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Shelton, Conard, Bailey lead

Whenever possible, Island County voters seemed to prefer incumbent candidates in local elections.

Based on a preliminary vote count Tuesday night, it looks good for incumbent Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton, incumbent state Senator Mary Margaret Haugen and incumbent State Representative Barbara Bailey.

The race to fill Barry Sehlin’s vacant District 10 state representative seat is too close to call. Democrat Nancy Conard, the Coupeville mayor, had a strong showing in Island County throughout the voting process, but didn’t overcome Republican Chris Strow of South Whidbey within the district until late in the evening.

In the district, Conard has 11,118 votes, which is 49.64 percent of the votes counted, and Strow has 10,693, or 47.74 percent. That’s just 425 votes dividing them.

Conard said she is “cautiously optimistic,” but she had guessed it would be a close election since there was no incumbent candidate.

“We’ve got a lot to count still, but I’m hopeful,” she said. “I’m just thrilled that this is the way it’s going.”

Sen. Haugen of Camano Island admitted that the 10th is a tough district for a Democrat to win, but she said residents know how hard she’s worked for them.

“The key is that I pay attention to the people I represent,” she said.

Haugen was beating Republican challenger April Axthelm of Mount Vernon in both Island County and within the entire district. Haugen had 11,876 votes, or 51.75 percent, to Axthelm’s 10,505 votes, which is 45.75 percent.

It looks like Republican Island County Commissioner Shelton gets to keep his job. He has a good lead over Democratic challenger Dean Enell. Shelton has 6,237 votes to Enell’s 5,014.

It seems like such a comfortable lead that Shelton went home from his celebration party early, according to one of his supporters.

Rep. Barbara Bailey, an Oak Harbor resident, also has a mighty comfortable lead over her challenger, Democrat Mark Norton of Camano Island. In the district, she had 13,951 ballots cast in her favor to Norton’s 10,294. That’s 55.77 percent to 41.15 percent.

But when it comes to the national election, Island County residents preferred the challenger, John Kerry, to President George W. Bush.

U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Rick Larsen also did well in Island County, as they did in the state.

Larsen even beat Republican challenger Suzanne Sinclair, the Island County auditor, in her own county.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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