Bakke leads Gordon in nail-biter

Price Johnson

top choice in

District 1 race

It’s down to 25 votes dividing the second and third-place candidates for the District 1 seat on the Island County board of commissioners.

Republican Phil Bakke, the appointed county commissioner, and no-party candidate Curt Gordon are neck and neck, but only one will move on to the general election.

With each count, Gordon has been inching forward. As of the Thursday night results, Bakke has 2,058 and Gordon has 2,033 votes.

Meanwhile, Democratic commissioner candidate Helen Price Johnson is sitting pretty with more than twice the number of votes as her closest rival. She has earned 4,760 votes so far.

Reece Rose, the second Republican in the race, is in fourth place with 1,451 ballots cast in her favor.

Gordon said his chances of pulling ahead are very real.

“I was about 80 behind with the first 12,000 to 13,000 votes counted,” he said. “And when 1,600 were added to that, my deficit was only 31. So it’s impossible to predict. It’s totally possible.”

Nevertheless, Bakke isn’t sweating it. The Freeland resident expects his lead to hold out, especially since there’s only 2,200 votes to count county-wide and only a portion of those are within his district of Central and South Whidbey.

When asked why he thinks the results are so tight, he points to Rose.

“There was another Republican running,” he said. “If I was the only one, the margin wouldn’t be so close.”

Gordon, a Clinton resident and owner of Island Asphalt, said he decided to jump into the race because of the new Top 2 primary. The system gives third-party and no-party candidates a real shot at getting on the November ballot.

Win or lose, Gordon is pleased.

“I did well, considering I got in late and with as little money as I had,” he said. “I think the voters are sophisticated and took time to study the candidates, not just follow party lines.”

Only two candidates filed for the District 2 commissioner spot, so both of the Oak Harbor residents will go on to the November contest.

Long-time Commissioner Mac McDowell, a Republican, won 2,475 votes, Angie Homola, a Democrat, earned 1,959.

Though they’re not nail-biters, a couple of local legislative races are somewhat close.

Republican Norma Smith, the appointed position 1 state representative for District 10, has 16,770 ballots in her favor for the entire district. Her opponent, Democrat Tim Knue, 15,067. That’s about a 5 percent difference.

State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat in District 10, has 17,364 votes. She has two rivals from Oak Harbor. Republican Linda Haddon garnered 13,676 votes. Sarah Hart, a candidate for America’s Third Party, has 1,526.

In contrast, State Rep. Barbara Bailey, a Republican from Oak Harbor, received more votes in the district than her two Democratic rivals combined. Bailey has 17,249, Patricia Terry has 8,527 and Ann McDonald has 5,796.

The competition to become an Island County Superior Court judge was decided in the primary. Oak Harbor resident Vickie Churchill, the long-time judge, beat attorney Craig Platt by 13,840 to 5,367 votes.

The Auditor’s Office planned to update the vote totals late Friday night after the News-Times went to press. Visit for the latest.

Reporter Liz Burlingame contributed to this story.

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