Initial count finds slight lead of Neupert over Hayden in Clallam County District Court 1 race

PORT ANGELES — Dave Neupert was leading Suzanne Hayden by 3 percentage points Tuesday in their race to replace long-time Clallam County District Court 1 Judge Rick Porter.

Neupert had 10,119 votes to Hayden’s 9,520 votes — a 51.53 percent to 48.47 percent margin — after the Clallam County Auditor’s office counted general election ballots Tuesday.

Neupert, a Peninsula Housing Authority attorney and District Court 1 judge pro tem, said he was pleased with the early returns, noting that the Clallam County Auditor’s Office will count more ballots by 4:30 p.m. Friday.

“I wouldn’t expect any seismic shifts between now and then, but we’ll certainly let the results speak for themselves,” Neupert said in a Wednesday interview.

Hayden, a Clallam Public Defender attorney, remained hopeful that the late-arriving ballots would turn the tide in her favor.

“I always knew that it was going to be close,” Hayden said. “It could certainly go either way.”

The Auditor’s Office estimated there were 7,000 ballots to be tabulated countywide.

Neupert was leading by 599 votes on election night.

Most of the remaining ballots will come from the 60 precincts within District Court 1 jurisdiction.

District Court 1 covers the more populated east and central sections of Clallam County from Blyn to the west side of Lake Crescent. Both candidates live in Port Angeles.

Hayden said she performed well in the precincts where she walked door-to-door in her campaign.

“It just depends on where the vote comes from,” Hayden said of the remaining ballots.

Neupert said he felt positive about the outlook Wednesday.

“It’s been a positive campaign,” Neupert added.

“I feel like I’ve connected with the voters, and I feel that the numbers so far show that.”

Neupert, 63, and Hayden, 62, each have more than two decades of experience working in the Clallam County court system.

Porter did not seek a re-election for a fifth four-year term.

The District Court judge has jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic infractions and small claims civil matters.

The nonpartisan position pays $164,313 per year, not including benefits.

In 2018, the District Court 1 budget was $809,455 and paid for eight full-time employees.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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