From left: Sherri Larkin, Monica Weber, Sarah Adams

From left: Sherri Larkin, Monica Weber, Sarah Adams

2,744 to 2,744: On primary night, Snohomish school board race is tied

Sarah Adams and Monica Weber, aligned on many issues, are in a close race to face Sherri Larkin in the general election.

SNOHOMISH — An incumbent and challenger for a seat on the Snohomish school board were deadlocked with the same number of votes in the initial tally Tuesday.

Early returns from Tuesday’s primary showed mental health counselor Sarah Adams, the incumbent, and retired teacher Monica Weber tied at 32.6%, with exactly 2,744 votes each. Teacher Sherri Larkin, in the lead with 34.4% of the vote, would advance to the general election if the results hold.

“In smaller jurisdictions, especially with local primaries, close races are not uncommon,” said Matthew Pangburn, the county elections manager.

Elections officials are still counting, he said. After the first tally last night, they began processing 11,000 more ballots. Results won’t be official until Aug. 15.

In his time at the auditor’s office, Pangburn said he has seen multiple races come down to a handful of votes. The state requires machine recounts if “the difference between the top two candidates is less than 2,000 votes AND ALSO less than half of 1% of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.”

A manual recount is required when the difference is less than 150 votes and less than 0.25% of the total votes cast.

In the case of an exact tie, it may be down to chance, according to state law.

“If the election was officially certified and it was still an exact tie, we’d flip a coin,” he said.

Larkin, a first-time candidate, said the tie between Adams and Weber was unexpected.

“I have no idea who will pull ahead, but I hope I keep the lead,” she said.

Weber said she hopes to advance past the primary, but will support Adams if she doesn’t.

“If Sarah Adams pulls ahead, I will do everything I can to make sure she wins in November over the candidate who only taught in private schools and didn’t send her children to public school,” she said by text on Wednesday.

Adams said she was feeling optimistic.

“I am very proud of what I have accomplished during my time on the school board,” she said in an email Wednesday.

Last year, the board appointed Adams, who wanted to help meet students’ “academic and social-emotional needs” as they recover from the pandemic. Outside the board, she manages a team at Compass Health that provides trauma counseling to families in Snohomish County. She has two children enrolled in district schools.

Adams is on the committee for the Snohomish School District Strategic Plan that maps district goals for the next five years. She has campaigned on supporting student mental health, board transparency and academic success.

Weber taught in public schools for 42 years, spending 29 of those years in Snohomish schools. For the past five years, she has been the Snohomish Education Association president. She has campaigned on ensuring student equity and mental health support for students, teachers and staff.

Larkin has taught elementary education for 13 years. She said her primary lead is likely due to her focus on improving academic success.

“There’s been a shift from reading and writing basics to social issues, which distract from learning,” she said.

She added that parents say there are too many assemblies, and the “end of year culture” means students lose almost a month of education to watching movies.

Sydney Jackson: 425-339-3430; sydney.jackson@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @_sydneyajackson.

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