By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Coming off of last year’s exciting presidential elections, many anticipated that this year’s elections would be boring. However, this is not the case.
The King County Executive race
This is the first time in 40 years that the King County Executive race did not have an incumbent candidate. The fact that candidates are now running without a party label listed on ballots has led to an interesting race, with Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison, opposite in viewpoints, heading into the general election.
On Tuesday night, Aug. 18, Fred Jarrett, a project manager who has worked with Boeing for more than 34 years and was a Mercer Island mayor, gathered supporters at the home of State Rep. Judy Clibborn.
“It’s astonishing to see people come out and show their support,” said Jarrett. “People I haven’t been in contact with in years, people I didn’t know until now.”
Jarrett earned about 12.4 percent of the votes.
At the Spitfire bar, supporters of Larry Phillips, Constantine’s fellow Council member, knew he had lost the election before 9 p.m. Phillips, like Constantine, had many Asian American supporters due to his record of supporting ethnic communities in Seattle.
Phillips said he has done what he had to do and that the County needed a new administration and leadership. He said he was ready to lead, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. “I feel fine personally,” Phillips said. “I still have a great job [as a King County Council member].”
Phillips earned about 12 percent of the votes.
Ross Hunter, a Democratic state legislator and a former general manager at Microsoft, is from the Eastside, an area with a booming Asian population. Hunter gathered his supporters at his home. His goal was to “bring a new perspective [and] be an executive for the whole county,” as stated on his website.
Hunter was endorsed by The Seattle Times along with Jarrett.
Hunter earned about 11.1 percent of the votes.
Constantine and Hutchison
“I am very happy,” Constantine said from the Kells Irish Pub as the results rolled in. Constantine attributes much of his success to the support of the Asian American community, which, he said, provided much word of mouth for him and personally vouched for his campaign.
“It’s grassroots. It’s the critical mass,” he said.
Constantine cited the Northwest Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (NWCAPA) for giving him the edge. “All the candidates competed for their endorsement and they selected me,” he said.
Many Asian leaders also supported Phillips, a fact that is not lost on Constantine. “Yes, they are great Asian leaders, and I am going to call them to ask for their support [in the general election].”
Constantine credited Hyeok Kim, Bob Santos, and Ruthann Kurose as Asian American leaders who have helped him significantly in his campaign.
Constantine earned about 23.4 percent of the votes.
Susan Hutchison, a former KIRO-TV anchor and current executive director of the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, earned the most votes at 35.9 percent. She gathered supporters at the Edgewater Hotel. Unlike her opponents, she says that she isn’t affiliated with a party.
Hutchison fought news organizations’ efforts to unseal court records in a 2003 suit she filed against KIRO over her demotion and termination, claiming race and age discrimination as the result of the hiring of her replacement, Asian American Kristy Lee. The records were unsealed earlier this month by a judge’s orders.
This year, Hutchison has made efforts to reach out to the Asian community. She attended the Chinatown Seafair Parade. “I’d love to sit down with folks and hear their point of view on a lot of issues,” she said. “I have become very close to our Asian community and respect them tremendously. … I look forward to working with them in the months ahead. They’re terrific entrepreneurs, contributing citizens, [and] scholars. … We are very fortunate for the riches they bring us — the richness they bring us in this community.”
Wilson Chin and Betty Patu
Standing outside of Twist with her granddaughters Madison and Reigns Owens, Betty Patu, who has worked in Seattle Public Schools for more than 32 years, was checking her phone for election results for Seattle School District No. 1 Director District No. 7.
“I feel pretty good,” said Patu Tuesday night. “I am at 46 percent and [Wilson] Chin 41 percent.” The third candidate, Charlie Mas, earned 11.6 percent. Chin and Patu will go onto the general election.
On Aug. 10, KUOW 94.9 FM reported that Patu was one of two candidates running for Seattle School Board whose educational background was exaggerated. Patu claimed to have a master’s degree from Antioch University. Patu said that when she filed for election, she anticipated having her master’s within 10 days. Unfortunately, some things fell through and she missed her June 15 graduation date.
“When I wrote it down,” Patu told KUOW, “in the back of my mind, I really, really thought I would have everything finished on the 15th. You know, but, like everything we plan, everything doesn’t always go the way we want it to go.” Patu said that she’ll turn in her research paper at the end of August in order to receive her master’s degree.
Chin, a research scientist and parent volunteer at Kimball Elementary School, did not have a campaign party and instead viewed the election results with his family at his home.
“I will work to ensure that all of our students have access to a high quality, comprehensive education,” Chin states on his website. “I will respect the rich diversity that all of our students possess. …”
Arthur Hu, who ran for Northshore School District No. 417 Director District No. 1, garnered about 19.4 percent of the votes, trailing behind frontrunners Julia Lacey, 32.5 percent, and Sue Buske, 33 percent. He will not be in the general election.
Al Yuen, who ran for Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 3, finished third with 15 percent, behind Rob Holland, 52 percent, and David Doud, 32.5 percent. He will not be in the general election.
The Seattle bag tax, an attempt to place a 20-cent fee on all plastic carryout bags in Seattle, was rejected by voters by 58 percent. ♦
Rebecca Ip, Vivian Luu, Assunta Ng, and information from your.kingcounty.gov, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, KUOW 94.9 FM, and The Associated Press also contributed to this report. Vote percentages are based on information available at the time of publication.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.