PORT ANGELES — Martha Cunningham was leading two other candidates, one of whom has moved out of state, in the race for Port Angeles City Council Position 7 on Wednesday.
Just six votes separated Brendan Meyer and Tara Martin Lopez in a race for second place after the Clallam County Auditor’s Office processed a second batch of primary election ballots late Wednesday afternoon.
The top-two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the Nov. 5 general election, regardless of whether they are campaigning.
Lopez dropped out of the race last month to move back to New Mexico after her name was affixed to the primary ballot. She withdrew too late to have her name removed from the ballot and if she is voted into the top two in the primary, her name will be on the November ballot, said Clallam County Auditor Shoona Riggs.
Riggs added that if the difference between Meyer’s and Lopez’ votes remained as slim as it was on Wednesday, then an automatic recount would go into effect.
Cunningham had 779 votes after the second ballot count. Meyer had 563 votes and Lopez had 557 votes.
Clallam County elections officials planned to count more late-arriving ballots by 4:30 p.m. today.
The Auditor’s Office estimated there were 2,274 remaining ballots left to tabulate countywide. Only voters within the Port Angeles city limits cast a vote for City Council.
Cunningham, 67, and Meyer, 35, are running for the City Council seat being vacated by former mayor and three-term council member Cherie Kidd.
Lopez, 42, trailed Meyer by 20 votes Tuesday night and gained ground Wednesday.
“I’m interested in seeing who I will be running against,” Cunningham said before the second count.
“I was surprised at how many people voted for Tara. She’s not even living in the state anymore. It’s kind of strange.”
Lopez did not provide a phone number for the Peninsula Daily News voter guide.
“I tried to do my best to get out there and let people know that Tara was out of the race,” Meyer said Wednesday.
“It’s unfortunate that Tara dropped out when she did.”
Cunningham had a 40.8 percent share of the primary vote after the second ballot count. Meyer had 29.5 percent and Lopez had 29.2 percent.
Cunningham said her campaign message would continue to be “finding better paying jobs, making the city more attractive to people that want to bring in small businesses or new businesses, then, of course, the drug addiction problem and the lack of housing.”
Cunningham is a freelance editor and substitute teacher.
Meyer is a media marketer and consultant.
Lopez is a former Peninsula College sociology professor.
Lopez announced in a July 10 email that she was moving back to New Mexico for a job opportunity.
Clallam County Elections Supervisor Becky Pettigrew has said if Lopez wins the general election, she would have to resign if she did not want to serve.
Meanwhile, Charlie McCaughan and Doc Robinson advanced to the general election in the race for the Position 5 City Council seat being vacated by Michael Merideth.
Nina Napiontek and Navarra Carr were uncontested in the primary and will race in the general election for Mayor Sissi Bruch’s Position 6 seat.
The three new council members will join four second-year members who took office in January 2018.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].