Labor-endorsed charter change passes in Clark County


VANCOUVER,Wash. — Election night was mostly disappointing  for labor unions in Southwest Washington.

The Southwest Washington Central Labor Council scored one big victory in Clark County, where it helped pass Proposition 1 to create a new home rule charter. The measure passed with 53 percent of the vote.

But voters didn’t feel the same about labor’s candidate for county commissioner. In that race, Craig Pridemore, a former Democratic state senator, was defeated by right-wing Republican Jeanne E. Stewart. He lost  by 772 votes on a night when only 50 percent of county residents cast ballots.

Stewart will succeed former IBEW Local 48 business manager Ed Barnes on the county commission. Barnes was appointed to the post earlier this year to fill the unexpired term of Steve Stuart.

The new charter will expand the County Council from three commissioners to five, and it puts the county under a council-manager form of government. This means commissioners will hire/fire a professional manager who has the responsibility and authority to implement policies adopted by commissioners, and to manage the administrative branch. The county council will serve as the legislative branch: setting policy, adopting the budget and representing the County on various boards.

Four members of the new five-person council will be elected by district. The fifth (the chair) will be elected at-large. Salaries will be reduced from $102,000 to $53,000 a year. The chair will make 20 percent more ($63,600).  Future salary adjustments will be based on percentage changes established for state legislators by the Washington State Salary Commission.

The new charter goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015. On that day the legislative and administrative powers will be separated into two branches. The charter calls for the election of two additional council members during 2015 who will be seated on Jan. 1, 2016. The salary decrease will occur over two years.

Other labor-endorsed winners were Tony Golik, who was re-elected   prosecuting attorney; and Doug Lasher, who was re-elected county treasurer.

The Southwest Washington Central Labor Council worked with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, to actively support Democrat Bob Dingethal for U.S. Congress and Monica Stonier for re-election to the Washington House of Representatives in the 17th  District. Both lost.

Republican Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler was re-elected to District 3, with 59 percent of the vote. Herrera has a 17 percent voting record on workplace issues tracked by the national AFL-CIO.

Stonier, a former public school teacher who earned an 85 percent pro-labor voting record in her first term, lost to Tea Party Republican Lynda Wilson, 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent.

Labor-endorsed Democrat Maureen Winningham also fell short in District 18, Position 2, losing to GOP Liz Pike 59 percent to 41 percent.

On the winning side, Democrats Sharon Wylie and Jim Moeller were re-elected by wide margins in the 49th legislative district (Vancouver).

Democrats will retain the House majority, but its numbers will shrink from 55 seats last session to 51 in January 2015. The GOP’s ranks grow to 47 — the most  seats since the party had 48 in 2002. Republicans also captured an outright majority in the Senate with 25 seats — plus Sen. Tim Sheldon, the conservative Democrat from the 35th District northwest of Olympia, who caucused with the GOP in a coalition majority the past two years.

A statewide ballot measure to reduce classroom size to less than 18 students per class in kindergarten through third grade, and less than 26 students in fourth through 12th grade, was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent. Initiative 1351 was supported by organized labor.

All of labor’s endorsed candidates for state Supreme Court were victorious. Mary Yu in Position 1, and Mary Fairhurst in Position 3 ran unopposed. And  Charles Johnson in Position 4, and Debra Stephens in Position 7, each won with more than 70 percent of the vote.


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