PORT TOWNSEND — There were two clear winners in the top-two primary election race for the District 1 seat on the Jefferson County commission in early results of the primary election.
Democrat Kate Dean won 61.57 percent of the votes and fellow Democrat Tim Thomas won 20.13 percent of the votes in the initial count Tuesday.
“It’s larger margin than I expected,” said Dean, who garnered 1,777 votes to Thomas’ 581 votes. “It feels good to know my message is accepted and supported by so many people.”
The two led in the top-two primary race that narrows the field to the two candidates who received the most votes. Those two advance to the November general election regardless of party affiliation.
The other two contenders in the race each received slightly more than 8 percent of the vote. Jeff Gallant, a Republican, took 239 votes, or 8.28 percent, while Cynthia Koan, a Democrat, won 235 votes, or 8.14 percent.
Holly Postmus, who filed with no party preference, withdrew from the race last month, too late to have her name removed from the ballot. She won 54 votes, or 1.87 percent.
All candidates are from Port Townsend.
Dean is making plans for general election campaigning.
“I think the second part of this race will be tricky,” she said. “The issues in the county are very different than in town.
I’ve got a strong base (in Port Townsend), but now I’ve got to get out to the county.”
Dean, 41, of Port Townsend, is the manager of the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation &Development Council.
Thomas, 45, of Port Townsend, is a member of the county’s Parks and Recreation Board. He unsuccessfully challenged District 2 Commissioner David Sullivan in 2012.
Thomas said he wasn’t surprised by Dean’s lead, saying she “had a pretty good hold on Port Townsend.”
What surprised Thomas was what he called a low voter turnout.
On Tuesday, the county auditor’s office reported a 35.93 percent voter turnout, based on the ballots that had already been counted.
“I figured Port Townsend is usually good for 55 to 60 percent turnout in the primary,” he said. “(Thirty-six percent) was pretty low.”
With the candidate pool now narrowed from five to two, Thomas believes it will now be easier to get his message to voters.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said. “We’re trying to gather things up and get ready for the next three months.
“It’s a little more busy in the second half of the election cycle,” he said.
Voter turnout jumped Wednesday up to 47.67 percent after the county received an additional 2,774 ballots in the mail.
The rest of the ballots will be counted on Friday.
Several races on the primary ballot were “beauty contests,” meaning they were between only two candidates, and no matter what the primary outcome, both will be on the November ballot.
For more information on election outcomes, see the Jefferson County Auditor’s website at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-jeffcoprimary and the Washington Secretary of State website at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-primaryresults.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.