PORT ANGELES — Mike French was leading after the second ballot count in his attempt to unseat District 3 County Commissioner Bill Peach, but both candidates said early Wednesday, before the second count, that more ballot counts were needed to determine the final outcome.
French, a Democrat and a Port Angeles City Council member, had 53.4 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s early returns to Beaver resident Peach’s 46.3 percent.
Wednesday’s update, announced at 4:43 p.m., came in with 14,827 votes, or 52.94 percent for French, and 13,151 votes, or 46.96 percent for Peach, with 13,000 ballots still on hand to count. The next count will be today.
Earlier in the day, both candidates were cautious in their assessments.
“I’m cautiously optimistic at this point,” French said in an email. “I’ll be checking in on today’s count (and maybe tomorrow’s, depending on what today’s numbers look like) before I assume anything.”
Peach described the race as close.
“Clallam is a purple county. I’m still interested in seeing the results of the West End ballots. I’m not sure all of them have been processed yet.”
Peach was asked if his having been charged Oct. 29 with driving under the influence of alcohol the night of Oct. 25 might have affected election results.
“It’s possible,” he said. “But again, the issue that I see is what the turnout is going to be from the West End, and I don’t know if those ballots have processed.”
At the Oct. 29 hearing, where the judge entered a not-guilty plea on Peach’s behalf, court documents said his blood alcohol content was measured at 0.206 when he was arrested. The case is being handled by Jefferson County to avoid a conflict of interest.
Peach is next due in court on Dec. 8 for a pre-trial hearing.
French said later in a phone interview: “I really don’t know and that’s not really been the focus of our campaign, the personal stuff. We focused on the issues. And I don’t want to say anything until after tonight’s count. Obviously we hope we will extend our lead, but we will keep watching.
“I’m proud of our campaign,” French had said in an email. “It was a positive campaign about the issues. Neither candidate slung mud or made unsubstantiated claims about the other, and both campaigns raised and spent a reasonable amount of money to get their message out.
“Our campaign focused on long-term strategies to increase housing options for all of our neighbors at all economic levels, and hopefully that message got through to the voters and will carry us to victory. But for now, I’m still waiting for more ballots to be counted.”
Peach, 67, is seeking a third term after defeating two-term Port Angeles City Councilwoman Sissi Bruch in 2014 and former Clallam County commissioner Mike Doherty in 2018.
He is a retired regional manager for Rayonier Inc. and has served as a Quillayute Valley Parks and Recreation District commissioner.
French, 40, lives in Port Angeles and has owned and operated the First Street Haven Restaurant in downtown Port Angeles for more than a decade. He was elected to a second term on the Port Angeles City Council in 2021.
In 2020, voters changed the county charter so the entire county votes for a commissioner, not just those in the commissioner’s district.