Clallam County commissioner candidate Randy Johnson celebrates his early lead with his wife, Carol Johnson, on Election Night at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County commissioner candidate Randy Johnson celebrates his early lead with his wife, Carol Johnson, on Election Night at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Johnson, Coughenour lead in Clallam County races after early election returns

PORT ANGELES — Randy Johnson, who filed with no party preference, was defeating Democrat Ron Richards for the county board of commissioners seat now held by Mike Chapman in the initial count of general election ballots Tuesday night.

In a countywide race for the Clallam County Superior Judge, Position 2, sitting judge Brian Coughenour was leading Dave Neupert.

Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat, held a commanding lead against Port Ludlow Republican George Vrable for the state Legislative District 24, Position 1 seat in the House of Representatives, while incumbent Steve Tharinger, a Sequim Democrat, held a strong lead for a fourth term in the Position 2 seat in his contest against John Alger, 63, also of Sequim, who filed with a preference for the GOP/Independent Party.

Kevin Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat who now holds the Position 1 seat in the House of Representatives, was leading in the race with Danille Turissini of Port Ludlow, who filed as an Independent GOP member, for the Senate seat in the Legislative District 24, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and a portion of Grays Harbor County.

Incumbent Derek Kilmer, a Gig Harbor Democrat, also held a commanding lead in his bid for a third term representing the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula, against challenger Todd Bloom, a Tacoma Republican.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Seattle Democrat, was headed for a fifth term against challenger Chris Vance of Auburn, former chairman of the Washington State Republican Party.

A measure in the Forks Community Hospital district to increase the number of commissioners from three to five was passing Tuesday night and appeared headed for passage.

An advisory vote on banning the sale of fireworks in Sequim also showed a commanding lead in favor of prohibiting fireworks.

Two Clallam County Charter amendment proposals —one a housekeeping measure to update charter language concerning vacancies in public offices to conform to state law and the other a move to streamline the appeal process for a county employee who have been suspended or dismissed — appeared headed for passage.

Votes counted statewide stood at 1.1 million ballots, or 23 percent 4.3 million registered voters, by 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Clallam County Auditor counted 26,601 ballots, or 52.46 percent of the 50,940 provided registered voters, on Tuesday.

More than 3,400 signatures had been checked as of late Tuesday, and more ballots are expected to arrive, Auditor Shoona Riggs said.

Auditors offices statewide will do a post-election day audit of about 600 ballots, which will be reported by 4:30 p.m. today, Riggs said.

Another count is planned by 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Only those who live in Clallam County commissioner District 2 — the area from Agnew through central Port Angeles — voted in the race for the seat now held by Mike Chapman, who is running for a state Legislature seat. Voters in 2015 changed the general election race to a district-wide race only.

Richards, 71, a commercial fisherman, retired attorney and chemical engineer — served as Clallam County commissioner from 1977-81. Johnson, 73 — chairman and board member of Green Crow Inc., — has never held elective office.

Chapman, 53, was elected to the Clallam County board of commissioners as a Republican in 2000. He later became an Independent and then a Democrat. Vrable, 72, has never held elective office. He declined to attend League of Women Voter forums during the campaign.

Tharinger, 67, served three terms as a Clallam County commissioner from 2000-12. Alger, 63, is a retired Air Force officer who has never held elective office.

Van De Wege, 42, is in his fifth term in the House of Representatives, where he serves as majority whip.

Turissini, 58, is a former grassroots director of Family Policy Institute of Washington. She has never held elective office.

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Coughenour, 65, of Port Angeles to the Position 2 court seat — a seat that Neupert, 61, also of Port Angeles, had sought — in May 2015.

Kilmer, 42, is a Port Angeles native who served in Legislative District 26 as a representative and a senator before he was elected to the 6th Congressional District. Bloom has never held elective office.

Murray was originally elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. As well as serving as state GOP chairman from 2001-06, he served in the state House of Representatives from 1991-93.

Three races on the Clallam County ballot are uncontested. They are Erik Rohrer for Superior Court judge, Position 1; Christopher Melly for Clallam Superior Court judge, Position 3; and Will Purser for Clallam Public Utility District commissioner, District 1.

Clallam County election worker Colleen Hammond tapes shut the outdoor ballot box at 8 p.m. on Election Day as elections assistant Reneé Mizar collects ballots in front of the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County election worker Colleen Hammond tapes shut the outdoor ballot box at 8 p.m. on Election Day as elections assistant Reneé Mizar collects ballots in front of the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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