First-time Republican candidate Jill Warne has defeated Democratic opponent Jamie Nichols in the race for Grays Harbor County Commissioner Seat 1.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Warne said after the first count was released shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday. “We’re all happy.”
Warne garnered 15,014 votes, good for 53.9% to Nichols’ 12,830 votes (46.06%). More ballots will be counted in coming days, but Nichols is unlikely to make up the difference.
As to what she felt resonated with voters, Warne stated her tough stance on the hot-button topic of the needle exchange program was key.
“The biggest thing people agreed with us on was to stop handing out multiple needles to addicts,” she said. “It’s not one-for-one like it is supposed to be and that fired a lot of people up.”
Warne’s victory, along with other local GOP victories followed a trend seen in August’s primary election and have turned a once reliable blue 19th District to a deep shade of red.
Warne turned many heads when she beat out four others to win August’s primary with over 55% of the vote as a first-time candidate. An Elma-based real-estate agent for over 30 years, Warne ran on a campaign on fixing what she stated is a broken needle exchange program, which caused her to get into politics in the first place.
She also ran on a pro-small business platform that stressed getting people back to work and opening local businesses to where they can be fully profitable.
“Small and local businesses are hurting. People need to be able to live their life and get back to work,” she said at a local GOP rally in September. “People that are health-compromised need to protect themselves, but healthy people need to live and move on.”
For Nichols, it was her second bid at filling the county seat, having lost to West Cormier in 2016. The current Grays Harbor Democratic Central Committee Chair who is active in the community, sitting on multiple local boards, ran on a platform of bridging the gaps of the current political divide.
“I want to bring some sort of connection with our neighbors and our politicians and more transparent elected officials that have the time to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on, what are your concerns?’” she told The Daily World back in July. “It doesn’t matter what party you’re part of, every concern in Grays Harbor County needs to be addressed.”
While Warne took a stern position on issues such as the controversial needle exchange program and homeless issues, Nichols took a different approach. She stated in July that the issue of homelessness is “multi-faceted” and that while she didn’t necessarily like the needle exchange program, that “it comes down to is it is a public health issue and if we aren’t following state (law) the county is looking at a lawsuit.”