PORT TOWNSEND — Incumbent Greg Brotherton, a Democrat, and Republican Marcia Kelbon are destined to face off in the Nov. 8 general election for the Jefferson County Commissioner District 3 seat.
Brotherton received 1,981 votes, or 56.21 percent, in Tuesday’s primary election, after the initial count in the all-mail election that night. Kelbon, a retired chemical engineer and licensed lawyer, received 1,111 votes, or 31.53 percent.
Jon Cooke, former chair of the county Republican party and now a state committeeman, received 429 votes, or 12.17 percent.
All three candidates are from Quilcene.
The Jefferson County Auditor’s Office had said it would complete a second count of ballots on Wednesday but did not update its website by 5 p.m., so the PDN is using Tuesday night’s figures.
In Washington’s top-two primary system, the two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary election qualify for the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Brotherton said he and his team were pleased with the outcome and had started looking ahead to the fall campaign.
“There was a goal of getting a majority of District 3 votes, and I’m really happy that it looks like we hit that,” Brotherton said Wednesday. “We need to turn our attention to the whole county now and reaching out in Districts 1 and 2.”
Kelbon also was happy with her showing.
“I thought we did really well against an incumbent and a Republican challenger who split the vote,” said Kelbon, who most recently served as general counsel for, and as a senior executive of, Omeros, a Seattle-based biotechnology company.
There are 27,410 registered voters in Jefferson County, and the auditor’s office has counted 10,906 ballots so far with 561 ballots left to count. Jefferson’s voter turnout was 39.79 percent Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Clallam County reported a voter turnout of 36.29 percent and the state reported a 24.83 percent turnout.
District 3 covers west and much of south Jefferson County and includes Gardiner, Discovery Bay, Quilcene, Brinnon and Port Ludlow.
Brotherton and Kelbon singled out housing and homelessness as the top concerns of voters in the primary election and predicted this wouldn’t change in the general election.
The two issues are related, Brotherton said.
“All of the steps in the housing continuum are broken and releasing pressure on any of them is going to help,” Brotherton said, whether it’s 7th Haven (an Olympic Community Action Programs housing project) opening up 43 units to the homeless and the very poor or regulatory reform making it easier for developing infrastructure for a second urban growth area.”
Kelbon said Jefferson County’s complicated permitting process and other policies have contributed to the shortage of affordable housing and that subsidized housing was not a solution.
“We need to remove regulatory barriers to building and lift the moratorium on older platted lots and increase the supply of rentals and starter homes and multi-family homes,” she said.
Kelbon said her campaign also will focus on the importance of developing policies and finding solutions to avoid a “Seattle-esque” homeless situation, and strategies for attracting and supporting businesses that provide real living-wage jobs.
Although he is the incumbent, Brotherton said 1,600 registered voters have been added to District 3 since he was first elected to the three-member Board of Commissioners in 2018, and he wants to reach out to them.
“People might not have been tracking my work,” he said. “So I need to state clearly those things that I have done and things that I bring to the commissioner’s role.”