Initiative 522, arguably the highest-profile issue on the ballot, was defeated with about 55 percent of the vote as of press time. The genetically modified food labeling initiative set a record for out-of-state funding, with opponents of the legislation – including Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association – raising $33 million, compared to supporters’ $9.3 million. The total raised by the groups was 92 percent from outside Washington.
About 73 percent of voters rejected the initiative.
Pullman City Council member Nathan Weller supported the measure. He said he thought the initiative was written in “the right spirit” to better inform people about where their food comes from, but understood some of the objections.
“The law was a bit wide,” Weller said. “Perhaps it needed to be redefined a bit more.”
Proponents of the initiative said it would give consumers more information about what they eat and pointed to other countries that have placed restrictions on genetically engineered crops as examples. Opponents claimed the measure would be costly and place a unique burden on Washington farmers.
With 60 percent of Washington voters against it, Initiative 517 was also defeated. If it had passed, Tim Eyman’s measure would have changed the state’s initiative and referendum process. Petition signers and signature gatherers would receive more protection from harassment and stalking, and have up to six more months to gather the required number of signatures.
Supporters of the measure claimed in their voter’s pamphlet statement that it would encourage more grassroots participation in the political process and block bullying and special interests. Those against the initiative said it would infringe on property rights and clog the system with invalid initiatives.
Pullman City Council races
Ward 1 – Sorensen vs. Nugent
Former councilor Alan Sorensen took the Ward 1 position with 70.2 percent of the vote. He beat 28-year-old John Nugent, who had 29.7 percent.
Sorensen served as a Pullman City Council member from 2005 to 2007, after which he ran for reelection and lost to Nathan Weller. Sorensen said he has been eager to return to the council since then.
“Pullman has been really good to me,” he said. “And City Council is a way for me to give back to the community.”
Sorensen said he applauds Nugent for wanting to get involved in local government.
Nugent congratulated Sorensen for winning the election, but said the Pullman City Council needs to improve how it communicates with residents.
“We need to do a better job representing everyone in Pullman whether they’re full-time residents or students here for four or five years,” he said. “We can’t just assume everyone in the community knows what issues are on the table, what the City Council is doing.”
Nugent said he will continue working on this issue.
At 52 years old, Sorensen has lived in Pullman for most of his life. He attended Pullman schools and graduated from WSU. He serves on the Police Advisory Committee, owns and operates an insurance company in town and teaches a class at the university.
Nugent, also a WSU graduate, has lived eight of the past 10 years in Pullman. He is the assistant director of New Student Programs at the university and owns a rental property.
Ward 2 – Hughes vs. Young
Incumbent Fritz Hughes took 78.8 percent of the vote, beating WSU student Zach Young, who had 21.1 percent.
Hughes has lived in Pullman for 26 years, according to his biography on the city website, and was executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. Before that, he worked in education.
Young, a junior political science major originally from SeaTac, said his first time running for political office was overall a positive experience. He said he would run for office again if an opportunity presented itself.
He said he has met Hughes a few times and has confidence in his leadership.
“I wish him all the luck,” Young said.
Hughes, who has been a council member for about a year, said he planned to celebrate his reelection with family during the holidays.
At-large – Macoll vs. Crossler
The at-large position went to Eileen “Mac” Macoll, who beat opponent Marcus Crossler, with 62.9 percent of the vote. Crossler had 37 percent.
The position previously belonged to Derrick Skaug, who was appointed in 2012 while still an undergraduate at WSU.
Macoll is the president of the Whitman County Landlord Tenant Association, of which Crossler is a member. She focused on updating the Pullman Comprehensive Plan, which would address urban development and fluctuations in population.
Crossler is also a member of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, the Police Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission.
Both candidates are long-time residents of Pullman. Macoll came to attend WSU in 1973, and Crossler has lived in town for nine years. Previously he attended Moscow High School.
The election results will not be finalized until Nov. 26.