The election season is underway a month earlier in the state of Washington, as from now through Friday, June 8, candidates can file for political office.
A primary election will be held, also earlier than ever, for those races with three or more candidates. The state's primary, typically held in mid-September, will this year be held Aug. 21.
"The legislature moved the primary up to allow more time (before the Nov. 6 general election) in case there are recounts," explained Kathy Fischer, elections manager for Yakima County.
There are 23 seats up for grabs in the Lower Valley, six of them in the city of Grandview.
There will be at least one new office holder on the Grandview council following the fall election.
A 16-year veteran of the Grandview City Council, Bill Flory indicated he will not seek re-election to his Pos. 5 seat. "I've got to get some other things done," he said. "I'm trying to catch up on a lot of things." Flory added that he hopes former Grandview mayor and county commissioner Jesse Palacios will run for city council.
Grandview Mayor Norm Childress said he will file this week to seek re-election to his post. Jan McDonald, appointed to the Pos. 2 council seat, confirmed that she will run to retain her council position.
According to Fischer, Helen Darr has already filed via U.S. mail to run for re-election to her Grandview City Council, pos. 4 seat.
Other Grandview council incumbents, Robert Morales (Pos. 6) and Javier Rodriguez (Pos. 7), could not be reached for comment.
Elsewhere in the Lower Valley, Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik (pos. 7) confirmed he would seek re-election to his city council seat.
Jim Restucci said he will run for re-election to his Sunnyside City Council, pos. 6, seat. Restucci also serves as mayor pro tem for council.
Paul Garcia (pos. 5) is the other Sunnyside City Council member whose position is up for election and he could not be reached for comment.
Three seats on the Sunnyside School Board expire at the end of this year, and heading into today, Monday, only one of the current office holders, Rocky Simmons (dist. 1) has confirmed he will seek re-election. District 4 board member Steve Carpenter indicated he is leaning towards filing for re-election and Miguel Puente (dist. 5) said he is undecided.
In the Grandview School District, district 4 incumbent Timothy Grow is undecided whether he will run for office. Incumbents Lydia Moreno (dist. 1) and Alfonso Contreras (dist. 3) could not be reached for comment.
The filing period is not without a little confusion this go-round, as Contreras' seat was previously a two-year term that changes to a four-year term for this election cycle. As a result, the Grandview School District office did not show Contreras as one of its office holders facing election this year.
Over in Mabton, there was miscommunication following Mario Martinez's appointment last year to fill out the term of John William Reynolds. The county auditor's office says city staff did not notify the county of the change.
As a result, the county initially listed Reynolds as the incumbent. In addition, Fischer said a form was sent to Mabton and other cities on Feb. 23 of this year to confirm the names of incumbent office holders. Mabton's form was returned, she noted, with Reynolds confirmed as the incumbent.
Martinez could not be reached for comment on whether he will seek to retain the pos. 4 seat. The city's other incumbent facing an election, Vera Zavala (pos. 5), said she will file for re-election this week.
The Mabton School District will lose a long-time board member this election cycle, as 10-year office holder Ken Stowell (dist. 2) said he will not seek re-election. "I'd like to, but my work schedule has changed," he said. District 1 incumbent Rafael Sagrero said he will seek re-election. Position 2 at-large board member Manuel Guzman could not be reached for comment on whether he will file for re-election.
Yakima County Fire District #5 in the Lower Valley also has a seat up for election this year. Current office holder Ernie Charvet could not be reached for comment on whether he will seek to retain his pos. 3 post with the fire district.
A pair of port commission seats round out the offices available for this week's election filing period. Port of Grandview incumbent Ron Grow (dist. 3) could not be reached for comment. Port of Sunnyside incumbent Arnold Martin (dist. 1) said he will seek re-election to his post.
Fischer said candidate requirements stipulate a person must have lived in the city or school district boundary for at least a year before seeking office.
Those filing to run for mayoral, city council or port commission seats must pay a filing fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary the position receives. Those candidates are also subject to full public disclosure of income.
School board candidates do not have to provide a filing fee, since there is no annual income for those positions. In addition, school board candidates are not subject to as an extensive public income statement as other candidates.
Election filing forms can be picked up at and returned to the Yakima County Auditor's office, 128 N. Second Street, Room 117, in Yakima
Fischer said candidates can also file for election via the U.S. mail, but the forms must be notarized. She indicated the city of Grandview had requested copies of the election filing form, and that other cities may have them available as well.
For those dropping off the forms, the auditor's office is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The forms are due before closing on Friday.
For more information, contact the auditor's office at (509) 574-1340.
The combination of an early filing season and nearly two dozen offices up for grabs in the Lower Valley alone will make life busier than usual for her office, Fischer observed.
"(This) Friday might be kind of interesting," she said. "Some candidates like to wait and see who else has filed before they file. There are a lot of positions up for election, so it's going to be a busy week."