Familiar faces poised to win county races

Less than 2,000 ballots remain uncounted according to election officials

More than a week after Election Day, Grays Harbor voters are finally receiving answers regarding the results of county-wide election races and levy measures.

The Grays Harbor County Auditor’s Office released an updated ballot count Wednesday, Nov. 16 with the inclusion of 8,609 ballots, sending the total number of ballots counted in Grays Harbor to 27,222.

Joe MacLean, who serves as the Grays Harbor County Auditor, said most of the ballots are now counted.

“We’ve got between 1,800 and 2,000 ballots remaining to be counted but that’s also not including ballots that were flagged for no match, no signature or deemed as rejected,” MacLean said. “Our office doesn’t call any races, but voters should have an indication as to who is going to win.”

MacLean said less than 300 ballots combined were categorized as being either “no match” or “no signature.” While he didn’t have an exact number of rejected ballots, MacLean stated it was less than a couple of dozen.

Although the county has until Nov. 29 to certify the election results, below are the projected winners of each race.

Grays Harbor County Commissioner District 3

In perhaps the most notable county-level race in Grays Harbor, incumbent nonpartisan candidate Vickie Raines is projected to win reelection for Grays Harbor County Commissioner District 3 against Republican challenger Lisa Zaborac. Raines, who is set to secure her third term as county commissioner, currently holds a 1,686-vote lead over Zaborac. While the race has tightened since the last ballot count on Nov. 10, Zaborac has not closed the vote gap enough to give the indication she could surpass Raines.

Grays Harbor Coroner

A new coroner is coming to town. In a race that went under the radar, for the most part, nonpartisan challenger George J. Kelly will defeat incumbent Democrat Bob Kegel. Compared to the Nov. 10 ballot count, the race widened in Kelly’s favor, giving him a 5,533-vote lead over Kegel in the total count. Kegel, who was vying for his second term as coroner, failed to beat Kelly in the August primary but chalked the loss up to a failure of submitting information in the local voter’s pamphlet. Kegel has a notable background in law enforcement, serving nearly four decades in the Aberdeen Police Department before being elected coroner in 2018.

Grays Harbor Sheriff

Darrin Wallace, the chief investigations deputy for Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, will have a new title – Sheriff. Wallace is set to defeat Michael Catlett, the former Brier police chief, in the race for Grays Harbor Sheriff. In the only contested race to receive the least number of total votes from Grays Harbor voters, Wallace holds an 11,682-vote lead over Catlett, the largest margin of victory for any county-level candidate facing an opponent. Wallace jumped out to a fast lead in the first ballot count released on Election Day and never looked back.

Although Catlett failed to beat Wallace in the August primary election, he has alleged that there is a “concerted effort to prevent him from being elected” as stated in his pending ligation against the city of Elma and the city of Aberdeen due to accusations of illegal political endorsements by city officials.

Grays Harbor Assessor

Incumbent Democrat Dan Lindgren is projected to defeat Republican challenger Rick Hole in the race for Grays Harbor Assessor. Although Lindgren, who is set to secure his third term as Assessor, currently holds a 1,253-vote lead, Hole has not closed the gap enough to indicate he will surpass Lindgren in the total vote. Lindgren’s lead shrank by a little more than 300 votes over the course of more than 8,000 ballots being counted. Hole, who served as the Grays Harbor Assessor from 2011 through 2014, was vying to retake the position after being defeated by Lindgren in the 2014 general election.

Grays Harbor District Court 1

Although nearly all the judicial-based races were uncontested, Grays Harbor voters did have an opportunity to decide in a contested race which candidate would fulfill a local judge position. Andrea Vingo will defeat Geoff Arnold in the race for Grays Harbor District Court 1. Vingo currently holds a 1,916-vote lead over Arnold despite county data showing that more than 5,000 voters didn’t vote for any candidate for the position.

Grays Harbor levies

While votes are still being counted from eligible precincts, it is projected that the North Beach School District levy and the city of Ocean Shores Public Safety Facility bond will fail as the “no” votes currently lead by 317 votes and 692 votes, respectively.

It is projected that Fire Protection District 17 property tax levy will pass as the measure currently holds more than 56% of the voter’s support in the district.

The only levy that remains too close to be called is the McCleary School District educational programs and operations levy. Although the measure currently has more than 53% of the voter’s support, it is unknown how many votes remain from the eligible precincts within the district according to MacLean.

Next ballot count

The Grays Harbor County Auditor’s Office is scheduled to release its next ballot count on Monday, Nov. 21, with a final ballot count set to occur on Nov. 29, when Washington is required to certify its election results state-wide.