Grays Harbor News Group Staff
Grays Harbor voters approved a sales tax to upgrade E-911 services and appear to have elected new mayors in Aberdeen and Hoquiam on Election Day Tuesday, while the Ocean Shores mayoral race is too close to call. Off-year elections also meant filling dozens of municipal and school board positions as well as offices such as fire district commissioners and water district spots.
The voter turnout in initial counting was 27.8 percent, but will go higher as last-minute ballots arrive in coming days. The count includes ballots received in the mail as of Tuesday, but not ballots mailed on Election Day. Ballots cast at drop boxes will be processed Wednesday. All results on Election Day are preliminary. The next scheduled tally is Friday.
Grays Harbor County Auditor Joe MacLean reported that voting was so popular in Hoquiam that his team had to empty the dropoff ballot box on Election Day to make room for more. The dropoff spot at the YMCA “was just emptied on Friday afternoon and today (Tuesday) the box was so full we had to make an emergency trip to pick up the ballots,” MacLean said by email.
Voter turnout was higher in Ocean Shores and Cosmopolis, which both have hotly contested mayoral races. And in Cosi, voters were deciding whether to fund a new municipal building to hold City Hall, the police department and municipal court.
The E-911 vote to add one-tenth of 1 percent to sales tax in order to upgrade the communications infrastructure was winning 7,529 to 4,490 with 62.6 percent approval.
In the Aberdeen mayor’s race, longtime councilman Pete Schave leads first term incumbent Erik Larson 1,167 to 959 for 54 percent of the vote. Larson has received the brunt of the criticism for the city’s handling of the homelessness issue.
In Hoquiam, councilman Ben Winkelman looks to have a safe lead over incumbent Jasmine Dickhoff 648 to 483 for 57 percent of the vote.
The hotly contested Ocean Shores mayoral race is too close to call with council member Susan Conniry leading incumbent Crystal Dingler 1,086 to 1,056 for 50.39 percent of the vote. That is a rematch from four years ago.
In Cosmopolis, a $3 million bond measure to build a new Municipal Building was failing to meet its supermajority requirement, with yes votes leading 250 to 175 for 58.8 percent of the vote.
In the Cosi mayor race, councilmember Kyle Pauley has a safe lead over former councilmember Steve Davis, 255 to 166 and 60.4 percent of the vote.
In the race for Mayor of Westport, incumbent Rob Bearden appears on the path for another four years, leading challenger Joseph Whitmore 282 to 101, 73.25% to 26.23%. The contested City Council Position 5 race in Westport has Rose Jensen leading incumbent Kathryn Franzen 177 to 143.
Lynn Csernotta, with 30 years of experience in management levels of health information services, won a seat on the Grays Harbor Hospital District 2 board, defeating Richard Thompson, a former Community Hospital registered nurse who has been particularly critical of the current hospital management. In initial vote counting, Csernotta leads 4,290 to 3,285 with 56 percent of the vote.
The other contested race in District 2 is too close to call, with incumbent Melanie Sturgeon leading Scott Dilley 4,055 to 3,948 for 50.2 percent of the vote. Dilley had also been critical of hospital management.
Three incumbent board members were elected without drawing challengers: board Chairman Michael Bruce, David Quigg and Chris Thomas.
Among her top priorities, Csernotta included expanding urgent care and other health services to underserved areas such as the North Beach.
Increasing visibility, transparency and communication from the Community Hospital executive team and commissioners in the community is another of her priorities.
In the countywide Port Commission race, incumbent Tom Quigg is an easy winner, leading Tim Carr 6,468 to 3,839 with 62 percent of the vote.
There are four contested Aberdeen City Council races, the most tightly contested Tuesday being in Ward 2, where Nathan Kennedy holds a 5-vote lead over David Gakin, 130-125, 50.98% to 49.02%. In Ward 1, Shaney Crosby leads Robert J. Rodgers 181-130, 57.64% to 41.4%. In Ward 3, Kati Kachman leads Dave Deakin 224-133, 62.4% to 37.05%. Debora Ross leads Tara Mareth in the Ward 4 race 306-223, 57.52% to 41.92%.
In one contested Hoquiam City Council race, Al Dick leads Jamie C. Brand 127-75, 62.25% to 36.76%, in the Ward 4 Position 8 race.