PORT ANGELES — Republican Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols on Wednesday was looking toward the future after voters on Election Night gave him an insurmountable lead in his bid for a second four-year term.
“A re-energized focus on all things mental health is something I am very interested in pursuing,” adding he wants to establish a mental health court in conjunction with area health providers.
Nichols, 46, of Port Angeles, had 12,765 votes, or 58 percent, of ballots cast compared to 9,176 votes, or 42 percent, for former Clallam County Treasurer Selinda Barkhuis, who filed with no party preference for the countywide seat. Barkhuis had financial backing from the county Democratic Central Committee.
The Auditor’s Office had counted 23,440 ballots of 52,674 mailed to voters as of Tuesday night for a 44.5 percent turnout and had 7,000 more ballots to count.
The next ballot count is by 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“I took the results as a vote of confidence in our community, especially in today’s information age,” Nichols said.
“I’m gratified that people took the time to critically research the candidates to focus on the facts and educate themselves, and I think that what came out of that was the results that we see.”
Nichols is being sued for alleged sexual harassment in federal court by a former office manager in a case set for trial Dec. 11.
Barkhuis, 56, of Port Angeles, had made the lawsuit a campaign issue, criticizing him regarding the claim at a June 26 primary election forum.
She did not attend any forums in the closing weeks of the election, part of which time she spent overseas.
Nichols said Barkhuis, a writer and nonpracticing attorney, also canceled her appearance at a Kiwanis-sponsored forum last week.
“I don’t have anything to share at this point about the election results,” Barkhuis said Tuesday in an email response to a request for an interview on the election results.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody who supported me in pursuing this challenge.”
Barkhuis won four of the county’s 67 precincts — Port Angeles 104, Cline 217, Miller Peninsula 246 and Neah Bay 252.
Nichols said his plans for 2019 include representing the county court cases, possibly in juvenile as well as district and superior courts, for up to 25 percent of his time.
“That’s work that I miss,” he said.
“Frankly, I’m excited about the prospect.”
Nichols far outraised Barkhuis in campaign funds, with $33,232 compared to $8,155 for Barkhuis, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission as of Tuesday.
He spent $27,032 to Barkhuis’ $7,805, according to the PDC.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].