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2022 midterm results: Proposition 5 passes, big wins for Whatcom County Democrats

High voter turnout impacts ballot counting and election results

“I VOTED” election stickers decorate a table. Whatcom County boasted high voter turnout in midterms. // Photo courtesy of Element5 Digital

Results for the 2022 midterm election in Washington state, officially declared Nov. 29, are now available as ballot counting is complete. 

The ballot-counting process saw slowdowns as the VoteWA signature verification feature struggled to load, partly due to an increase in registered voters and collected signatures since 2020. 

Whatcom County saw 70.9% voter turnout, high compared to a 48.19% turnout for the primaries. This is in line with the current trend in the United States, where general election voter turnout has increased since 2020 with an approximate 47% voter turnout in 2022.

Results

The first race for District Court judge in almost two decades saw a win for DUI attorney and District Court pro tem Jonathan Rands, who received 62.3% of the vote.

Votes in Whatcom County largely supported Democrat candidates, who won every partisan seat. Most wins came with margins in the thousands, with the exception of a tight race between Sharon Shewmake and incumbent Simon Sefzik for the 42nd District Senate seat; Shewmake won by a margin of 905 votes. 

In an interview prior to his win, newly-elected 42nd District Representative Joe Timmons said that despite how people may feel, their votes matter. He said they can make a difference in politics and should contact their elected officials and keep them accountable.

“Government can be intimidating, like elected officials can’t be reached or can't be bothered,” he said. “It kind of breaks your heart a little bit. Of course I should get back to you, I work for you.”

The two Whatcom County ballot initiatives proved each vote counts. Proposition 6, which requested a tax levy for EMS funding, passed with almost 64% of the vote. Proposition 5, which requested a tax levy for childcare funding, passed by only 20 votes.

Ray Deck III, founder and CEO of the Bellingham foster care agency Skookum Kids, helped draft Proposition 5 and serves as its co-chair. He said there was disappointment among supporters after the initial election night results showed the proposition failing, but he knew it was going to come down to the wire in light of past initiatives like the 2016 EMS tax levy, which passed by 40 votes.

“A plan this ambitious was going to have strong reactions,” he said. 

Community concerns about the initiative were discussed at length during the drafting stages, Deck said, but the conversation isn’t over yet; over the next ten years of the plan’s implementation, opportunities for community and stakeholder engagement are provided every step of the way.  

Deck said those who support and oppose the initiative share the understanding that Whatcom County needs more childcare, which is why the plan is designed for community involvement.

“We’ve got to try something because the status quo [for childcare] is unacceptable,” he said.

To stay engaged with passed propositions, attending community meetings and reaching out to organizations involved is a start. Implementation plans and annual reports can help citizens keep track of progress.


Sydney Jackson

Sydney Jackson (she/her) (sydneyjackson.thefront@gmail.com) is a news reporter for The Front and WWU journalism major with a political science focus. Her research and reporting interests include politics, health sciences, social issues and the arts. She enjoys fashion, music, film, reading and creative writing. 


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