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Homola ahead in ballot tally, recount begins

The Island County Auditor’s Office is finished with the regular round of ballot counting that began on election day, but a manual recount in an extremely tight commissioners’ race starts Monday.

Angie Homola has a 60-votes lead over incumbent Commissioner Mac McDowell in the election count finished Tuesday. Homola received 19,222 and McDowell had 19,162 votes. The 50-vote difference is 0.13 percent of the votes cast for the two candidates.

Under state law, a manual recount is triggered by a difference of less than one-quarter of 1 percent when the gap between the two candidates is less than 150 votes.

“I continue to be hopeful, but I’m not declaring a victory,” Homola said.

Democrat Homola is vying against the longtime Republican commissioner for the District 2 seat, which represents a large area of North Whidbey.

A hand recount is an arduous task that may take a week or more. First, the counters have to group the ballots by precinct.

Auditor Sheilah Crider said the teams of two people will count the ballots, with each person making their own counts and comparing results with the other. At the end, the total number of ballots counted must match the number in the original count, or the process will start over again.

The hand tabulations will be watched closely. Marshall Goldberg, chair of the Island County Democrats, said 37 Democratic volunteers attended training at the elections office this week to learn how to observe, while only three Republicans showed.

“This is history in the making,” Goldberg said, referring to the fact that this is the first time Democrats will be in the majority of the board of commissioners. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm out there.”

In other races, Helen Price Johnson beat Phil Bakke for the District 1 commissioner seat, which covers South and Central Whidbey. Since Bakke had been appointed to the position, Price Johnson was sworn in Tuesday following the vote certification.

Price Johnson, a Democrat, won 20,367 votes and Bakke garnered 18,576.

Auditor Sheilah Crider, who was originally appointed to the position, was also sworn in Tuesday, having won against fellow Republican Jim Palmer. She had 18,506 and Palmer had 15,791 ballots cast in his favor.

In District 10, the race for state representative, position 1, was close, but not close enough to require a recount. Republican Norma Smith won with 34,026, or 50.35 percent. Democrat Tim Knue received 33,553 votes, or 49.65 percent.

Two years ago, Knue was close behind Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, by 23,982 to 25,479.

This year, Bailey easily beat Patricia Terry, D-Camano, by nearly 11 percent, 37,057 to 29,828 votes.

During the campaign season, the Republican party aggressively took on longtime state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano, but the effort didn’t pay off. Haugen beat Oak Harbor resident Linda Haddon, a Republican, by 36,829 to 31,905, which is a 7 percent difference.

Beyond the candidates, Island County voters overwhelmingly turned down a series of local measures. A proposed levy lift for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue went down in flames by a margin of 5,673 votes in support to 2,890 votes against.

A proposal to form a public utility district lost by 20,047 “no” votes to 10,102 “yes” votes.

A property tax levy for the Port of Coupeville was opposed by 4,318 to 1,717 votes. A similar levy for the Port of South Whidbey was also defeated by 6,986 to 3,301.

A proposed $15.2 million bond for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District lost by 6,396 to 4,060.

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