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Cohen, Dr. Z, Seth ahead

Tuesday’s election in Island County was a mixed bag for incumbents.

With all precincts and most of the mail-in ballots counted, it looks like Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen and school board member Kathleen Jones will keep their positions. But current City Council member Nora O’Connell-Balda, Fire Commissioner Bruce Carman, and the two incumbent North Whidbey Park and Recreation commissioners are behind in the count.

In the closest contest, Roy Seth pulled ahead of incumbent Oak Harbor school board member Vicki Harring at the last count. They are just four votes apart. Seth has 2,080 votes to Harring’s 2,076.

Seth spent the night at home and didn’t follow the count, though he wasn’t surprised that it turned out so tight. Whether he wins or loses, he said it was a great experience and he’s proud that the campaigns were “reasonably clean.”

“I’m at peace no matter how it turns out,” he said. “I can do a lot of things I want to do whether I’m on the board or not.”

Another closely-watched race on Whidbey is for the hospital commissioner seat. Dr. Paul Zaveruha is ahead of rival Amy Ayers by 5,216 to 2,206 votes.

Island County voters approved of the two-county Sno-Isle levy to restore the previous levy rate of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation by a margin of 6,270 to 3,892. But the Island County results may be dwarfed by the sheer number of voters in Snohomish County. Preliminary results show that Snohomish County voters are against the levy increase, with 27,771 voting to reject and 25,465 voting in favor.

If the levy is rejected, it will be the second time it was defeated and a repeat of history. Island County voters supported the levy in a special election last February, but a majority of Snohomish County voters won the day by voting no.

In the only initiative measure, Island County voters joined voters statewide in voting in favor of I-841. The initiative will repeal existing state ergonomics regulations and direct the state not to adopt new ergonomics regulations unless a uniform federal standard is required. The county count is 5,923 in favor and 4,432 against.

In the city of Oak Harbor races, Mayor Cohen is ahead of Councilman Bob Morrison by 1,150 to 922. Sue Karahalios looks like she’ll win the council seat vacated by Morrison. She has 1,295 votes to Clairann Haney’s 644.

Councilwoman O’Connell-Balda is losing to Larry Eaton by 902 to 1,038.

Although Cohen was careful not to declare a victory until the rest of the mail-in ballots are counted, she said she’s both hopeful and excited for the future. She sees the votes as a “reaffirmation” of her leadership and values.

She also noted that the makeup and tenor of the council will change substantially with two new members. “It’s a new group, so we’re going to have to start all over again,” she said. “I look forward to a new beginning.”

In the other Oak Harbor School Board race, Jones is beating challenger Brien Lillquist by a healthy 3,026 to 1,106.

Firefighter Larry Morse is ahead of Bruce Carman, incumbent commissioner with Island County Fire District 2, by 1,491 to 892.

Fred Smyth and T.J. Harmon-Fisher, incumbent commissioners with North Whidbey Park and Recreation District, are losing to their challengers. Tom Johnson has 2,342 votes to Smyth’s 1,308. Fred Henninger has 2,384 votes to Harmon-Fisher’s 1,393.

In the race for Coupeville Port commissioner, Bruce Bryson has 351 votes and Ron Vandyke has 281.

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