MUKILTEO — Incumbent David Chan was dominating in the race for commissioner in Snohomish County Fire District 1, with early results from Tuesday’s primary showing an apparent ability to overcome problems caused by his controversial comments earlier this year.
In a five-way contest to decide who will fill a commissioner’s seat, Chan had 43 percent in early returns.
In Snohomish, a candidate who helped change the city’s form of government last year was leading a field of four running for mayor. A Mukilteo aerospace executive trying for a City Council seat looks to be on his way to the Nov. 7 general election, but fell well short of the incumbent he was challenging.
The first batch of results included nearly 17 percent of the ballots issued in a primary election that’s expected to reach 24 or 25 percent turnout. Updated totals are expected around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Chan went into the primary steeped in controversy.
At a meeting of District 1 fire commissioners in March, Chan talked during a break about hiring paramedics from Mexico, unaware his microphone was on. Chan, who is an immigrant, refused calls to step down and denied any racist intent.
Michael Ellis of Lynnwood was ahead of Chan’s other challengers, with a distant 17.5 percent. He was followed by P. Bret Chiafalo of Lynnwood with 14.8 percent and Brandy Donaghy of Everett with 10.8 percent.
The district covers unincorporated south Snohomish County and contracts for service with several cities. It also shares firefighting management with Lynnwood.
This year, the district proposed a merger with the Lynnwood Fire Department. The measure was passing Tuesday by 54.4 percent.
Supporters of the measure want to create a new government body called a regional fire authority. The authority would collect its own taxes to provide fire protection and emergency medical care. Supporters said the move would streamline emergency services. Critics, particularly some in Lynnwood, argued they wouldn’t have enough control.
In Snohomish, voters were electing their first “strong mayor.” An initiative last year made the job a separately elected position, instead of a mayor chosen from among City Council members.
Candidate John Kartak, a semi-retired general contractor who helped lead the initiative drive, carried 43.4 percent on primary night. City Councilwoman Karen Guzak also looked to be on her way to the general election, with 32.5 percent.
City Councilman Derrick Burke followed with 12.5 percent and candidate Elizabeth Larsen with 11.3 percent.
In a closely watched Mukilteo race, City Council incumbent Bob Champion emerged Tuesday with a commanding 54.5 percent of the votes, among three contenders.
That contest drew attention because of challenger Peter Zieve. The successful aerospace executive is making his first run for elected office. Zieve drew 27 percent of the initial primary results. He made headlines last year for opposing the construction of a mosque in Mukilteo. His company also reached a $485,000 legal settlement with the state Attorney General’s Office agreeing, among other things, to adopt nondiscriminatory hiring policies and to encourage more job applications from people of color.
A third candidate, real estate broker Tina Over, got 18.2 percent of the vote.
Election results will continue to be tallied.
In Marysville, incumbent council member Donna Wright had a narrow lead with 36.2 percent to Mark James’ 35.5 percent.
Voters in Snohomish County also are deciding who will compete in contested city council races in Snohomish, Lynnwood and Stanwood. Finalists were being chosen for school board contests in Marysville, Edmonds and Sultan.
Full results in local races can be found on HeraldNet.com.
Reporters Caitlin Tompkins, Noah Haglund, Rikki King and Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.