From Ocean Shores to Oakville, the 2023 General Election featured eight school board races across the county.
Races for seats on Ocean Shores’ North Beach School District garnered some of the highest vote totals of any of the contested races in Grays Harbor County, with roughly 1,900 ballots cast for each.
North Beach School Board, District 1
Incumbent Jeff Albertson has a sizeable lead over challenger Rickie Day in the race for District 1 director on the North Beach School Board, garnering 68% of votes. He leads Day by 675 votes.
“I’m encouraged by the first round of results and believe they will hold up as elections officials count every last vote,” Albertson said in an email statement Wednesday morning. “I’m thankful to Rickie Day for seeking this office, giving voters a choice, and for running such an honorable and dignified campaign. It’s been great to see the strong interest (from both candidates and voters) in our three North Beach school board races this year. We have a lot of work to do, so I’m moving forward on the next steps with our board, superintendent, and stakeholders to craft a strategic plan for the district focused on improving academic outcomes and strengthening the NBSD as an institution.”
After surviving the August primary election Day received 32% of the vote Tuesday evening.
“As a first-time person coming back into the arena to help people, and their voice be heard throughout our election arena, I’m impressed that I got so many people understanding where our foundation is based on and would like it to remain,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
North Beach School Board, District 4
The race for District 4 director is closer, as Joe Lomedico holds a 76-vote lead over Halvar Olstead.
“It’s really close,” Lomedico said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s been a good race between Halvar and I. I hope that we win and get this, but either way I think the district will be in good hands.”
Fewer than 4% points separate the candidates, with a majority, 52%, voting for Lomedico and 48% voting for Olstead.
“It’s not over ‘til it’s over,” Olstead said Wednesday. “They have another vote tally coming Thursday, so we’ll see what happens,” he said, noting that voter turnout was slightly higher, at 1,933 votes, than the other two races for North Beach School Board.
North Beach School Board, District 5
In the race for District 5 director, incumbent Robert Doering is trailing Susan Rogers by nearly 300 votes and 15% points. However, Rogers told The Daily World last month that she recently accepted a teaching job within the North Beach School District, and, given that district policy prevents board members from holding jobs within the district, she would not accept the school board position if elected.
McCleary School Board
Incumbent Tom Moonan is leading Melissa Ashlock in the lone contested race for McCleary School Board, the District 3 director. The gap is constituted by 31 votes and 10% points, with Moonan garnering 55% of votes.
Neither Moonan nor Ashlock responded to The Daily World’s request for comment by press time Wednesday.
Taholah School Board
The race for Position 1 on the Taholah School Board remains tight after initial ballot counts, with incumbent Jacob James currently edging Richie Underwood by only one vote, 28-27.
James, the current school board president, did not respond to The Daily World’s request for comment by press time.
Underwood, a former Quinault Indian Nation tribal council member, said Wednesday morning he felt optimistic about the first ballot count and was looking forward to further tabulations.
“I’ve helped a lot of people in this community,” he said. “I’m just going on my own character.”
Oakville School Board
The race for the District 3 seat on the Oakville School Board is the only contested race of five seats up for election this year. As of Tuesday’s election, Elizabeth Logan Brockman has garnered 94 votes, while 95 voters have opted for the “write-in” candidate category.
Liz Marriot declared official write-in candidacy for the seat earlier this year, according to Grays Harbor County Auditor Joe Maclean. He said it’s still undetermined how many of the write-in ballots may have listed Marriott’s name and how many might have listed otherwise. The auditor’s office will have to examine each ballot to determine that fact, a process likely to take up to a week.
North River School Board
In the North River School Board’s lone contested race, incumbent and 17-year school board veteran James Banas has garnered about 60% of the vote and leads Jan McDonald by nine votes. With a total of 43 ballots from both Pacific and Grays Harbor counties tabulated in the race, results from those two jurisdictions are essentially reversed, with three quarters of Pacific voters favoring McDonald and the same proportion of Grays Harbor voters favoring Banas.
Banas did not respond to The Daily World’s requests for comment Wednesday. McDonald did not provide contact info through the Grays Harbor County Auditor’s Office and could not be reached for comment.