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How many votes should a write-in candidate need to advance?

OLYMPIA – Rob Chase wouldn't have been elected Spokane County treasurer under changes the Legislature is considering to the state’s write-in candidate laws.

Filing as a write-in candidate after the primary ballots were mailed out in 2010, Republican Chase got about 2 percent of the votes in the primary against incumbent Democrat Skip Chilberg, who was running unopposed. But that 2 percent earned Chase a spot on the November ballot, and he beat Chilberg in the general election.

One proposal being considered by the House State Government Committee would require write-in candidates get at least 5 percent of the votes in a primary to advance to the general. It’s an effort, sponsors say, to find serious candidates.

“If someone has the desire and temerity to get 1 percent, that means they are a serious candidate and deserve a shot,” Chase said.

Sheryl Moss of the Secretary of State’s elections office said write-in candidates are “a very large problem” in primary races with only one  candidate on the ballot.

“Voters feel obligated to write-in a candidate,” Moss said.  A few people can get together and decide to write in a friend’s name for an office with only one declared candidate – even if that friend isn’t interested in the job, she said. The state had thousands of write-ins in last year’s election.

Under the state’s top two primary system, a write-in candidate in a race with only one name on the ballot advances to the general election in those races if he or she gets at least 1 percent of the vote. That’s too low for sparsely populated counties or small districts, Moss said.

.In Wahkiakum County last year, a write-in candidate advanced to the general election with just 8 votes. In five counties, people had their names written in for offices which they didn’t intend to seek; they got more than 1 percent of the primary vote and were on the general election ballot. State law doesn’t allow them to have their name withdrawn from the ballot at that point.

None of those unwilling write-ins was elected, but in one county two registered voters had the same name as a write-in who qualified for prosecuting attorney on the general election ballot. Neither was interested in the job, but only one was an attorney. He made it very clear to voters he didn’t want the job.

Write-in candidates should have to file a declaration of candidacy and pay the filing fee of 1 percent of a year’s salary for the position, Chase said. He did both in 2010. But raising the threshold above 1 percent could have a chilling effect on good candidates who join a race late to give voters a choice, he said.

Amy Biviano returns to political arena

Amy Biviano, whose unsuccessful attempt to unseat GOP state Rep. Matt Shea two years ago became one of the most watched races in the state, is back.

The Spokane Valley accountant has filed paperwork signaling her intent to run for Spokane County treasurer. The incumbent, Rob Chase of Liberty Lake, also has filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission indicating his intent to seek re-election.

Although candidate filing is still months away, state law requires prospective candidates to file with the PDC before soliciting campaign contributions. Biviano, a former county Democratic Party chairwoman, filed Jan. 28. The libertarian-turned-Repbulican Chase, who lost a bid for county commission two years ago, filed in February of last year.

Look for Biviano to emphasize fiscal discipline by pointing to her financial management experience to combat the customary GOP attacks on Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals.

Chase, meanwhile, will look to unify the split in the local GOP that became apparent in his unsuccessful bid for a county commission seat. Hailing from the most conservative wing of the party, Chase raised eyebrows when he suggested investing a portion of the county's tax dollars in precious metals such as gold, though he pointed out that he was talking about a small amount and that state law permits only conservative investments.

Biviano has struggled politically in the conservative Spokane Valley despite campaigning for the Legislature as a fiscal conservative promising tax reform benefiting small businesses. She also was among a handful of applicants passed over for an appointment to an open seat on the conservative Spokane Valley City Council.

Chase, a real estate agent and nutritional products distributor, also has struggled politically. In addition to losing his bid for county commission, he unsuccessfully sought a seat in the state Senate in 2000 and tried to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt in 2002.

But he beat the odds with his 2010 election to county treasurer, starting with a write-in campaign, which received enough votes in the primary to get his name on the ballot in the general election. Chase, whose 1,500 primary write-in votes put him ahead of "Bozo" and other names frequently jotted down in the write-in portion of ballots by some voters, went on to defeat Democratic incumbent Skip Chilberg.

Spokane County postpones its first online tax-delinquent parcel auction

Spokane County will postpone its first online auction of tax-delinquent properties until March.

In an effort to help more people bid on the properties, the county announced the first online auction for Dec. 3-4.  The auction will be for about 100 properties for which taxes have gone unpaid for three or more years, said County Treasurer Rob Chase.

A press release noted the postponement is due to the county’s anticipated expenses related to the holidays and winter weather.

In three weeks, swoop down — online — on the county’s tax-delinquent properties

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Anyone out there want to buy the old YWCA building downtown, across from the Ridpath?

Circle Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 on your calendars. Those are Spokane County's first delinquent-tax property auction, done entirely online instead of at the courthouse.

Our earlier story (last week) disclosed all the key details. The county is using a Maryland firm, Bid4Assets.com, to manage and run the online bidding.

BIdders need to register with Bid4Assets and verify a valid credit card.

Among the offerings is the once-busy YWCA building at the northwest corner of Stevens and First (shown in the Google Streetview image).

Today, it's vacant and looking for a good owner.

The full list of the properties to be auctioned can be found online here.  Bidding price will start with the past-due taxes and fees, plus the $150 fee that the county must pay Bid4Assets. Anything above that reserve amount goes to the property owner.

County preparing to have an online auction of properties in foreclosure

About 100 parcels or buildings are scheduled to be auctioned off Dec. 3-4 in the first-ever Spokane County online auction.

The county sells off properties that have a three-year backlog of unpaid taxes, fees and interest.  But usually those have happened at live auctions at the Spokane County Courthouse.

The full story appeared earlier today on Spokesman.com.

Among the properties are five parcels that are part of or near the distressed Ridpath Hotel block.

County awash in PCO candidates

The most basic political position for either party is that of the Precinct Committee Officer, a job with no pay, limited authority, and the potential for significant demands on the office holder’s time.

In theory, Democrats and Republicans should each elect a PCO for each of Spokane County’s 314 precincts every two years, although in many years the parties often go begging for willing candidates, and when they find one, there’s no contest for the job.

Not this year. In 105 precincts, about a third of the county’s total, there will be contested elections. Almost all, 101 races, will be for Republican positions. In one precinct, a South Hill precinct near Roosevelt Elementary School, both parties have contested PCO races with two Democrats and three Republicans.

By comparison, less than a tenth of the precincts in King County have contested PCO races in the Aug. 7 election.

It’s a sign of the ongoing struggle between two factions of the local GOP,

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Ron Paul picking up endorsements, headed for Spokane

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. rally Friday evening at the Spokane Convention Center, and is picking up endorsements in and around Spokane.

State Rep. Matt Shea, Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase, and Republican Central Committeemembers John Christina of Spokane and Karen Skoog of Elk all endorsed Paul, the campaign announced today.

Many of those endorsements come as  no surprise. Chase, like Paul, was once a Libertarian candidate; he became active in the Paul campaign in 2008 and was part of the Texas congressman's delegation that helped shape the Spokane County GOP platform.

Shea, R-Spokane Valley, shares many of Paul's views on state's rights, limited government and less spending. He was among legislators who met with GOP contender Rick Santorum on Monday, when the former Pennsylvania senator was in Olympia. Shea was complimentary of Santorum but said he wasn't endorsing him, adding he thought the Spokane Valley's 4th Legislative District would probably split between Santorum and Paul.

Christina was an alternate delegate to the 2008 convention for Paul.

Paul's visit is the latest sign of the increasing interest Washington and Idaho are drawing this year, as the GOP nomination contest continues with four candidates. Santorum was in Washington on Monday and Idaho on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney is scheduled for a fundraiser in Seattle on March 1, and either Romney or one of his family members may be in Spokane before the March 3 caucuses.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has no campaign events scheduled in the region at this time. "Stay tuned," campaign spokesman Lew Moore said. Gingrich does expect to make a stop in Washington, and the campaign would like to have him visit both sides of the state, Moore added.

Mapping the vote: Spokane County treasurer’s race

Republican challenger Rob Chase holds a narrow lead over Democratic County Treasurer Skip Chilberg in the vote counting. But an analysis of the vote shows that Chilberg ran strongest in the city of Spokane, while Chase built his margins in the Valley and unincorporated areas.

Bozo tops Jesus in county treasurer’s race

It may be the upset of the year.

In the race for Spokane County Treasurer, Bozo garnered more support than Jesus.

Bozo – presumably Bozo the Clown – had three write-in votes, to Jesus’ two.

Bozo and Jesus were just two of nearly 1,500 different people or other creatures, real and fictional, who received votes in the treasurer’s race in the August primary. Most of write-in candidates got just one vote each.

Election observers discourage people from writing in candidates unless they seriously want that person to serve in that office. That’s because in some races, write-ins can cause significant extra work and headaches when tallying the vote.

The elections office keeps an eye on all races to make sure it catches any write-ins that receive 1 percent of the vote. Officials kept a tally this year for each write-in vote for treasurer because Republican Rob Chase filed officially to run as a write-in candidate. He won 1,500 votes – more than the 1 percent required for him to advance to the general election ballot. He is challenging incumbent Democrat Skip Chilberg.

After Chilberg and Chase, the next popular write-in choice was “None” with 70 votes.

(Next time, remember: If you want to vote for none of the candidates in a particular race all you have to do is leave the ovals blank for that office. There is no need to write-in “None” or other write-in choices made this year for treasurer, including “None of the Above,” “No One,” or ”Mr. Nobody.”)

The next popular selections were: “Anyone else” with 54 votes, “Mickey Mouse” with 50 votes, “Other” with 32 votes, “Any Republican” with 37, “Republican” with 26 votes, Ralph Baker” (apparently the current county ASSESSOR) with 25 votes and “John Doe” with 23.

To see the full list of write-ins for county treasurer click here.

Chase enters treasurer’s race as write-in

Rob Chase, a Libertarian turned Republican party activist, is running for Spokane County treasurer as a write-in candidate.

Chase said Tuesday he is entering the race against incumbent Skip Chilberg, a Democrat, because the job is too important to go uncontested. He describes himself as a “Realtor, local talk show host and champion of open and  honest government.”

Chase is no stranger to campaigns, although his previous ones have been more conventional runs in which he filed before the candidate deadline. He unsuccessfully ran for the state Senate in 2000 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, both times as a Libertarian. In 2008, he supported another sometime Libertarian, Ron Paul, in the Texas Congressman’s run for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s now a 4th Legislative District leader for the Spokane County Republican Party.

Voters will have to fill in an oval and write his name in the space on the ballot for the treasurer’s position. If he gets at least 1 percent of the votes cast, his name will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot along with Chilberg.