Grays Harbor News Group
The incumbent mayors of Grays Harbor County’s three largest cities are all training in the polls after the first round of ballots were counted Tuesday night.
The closest race is in Ocean Shores, where challenger Susan Conniry holds 30-vote lead over incumbent Mayor Crystal Dingler.
The County Auditor’s office plans to release updated vote counts by 5 p.m. Friday.
Longtime Aberdeen City Councilman Pete Schave posted a substantial lead over incumbent Mayor Erik Larson after the first round of ballot counts Tuesday evening and appears well on his way to becoming the new mayor of Aberdeen.
Schave tallied 1,167 votes to Larson’s 959 and leads 54.56% to 44.83%. In Aberdeen, 2,168 ballots were returned, 22% of the 9,758 registered voters in the city.
“It looks good so far but it’s so early, you never know,” said Schave shortly after the numbers posted. “Everybody here has been shaking my hand and all that stuff, but I think it’s kind of premature.”
Larson, like Schave, knows it’s early and there are still a number of ballots to be counted, but acknowledged the early results point to a city on the verge of a change.
“The reality is it’s been a very hard-fought election,” he said. “My opponent definitely put a lot of effort into putting his ideas forward and at least from the results tonight that is what the City of Aberdeen has decided it wants to see.”
Larson continued: “There’s a lot of ballots to count, but right now it looks like he’ll be the new mayor come Jan. 1. It’s been an honor to serve the city the last four years, and even if I’m not in the position I still look forward to working hard for the city I live and work in.”
Hoquiam voters have given longtime City Councilman Ben Winkelman a big lead in the race for mayor against incumbent Jasmine Dickhoff.
After the first round of ballots were counted, Winkelman, an attorney and business owner, had 648 votes to Dickhoff’s 483, a lead of 57.04% to 42.52%. There were five write-in votes. In Hoquiam, 1,230 ballots were returned, 23% of the 5,443 registered voters in the city.
“I like those first numbers and appreciate all the support I got from the community,” said Winkelman, who was heading back from the Hoquiam Grizzlies’ girls district soccer game when he learned of the election results.
“It was fun to be there with family and friends and get the results on the drive back,” he said.
Dickhoff said she was “disappointed” with the results, but knew it would be a tough battle against her opponent.
“We’re just going to wait and see,” she said.
In the Ocean Shores mayoral race, challenger Susan Conniry holds a 30-vote lead over two-term incumbent Crystal Dingler. Conniry, who was elected to the City Council in 2017 after losing the 2015 mayoral contest to Dingler by 22 percentage points, tallied 1,086 votes to Dingler’s 1,056. A total of 2,155 votes have been counted so far in the race.
Conniry said, “I don’t think there’s much of a story here at the moment other than I’m ahead. The enthusiasm here is high, and people believe as more results come in there will be a greater spread. I’m tired but I am pleased.”
“I’m pleased with where we are and I think we’ve got a good shot at it,” Dingler said. She noted that her campaign and her opponent’s each spent around $12,000 and commented, “I don’t know if there’s ever been that much money spent on an Ocean Shores campaign.”
“I want to thank all the people who voted and everyone who was out campaigning. I know my people worked very hard and I’m sure Susan’s did too. I think we’ve got to see what happens on Friday and maybe longer to see what’s going on.”
In the race to be Cosmopolis’ mayor, Councilman Kyle Pauley is leading former Councilman Steve Davis 255-166. That total reflects about one-third of the 1,149 ballots were mailed out.
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%.
With nearly 60 percent of the vote, Brenda Orffer looks to be headed to re-election as mayor of McCleary.
“I’m excited about the election results,” Orffer said. “The early count that I saw, I was in the lead. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the city of McCleary.”
Orffer is leading with 147 votes to challenger Jeffrey Prowse’s 99. Only 20 percent of the ballots from McCleary’s 1,223 registered voters had been counted as of Tuesday night.
“I still hold out hope that I may win this election, and I’m looking forward to serving the people of McCleary,” Prowse said. “And if I’m not elected, I look forward to serving the people however I can.”