Two races affecting Whidbey Island have thin margins, with counts since Election Day trending in favor of Republican candidates.
The race for Island County assessor is far too close to call while the charged contest between state Rep. Greg Gilday, a Republican, and Democrat Clyde Shavers will depend on whether there are enough votes left to count in Legislative District 10 for Gilday to overcome Shavers’ Election Day lead.
Otherwise, results from the first count appear to be definitive for other races, with incumbents in county government keeping their jobs and Tony Lam, the deputy treasurer, set to replace his retiring boss. His opponent, Richard MacQuarrie, said he called Lam Wednesday night to concede the election and congratulate him.
Sheriff Rick Felici won by the widest margin among county candidates with challengers, earning 61.9% of the vote, despite a spirited challenge by Deputy Lane Campbell; they are both Republicans. Commissioner Janet St. Clair, a Democrat, also did well, winning 57.8% while Republican challenger Tim Hazelo has 44% of the vote.
Auditor Sheilah Crider and Clerk Debra Van Pelt also won against challengers.
In the tightest race, two newcomers are vying for the position after the appointed assessor decided not to run. Kelly Mauck, a Republican, has been closing in on T.J. Kubisiak, who’s running with no party affiliation, since the first count on Nov. 8.
On election night, Kubisiak was ahead with 51.7% and Mauck had 48% of the vote. After the count on Thursday night, the gap narrowed with Kubisiak having about 50.2% and Mauck with 49.5%. Just 114 votes separate them; Kubisiak has 16,328 votes in his favor and Mauck has 16,214.
The Island County Elections Office estimates that 9,000 ballots are left to count, but candidates will have to wait until 6 p.m. on Nov. 14 for the next count since Friday is Veterans Day.
A similar trend occurred in the primary election, with Mauck behind after the first count but ending up ahead.
Mauck wasn’t surprised by the results.
“I knew it was going to be a tight race from the outset, particularly given the results in the primary,” he said. “I am extremely optimistic and look forward to the final vote totals. I believe it’s a tight race because we have two good candidates on the ballot.”
Kubisiak said he’s not sweating the ballot counting since he did everything he could before the election and now just has to wait to see what the voters decided. He admitted to being disappointed with the number of undervotes, with more than 2,500 people casting ballots but choosing not to vote in the assessor race.
Kubisiak said he tried to make a stand for change by running without a party affiliation for an office that should be nonpartisan. He said it’s tough to be a trailblazer.
“People like to ask for change,” he said, “but in reality they often disdain change.”
A recount in a county race is mandatory if the difference between two candidates is less than 150 votes and also less than one-fourth of 1% of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.
The race for Position 1 for District 10 state representative became ugly, with Shavers’ father writing a letter accusing his son of exaggerating his military record. Shavers had a lead on Election Day, with 52.7% of the vote, but that eroded to 51.26% as of Thursday’s count. Shavers has 29,072 votes in his favor and Gilday has 27,573, which is 48.6%.
The other race in District 10 has been a more civil contest. Incumbent Rep. Dave Paul, a Democrat and Oak Harbor resident, has a sizable lead over Republican challenger Karen Lesetmoe, also an Oak Harbor resident. Paul has 30,097 votes, or 53.1%, and Lesetmoe has 26,564 votes, or about 46.8%.
Thousands of votes are left to count in the district, which covers Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.
The race for U.S. representative in District 2 was decisive. U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat, won 163,735 votes, or 60.94%, while Republican challenger Dan Matthews has 104,524, or 38.9%.