Voters choose Huff for elections director

Pam Roach critical of county Republican party for handling of elections

King County Elections Director Sherril Huff routed the five candidates who tried take her job during the county's first all mail-in election on Feb. 3.

Huff had 44 percent of the vote count on Feb. 3, with her closest competition coming from former King County Councilmember David Irons, 19 percent, and state Sen. Pam Roach, 17 percent.

Voters in November decided that the elections director should be elected starting in 2009, making King County the last county in Washington to do so.

The office is non-partisan, but several candidates for the job had ties to the state's two major parties.

Huff had financial backing from the Democrats, and was previously appointed to her position by King County Executive Ron Sims.

Irons had an official endorsement from the King County Republican Party, while Roach is a Republican lawmaker.

Many in the party feared Irons and Roach would split the GOP vote, paving the way for Huff to retain her job.

“I think David and Pam were more of an impact on one another than they were on me,” Huff said.

Roach is at odds with the King County Republican Party over the way it is handling elections.

“They've done nothing but lose elections these past six years,” she said.

Roach claims the county Republican party has become a top-down organization that doesn't support its grass-roots voters. She says its district leaders should be elected rather than appointed by the county chair.

“We win by going from the top up, not from the bottom down,” Roach said.

Huff opposed making the election director's job an elected position, and said at one point that she was not interested in running for office. She later decided to enter the race, and moved from Kitsap County to King County two days before the filing deadline in order to become eligible.

Candidate Christopher Clifford accused Huff of lying about her new residence.

“That's never pleasant, and unfortunately that was his campaign,” Huff said. “It certainly didn't have an impact on what I felt I needed to be doing as a candidate.”

Clifford, an Orting schoolteacher, had around 4 percent of the vote on Feb. 3.

Huff is a former Kitsapy County auditor and Bremerton City Council member. She will earn $146,000 a year and oversee at least six elections in her new voter-approved role.

The King County elections office expected a high voter turnout for the mail-in election – somewhere around 30 percent – but Huff said that was no longer likely based on the number of ballots received by Feb. 4.

Joshua Adam Hicks can be reached at jhicks@bellevuenews.us or 425-453-4290