THIS CANDIDATE'S A WINNER – Marlys Baker (right) checked election results at the Skagit County auditor's office as soon as they were available Nov. 5. The La Conner School District Director candidate brought along Leslie McDonald, left, and Casandra Gonzalez for support. Baker has increased her lead with every vote count update. Skagit County will certify ballot results by Nov. 26. Baker will be sworn in at the December board meeting. John Agen will join her if he also wins. – Photo by Ken Stern
This corrects and updates the Nov. 6 election story which incorrectly stated all votes had been counted in the La Conner school board elections.
Newcomer Marlys Baker will defeat Board Chair Janie Beasley for La Conner School Board Director and John Agen is posed to take Kate Szurek’s Director seat. Tuesday’s ballot count update shows a turnout over 50% higher than the 2015 school board election.
With 800 votes to be counted countywide, Baker has 67% of the vote, steadily increasing her lead since election night. Szurek has reduced the percentage by which Agen leads her, but he has increased his advantage over her to 187 votes.
Tuesday afternoon Deputy Auditor and Elections Supervisor David Cunningham could not say where in the county the remaining votes were located or how many votes needed to be counted from the La Conner school district precincts.
Agen is the probable winner. In 2016, 3,552 people voted in the school district precincts for president, when the countywide turnout was 80%. Total turnout this year is 47%. If 50% of school district voters cast ballots, another 400 votes may remain. Szurek would have to receive 75% of that large a pool of outstanding votes to win. There is no indication that the remaining votes will break toward her.
This is a high estimate and the final voter count in the school district is unknown.
Agen and Szurek have totaled 1,756 votes and Baker and Beasley have brought in 1,682 votes, showing the high interest the community has in the turmoil between staff and Superintendent Whitney Meissner. Beasley and Szurek are Meissner’s strongest board supporters. Agen has explicitly voiced his desire for changing the dynamic between administration and staff. Baker has said she has not made any decision about Meissner, but many in the school district view her as an alternative to Beasley, who has been on the school board for 15 years.
In 2015 Rick Thompson won with 1,148 votes.
For certain: Ramon Hayes has been reelected La Conner’s mayor with 312 votes so far. Returning to Council are Mary Wohleb, with 261 votes to date and Jacques Brunisholz, 245 votes. All ran unopposed.
Fire District 13 Commissioner Bruce Shellhamer won election to the seat he was appointed to in 2017. Garth Frazer ran unopposed and won election to the Fire District 12 (Bay View) position 1 commissioner position he was appointed to in 2017. Rolla (Skip) Ritchey, also unopposed for the Fire District 2 (McLean Road) position 1 commissioner, won.
In the contested Fire District 3’s (Conway) commissioners races, Steve Boon has over 69% of the vote against Edward Kemper for position 1 commissioner and Matthew Stratton will win the commissioner 3 position. On Nov. 8 he had almost 65% of the vote.
In interesting area races, for Hamilton mayor, challenger Carla Vandiver leads incumbent Joan Cromwell 47 votes to 33. In the Hamilton’s Position 2 town council contest, Travis Patrick leads by two votes over Theresa Boots.
Liz Lovelett will be elected to the senate district 40 seat she has held by appointment this year, defeating Daniel Miller in the heavily Democratic three county district. She has 71% of the overall vote, though only 58% in Skagit County. Less than 1,000 votes remain to be counted districtwide. Skagit County has 800 ballots not counted.
Cunningham believes that after Nov. 19, when the canvassing board meets to adjudicate questionable ballots, few uncounted ballots will remain. The County will certify its votes on the Nov. 26 deadline set by state law.
This was the first general election with a statewide election management system, VoteWA, and the new same day voter registration law.