Election: Commissioners survive to fight another day

The two incumbent Island County commissioners, both Democrats, made it through the Top Two Primary and will face Republican challengers in the Nov. 6 election.

Oddly, twice as many people voted in District 1, which runs from South Whidbey to just south of Oak Harbor, as did those in District 2, which encompasses conservative-leaning Oak Harbor. That could potentially spell trouble in the general election for Republican candidates.

A total of 10,003 ballots had been counted from District 1 as of Thursday night, while only 4,960 voters in District 2 mailed in ballots. The population of the districts are roughly equivalent.

Jill Johnson, a Republican, will face incumbent Commissioner Angie Homola in District 2.

Johnson won 34 percent of the vote while Homola currently has 32 percent.

Jim Campbell, a Republican, and independent candidate Phil Collier were knocked out of the race. Campbell got 24 percent while Collier has 10 percent.

In District 1, incumbent Commissioner Helen Price Johnson’s lead has narrowed slightly, but she still has 55 percent of the vote. She will face Republican Jeff Lauderdale, who has 26 percent. Independent candidate Curt Gordon, Republican Wayne Morrison and no-party candidate Ed Jenkins were eliminated.

In an interview after the Thursday vote count, Homola said the results looked good for her; she did well against three challengers in the county’s most conservative district. She said the low turnout in District 2 may be because voters are satisfied with the status quo.

“Maybe people are happy with what’s been going on and feel that government is doing well with the challenges we are facing,” she said. She added that she and Price Johnson were able to balance the budget during the historic revenue shortfall and even earned an increase in the county’s bond rating

Both Jill Johnson and Campbell, however, cited concerns about the organization of the county’s Republican party. Campbell predicted the outcome of the District 2 race will depend on whether Republicans on South Whidbey can be motivate to vote and be involved.

Likewise, Johnson estimated the small turnout in Republican-heavy District 2 was due, in part, to a rift that’s developed in the local party, discouraging some people from involvement.

“The Republican party is divided between Tea Party and moderate Republicans,” she said, adding that she’s tried to stay out of the fray and concentrate on her message.

Even so, Johnson said the results were very encouraging and show that Homola “obviously does not do a good job of representing her district.”

In other races, Oak Harbor’s own Barbara Bailey has moved further ahead of incumbent state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen. Bailey, currently a Republican state representative, won 16,687 votes in Legislative District 10, or about 52 percent. Haugen, a Democrat, has 15,212 votes, or 48 percent.

Langley barista Aaron Simpson, a Democrat, did surprisingly well against incumbent Republican Rep. Norma Smith. Smith has 59 percent to Simpson’s 41 percent.

“It’s no longer a David-and-Goliath battle,” Simpson said. “It’s a fair fight.”

The Whidbey EMS levy renewal passed by a landslide with 71 percent of the vote; it needed 50 percent to pass.

The General Election date is Tuesday, Nov. 6.


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