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Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2011, 10:19 p.m.

Snohomish County Council members, Assessor easily win re-election

Expect the faces of Snohomish County government to remain familiar after this election, as least as far as the County Council or the Assessor's Office is concerned.
Early vote totals showed Councilman Brian Sullivan, a Democrat, well on his way to earning a second term. Fellow Democrat Stephanie Wright, who was appointed to her County Council seat last year, also led her Republican opponent by a sizeable margin. Incumbent Assessor Cindy Portmann, in a nonpartisan race, had a commanding 68 percent of the vote.
"That was really good news," Portmann said. "After a long 10 months of campaigning it feels very gratifying that people still want to keep me as assessor."
Voting in the all-mail election ended at 8 p.m. Tuesday. That was the deadline to drop off or postmark ballots.
The numbers released Tuesday night were expected to account for about half of the final turnout. The county elections office intends to release new totals daily until all ballots are tallied, a process that could last all week or longer.
Results in County Council's District 3 showed Wright with 10,982 votes and Republican Kathy Vaughn with 7,356, or nearly 60 percent of the votes to 40 percent.
"I'm feeling really grateful to the voters," Wright said. "Seeing the percentages, I think they'll hold."
Wright, 39, for more than a year has represented the council seat covering the areas of Lynnwood, Edmonds and Woodway. The County Council appointed her to fill the post after Mike Cooper left to become Edmonds mayor. Before that, the Democrat served on Lynnwood City Council and worked as a high school teacher and librarian.
Vaughn knew things weren't going in her favor, but she wasn't ready to concede.
"I'm hoping that we gain on her as they count votes," she said. "I have a long way to go to catch up, but I'm always hopeful."
Vaughn, 61, is serving her third term as a nonpartisan commissioner with the Snohomish County PUD. Vaughn, who is running as a Republican in the county race, also owns a mortgage company.
The race for the Council's District 2 tilted steeply in Sullivan's favor. The 53-year-old Democrat has enjoyed a long career in public service, with stints as a Mukilteo mayor, Mukilteo city councilman and state lawmaker.
Sullivan had 11,002 votes to Republican Glen Sayes' 5,430, giving the Democrat about two-thirds of the total.
Sayes, like Sullivan a Mukilteo resident, campaigned on bringing political diversity and a more pro-business environment to the five-member council, where four of the members are Democrats. Sayes, 61, is a professional photographer who closed down his studio early this year. He had a previous career selling high-end software to manufacturing companies.
The district includes the areas of Mukilteo and Everett. Starting in 2012, it will take in the Tulalip area as well.
In the race to lead the county Assessor's Office, votes tallied so far made Portmann almost a sure shot to keep her job. The wide margin surprised her.
"I think people believe that their assessments are fair and accurate," Portmann said. "We've done a lot of work to educate people on how our property tax system works."
Portmann, 55, of Snohomish, is running for a third term overseeing the county's property assessments and tax levies. She has worked in the office since the late 1980s.
Challenger Chris Vallo, 53, of Lake Stevens sought to capitalize on voter discontent over the county's assessed property values compared to what the properties would fetch on the open market. Vallo said he believed the assessments were too high, even taking into consideration the year or so that assessments, by design, trail the actual real estate market.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » County CouncilLocal elections

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