The Returns Are In. Maybe.

On November 11, 2010 · 3 Comments

I’ve been meaning to fill you in on the results of a referendum I mentioned a few weeks ago. Approval would have moved the Benton Co., Washington county seat to from Prosser to Kennewick.

The vote happened more than a week ago. Only now do I feel there’s enough certainty to announce a probable result. It would be an understatement to say that there have been some interesting twists along the way.

I guess it was Thursday after the election when I remembered to check this so I could report back to you. Fortunately the diligent visitors on the Twelve Mile Circle have my back. A comment was already waiting in the moderation queue from faithful reader Benjamin Lukoff. He’d already done all the dirty work for me and even posted a link to an article in the Seattle Times. I was able to use that to find the source article in the Tri-City Herald. The headline gave it away: "Benton Co. seat move fails to gain supermajority."

The measure requires at least 60 percent — a supermajority — to succeed, and the unofficial count was 56 percent supporting the move, with 44 percent opposed… Fred Staples, the retired county superior court judge who gathered 23,600 petition signatures to force the county seat question to the ballot, was more than disappointed… Staples, who is 77, said he has no plans to bring the issue back.

The campaign got heated and ugly with accusations flying back-and-forth in the final days. However the voters had their final say and they’d made a decision.

Or Did They?!?

I’d put the topic aside and prepared to post an update the next evening. Meanwhile everything took an unexpected turn. A new comment waited in the queue from a supporter of the initiative. She citing a new article, County seat relocation closer to approval. The percentage of voters approving the referendum had inched upwards as the county auditor tallied additional ballots. Again, I put my keyboard aside until I could get a better understanding of the true results.

Then I heard from an opponent of the move, citing the mathematical improbability of the initiative passing even with the revised ballot count. The needle had moved slightly closer to 60% but the headline was misleading. She included a link to a pro-Prosser website, BentonCoSeat.info as a source of further information. Certainly it was written with a specific point of view but it did contain some interesting video including an election report from a local news station, which I’ve embedded below. Forward to around 9:40 for the Benton County issue.

Judge Staples doesn’t seem very happy, does he?

I decided to wait a few days to let the dust settle. Now a November 10, 2010 article notes, "Tuesday’s count showed 55.5 percent support for the measure to move the county seat from Prosser to Kennewick, with 44.5 percent opposed… The county’s election results are scheduled to be certified by the canvassing board Nov. 23." With that, I think it’s fairly safe to assume — more than a week after the vote — that the party’s finally over and the county seat won’t be moving from Prosser to Kennewick during our lifetimes.

Honestly, I have absolutely no stake in either outcome. I am but a simple observer of strange geography. This one took me for a loop.

On November 11, 2010 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “The Returns Are In. Maybe.”

  1. Alex says:

    I’m surprised they don’t make Kennewick a second county seat. Keep Prosser for some county business and do the rest in Kennewick. A lot of counties in Arkansas and Mississippi and a few in other states do it. Dunno how efficient it is, but it solves some power struggles.

    My take: Keeping the county seat in Prosser is like putting the state capital of Michigan on the Upper Peninsula.

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