Ballots mailed for Quilcene special election

QUILCENE — Ballots for the April 23 special election for a school levy in Quilcene have been mailed.

Quilcene was the only community in Clallam and Jefferson counties not to approve a school levy in the Feb. 13 special election.

Following the failed vote, the Quilcene School Board voted in a special meeting to place the same levy language on the next available ballot, saying a lack of communication with the public had led the vote to fail.

On Tuesday, 1,629 ballots were mailed to Quilcene School District voters, according to Jefferson County Elections Coordinator Quinn Grewell.

The February measure failed by 25 votes. Out of a total of 809 counted ballots, 417 voted against the levy in February and 392 voted for it. The levy needs a simple majority to pass.

Quilcene School Board Chair Paul Mahan previously indicated that many community members said they had not fully understood the impacts to the district if the levy didn’t pass. District budgets must be submitted to the state by July 15, and without the funding provided by the levy, Mahan said the district would not be eligible for certain sources of state funding.

The proposed levy would raise about $3.8 million through 2028. It would include $904,537 in 2025 and increase incrementally to more than $1 million in the final year of collection.

The annual levy rate could go up or down based on assessed property value within the district. The current rate is $1.04 per $1,000.

Money from the levy is used to support the school district’s extracurricular programs, including sports and the preschool.

A citizen-led Yes committee formed following the announcement of the re-vote and began selling yard signs. It also held a community meeting to discuss the levy with the public.

No pro-levy statement was submitted for the February election, but a statement against the vote was submitted.

Both for and against statements were submitted for the April 23 special election.

“The School Board has imposed numerous budgetary cuts to maintain enrichment programs over the past few years. This levy asks only for what is needed,” said the for statement, written by Anne Bessey.

Roger Sorensen, the Quilcene resident who wrote the original statement against the levy, submitted another statement opposing the levy for the upcoming election.

“The community’s lack of support for this levy proposal is a reflection of broader concerns about the Board’s priorities and fiscal responsibility,” the statement said. “A ‘no’ vote sends a message that improvements in governance and accountability must precede any further financial commitments.”

Ballot drop boxes are open 20 days prior to Election Day, and they are available to receive ballots until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Ballot drop boxes are located throughout Jefferson County, but only some are available to accept the Quilcene special election ballots.

Two ballot drop boxes — one drive up, one walk up — are located at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St. in Port Townsend. Ballots also can be dropped off at the Jefferson County Auditor’s Office inside the courthouse.

The ballot drop box at the Quilcene Community Center, 294952 U.S. Highway 101 in Quilcene, and at the Jefferson County Library, 620 Cedar Ave. in Port Hadlock, are both available for April 23 election ballots.

County drop boxes at the Nordland Fire Station, Olympic Peninsula Gateway Visitor Center, the Hoh Indian Nation and the Quinault Indian Nation are not available to receive April 23 ballots.

In-person voting will be available at the Jefferson County Auditor’s Office from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The deadline for online or mail voter registration is April 15. Washington state allows in-person voter registration until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Online registration and additional voter information can be found online at co.jefferson.wa.us/elections or votewa.gov.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsula dailynews.com.

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