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Local candidates: On your mark, get set, file

UPDATED: Mon., May 15, 2017, 4:13 p.m.

Thousands of Washington high school seniors may have to hang their hopes on the Legislature to receive their diplomas this year, after failing to pass a controversial biology assessment test required to earn the certificate. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
On Oct. 30, 2014, elections workers Connie Klien, center, along with Marsha Plewman, left, and Bev Hannibal open and check ballots, at the Spokane County Elections Office. Filing week ends Friday, May 19, 2017, when the Elections Office – where candidate paperwork must be filed – closes. That varies in different counties. In Spokane, it’s 4 p.m. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

After the big blowout of the presidential election last year, 2017 campaign season may seem like a bit of a letdown. It’s an off-year election, with no presidential or congressional races.

But there are hundreds of local offices on this fall’s ballot, and as the saying often attributed to Thomas Jefferson goes, the best government is the one closest to the people. Most of these offices are really close to the people.

Washington has a handful of legislative races prompted by deaths or resignations that resulted in open seats filled by temporary appointments. That’s the case in Northeast Washington’s 7th Legislative District, where state Sen. Brian Dansel resigned earlier this year to take a job with the Trump administration.

Rep. Shelly Short was selected by county commissioners in the district to fill Dansel’s seat, and Jacquelin Maycumber, Short’s former legislative aide, was chosen for the House seat that became empty. Both must run for election this year to keep their appointed seats. If they win, they face re-election in 2018.

The 7th has been a safe Republican district for years, which often means Democrats don’t file for office or survive the primary. Under Washington’s primary laws, the top two finishers in the August primary advance to the general election, regardless of party.

Most races this year, however, are nonpartisan.

That includes a handful of judicial races. In Spokane County, Tony Hazel, who was appointed to the Superior Court bench after Judge Sam Cozza died, faces election.

Many cities and towns – Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Latah, Medical Lake, Millwood, Rockford and Waverly – will elect a mayor. All of them have council positions on the ballot.

Most cities in Spokane County have citywide council elections, but Spokane is divided into three geographic districts, with each electing one council member this year.

School districts will elect directors. Fire districts, water districts, cemetery districts and sewer districts will select commissioners.

Many of these elected positions are unpaid, and there’s no fee to file as a candidate. But for jobs that do come with a salary, even a relatively small one, the filing fee is 1 percent of the annual pay.

Candidates must be a registered voter in the city or district of the office they are seeking. Those running for a local office file their paperwork at their county Elections Office. For Spokane County residents, that’s at 1033 W. Gardner Ave. in Spokane.

Legislative candidates file with the secretary of state in Olympia. Candidates for most offices can also file online, starting at 9 a.m. Monday.

Filing week ends Friday afternoon when the Elections Office – where paperwork must be filed – closes. That varies in different counties. In Spokane, that’s 4 p.m.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of the caption with the photo for this story incorrectly stated the day that filing closes, due to an editor’s error. It ends on May 19.

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