By Pat Grubb
Despite numerous polls and pundits predicting that Hillary Clinton would become the first woman President of the United States, Republican insurgent Donald Trump won a decisive number of electoral college votes to become the next leader of the free world on January 20, 2017.
The iconoclast businessman helped down ballot Republicans get elected to solid majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for full control of all three arms of the federal government for the first time since 2008.
Trump got scant help from Point Roberts with only 29 percent of voters giving him the nod for the White House. In contrast, 57 percent of Blaine and Birch Bay and 45 percent of Whatcom County voters picked the golden-haired businessman to make America great again.
Closer to home, the Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District levy to complete funding to renovate the Julius Fire Hall into new quarters for the library has been defeated. As of November 16, Yes votes totaled 406, or 55.2 percent, versus No votes of 329, a shortfall of 35 Yes votes. The measure required a 60 percent approval in order to pass. In all, 735 voters entered ballots locally. The Friends of the Point Roberts Library board intend to meet in the near future to consider available steps.
In District 42, voters opted to re-elect Republican incumbents Luanne Van Werven for state representative position 1 and Vincent Buys for state representative position 2 with 54 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
Hanging in the balance, Whatcom County’s Emergency Medical Services Levy, which would impose a tax of 29.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, is listed on the county election office’s website as having reached the 60 percent mark (as of November 16). However, Yes votes total 63,3879 (59.99%), five votes short of the needed total of 63,884. No votes total 42,594 for a combined total of 106,473.
The website states there are 50 remaining ballots to be counted; what this figure does not include are challenge ballots. These are ballots that have not been counted for various reasons such as signatures that don’t match, for instance. County auditor Debbie Adelstein said these challenge ballots are typically tracked by interested parties who will often follow up with voters to make sure they return the missing information.
Unlike nailbiter races between candidates, there are no automatic recounts for ballot measures. Five registered voters would have to request a recount and pay a deposit of $0.25 per vote which, in this case, would be in excess of $26,000. If the results changed, the deposit would be returned; otherwise, the requestees would have to pay the full cost of the recount.
Surprisingly, given that Point Roberts would have received absolutely no benefit from the levy, local electors voted 55 percent in favor of the measure, 406 to 335.
Nationally, the move to legalize marijuana took a huge step forward with voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approving the recreational use of the drug. The entire West Coast is now a legal marijuana zone. Arizona voters narrowly turned down a recreational use measure while North Dakota, Arkansas, Florida and Montana voters passed laws to legalize medical marijuana.
In Washington state, incumbent Democratic governor Jay Inslee won handily over Republican Bill Bryant with 56.6 percent of the votes cast. Current Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Republican, also led her opponent Tina Podlodowski with 54.8 percent of the votes.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray will be returning to Washington after a convincing win over Republican Chris Vance with more than a half-million vote lead or 59 percent. U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene will be sharing the plane ride with Murray after she wbeat Republican opponent Robert Sutherland with a 55 percent share of the vote.
In state measures, the electorate voted in favor of Initiative Measure No. 1433, which would increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 in 2017 with higher wages to follow in succeeding years. The initiative took 57 percent of the vote.
Voters strongly approved Initiative Measure No. 1491, which would impose a temporary restriction on gun ownership for those with a court-issued extreme risk protection order. Over 69 percent of ballots were cast in favor of the measure.
Washington voters decisively voted against a carbon emission tax, 59 percent to 41 percent. The measure was the first time a U.S. state had put a carbon tax on a ballot.
Similarly, voters turned a jaundiced eye on Initiative Measure No. 1464 with over 200,000 No votes more than those in favor. If approved, the initiative would have established a public campaign finance system.
Election figures are current as of 1:53 p.m. Thursday, November 17.