PORT ANGELES — Mary Ellen Winborn will retain her seat as Clallam County Director of the Department of Community Development for another four years after Tuesday’s general election.
Winborn received 12,341 of the 19,772 votes, or 62.42 percent of the votes cast in the race, giving her a lead of nearly 25 percentage points over her challenger Julie Gardiner.
Gardiner received 7,431 votes in the initial count, or 37.85 percent of the vote.
“I could not do this by myself and those people in that department have worked themselves to death for the past four years,” Winborn said.
“I really do hand it to them. When people come into that office they are met with a smile and people try to help them.”
Gardiner did not return phone calls Wednesday.
Winborn said she didn’t know what to expect on election night and felt the election could go either way. She believes the vote shows that the public wants continuity in the office after seeing past turnover in DCD directors.
The next count of ballots in the all-mail election will be Friday.
Among the top issues in the campaign was how Winborn has handled an application for a 30,000-square-foot and 27-bathroom bed and breakfast along Sequim Bay.
She has determined it is actually a hotel — which is not allowed in that zone — and the developer sued the county. A third party will review the application.
Gardiner’s husband represented the developer of the project during earlier parts of the legal process.
“I know a lot of people saw the conflict of interest in the Sequim Bay project and they appreciated what I tried to do as far as that went,” Winborn said.
As Winborn gets ready for her second term, she said she wants to take a look at the Urban Growth Area east of Port Angeles, which she said could be zoned differently.
She said when it was originally zoned, the idea was that it would support “mom and pop” shops, but now it’s time to reinvent the area.
“It has just stayed stagnant,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for our county to look at that zoning. I’m excited to be able to that and do the vision like we need to do.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.