Primary election narrows race toward November ballot

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Tuesday’s primary election trimmed the cluttered field in some races and provided candidates with a poll of their popularity for others as they head to the general election on Nov. 7.

Washington’s election laws have the top two vote-getters in the primary moving on to the general election regardless of their political party affiliation. Primary races with just two candidates automatically move both candidates to the general election.

Pierce County Auditor’s Elections Department will release more ballot counts periodically until the election is certified on Aug. 14, but the all-mail nature of the election makes it unlikely for results to change more than a few percentage points. Voter turnout was just 13 percent county wide.

The most watched local race was the three-way race to be Tacoma’s mayor among former City Councilmember Victoria Woodards, architect Jim Merritt and former state Public Disclosure Commission Director Evelyn Lopez. Early results on Wednesday showed that Merritt has a strong lead with 42 percent of the vote, followed by Woodards’ 36 percent. Lopez would have to overcome Woodards’ 11-point lead of 2,000 votes to move on to the general election. Mayor Marilyn Strickland is term-limited from seeking another term.

Catherine Ushka leads the pack for the City Council’s District 4, which represents the city’s Eastside neighborhood. Her 47 percent of the vote leads contender Kevin Grossman’s 35 percent by 12 percentage points. Both seem certain to face each other in the general election since Shalisa Hayes received just 19 percent of the vote, 416 votes, the three-way race for the open seat left by Marty Campbell, who is term-limited from seeking reelection.

The five-candidate race for City Council’s South Tacoma District 5 seems the most decisive race, with Chris Beale leading the pack with 35 percent followed by Brian Arnold’s 31 percent. The next closest contender is Janis Clark with 15 percent, followed by Justin Van Dyk’s 13 percent. Joanne Babic trailed the race with just 6 percent. The race is for an open seat since City Councilmember Joe Lonergan is term-limited from seeking another term.

The five-way race for City Council’s at-large Pos. 6 seat has Lillian Hunter with a strong lead of 40 percent, followed by Meredith Neal’s distant second showing of 26 percent. Gregory Chistopher received 16 percent. Sarah Morken received 9 percent, while Maria Johnson gained 9 percent even after announcing late last month that she was withdrawing from the race. Woodards had resigned from the position last year to concentrate on her mayoral campaign, so the City Council appointed Lauren Walker Lee to finish out the term. She had vowed to not campaign for the position.

Eric Holdeman and John McCarthy are primed to face each other in November for Port of Tacoma Commissioner Pos. 1, with McCarthy receiving 48 percent of the vote to Holdeman’s 31 in early returns. Jim Jensen received 21 percent of the vote in this three-way race even after he withdrew from the race in June following several controversial posts on social media. He withdrew from the race after the late May ballot deadline, so his name remained on the ballot. The seat is currently held by Connie Bacon, who did not seek reelection after serving on the commission for two decades.

Andrea Smith has a strong lead of 69 percent of the vote for Metropolitan Parks District of Tacoma Commission Pos. 4, followed by Stephanie Smith’s 21 percent. Rounding out the race was Cat Henderson, who received 11 percent and is unlikely to move on to the general election in future ballot counts.

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