteran.

Hamada and Hargrove have said Simpson isn’t in step with constituents’ concerns, while the incumbent maintains he has acted on issues in the best interests of the district.

Other races for Legislature in the 47th and 5th districts involve two candidates per race, meaning both will move on to the general election.

Countywide, more than 600,000 absentee ballots have been mailed to voters who requested them, according to the King County elections department. The ballots must be returned by Tuesday to be counted in the results – postmarked by that day if mailed, or deposited in drop boxes such as the one at Black Diamond Library. For voters going to polling places, voting is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.

In addition to local measures and candidates, voters here also will help other parts of the state narrow the fields of candidates for governor and Congress, among other races.