Morning Fizz

Election Results in Bellevue and Yakima, Appointments in DC

There was a new district system in Yakima too, and it made history.

By Josh Feit November 10, 2015

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1. I've been so focused on the Seattle city council elections that I've failed to mention some other noteworthy election results:

In Yakima, where the courts mandated the city switch to a districted voting system to undo decades of discriminatory voting patterns, three Latinas were elected; it will be the first time the seven-member city council—in a city with a 41 percent Latino population—has any Latinos on it. The three Latina winners are: Dulce Gutierrez, Avina Gutierrez, and Carmen Mendez. Mendez's victory is additionally noteworthy because she is not from one of Yakima's two new Latino-majority voting districts. 

Adding three Latinas to the council will also mean six of the seven Yakima city council members will be women. It's the first time the Yakima city council will have a female majority.

The change to districted voting was the result of an expensive (to the city) lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which could have been avoided if the Republican-dominated state senate hadn't voted against the Voting Rights Act.  The Democratic house passed the VRA twice. The VRA would have have set up a districted system without a legal battle.

Civil rights group OneAmerica Votes did a major Get Out the Vote program targeting Latinos in all three districts.

By the way, Seattle's new districted system also added the first Hispanic council members to its city council, including new citywide member Lorena Gonzalez (and perhaps three Latinas depending on the final vote count in Southeast Seattle's District Two where Latina Tammy Morales is still trailing Bruce Harrell, the council's only African American). Additionally, Debora Juarez, who won in North Seattle's District One, is not only a Latina, but is also the first Native American elected to the council. She is a member of the Blackfeet Nation. Seattle's new districted system has also shifted the council to a female majority.

2. Speaking of women: Given PubliCola's longtime fanboy relationship with transit warrior Claudia Balducci, I was certainly remiss election night in failing to note Balducci's convincing win over longtime King County Council Republican Jane Hague.

Balducci, the mayor of Bellevue, who—first as a council member and then as a mayor—brought the council along with a transit oriented development light rail plan for Bellevue, beat Hague 60 percent to 40 percent, giving the Democrats a six-to-three advantage over the Republicans on the council.

3. Rounding out summary mode (though this isn't about the election): U.S. representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) is one of the Democrats embedded on the new GOP house committee that Republican leadership set up to "investigate" abortion practices

The Republicans laid out the goals of the committee, set up as a reaction to the (questionable) Planned Parenthood fetal tissue controversy, as follows:

Investigate: medical procedures and business practices used by entities involved in fetal tissue procurement; any other matters with respect to fetal tissue procurement; federal funding and support for abortion providers; the practices of providers of second and third trimester abortions, including partial birth abortion procedures that may lead to a child born alive as a result of an attempted abortion; medical procedures for the care of a child born alive as a result of an attempted abortion; any changes in law or regulation necessary as a result of any other findings made.

Representative DelBene will be one of six Democrats on the 14-member committee. She said in a statement last week:

“I hope this will be a fair and honest investigation, rather than a venue for political theater. So far, there has been no evidence of unlawful activity by Planned Parenthood, a health care provider that one-in-five women have used in her lifetime. I will push for this committee to focus on the facts, not an ideological war against women’s access to health care.”

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