Ray Sheldon Jr. looks to bring fresh perspective to Marysville School District

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Marysville School District (MSD) is comprised of twenty-two schools including ten elementary, four middle and eight high schools.  The majority of Tulalip students attend schools within MSD as the entire reservation is under the school district. Tulalip is home to Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School, 10th Street Middle School, Tulalip Heritage High and Marysville Arts and Technology High School. MSD is split into five separate districts based on location, the Tulalip reservation is within and accounts for a large portion of District One. A representative from each district is elected by the community to serve on the school board every four years.

For the past eight years, Chris Nations has been the MSD District One Board of Director and is up for re-election this year. Tulalip tribal member, Ray Sheldon Jr. is challenging Chris for the District One seat and is progressively gaining more support as the election day of November 7 draws near. Ray has been actively involved within his community, coaching little league baseball for nearly thirty-five years. He also is a strong supporter for special needs children, volunteering his time to numerous non-profits including Leah’s Dream Foundation, an organization, founded by Tulalip member Deanna Sheldon, which assists local students with autism by raising funds, planning events and providing support to both parents and students.

“I’m an advocate for special needs and the kids that need care because I have four grandkids who are categorized as special needs,” Ray explains. “I don’t think the school district spends enough money for these people and kind of shoves them in the corner, which bothers me big time. I think we need to help those special needs children. Special needs doesn’t necessarily mean they’re stuck in a wheel chair, special needs are also the kids who have trouble reading or with dialect or anything else. The school doesn’t pay enough attention to them and we should start teaching and spending time with them.

“Budget-wise I feel they [MSD] just work for higher education,” he continues. “Those early years are really important. We should start in the beginning [of their education] and have therapists who are able to help these children. I think there really needs to be change with special needs education. It’s not just tribal children, its non-tribal too. We need representation for these children. We’re not getting it. We’re not getting it from Chris Nations, so we need to make a change so someone is there to represent our children.”

Former MSD board member, Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch, not only endorses Ray, but has been the main source of inspiration, providing the candidate with advice and encouragement throughout the race. In previous years, while Penoke served for MSD, community members voted only for their district representative; now community members can vote for all five district representatives. Ray believes that this procedure is flawed because it allows candidates to campaign outside of their district, therefore leaving many of the districts’ needs unattended when the candidate takes office.

“Don Hatch used to be on the school board. Years ago we used to visit on Saturday mornings, when he was a school board member, and he told me ‘when it’s time, you should take over because you care so much about the kids.’ He mentioned that he was getting up there in age but is still so passionate about it. I told him last spring that I really wanted to run this year. They changed the rules about district voting just before he left, so he told me it’d be an uphill battle. And it is an uphill battle, but he’s helping as much as he can. He’s inspired me to keep going and makes suggestions about where I can visit and help. My goal, if I get on, would be to make District One always a tribal district. That’s the way it should be. District One is a big district and since we’re a sovereign nation we should have that seat no matter what.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, MSD had just over 11,000 students attending their schools. Of those 11,000 students, six hundred and ninety-six were Native American and 1,749 students were special needs children. Over the course of recent years, MSD has slowly seen a decrease in attendance.

“We’re having a lot of children who are now leaving the school district and going to private schools,” Ray states. “I think sometimes they leave the school district because they’re not paid attention to, other than they’re just a number. Our future is really important, it’s important to have our children educated. It will be a better community and they’ll be great parents – that’s the whole dream. They can do it; they just need someone to make them understand that they can do it. This is the first year I coached the tribal baseball team, they just needed the confidence. I supplied that and they did really well, we only lost one game. All they lack is confidence and once you give them the confidence, they can do it. I think the teachers out here do their best because moneywise they can’t hire extra help. If we can better educate our people, maybe some of our issues will go away that we have in the community. I really think we need a Voc-Tech school in our high school area so the lower-tested kids can understand and learn a trade, like we do here with TERO.”

“There’s five districts, they meet a couple times each month and what bothers me the most is I’ve been to a few meetings and some of these members they’ll sit there and look at their watch and figure ‘we spent two hours here so it’s time to go’,” he expresses. “There are over 10,00 kids in the school district, you’d think they would push and put a little more effort into the schools and be able to help the Superintendent and give her the direction of where to go and how to help. I’d like to make them more accountable. What’s a little more disturbing is that a few years ago, it was up to nearly 12,000 students within the school district. They’re slowly dropping off because all these kids are also going to private schools where the curriculum is a little harder and they’re being pushed. They’re all treated like students, not the bottom third. That’s what I get a little frustrated with, they need to spend the time, whether its three or four hours, they need to have some sort of accountability to the kids. 10,000 – if you looked at it as if the Tribe used that same model, we’d be in trouble.”

Tulalip and Marysville community members who are not registered to vote in Snohomish County must do so online or in person at any Washington Department of Licensing office by October 9, in order to be eligible to vote for Ray during the upcoming election. Ballots will be mailed out to registered Snohomish County voters by October 25, and must be filled out and mailed by 8:00 p.m. on November 7.

“The reason I’m trying to get involved now is because for the past eight years the representative who’s in our district now hasn’t done anything for the tribal children – at all. So, we need a change quick,” urges Ray. “When he needs help, he never comes here to ask, this is where I would like the help. I think it’s really important that we need to make a change but I can’t do it myself. You can’t do it by yourself either. It needs to be done together so that we can get in there and let them know where they’ve been dropping the ball; and that they also need to worry about us. If we can get a tribal person on there who can help push and get the Tribe back involved with school, things will happen for the better.”

For additional information please visit the ‘Ray Sheldon Jr. Candidate for MSD #25 District 1 Director’ Facebook page.

Full term for Sen. John McCoy

Source: The Herald

State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, is bracingly honest, a virtue that can feel out of place in the glad-handing Legislature. He reduces challenges to their essence, no sugarcoating, no false pledges. It’s a leadership style as jarring as it is invigorating, particularly in an institution of promise-makers.

McCoy, who served in the state House for 11 years and was appointed to the Senate last year, deserves election to a full, four-year term. (His Republican challenger has not actively campaigned.)

McCoy yielded some of his legislative power by seeking the Senate seat that opened after Nick Harper’s resignation in 2013. No longer a committee chair and part of the Democratic minority, McCoy serves as the ranking member on the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. It’s a role consistent with his wonky passion for green energy, the health of Puget Sound and all-things technology.

On the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, McCoy offers the “no free lunch” gospel. The matter of supplementing K-12 to the tune of $2 billion is compounded by other mandates such as the August state Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing the practice of “psychiatric boarding” in hospital emergency rooms. Add to that the 2013 permanent injunction by a federal district court to remove barriers to fish passage on state-highway culverts, and we’re talking real money. Initiative 1351, aimed at reducing class size, is another log on the fire, McCoy said. It will make getting-to-yes that much more arduous.

The revenue challenge is a problem “bigger than both parties,” he said, and he’s right. Much of the budget can’t be touched, with the alliterative basics — to educate, to medicate and to incarcerate. Some non-regressive tax increase may be required.

McCoy believes the possibility of a transportation-finance package revolves around the political make-up of the Senate. He and other senators didn’t even have the option of voting on a package this past session. McCoy has bird-dogged oil by rail, coal trains and the need for advance notification to communities (a Bakken crude explosion in the Everett tunnel is one of several worse-case scenarios.) He offers an eliminate-at-the-source approach to the fish-consumption standard, which informs acceptable levels of cancer-causing crud flowing into NW waterways. He also concentrates on mental health support to tamp down gun violence. And he concedes that, after the transfer of SPEEA jobs, Boeing was “not being truthful” when the original Boeing tax giveaway was magoozled in a special session.

Judgment and candor are rare qualities in politics. Elect John McCoy.

County Exec. & 44th Rep. candidates meet at forum

Democrat Mike Wilson, candidate for the 44th District Representative race, addresses the crowds at the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Sept. 26.— image credit: Brandon Adam
Democrat Mike Wilson, candidate for the 44th District Representative race, addresses the crowds at the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Sept. 26.
— image credit: Brandon Adam


By: Brandon Adam, Marysville Globe

TULALIP — Candidates for the 44th Legislative District Representative and Snohomish County Executive races compared and contrasted their views during the Sept. 26 candidate forum conducted by the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Snohomish County Executive and Democrat John Lovick faced off against Republican challenger and Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, after Mill Creek Council member and Republican Mark Harmsworth and Democrat Mike Wilson squared off over the 44th District Representative seat left open by exiting incumbent Mike Hope.

The four subjects addressed by the 44th District candidates covered education, transportation, business and environmental pollution, with each being allowed to offer rebuttals to their opponents’ proposed solutions.

Harmsworth held that transportation, jobs and education are integral parts of the community. He would seek funding for public transportation and improvements in highway traffic.

“I have a job in Bellevue, so my commute varies between thirty minutes and an hour and a half, depending on the color of the rain that day,” Harmsworth said. “So we’re definitely looking to improve things on I-5 and Highway 2.”

Wilson, a government and politics teacher at Cascade High School, touted himself as a moderate and proposed bipartisan solutions accordingly.

“I’ve been able to put resources together and meet people in the middle through tough situations,” Wilson said. “When I go to Olympia, I’ll be that person in the middle.”

The Snohomish County Executive candidates were asked about their positions on Paine Field commercial air service, the Snohomish County Jail and Denney Juvenile Justice Center, the Tulalip Tribes sales tax and the county budget.

Eslick asserted her number-one priority was fiscal responsibility, but also voiced strong opinions about a “complete overhaul” in the criminal justice system, where she said management and leadership were missing, and punishments for crimes were not strict enough.

Lovick, having worked 31 years in law enforcement, defended his role, stating that the executive powers have no say in changes to criminal justice, since the decisions are made on the legislative level.

Election day for the Snohomish County general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4. For more information, log onto http://snohomishcountywa.gov/224/Elections-Voter-Registration.

Ten Reasons Why Every Native Should Vote

 Tulalip Tribal Board Member Deborah Parker speaking in support of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012. Reason number six to vote.
Tulalip Tribal Board Member Deborah Parker speaking in support of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012. Reason number six to vote.


Mark Trahant, Indian Country Today


Why vote? It takes planning, some time, and the rewards are not always visible. The same problems will surround American Indians and Alaska Natives before and after the election.

It’s easy to be trite and type, “this election matters more than most” and then cite specifics to make that case. But it’s not true. Win or lose (no matter who we support) life will go on.

But there are reasons to vote. Examples big and small that show how we can make a difference. Here we go.

One. Because voting is an act of sovereignty. The late Billy Frank Jr. used to articulate different ways that we practice sovereignty today. Taking a fish is an act of sovereignty. Using an eagle feather is sovereignty. Or picking berries.

I would add voting to that list. There’s a great example going on right now: the Independence vote in Scotland. Every Scot citizen, 16-years and older, will have a say about their future country. But that voice is only possible now because of Scotland’s participation in the United Kingdom’s electoral process. The idea of returning power had to be ratified in Parliament, a proposition demanded and promoted by the elected representatives from Scotland. Other countries have gone to war over independence. But Scotland is voting. The ultimate use of sovereignty.

Two. Because too many folks don’t want you to vote. Across too many government officials are taking steps to make casting a ballot harder, limiting early voting options, alternative polling spots, or failing to account for Native languages. Across the country there are lawsuits seeking resolution.

But in addition the smartest act of defiance is to vote. Every vote is reprimand of the philosophy to limit access. One of the worst examples of that notion surfaced last week when a Georgia state senator said he preferred “educated voters” to any increase in voters.

Three. Because climate change is real and any candidate who says it’s not, should be ruled out as a leader. The science is clear 97 percent of all peer-reviewed papers say the same thing: Global warming is real and humans are the cause. (This graphic from NASA is one way to see it for yourself.)

Why does this matter? Because our political leaders are going to have to make tough choices in the years and decades ahead on issues. Indian country is already being impacted and that will only get worse as communities will need significant new resources for mitigation or even relocation. If you vote for your children, this might be the most important single reason.

Four. Because the Affordable Care Act matters. American Indians and Alaska Natives have been calling for full funding for the Indian health system for, well, since the Treaty era in the 19th century. But never in the history of the country has Indian health been adequately funded. For all its problems, the Affordable Care Act opens up a mechanism to significantly increase the revenue stream for Indian health.

And the alternative from critics? There is not one.

Five. Because the Violence Against Women Act represents how politics can serve the greater good. So roll back the clock to a time when there were not enough votes in the U.S. Senate to pass the Violence Against Women Act with the provisions to give tribes additional authority. Then on April 25, 2012, at a news conference on Capitol Hill, Then Tulalip Tribal Vice Chairman Deborah Parker told her powerful personal story about abuse. Her story carried on YouTube and across the nation via social media as well as legacy media changed everything. The Senate passed the measure. Then the House leadership supported an extraordinary deal. According to Talking Points Memo: “The Rules Committee instead sent the House GOP’s version of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor with a key caveat: if that legislation fails, then the Senate-passed version will get an up-or-down vote.”

That made it possible for Congress (and the president to sign into law) the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

Six. Because friends matter. Even when the disagree. Most of the time, anyway. The Violence Against Women Act is a good example of why friends matter. Oklahoma’s Tom Cole was able to convince Republican leadership about the importance of the act. This law would not have happened without him. Cole, and Idaho’s Rep. Mike Simpson, have been important voices within the Republican caucus on matters ranging from VAWA to limiting the damage from sharp budget cuts.

And that brings me to seven …

Seven. Because there should never, ever be another Alaska Exception. If the Violence Against Women Act represents the best in politics, the Alaska Exception is the opposite. Alaska has epidemic levels of sexual violence and rape. So what does Congress do? It takes away a tool that tribal communities might be able to use to turn the situation around.

What’s worse is that the exception was inserted into the bill by Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski who owes her election to Alaska Native voters and corporate spending. (I know this undermines Reason Six.) The Washington Post said last month: “Now, after pressure from Alaska Natives, Murkowski is reversing her position and trying to repeal the provision she inserted.” There are no heroes in Congress on this provision, including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, who also supported the exception. He, too, has reversed himself.

The promise unfulfilled is that Congress would revisit this issue. That has yet to happen. But this whole episode should be a warning; a never again moment.

Eight. Because Congress must pass a Carcieri fix. The Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that limits what land the Department of Interior can take into trust. This has significant impact on tribal economic development. Montana’s Sen. Jon Tester, chairman of the Indian affairs committee, told Indian Country Today Media Network that while he believes in a clean fix, “many of my colleagues in the Senate don’t agree.”

The way to change that is pressure from voters.

Nine. Because your vote counts more than the gadzillions spent by those with money. Turn on a television and you see that money at work, ad after ad, dark images, somber music, and words about the evils of certain candidates. Politics should be about ideas and policies more than personality. What do we want out of government? How do we pay for that? Those are the big questions. The best way to do that is to ignore the campaigns and just vote.

Ten. Because women matter. More than half the population of the country is female yet representation is only about one-fifth in the Senate and even less than that in the House. As The Washington Post reported this week: “The Congress has always been and continues to be the domain of white men.” I think of the words of the late Wilma Mankiller. She said Cherokee treaty negotiators asked the United States team, “Where are your women?” Cherokee women often accompanied leaders at negotiations and so it was inconceivable that the federal government would come alone. There must be balance if we want to become the democracy that we can be.

Finally, in the spirit of Spinal Tap, let’s turn this vote meter to Eleven. Why eleven? Because it’s not ten. Where can you go from there? Eleven. One louder.

So reason number eleven. Because we can win. I started this post by mentioning the election coming up in Scotland. Some 4.2 million citizens signed up to vote, a 97 percent registration. Imagine what would happen if American Indians and Alaska Natives voted with those kind of numbers. It would upend politics in from Alaska to Wyoming. Local leaders would be replaced and we would have a far greater say in programs and policies. Already there’s evidence that the Native vote make a difference, but that influence should be growing. We have a younger population and in a low turnout election, we could call the shots. We could be one louder.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/15/ten-reasons-why-every-native-should-vote-156891?page=0%2C1


Transparency a focus of North Dakota tribal election

By Josh Wood, Associated Press

NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) – In just a few years, oil development has transformed North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Indian Reservation from a place where unemployment was rampant to an area where open job listings drone on for minutes on the local radio station between drum songs and public service announcements.

Tribal business council chairman Tex Hall has been at the helm of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, for the bulk of the boom. Hall, also former president of the National Congress of American Indians, previously served as the tribes’ chairman from 1998 to 2006 before being re-elected for a third term in 2010.

On Sept. 16, the tribes will hold a primary election to determine the two candidates who will meet in the Nov. 4 election for chairman. Out of 10 candidates who filed to run, half were disqualified by the election board, though several are appealing those decisions.

The tribe’s spokeswoman did not respond to several requests for an interview with Hall about the election.

Many of his opponents in the chairman’s race, including tribal attorney Damon Williams and tribal business council member Ken Hall, are calling for more openness in tribal government.

“The people are looking for a change in leadership, they really are,” Ken Hall said. “They want transparency, they want to know and they have the right to know.”

Some are wary of the potential environmental impact of rapid oil development and also question the personal business dealings of council members.

Williams said revenue has steadily increased over the past several years, but no one knows where the money’s going.

“I think that’s a question every enrolled member has to ask,” he said.

Fort Berthold produces more than 300,000 barrels of oil a day – nearly one third of North Dakota’s total production and a figure that would rank the reservation among the top oil producers in the nation if it were a state.

Marcus Levings, a former chairman who was defeated by Hall in 2010, is one of the candidates appealing his disqualification from the primary. Though he believes the tribe does need to be more transparent and develop a plan for its newfound wealth, he acknowledged that problems were likely inevitable.

“The council have done, what I believe any council would have done with new money – they purchased and they approved development that came in front of them,” he said. “Now is the time for a long-range plan that we knew how to do and we’ve always done but we had no money.”

Like most of the tribes’ 14,000 or so enrolled members, Charles Hudson lives off the reservation. It is almost impossible to know what is happening on Fort Berthold, he said.

“I’m looking for a tribal chairman and council that takes a more comprehensive approach to the needs of our people: education, health, the environment and economic development, rather than throwing all our eggs into oil development as it appears now,” Hudson said.

17 file in race to become next Navajo president

Written by: Associated Press

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) – The race to become president on the nation’s largest American Indian reservation has drawn a crowded field of seasoned politicians, a woman, political newcomers and the incumbent.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly will be challenged by 16 others in his bid for a second term. Among them are former President Joe Shirley Jr., tribal lawmakers Kenneth Maryboy and Russell Begaye, Carrie Lynn Martin and the third-place finisher in the 2010 primary, Donald Benally.

Navajos will choose two candidates on Aug. 26 to move on to November’s general election. They will also narrow down the list of those seeking a seat on the 24-member Navajo Nation Council. One lawmaker, Jonathan Nez, is running unopposed while other legislative races feature up to nine candidates.

At stake is management of a vast reservation that covers 27,000 square miles and representation of about 300,000 tribal members, not all of whom live on the Navajo Nation. Presidential candidates often focus their platforms on education, services for veterans, ensuring Navajos have a voice in their government and economic development in an area where half the workforce is unemployed.

Nine of the presidential candidates are from the Arizona portion of the reservation, seven are from New Mexico and one is from Utah.

Some of the candidates share hometowns. Shirley and Myron McLaughlin are from Chinle; Chris Deschene and Dale Tsosie are from LeChee; and Begaye, Donald Benally, Duane” Chili” Yazzie and Dan Smith are from Shiprock, New Mexico.

The other candidates are tribal elections director Edison Wauneka, former lawmaker Kee Yazzie Mann, Hank Whitethorne, Edison “Chip” Begay, Moroni Benally and businessman Cal Nez.

Four epic green ballot battles to watch today

By John Upton, Grist

It’s an off-year election so there are no congressional races today, but some state and local battles are of immense interest to environmentalists. Here’s a quick rundown of the key green fights to keep an eye on:

Virginia governor’s race

In the gubernatorial election in Virginia, the leading candidates are virtual caricatures of their political parties when it comes to climate change. The Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, is concerned about global warming and supports renewable energy. He also used to run a (now quite troubled) greentech company. The Republican, Ken Cuccinelli, is a climate skeptic who’s been trying to score political points by whining about the Democrats’ “war on coal.” Cuccinelli previously led a witch hunt of a prominent climate scientist, Michael Mann, trying, unsuccessfully, to force the University of Virginia to turn over emails and other records related to Mann’s time at the school. (You’ll never guess who Mann has been supporting in the governor’s race.)

President Obama called out Cuccinelli’s climate illiteracy while stumping on Monday for the Democrat. “It doesn’t create jobs when you go after scientists, and you try to offer your own alternative theories of how things work and engage in litigation around stuff that isn’t political,” Obama said. “It has to do with what’s true. It has to do with facts. You don’t argue with facts.”

Virginia, a coal-producing state, used to be solidly red, but in recent years it’s turned purple. The state’s voters went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and they look very likely to lean blue in this race. McAuliffe is firmly up in the polls.

Read more about the race here and here.

Anti-fracking ballot measures in Colorado

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertisements trying to convince residents of four Colorado cities to vote against ballot measures that would ban or suspend fracking.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, the pro-fracking Democrat who once drank fracking fluid in an attempt to demonstrate its harmlessness, claims the proposed measures in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, and Lafayette would be illegal. His administration is already suing one city, Longmont, for having the audacity to tell frackers to stay the hell away from their community.

“If you ban fracking you are essentially banning exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons,” Hickenlooper told Bloomberg during an interview about the ballot mesures. “Our state constitution guarantees people who own the mineral rights that there can be extraction from the surface to get those minerals.”

Washington GMO-labeling ballot measure

If Washington voters approve ballot initiative 522 [PDF], the state would mandate the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients starting in 2015. The Washington Post reports that opponents have “raised at least $22 million, with large out-of-state food companies and agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg donating heavily.” Supporters have raised $8.4 million, mostly in small donations.

This is the first big state election battle over GMO labeling since Californians rejected a similar ballot measure one year ago. That election also saw tens of millions of dollars spent by large food corporations who want to keep their GMO ingredients a secret from their customers.

Read more about the initiative here.

Whatcom County council elections

Whatcom County in Washington state, a rural area in the northwestern corner of the country, has the power to determine whether a proposed $600 million coal terminal gets built. The Gateway Pacific Terminal would load coal mined in Wyoming and Montana onto ships bound for Asia. The county council will approve or reject key permits needed to construct the terminal. That’s why more than $1 million has flowed into four county council races from energy companies and environmentalists nationwide.

Read more about the race here and here.

Election in county, state could bring significant changes

In races in the county and state, the outcomes could reshape government and raise larger issues.

Source: The Herald

Tuesday’s election features a series of races that could reshape politics locally.

And some races around the state that could have national implications.

In Snohomish County, three of the five seats on the County Council are in contention — and at least two new faces will join the council

Councilmen John Koster and Dave Gossett are being forced to give up their seats because of term limits.

Ken Klein, a Republican who is an Arlington city councilman, and Bill Blake, a Democrat who is an Arlington utilities supervisor, are competing for Koster’s seat representing District 1, which covers most of north Snohomish County.

In south Snohomish County, Republican Bob Reedy faces Democrat Terry Ryan for Gossett’s seat in District 4. Ryan is a former Mill Creek mayor and city councilman who works commercial real estate with Seattle firm Kidder Mathews. Reedy is a lifelong resident of south county who worked in customer service for Mill Creek-based Jaco Environmental, but said he recently took a job in marketing. The district includes Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Brier and north Bothell, as well as unincorporated areas such as Alderwood Manor and Silver Firs.

In District 5, in southeast Snohomish County, incumbent Dave Somers is running against Chris Vallo of Lake Stevens, a real estate broker seeking his first term in public office. Vallo ran for county assessor and lost in 2011.

The district covers eastern Snohomish County, including Snohomish, Monroe, Maltby, Sultan, Gold Bar and Index.

Dozens of other candidates are running in races in cities around the county. In Lynnwood, Mayor Don Gough is being challenged by Nicola Smith, a dean at Edmonds Community College.

In Mukilteo, Mayor Joe Marine is going against City Councilwoman Jennifer Gregerson.

Stanwood and Monroe will both have new mayors. Stanwood Mayor Dianne White is stepping aside. Les Anderson, who served on Stanwood’s council from 1993 to 2001, and current Councilman Leonard Kelley hope to step into her job. Anderson is employed by Mill Creek’s public works department. Kelley is retired.

In Monroe, Mayor Robert Zimmerman also decided against seeking re-election. Ed Davis, who has served on the City Council for two years, and Geoffrey Thomas, a former city council member who served six years in 2009, are seeking Zimmerman’s job.

Davis works as a surface security inspector for the federal Transportation Security Administration. Thomas works as senior legislative analyst for the Snohomish County Council.

As of Friday afternoon, 65,740 ballots had been returned or about 15.7 percent of the 419,275 ballots mailed to voters countywide.

Around the state, in SeaTac, a campaign backed by labor unions seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15 for many workers. In Whatcom County, an unprecedented amount of outside money is influencing an election that may shape whether the area becomes home to the largest coal shipping terminal on the West Coast.

Statewide, voters will decide whether to label genetically modified foods in a campaign that has drawn hefty donations from food industry businesses.

Todd Donovan, a professor of political science at Western Washington University, said the unique thing about this year’s ballot, which voters must postmark by Tuesday, is that a random assortment of campaigns has drawn so much attention from outside the state as organizations seek to use this year’s vote as leverage.

“Both sides are looking at what happens in Washington. It’s going to make it harder or easier to advance their policy goals,” Donovan said.

In Seattle, incumbent Mike McGinn and opponent Ed Murray, a state senator, have waded into national discussions about the minimum wage, coal and gun control. Meanwhile, a state Senate race that could shape the balance of power in the chamber has become the most expensive legislative contest in state history.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman is forecasting a fairly average off-year voter turnout of 51 percent, well below the 81 percent last year when the presidential race and major issues like gay marriage and marijuana legalization were on the ballot.

Donovan said the issues this year have created an interesting dynamic. In Whatcom County, for example, voters in the county council race are weighing whether the proposed increase in coal trains through the region will add jobs, affect traffic and have any local environmental impacts.

But the coal industry and environmental groups that are funding the campaigns see something much bigger, Donovan said. To them, it’s a battle over issues such as climate change and business.

“They’re thinking globally, but here it’s much more about how it affects people locally,” Donovan said.

Meanwhile, labor groups have been pushing nationally this year for a $15 minimum wage, and the SeaTac initiative could provide those proponents a success story they can use as a foundation. The initiative to label genetically modified foods has become a $30 million campaign, with most of the money coming from food industry groups in opposition of the measure.