Puyallup: News

Puyallup City Council candidates share thoughts on primary’s low voter turnout, plans moving forward

Results from the Aug. 1 Pierce County primary election decided the candidates moving on to campaign for Puyallup City Council positions.

Two positions have terms ending this year. John Hopkins currently holds District 1, Position 2 as Puyallup mayor.

Hopkins edged out Curtis Thiel for the District 1, Position 2 city council position, with Jim Kastama taking the lead with nearly half the overall votes.

Heather Shadko is also seeking reelection to Puyallup City Council District 2, Position 2. She took the lead in the August primary with half of the total votes. Cynthia Jacobson will also move on to the election in November.

22 percent voter turnout

Voter turnout for Puyallup in the primary totaled a little over 20 percent. While low, it doesn’t come as a surprise to the Council candidates.

“The turnout is disappointing but not unusual,” said Hopkins. “The ones who vote are the ones who care the most. They are active, informed and also more likely (to) lean towards the right. They will vote in the general alongside the more representative constituency.”

“The last off-year primary had a voter turnout of around 25 percent,” added Jacobsen. “I cannot explain the even lower turnout this time, but it is sad. I would say that primaries are especially important for those who feel that their general election choices are not satisfactory.”

Other candidates mentioned that summer is a busy time for voters as kids get out of school and summer vacations are on the mind. Ballots come in the mail in July and can fall on many to-do lists.“They’re not just thinking about voting,” Shadko said.

“Off-year elections usually have lower turnouts due to the limited races on the ballot,” Kastama said. “In addition, many people may be gone due to vacations during the months of July and August. I expect a big uptick in November.”

Moving forward to the November election, candidates want to focus on Puyallup’s important issues at hand — the main ones being homelessness and government spending.

“I intend to continue to talk about strategies to address problems,” Hopkins said. “... Our citizens deserve to be able to make informed choices.”

“I plan to continue listening to concerns of the residents of District 2,” Jacobsen said. “Currently we are experiencing problems with homelessness. We must be responsive to citizen concerns on this issue. We can be compassionate while still requiring accountability from those who receive help. Public safety and infrastructure are also top priorities.”

The candidates said to look for them in local neighborhoods as they doorbell the district.

The 18-day voting period for the Nov. 7 general election begins Oct. 20.

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison