By Pat Grubb
Editor Note: This story was changed on November 10 to reflect new ballot counts released the previous evening.
A collective sigh of relief could be heard escaping from the lips of Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District commissioners and many other Point residents after election vote totals were updated Thursday night, two days after the general election. They had been on tenterhooks ever since initial results from Tuesday’s general election were released after the polls closed. While over 60 percent of the voters had marked Yes on the park’s annual levy request, not enough ballots had been counted to meet the minimum turnout requirement.
In order to pass, the park levy required a 60 percent super-majority with votes from at least 40 percent of the voters in the 2016 general election. That being a presidential election, 805 ballots were cast in Point Roberts which means at least 322 people were needed to vote in the 2017 election to meet the 40-percent cutoff. On Tuesday night, just 196 votes were counted – another 126 votes needed to come in before the measure could succeed.
A new total was released on Wednesday night but only two more Point Roberts ballots had been counted. Finally, at 5:02 p.m. Thursday, another count was released and the levy prevailed. By a count of 262 Yes votes (70%) versus 114 No, the minimum voter turnout was well and truly surpassed and the measure was successful at last.
In other election news, Bill Meursing was re-elected to the fire district – perhaps not with the landslide he might have expected. Blessed with an opponent, Judson Meraw, who decided in early October to stop campaigning and give his support and presumably his vote to Meursing, most observers could have thought it would have been a lopsided result in favor of the incumbent. In fact, Meursing has received just 112 votes (58%) to the non-campaigning Meraw’s 80 (42%). In 2015, when Meraw ran against then-fire commissioner Stan Riffle, he received 164 votes (48%) versus Riffle’s 178 votes (52%).
For the fire district, Pat Harper received a convincing 264 votes (75%) against actual candidate Donna Gillespie’s 89 votes (25%) for fire commissioner, position 2. There were no other contested races in Point Roberts.
Returning uncontested to Point Roberts offices (with votes following) were:
Point Roberts Water District Commissioner, Position 2: Scott Hackleman (337)
Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District, Commissioner, Position 3: Sonya Liu (298)
Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District, Commissioner, Position 4: Arthur Reber (267)
Point Roberts Public Hospital District, Commissioner, Position 1: Robin Nault (348)
Point Roberts Cemetery District, Commissioner, Position 2: Dan Bourks (333)
The winds of change breezed over the Blaine school district as long-time board member Mike Dodd was unseated by challenger Laura McKinney. Joan Lotze ran unopposed and will remain as school board director, District 3.
Countywide, the measure to increase the sales tax to finance a new jail went down to a solid defeat with 58 percent No votes.
County council at large, Position A incumbent Barry Buchanan is running slightly ahead of challenger Mary Kay Robinson with 52 percent of the vote while Rud Browne and Todd Donovan cruised to easy victories with 82 and 65 percent of the vote against respective challengers Philip Morgan and Amy Glasser. The remaining council race for District 3 was won handily by Tyler Byrd over Rebecca Boonstra with 54 percent of the vote.
The two Port of Bellingham commission races were still in the neighborhood after the third count: At 51 versus 48.9 percent, Michael Shepard has a slim 1,220 vote lead over incumbent Dan Robbins in District 1. In District 2, Ken Bell ran at 51.24 percent and a 1,451-vote lead over Barry Wenger.
Further afield, Democrat Manka Dhingra held a solid 55 percent of the votes in the Washington 45th District state senate race over Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund. Should Dhingra prevail, the Republicans will lose their current one-seat majority senate and control will flip over to the Democrats. Washington Democrats will then join their Oregon and California counterparts with one-party rule in the governors’ offices and both legislative houses.
In Seattle, Jenny Durkan received 61 percent of the vote to defeat Cary Moon in the city’s mayoral race making her the first woman mayor since 1926.
The county election office will be updating results daily at 5 p.m. To view the latest results, go to bit.ly/2zvgKqt.