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NW Washington’s election issues are taking shape

The economy, individual rights, guns, crime, homelessness top long list

By Ron Judd Executive Editor


It’s that odd, tween-sized measuring cup that rarely leaves the kitchen drawer. And it’s the persistent portion of the American electorate, revealed through polling, that seems willfully blind to logic, still clinging to the fantasies about the integrity of our form and function of government. 

That fantasy is centered on elections, which are conducted by tens of thousands of local jurisdictions across the United States, including here in Washington with a primary on Aug. 2. 

Let’s start off with a bit of fact: Joe Biden won the 2020 election, with a resounding Electoral College victory of 306 to 232. Biden also tallied 7 million more total votes than Trump in results certified by every state.

But sadly, that roughly one-third national faction’s ongoing doubts about the election holds steady in the Evergreen State, according to a recent SurveyUSA poll of 731 registered state voters. Of that group, only 57% of voters believe Joe Biden won the 2020 presidency fair and square, with 19% expressing some fraud concerns and 15% believing that Trump won.

More stark divides are seen, of course, when the voters are broken down by party: 87% in the poll said they weren’t concerned about election fraud, while only 22% of Republicans agreed. Given the U.S. political landscape for the past half-dozen years, none of this is particularly surprising. 

But it does make elections themselves a prominent campaign issue in the coming Nov. 8 midterms, both nationally and here in subdued excitement land. That’s why at least one of the queries on forms that will be submitted by CDN to all local candidates will include a pointed question about election integrity and maintenance of U.S. democratic institutions.

This is a starting point, in fact, for CDN’s current Citizens Agenda project, through which we are collecting questions from reader-voters that we’ll submit to candidates for responses before making endorsements in October. 

So count on that first question from us. The rest? They’re still up to you. 

We’ve received a healthy stream of readers’ Citizens Agenda questions over the past few weeks, and are in the process of boiling them down to a manageable list to submit back to readers on Aug. 17. Readers will have a chance to select the five most-important topics/questions, and to vote by ballot in our print paper, or online. We’ll publish the results both online and in print on Aug. 31. (There’s still ample time to submit your own answer to our main question: “What would you like the candidates to talk about as they compete for votes?” by contacting us at

What are Washington voters most concerned about? Economic issues were prominent on voters’ minds in a recent Crosscut/Elway poll (which also showed a 20-point advantage for Democrats in statewide legislative races). Homelessness, public safety and inflation were other major concerns. 

Here in the upper left corner, CDN readers’ election issues mirror that trend somewhat, but with plenty of additional nuance. A look at some general early trends:

Election integrity is a frontrunner. A number of readers would like us to ask all candidates straight-up: “Was the election of 2020 legitimate?” (This is far from a rhetorical query; the GOP establishment at various places in our region has published voluminous amounts of conspiracy-theory-laced “documentation” of unproven 2020 election “anomalies.” This includes a remarkable collection of hooey published on the website of the Skagit County GOP.) 

Second Amendment issues — gun laws and gun safety — are another popular local topic, in the wake of the seemingly endless wave of mass murders carried out by people packing semi-automatic weapons into schools, supermarkets and other “soft target” locations. 

Campaign financing is on the mind of some locals, but many more are concerned about health care, including specifics such as “Medicare Advantage” and DCEs. Abortion rights leapt in prominence in our inbox after the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. 

Also present on the slate of regional concerns, in no particular order: housing prices and availability, strategies to attack homelessness, “green jobs,” effective and equitable policing, water protection and rights, flooding concerns, the state’s regressive tax structure, gender fluidity in public education, tribal sovereignty, fossil fuel transitions and climate change-related matters in general. 

Not surprisingly, folks in Whatcom County, where we are based, are intensely focused on hyper-local issues, such as Nooksack River water adjudication, Bellingham’s water supply (Lake Whatcom), downtown Bellingham “squalor” and the alarming rise in property crime, policing, the Whatcom County jail conundrum, bike lanes, ADUs and other topics that typically come before the city, and sometimes county, councils. 

Those local questions likely won’t be submitted to readers as part of our overall selection process, as the current election cycle includes no city or county candidates. But we’ll publish a list of them anyway, both for consideration by incumbent politicians, and because there’s spillover between most of these public policy issues and state legislation, and the hottest local races are in pursuit of state seats.

One overriding theme in our Citizens Agenda “people-powered election” project is notable: Local folks of all political persuasions are fired up, plugged in and thirsty for information and places to make their opinions known. A high number of respondents expressed sincere thanks just for an opportunity to weigh in, saying they feared no one would bother to ask. That’s a healthy sign of an engaged electorate. 

Ron Judd’s column appears on Wednesdays. Email:; Twitter: roncjudd.

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