Recount ratifies Orr’s mayoral win

After two full days, recounts did not amend results in any races; Wills wins OS council race

Douglas Orr can finally claim victory in the Aberdeen mayor’s race.

He had to wait until one month after election day, through several ballot counts in which his lead never eclipsed eight votes, and a manual ballot recount that took two days to affirm his four-vote margin over Debi Ann Pieraccini.

“Now that it’s over, I’m happy that I won, even if it was a small margin,” Orr said Thursday evening after receiving news of the recount results.

The final tally for the Aberdeen mayor’s race leaves Orr with 1,363 votes (49.55%) and Pieraccini with 1,359 votes (49.4%).

That’s where the vote tally stood after election certification day on Nov. 28. State law requires recounts for races where less than 0.5% of votes separate two candidates, and manual recounts for less than 0.25%.

“I truly expected it to be the same result, but I’m glad they did the hand count,” Pieraccini said Thursday evening. “Every single vote counts. I just can’t stress that enough.”

The recounts for three races began on Wednesday morning in Montesano. The results of a Cosmopolis City Council race were confirmed that same day, but recounts for Aberdeen mayor and Ocean Shores City Council were postponed until Thursday morning and didn’t finish up until early evening. Results will be officially certified on Friday.

Recounts confirmed Richard Wills’ single-vote victory over Peggy Jo Faria in the race for Position 6 on the Ocean Shores City Council. Wills defeated Faria, 1,740 to 1,739 votes — a margin of 49.9% to 49.87%. He retains the seat after his appointment in 2022.

“What that signals to me as a council member is that both sides have a very legitimate point of view,” Wills said. “It indicates just how even the voice of both sides of the aisle are in our community.”

Faria said she was happy to have met many people during her time campaigning.

Wills commended the election’s office staff after completing the recounts. He and Faria, along with representatives from the Grays Harbor County Republican Party, attended much of the two-day process, which took about 16 hours of work. About half of that time was spent picking out ballots from Aberdeen, Ocean Shores and Cosmopolis from all 16,000 ballots countywide, and sorting them into precincts.

“It is a very tedious task to go through each individual ballot, from sorting them to getting to a point of verifying them at every portion of the count,” Grays Harbor County Auditor Joe Maclean said following Thursday’s recount.

Despite winning the election, Orr bested Pieraccini in only five out of 15 precincts in Aberdeen. Orr fared the best in neighboring precincts to the east, winning handsomely in the Bel Aire and Broadway Hills neighborhoods, and east of the Wishkah River. Pieraccini excelled in areas of west Aberdeen, downtown, and south Aberdeen.

Election night results on Nov. 7 left Orr with a two-vote margin over Pieraccini. After a third ballot count on Nov. 15, Orr held an eight-vote lead over Pieraccini, but over the next several weeks, a handful of previously-rejected ballots were cured, and cut Orr’s lead to four, triggering the recount.

It’s rare for either method of recount to change the results of an election. According to the secretary of state’s office, from 2007 to 2018 there were 124 mandatory recounts in Washington state. Six of those — or about 5% — changed the outcome of the race.

Contact reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or