PORT TOWNSEND — Jon Cooke and Greg Brotherton have emerged as the general election contenders from a contested primary in the race for Jefferson County commissioner.
Cooke, a Republican, and Brotherton, a Democrat, were the clear front-runners Tuesday in a four-way battle for the District 3 commissioners’ seat now held by Democrat Kathleen Kler, who did not seek re-election.
Cooke had 1,382 votes to Brotherton’s 1,265 votes — or 37.45 percent to 34.28 percent — after the Jefferson County Auditor’s Office processed primary ballots in the initial count Tuesday.
Democrats Ryan McAllister and Craig Durgan were a distant third and fourth, respectively, with 702 votes, or 19.02 percent, and 341 votes, or 9.24 percent.
The Jefferson County Auditor’s Office will count a second batch of primary ballots today, Election Coordinator Betty Johnson said.
The Auditor’s Office had planned on Tuesday to have a second count Wednesday but it received a large number of ballots — more than 2,600 ballots — on Wednesday, so the second count was put off a day to allow staff to prepare the ballots, according to Johnson.
Only voters in District 3 cast ballots in the commissioners’ race. The top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the Nov. 6 countywide general election.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the results,” Cooke said when reached by cellphone Wednesday.
“There are a lot of people who put a lot of work into this, but there’s a lot of work that people put into the other campaigns, too.
“We’re happy with the results,” Cooke added, “and now the battle begins.”
District 3 includes Quilcene, Port Ludlow, Gardiner, Discovery Bay, Brinnon, Coyle and West Jefferson County.
“I’m grateful to have the support of so many voters in my home district, District 3,” Brotherton said Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to the next phase of the campaign and getting our message out there and to spread the word about making the county work for everyday people.”
Brotherton, 46, of Quilcene, is the principal owner of Discovery Bay Village Store, Disco Bay Detour and Sea Change Cannabis. He has served on the Quilcene School Board and plans to make affordable housing a top issue in the general election campaign.
Cooke, 59, also of Quilcene, is the chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He said he would continue to focus on the economy.
“We have communities that are struggling,” Cooke said. “We need to get the economy growing.”
Durgan, an engineer from Port Ludlow, said Wednesday he had not decided which candidate he would support in the general election.
When asked to comment on the primary results, Durgan said: “It is what it is.”
McAllister, a Brinnon resident who works as a health care professional in the Jefferson Healthcare emergency room, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Brotherton said he would work to earn the support of those who voted for Durgan or McAllister in the primary.
“I’m not going to take it for granted,” Brotherton said of the Democratic support, adding that he planned to campaign at the Jefferson County Fair in Port Townsend this weekend.
Cooke said it would be a “battle” to sway voters in District 1, which includes Port Townsend.
“If we can get District 3 and District 2 to come together, then I think we have a shot at it,” Cooke said.
Cooke, a Sunday School teacher at Calvary Community Church in Port Townsend, thanked his supporters and described his candidacy as “kind of a God thing.”
Elsewhere in Jefferson County, the following Democratic incumbents ran without opposition: Jeff Chapman, assessor; Rose Ann Carroll, auditor; county clerk, Ruth Gordon.
With 14,810 ballots returned Wednesday, voter turnout in Jefferson County was 59 percent.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].