Early primary election results show Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines will move forward in her campaign to be the next county commissioner. But who she’ll face in the General Election is too close to call with Democrat Al Smith and Republican Keith Olson neck and neck and thousands of more ballots left to count. Hoquiamite Jim Heikel finished a distant fourth.
Meantime, Assessor Rick Hole is just hanging on and could very likely move forward to the General Election as he hopes to gain a second term. Hole came in a distant second behind appraiser Dan Lindgren, who had a commanding lead heading into the next election. Pacific County appraiser Loni Hooper finished third.
As a pure election “beauty contest,” meaning both will advance no matter what, Deputy Prosecutor Katie Svoboda finished ahead of former prosecutor Mike Spencer to see who will take over the seat of retired Prosecutor Stew Menefee. Although both advance, the results may shore up Svoboda’s support in Democratic circles.
Countywide, 11,882 ballots were counted out of 38,321 sent for a turnout of about 31 percent. Elections Supervisor Katy Moore says there are a few thousand ballots left to count — especially all of the ballots dropped off at points around the county. Election results will be updated on Friday, Moore said.
Raines, who didn’t declare a party preference on the ballot, received 33.36 percent of the vote or 1,484. She’ll face either Smith, who lives up the Wishkah and owns an alternative energy company, or Olson, a timber advocate from Lake Quinault.
Smith and Olson are separated by just 58 votes. Smith had 1,180 votes or 26.52 percent. Olson had 1,122 votes or 25.22 percent.
“I guess it’s anybody’s race between us,” Olson told The Daily World. “Vickie’s probably number one. I expected to be right here.”
“Well, we will probably know Friday and it’s anybody’s guess,” Smith told The Daily World. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Heikel finished with 663 votes. The election results were just for the commission district, including Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, Cosmopolis and Lake Quinault. The contest now moves countywide.
Raines says she’s already started campaigning in East County and her husband put up some signs on Tuesday. She notes that she has worked in Montesano at a financial office for years.
“It’s still a little bit early but we’re pretty excited to see the initial numbers to come in and I’m grateful for the support I’ve had,” she said. “My team has worked really hard and we’re going to continue to work hard through the General Election. I would like to say I’ve been very appreciative of the opportunity to get to know Jim Heikel. He’s a great guy who ran an upstanding campaign. He’s a class act through and through.”
Lindgren, a Democrat, pulled ahead in the primary in dramatic fashion with 4,698 votes or 43.09 percent of the vote. It’s looking like a re-match to his contest four years ago against Hole, a Neither Party candidate. Hole has 3,245 votes or 29.76 percent. In third is Pacific County appraiser Loni Hooper, an Independent, with 2,961 votes or 27.16 percent.
That means Hole and Hooper are separated by 284 votes. There’s still a chance Hooper could come back.
But Hole says he feels comfortable where he’s at. He says he’ll just have to work harder to convince the voters to support him in the General Election.
“I think we’ve been talking to people about cost effective government and its a good message and its what we’re doing here,” Hole said “We’ve been working hard. My supporters have been working hard. I know the other candidates have been running a strong campaign and, to me, thats what its all about. Citizens make informed choices and it’s looking good for us right now.”
Lindgren points out that 70 percent of the county voted against Hole, who has been under fire for the way he runs his office and issues involving the annual revaluation process.
“Now, I need to convince those who picked Loni Hooper to vote for me now for a real change,” Lindgren said.
Lindgren notes four years ago he finished second in the primary to Hole and now he is the leader.
“This is the best case scenario for me right now,” Lindgren said. “For the primary, I rolled the dice and took a chance at not spending a lot more campaign funds and getting the word out as best we can. I’m glad I did and will have just that much more firepower for the General Election. I’m happy with the results and glad the Harbor sees the same thing I see.”
Democrat Svoboda is finishing ahead of Democrat Spencer for the open prosecutor’s post. Svoboda was in the lead with 54.2 percent of the tally or 5,443 votes. Spencer, the former prosecutor and judge, fell short of Svoboda by 850 votes.
Spencer was the predecessor to recently retired prosecutor Stew Menefee. Svoboda was the preferred replacement for Menefee, but a battle between the Grays Harbor Democrats and the county commissioners derailed her bid to be appointed to the post. The Democrats left Spencer off the list of choices given to the commissioners, even though he had expressed interest in the appointment. The commissioners instead stuck with Interim Prosecutor Gerald Fuller, who is not running for the office.
Incumbents County Auditor Vern Spatz, Clerk Cheryl Brown, Sheriff Rick Scott and Treasurer Ron Strabbing are all running unopposed. Also running unopposed is Coroner Lane Youmans, who was appointed to the post in June to replace retiring coroner Dan Burns.
For PUD commissioner, incumbent Russ Skolrood will advance to the General Election, but his opponent is still up in the air.
Skolrood had 48.04 percent or 1,843 votes. His challengers Frank Moses, a former PUD commissioner, and John Straka are within 75 votes of each other. Straka had 1,034 votes or 26.96 percent and Moses had 959 votes or 25 percent.
The Daily World contributed to this story.