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Boston mayoral debate highlights differences on housing, policing policy and more

In Boston’s Oct. 13 mayoral debate, At-Large City Councilors Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu each argued that her record and vision make her the best candidate to lead the city.

Essaibi George said she has a track record of working with the people of Boston to get things done. She said, “This work is too important to simply do behind a podium at city hall. It has to be done in community.”

Wu said she had also done work in the community and that the city needs “not just to keep having the same conversations and meetings over and over again, but to take action that gets at root causes.”

Essaibi George emphasized her goal to create more opportunities for people to buy homes and her plan to invest more in the Boston Housing Authority. Wu discussed the city’s role in directing resources to people and simplifying processes for building affordable housing. The candidates argued about rent control, which Essaibi George opposes and Wu supports.

On policing, Essaibi George said she believes in investing in and not defunding the police department and that the department should be reflective of the city’s population. Wu said the department’s structure and culture need reforming and that the city needs nonpolice forms of response for certain types of issues.

Candidates also discussed their ideas for the public school system and for Mass and Cass—the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, where a number of people are living outside.

The election is Nov. 2. Wu was first elected to the city council in 2013. Essaibi George was elected in 2015.

Meet the 2021 Sequim City Council candidates

Sequim, in Clallam County, Wash., is holding municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021. Five city council seats are up for election this year. In total, the Sequim City Council is composed of seven members who serve four-year terms.

Candidates submitted statements to the Washington Secretary of State when they filed a Declaration of Candidacy for use in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Responses are republished here. They have not been altered in any way.

Sequim City Council Position No. 2

Sarah Kincaid (incumbent): “As a Sequim resident for 21 years, I understand our community and its needs. I care deeply about the future of Sequim because my history here gives me a “citizen’s” voice from the people, for the people. As a city councilwoman I voted to support small businesses and families by using rainy day funds during COVID, and ‘no’ to utility rate increases in 2021.

I advocate cutting red tape and reducing fees, helping Sequim become more business-friendly, reaching out to bring more small- to medium size businesses offering more employment opportunities for our citizens, while maintaining our “small town” atmosphere.

I understand and promote the need for enhanced medical care and a 24/7 emergency clinic.

I am married with two grown children and 3 grandchildren.

Our lives are greatly influenced by local government. We need to pay attention to it and elect individuals who will truly represent us. I believe government should be transparent and accountable. In these challenging times, we need to spend less, not more, to keep more money in the pockets of the people. I promise to continue to do just that, and I ask for your vote.”

To read Kincaid’s full statement, click here.

Kathy Downer: “As a councilwoman I served as the liaison to the Traffic, Alternative Transportation, Storm Water, and Brick Streets. I was a member of Main Street. ( for downtown businesses).

My husband retired as a small businessman, and we traveled across the country to live in beautiful Sequim. Three out of four of our adult children settled here with us and appreciate all of the outdoor activities Sequim has to offer.

I was in the Sequim City wide Christmas Choir in 2019, and I volunteer at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Local politics matter. We need a council made up of people dedicated to transparency, and accessibility. They need to  represent all of the citizens of Sequim, and not just the people who voted for them. 

I feel that my background will make me a good council member on the Sequim City Council.”

To read Downer’s full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 3

Mike Pence (incumbent): “I’ve served on the Sequim City Council for a year-plus, and it has been very productive in restoring city government to the people of Sequim. We have made progress in addressing affordable housing and public safety. We have changed the zoning downtown to encourage multi-unit housing development. We’ve also navigated much needed improvements to Fir Street and we even enacted water and sewer rate reductions for low-income people.

My hands-on experience in government management and processes have greatly benefited the council. Priorities for my next term include: a satellite 24/7 emergency room; encouraging cost effective housing by reducing building fees so it is more feasible for development to occur; reducing regulations and fees to encourage businesses to locate in Sequim; supporting Police, Fire and EMS due to increases in homelessness and the upcoming opening of the Medically Assisted Treatment clinic.

With your support, we can continue the progress we all have worked so hard for in Sequim. It is time for Sequim to have common sense leadership combined with a professional background. I have the experience and passion to see our town thrive.

Let’s continue having Sequim be a great place to live.”

To read Pence’s full statement, click here.

Vicki L. Lowe: “I am a lifelong resident of Sequim, having worked and raised my children here. The role of the city government is to represent every city resident. I feel my perspective will add a voice not currently heard on our City Council. As a council member, I want to ensure that issues, goals, and priorities are thoughtfully understood, ensuring that decisions made consider both public interest and impact. It is also vital for the City Government to build ties to and connections with other organizations in Clallam County to serve the needs of our citizens. City Councilors need to act as innovators, role models, conduits for information exchange, and “positive disruptors.” Problem solving happens when we listen to hear each other and come to reasonable solutions.

Sequim Citizens should have a choice for who represents them. My life and work experience here in Sequim, my connection to people in the community who might not feel represented will help me bring another perspective to the table. I want to serve my community, please vote for me for Sequim City Council Position #3.”

To read Lowe’s full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 4

Rachel Anderson (incumbent): “In my work on city council, I have seen what our challenges are, and I want to keep working on them. My main concerns are workforce housing, small business sustainability, and mental health advocacy. I also have high expectations for integrity and transparency in government. By listening to each other and exploring issues, we’ll find much to agree about, and we’ll find better solutions that work for more people.

I am honored that the council appointed me. As a young, low-income parent, I bring a unique perspective to the council. My work as a volunteer and on boards of non-profits, like OlyCAP, has prepared me for this service, and I am digging in. I am passionate about this work and I’ve shown my dedication to service. Growing up in Sequim, I had challenges at home and the schools and community gave me the support I needed. Now, I’m ready to give back to the community that has given me so much.

I am asking for your vote so that I can keep serving you. It’s time for us to come together to make Sequim better. For more information, visit”

To read Anderson’s full statement, click here.

Daryl Ness: “My wife and I love Sequim, especially the people. Since my retirement, I am hoping to put my business experience to good use. My experience in managing large budgets with multiple work groups has provided me an edge in large project success. I enjoy building teams to accomplish the goals we set and have experience in measuring progress to affirm direction.

I worked for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad as a conductor/switchman/yardmaster for 13 years. Later, I was in management for 24 years. I started as a management first line supervisor with BNSF. After working 12 different management positions, I retired as General Manager of the Northwest Division in Seattle, which manages Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Canada. After retiring from BNSF Railroad, I was Chief Operating Officer for Peninsula Terminal Railroad in Portland for four years, retiring in 2019.

I have a great deal to contribute to the City of Sequim and the surrounding area. I am ready to serve Sequim’s citizens in elective office.

I love sports. I am a member of the Sequim Picklers (pickleball), belong to Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course and also play senior softball.”

To read Ness’ full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 5

Brandon Janisse (incumbent): “For over 20 years I have been a Sequim citizen, with a few of those years, serving in the United States Army. For the past 4 years I have been fighting on behalf of Sequim’s families, as a Councilman. I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved together; however, there is still work to be done. I am running for re-election to continue my fight in delivering good paying jobs, affordable housing and transparent government. Currently the city council is majority appointed and experience matters. I am a husband, father and a devoted servant to my constituents. I put in 20-30 hours a week as a city councilor and my door is always open. I have testified before the state legislator and work hard on behalf of Sequim citizens each day. I achieved my Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership from ACW and will continue to seek out learning and growth opportunities. I currently or have served on the Planning Commission, Clallam Transit Board, the Finance Committee and the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. Service to my community is my passion. I am proud of my record while serving you and would be honored to earn your vote.”

To read Janisse’s full statement, click here.

Patrick Day: “Experience matters. I joined the military right out of high school, eventually becoming an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expert serving in the Gulf War. Following a hiatus working for the Brinks Armored Car service, I returned to public service as a Peace Officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation serving 27 years. I became active in the California Correctional Peace Officer Association, our state and local union. I am currently an elected trustee for the CCPOA Health and Welfare Benefit Trust.

I have acquired many skills in problem-solving, crisis management, and conflict resolution from my years of public service and union activities. Together, they have given me great wisdom and experience in dealing with people issues and finding resolution to those issues. I wish to employ those skills by continuing my life of service to the people of Sequim.

I believe our police, fire and all city workers should be fully supported. All city business must be conducted in an efficient and transparent manner. I will work hard to help grow Sequim in a manner that ensures this beautiful city is free and safe from big city problems so this city stays beautiful for all citizens and guests.”

To read Day’s full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 6

Keith A. Larkin: “My previous experience of public service in wildfire fighting and prevention, have prepared me well to serve the people of Sequim by seeking solutions that represent their will in all matters that come before the Council. I have held critical leadership positions with substantial budgetary authority, including Chief Administrator of a 110-man inmate Conservation Camp with a $10M budget; and Fire Chief, Fresno County with a $30M budget. My final posting as Senior Executive – Deputy Chief Northern Region which spanned 22 counties and 12 executive managers required collaboration with state and local agencies from diverse disciplines and interests including Emergency Management, Public Safety, Tribal Leadership, Community Groups, Military, Transportation, Utilities and Support Services. I seek open and diverse communications to reach effective decisions that reflect the will of the citizens. I vow to proactively collaborate with my fellow councilors, seek information from the community, be well educated on the issues and to serve with the highest level of integrity.

My priorities in office are: public safety first; encourage manageable growth including affordable housing, good stewardship of the taxpayer’s dollars, cultivate small businesses, enhance the development of our youth, maintain our small-town appeal, and promote tourism to our City.”

To read Larkin’s full statement, click here.

Lowell Rathbun: “I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for 25 years, 4 of them in Sequim. I was originally drawn to learn more about the Sequim city government during the controversy over the tribal Healing Clinic. I discovered that a city was happening here, and I wanted to help.

I believe it is important to help restore trust between Sequim’s citizens and their elected officials. Lately the city has lost its exceptionally qualified city manager under circumstances that remain unexplained. As result, there has been a loss of trust between the public and our city council. Being open about my intentions, listening to you, the voter, and responding honestly will be a good beginning in restoring trust on our council. It is crucial that we maintain a firewall between politics and the day-to-day management of Sequim.

Good government is about helping people. It is urgent for Sequim to find effective solutions to the acute problem of available and affordable workforce housing. Increasing human services, especially to our homeless population, and providing broadband service to all our citizens are examples of how Sequim can help people. Assisting the viability of small businesses, increasing local prosperity helps everyone.”

To read Rathbun’s full statement, click here.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities. Click here to read more about those elections.

Meet the 2021 Forks City Council candidates

Forks, in Clallam County, Wash., is holding municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021. Two city council seats are up for election this year. In total, the Sequim City Council is composed of five members and a mayor who serve four-year terms.

Candidates submitted statements to the Washington Secretary of State when they filed a Declaration of Candidacy for use in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Responses are republished here. They have not been altered in any way.

Forks City Council Position No. 2

Clinton W. Wood: “I grew up in this community enjoying our beautiful natural resources. After serving our country I moved back, met my wife and we started a family. I feel truly blessed for having been raised in such a close-knit community and can’t think of a better place to raise a family. I am proud to be a member of this community and would be honored to serve Forks.

My position as the Director of Facilities at Forks Community Hospital has given me many opportunities to work with the city, county, and state. I ensure that Forks Community Hospital is compliant with regulations such as building codes, life safety codes, Revised Codes of Washington State (RCW) and Washington Administrative Codes (WAC). I have also been involved with multiple Community Development Block Grants that have benefitted our community. I have conducted many environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). As the Director of Facilities, I oversee a budget of 3 million dollars. I believe with my background and experience I would be an asset as a member of the Forks City Council.

With your vote, I look forward to serving this community.”

To read Wood’s full statement, click here.

Josef Echeita: “My name is Josef Echeita and I am running for Forks City Council Position 2. I was raised in Forks and graduated from Forks High School in 2006. I moved back to Forks in in 2011 and have started to raise my own children here.

I had a great experience growing up in the city of Forks. I have made the choice to raise my kids here in Forks because I believe that this city is still the best place to raise a family. I want to work to keep Forks a place that is desirable to live. I believe this will be done through a continued positive relationship with local law enforcement and promoting programs targeting positive youth activities.

A vote for Josef Echeita for City Council is a vote for a candidate that believes in this town and knows what it is capable of. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns through Facebook (search @echeitaforcouncil or go to or via email at

To read Echeita’s full statement, click here.

Forks City Council Position No. 3

Joe Soha (incumbent) did not submit a candidate statement to the Washington Secretary of State.

Sarah Holmes: “Sarah Holmes is an Independent Progressive Conservative. She is an advocate for justice, individual freedoms, ethical governing, and unbiased politics. Sarah will strive to ensure that the residents of Forks are heard and that the decisions of their government are the collective decisions of its people.

Sarah is a mother of four, with children attending school in Forks. She’s the daughter of a family-operated business owner in Clallam County, and understands the importance of family, education, and a locally based economy. Growing up in rural towns in Washington State, she is a first-hand witness to economic disparities which are a primary cause for divide, and in so understands the need for a community-oriented government that functions well for all its citizens.

To keep Forks strong moving forward, it will be imperative to continually address topics which are relevant to the community and with respect to the future of our community, and to do so with integrity.”

To read Holmes’ full statement, click here.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities. Click here to read more about those elections.

State race spotlight: Virginia House of Delegates District 66

The Virginia House of Delegates is one of three state legislative chambers holding general elections this year. All 100 seats are up for election, with Democrats defending a majority for the first time in more than two decades. Today,

Ballotpedia identified 22 battleground districts based on four criteria. Sixteen battleground districts met one of those criteria and five met two. The only district to meet three of the criteria was District 66, located in between Richmond and Petersburg. The district is currently represented by Kirk Cox (R), who was first elected in 1989 and last re-elected in 2019, defeating Sheila Bynum-Coleman (D) 51.7% to 47.0%. Cox, who served as speaker of the House before control of the chamber flipped, ran for governor this year rather than seeking re-election. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 54.5% to 44.2% in the district.

This year, Katie Sponsler (D) and Mike Cherry (R) are running for the seat. Both filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey; see their profile pages on Ballotpedia for the complete survey responses.

Who are you? Tell us about yourself.


Mike Cherry is an educator, veteran, pastor, and patriot. From the flight line to the classroom to City Council, Mike has proven he will work with anyone and everyone to support and protect our community. Mike’s deep belief in Faith, Family, and Freedom drives his commitment to protect the American Dream for all Virginians. Mike was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and graduated from Roanoke Rapids High School in 1990. After graduation, Mike joined the United States Air Force as a Loadmaster on C-141B and C-17A aircraft. He is a decorated veteran with many Commendations, Achievements, and Meritorious Service medals to his credit. Mike traveled around the world defending our values and our freedom — visiting 6 of the 7 continents and more than 75 different countries. That exposure to different parts of the world strengthened his love for our country and his dedication to protecting our values. He is married to Teresa. They have two children, Jonathan and Madison, a daughter-in-law, Mikala, and the most precious granddaughter, Jovie. Mike is a Staff Pastor at Life Church and is Head of School at Life Christian Academy, a growing, thriving, a fully accredited school in South Chesterfield and Colonial Heights.


I am a veteran of the US Air Force, a former Park Ranger with the National Park Service and a mother to 2 children on the autism spectrum. I am running to bring a working class voice to the GA.

Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?


When Mike entered the USAF, he took an oath to protect our constitutional rights. He believes all Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mike believes a strong and safe Virginia is only possible with a strong police system.

As an educator, Mike has a very clear understanding of what is going on in today’s education system.


Education should be public, equitable, and fully funded to serve the needs of diverse communities and a wide range of abilities

Economic Justice is central in every American family’s needs. Without reliable, fair, and safe employment our communities and families can not thrive.

Our environment is not just climate change, it is the landfills and factories in our our backyards. We must address the air, water and soil pollution in our district.

What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?


Preservation of constitutional rights and individual liberties. Support for law enforcement and allowing the flexibility to do their jobs and preserving qualified immunity.


Labor, Education, Gun Violence Prevention, Healthcare, Disability and Mental Health Advocacy

What characteristics or principles are most important for an elected official?


Honesty. Integrity.


Integrity, and compassion. The ability to listen and process the stories and requests of your constituents into effective policy that makes real differences in the lives of those you serve is the most important ability anyone should bring to this office.

What qualities do you possess that you believe would make you a successful officeholder?


Honest, caring, integrity, personable.


I have a knowledge of policy and how it actually impacts those on the ground. This is my reality and has been for most of my life. When I look at policy I know how it impacts many communities because I’ve lived in them, but I also know what I don’t know. I can listen and integrate the stories of others.

What legacy would you like to leave?


Change in the direction of returning this state back to its conservative values.


That the Commonwealth and the 66th District are a little bit less painful for people on the margins.

What is your favorite book? Why?


The Bible. It is the most impactful book in the history of mankind. It is the instructions for a successful life.


The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It’s discussion of the human experience and how that forms us in different ways causing a deep internal look no matter how many times I read it and that is what I think all the best books do.

Do you believe that it’s beneficial for state legislators to have previous experience in government or politics?


Yes. It gives the citizens a real representation of how you will vote and represent them in the legislature.


I believe networks, knowledge, and connections matter but that those can be built through many means. Too much experience often creates a complacency and a withdrawal from the real life experiences of the people within the district they represent.

Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer.


Yes. You are more likely to get a positive response if you know them and they know you.


Relationships are always valuable. Those relationships should be based in values that align and should not override the needs of the people you represent or the values that you represented on the campaign trail, however. Bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship or personal relationships that distance you from what you have set out to do should never be acceptable.

Both sitting legislators and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you’ve heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?


Recently there was a young man who ran 100 miles to raise money for a new police dog. That is the kind of community togetherness that I love and appreciate.


After my first run in a district in which the partisan shift was severe and in opposition to my party I was wondering if a run to move the needle had been worth the exhaustion I was feeling . A young couple in one of the reddest part of the district reached out. I had never met them in person, but had knocked on their door a few times, each time leaving a note with my literature. They reached out to tell me that they were queer and had been both kicked out of their homes at the age of 16. They asked me to officiate their wedding in 3 months, saying simply that they had felt that all they had in the world since being shunned by their families was each other, until they started receiving my notes. Knowing that I lived around the corner made them feel like they were seen. The request was too beautiful to be ignored and watching this quirky, wonderful couple celebrate their love and getting to be a part of it, made me certain that not only was running worth it, but that I would never stop advocating for people like them.

Democratic candidates in Virginia House battleground districts raised 69% more money than Republican candidates

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground races in these elections. Sixteen are in Democrat-held districts, and six are in Republican-held districts. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance.

To determine these battleground races, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:

  1. The 2019 winner received less than 55 percent of the vote.
  2. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the 2019 winner won by a margin of 10 percentage points or less.
  3. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the incumbent is not on the ballot this year.
  4. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and that presidential candidate won the district by a margin of 20 percentage points or more.

Total money raised

Across these battleground districts, Democratic candidates have raised a total of $10.0 million, while Republican candidates have raised a total of $4.8 million. The average is $455,162 per Democratic candidate and $220,148 per Republican candidate.

For comparison, across all general election candidates in the state, Democratic candidates raised an average of $309,606 and Republican candidates raised an average of $113,046.

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.

22 battleground seats to determine control of the VA House

Welcome to the Monday, October 18, Brew. 

By: Emily Aubert

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Virginia House elections feature 22 battlegrounds
  2. Upcoming special election in New Hampshire House district 
  3. More than 300 presidential documents issued in Federal Register in 2021 so far

Virginia House elections feature 22 battlegrounds

Elections for the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on Nov. 2, 2021. Ballotpedia has identified 22 of the 100 races as battlegrounds.

Sixteen battlegrounds are elections for seats currently held by Democrats, while the other six are for Republican-held seats. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance.

To determine state legislative battleground races in 2021, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:

  1. In the last state legislative election, the winner received less than 55% of the vote.
  2. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is from a different party than the most recent state legislative election winner in the district, and the most recent state legislative election winner won by a margin of 10 percentage points or less.
  3. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is from a different party than the most recent state legislative election winner in the district, and the incumbent is not on the ballot this year.
  4. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is from a different party than the most recent state legislative election winner in the district, and that presidential candidate won the district by a margin of 20 percentage points or more.


In 2019, Democrats won control of the chamber with a 55-45 majority. Twenty-nine races were decided by margins of 10 percentage points or less, and six of the 100 seats changed partisan control, passing from Republican to Democratic control. Republicans need to gain six seats to win control of the chamber in 2021. Democrats need to lose no more than four seats to maintain their majority.

The outcome of these races and the state’s 2021 gubernatorial election will determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 for the first time since 1994. If Republicans win control of the House or the governorship, they will break Democrats’ trifecta control of the state.

Keep reading 

Upcoming special election in New Hampshire House district 

Earlier this week, Jon Dunwell (R) defeated Steve Mullan (D) in the special election for Iowa House of Representatives District 29, switching the seat from Democratic to Republican control.

This was the third state legislative seat to flip party control nationwide in 2021 following a special election. If no more state legislative seats change party control in a special election this year, it would be the lowest number of such events since 2010, when no seats flipped. From 2010 to 2020, an average of 10 state legislative seats changed party control in special elections each year.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is holding a special election on Oct. 26 for one of two seats representing the Cheshire 9 District. Andrew Maneval (D) and Rita Mattson (R) are running in the general election. The winner of the special election will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant after Douglas Ley (D) died from cancer on June 10. Ley had represented the district, along with fellow Democrat Richard Ames, since 2012. Ames and Ley were the top two vote-getters in 2020, receiving 29.5% and 27.5%, respectively. Mattson and Leo Plante (R) received 21.9% and 21.1%, respectively.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 207-188 majority in the New Hampshire House with five vacancies. New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. 

As of October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Keep reading 

More than 300 presidential documents issued in Federal Register in 2021 so far

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions. We periodically update you about its status—here’s a recent report.

From October 11 through October 15, the Federal Register grew by 880 pages for a year-to-date total of 57,524 pages.  By this point in President Donald Trump’s (R) first year as president, the year-to-date total was 47,952 pages.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 448 documents:

  1. 379 notices
  2. 12 presidential documents
  3. 27 proposed rules
  4. 30 final rules

Ballotpedia has maintained page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project since 2017. Click below to learn more about how the Federal Register has changed from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

Keep reading

Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County school board recall effort, resigns from office

Beth Barts, the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia, announced her resignation from office on Oct. 15. Her resignation will be effective Nov. 2.

Barts was the subject of a recall effort that included five other members of the board. Her petition was the first one filed with the Loudoun County Circuit Court. At a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5, the circuit court judge ruled that the petition could advance to a full trial. The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor. Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen (R) was appointed to serve in that position.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

In her resignation announcement, Barts said, “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.” Her attorney said he expected the recall case against her to be declared moot. He said if she had fought against the case, he expected her to have won.

Recall supporters said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts was supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials overall. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal over Washington law giving unions access to employee data

In our Oct. 1 edition, we detailed the petitions involving public-sector labor law pending in the U.S. Supreme Court at the start of the term. This week, we give an update on one of those cases. 

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal over Washington law giving unions access to employee data 

On Oct. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal over a Washington state law that grants unions representing in-home healthcare providers  access to employee contact information.

What is at issue

On Nov. 8, 2016, Washington voters approved Initiative 1501. It exempts the “sensitive personal information” of “vulnerable individuals and in-home caregivers for vulnerable populations” from public disclosure laws. “Vulnerable individuals” include seniors with “functional, mental, or physical disabilities” and the developmentally disabled, among others. “Sensitive personal information” includes names, addresses, and telephone numbers. 

Initiative 1501’s disclosure limits do not extend to unions. The law authorizes the state to release personal information about in-home caregivers to unions representing those caregivers. 

The parties to the suit

The plaintiffs were three Washington in-home caregivers (Bradley Boardman, Deborah Thurber, and Shannon Benn) and the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit whose self-described mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.” Before Initiative 1501’s, the plaintiffs had made public-records requests to obtain caregiver contact information “to inform other individual providers of their right to opt out of paying agency fees.” 

The defendants were the Campaign to Prevent Fraud and Protect Seniors (the political committee that supported Initiative 1501) and several state officers in their official capacities. SEIU 775, which represents 45,000 long-term care workers in Washington, was the primary donor to the Campaign to Prevent Fraud and Protect Seniors, contributing about $1.6 million to the campaign. 

How lower courts ruled 

In April 2017, the plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, arguing that, “by giving the incumbent unions exclusive access to provider information, Initiative 1501 discriminates on the basis of viewpoint, in violation of the First Amendment.” On Jan. 10, 2019,  Judge Benjamin Settle, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, ruled in favor of the defendants, concluding that Initiative 1501 “does not discriminate based on viewpoint.” Settle said, “It is more accurate to characterize the access policy as based on the status of the respective unions rather than their views.” 

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Oct. 22, 2020, a three-judge panel voted 2-1 to uphold the lower court’s ruling. The panel concluded that “laws restricting public access to records do not implicate the First Amendment.” Judges N. Randy Smith and Milan D. Smith (both Bush appointees) formed the majority. Judge Daniel A. Bress (a Donald Trump (R) appointee)  dissented. The Ninth Circuit’s unfavorable ruling prompted the plaintiffs’ appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

How the Supreme Court reacted 

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari, meaning the Court will not hear the appeal. Associate Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch said that they would have granted the petition. 

The case name and number are Boardman v. Inslee (20-1334).

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 99 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.

How will Maine Question 1 stack up to prior measures in terms of cost-per-vote?

Maine Question 1, a citizen-initiated measure designed to prohibit the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), could see one of the highest cost-per-vote ratios for a ballot measure that Ballotpedia has recorded. The most recent campaign finance reports, which cover through Sept. 30, show that more than $71.82 million has been raised between supporters and opponents of Question 1. With Maine’s population of 1.36 million residents, contributions received were equivalent to $52.71 per resident.

For comparison, California Proposition 22, passed in 2020, is the most expensive ballot measure on record. Over $224.25 million was raised for and against Proposition 22, which was about $5.67 per California resident. At the election, 16.99 million people voted on Proposition 22, giving it a cost-per-vote ratio of $13.11 per vote. Alaska Ballot Measure 1, which would have increased taxes on oil production fields, had the highest cost-per-vote in 2020 at $64.64 per vote.

In Maine, turnout at odd-year referendum elections varied between 17 and 34 percent over the three prior election cycles. With about 1.14 million registered voters, based on the last published count in 2020, turnout would be between 203,000 and 380,000 voters based on the prior cycles. That would lead to a $189 to $353-per-vote projection for Maine Question 1. Maine turnout could exceed the three prior cycles, and Question 1 campaigns could still yet receive an influx of contributions. 

Ballotpedia has been conducting a cost-per-vote analysis for ballot measures since 2018. Three of the five top measures addressed policies related to energy. Since then, the following are the top five measures in terms of cost-per-vote:

Nevada Question 3 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $100.85. Question 3 was defeated. It would have required the state legislature to pass laws to establish “an open, competitive retail electric energy market” and prohibited the state from granting electrical-generation monopolies.

Alaska Ballot Measure 1 (2020) had a cost-per-vote of $64.64. Measure 1 was defeated. It would have increased taxes on at least three oil production fields.

Montana I-185 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $51.30. Initiative 185 was defeated. It would have increased the tobacco tax to fund Medicaid expansion.

Ohio Issue 2 (2017) had a cost-per vote of $37.79. Issue 2 was defeated. It would have required state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.

Arizona Proposition 127 (2018) had a cost-per vote of $23.80. It was defeated. Proposition 127 would have required electric utilities in Arizona to acquire a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources each year, with the percentage increasing annually from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030.

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New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice selects Philip Carchman as Legislative Reapportionment Commission tiebreaker

On Oct. 7, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner named Philip Carchman as the tiebreaker member of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Carchman is a former state appellate court judge of the New Jersey Superior Court.

In July, Rabner requested tiebreaker proposals from the Democratic and Republican members of the commission, saying: “If there is a match, I would be favorably inclined to appoint the individual.” The members submitted lists of candidates in August, but no names matched between the lists. Carchman did not appear on either party’s list of recommended candidates.

The New Jersey Supreme Court also selected the tiebreaker for the Congressional Redistricting Commission. A majority of the court voted to select John Wallace, a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice, to act as a tiebreaker after the commission members were unable to agree on a candidate.

The state constitution gives the chief justice authority to choose an 11th member of the commission to break a tie in the event that the commission cannot reach agreement on state legislative district maps. The redistricting process will officially begin in New Jersey on Oct. 23. Legislative redistricting maps must be approved by March 1, 2022.