Susanna Johnson delivers preliminary election results stating she is in the lead for the Snohomish County Sheriff 2023 election at 230 Ave B. in Snohomish, Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Susanna Johnson delivers preliminary election results stating she is in the lead for the Snohomish County Sheriff 2023 election at 230 Ave B. in Snohomish, Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

5 big takeaways from election night in Snohomish County

Edmonds and Arlington voters chose change. In Everett, not so much. And Democrats were cruising at the county level, with one exception.

EVERETT — Despite tens of thousands of votes still to be counted, Tuesday night’s results brought some clarity to what Snohomish County voters want and the future of many local communities.

On Wednesday night, turnout almost reached 36% of the county’s nearly 513,000 registered voters.

In 2021, just under 36% of Snohomish County voters turned in their ballot. In 2019, it was nearly 43%.

Results from every race across the county can be found here.

Voters want change …

In some of the most competitive races on the ballot, voters decided they were done with incumbents, Tuesday’s count indicated.

The most notable example is in a countywide race, where after four controversial years as sheriff, Adam Fortney was trailing his longtime colleague Susanna Johnson by about 4.5% on Tuesday.

Johnson’s message on the campaign trail was less about drawing stark policy contrasts with her opponent and more about regaining public trust.

“We’re going to try and catch the crooks. We’re going to try and prevent crime,” Johnson, the deputy police chief in Bothell, said last month. “But none of those things matter if our community doesn’t trust us.”

Other examples include mayoral races in Edmonds and Arlington, where incumbents fell behind by about 15% and 25%, respectively.

In Edmonds, incumbent Mayor Mike Nelson led Mike Rosen by just 47 votes in the four-way primary in August. It appears many voters who chose City Council member Diane Buckshnis and city planner Brad Shipley shifted their votes to Rosen, who led by over 1,600 ballots Tuesday.

And in a mayoral rematch in Arlington — where Mayor Barb Tolbert held off Don Vanney by just 32 votes four years ago — Vanney led the incumbent by over 700 on Tuesday night.

Lynnwood City Council member Jim Smith’s loss was another significant example. His latest term saw him fall short in another bid for mayor and face an outside investigation over allegations he discriminated against Black employees.

On Tuesday, he trailed local board game pub owner Nick Coelho by nearly 25%. In two stints on the City Council, the incumbent served nearly three decades.

… except in Everett

The Everett City Council races Tuesday were an exception to the rule above.

With two citywide council seats on the table, voters picked familiar faces. Judy Tuohy, who was first elected in 2014, sailed to re-election with nearly 64% of the vote Tuesday over Judith Martinez, who had the support of labor unions and some local Democratic leaders.

And Scott Bader was poised to return to the council after a short stint away.

Bader served on the council for almost a decade before deciding not to run for re-election in 2021. But in his bid to return Tuesday, he also led another challenger with local Democratic support in Demi Chatters.

The kids are all right

Despite four years of controversy over online learning, budget cuts and race in schools, voters uniformly chose to return incumbents to local school boards across Snohomish County.

In Edmonds, school board members Carin Chase and Nancy Katims far outpaced their more conservative opponents.

And in Snohomish, despite barely skating through a three-way primary, incumbent Sarah Adams was leading by about 3% after Tuesday’s drop.

One exception could be coming.

In Monroe, school board member Chuck Whitfield led equity consultant Melanie Ryan by just nine votes, of more than 5,500 counted so far. The outcome was expected to say a lot about how Monroe voters feel about the state of local schools.

Ryan led the charge to bring more awareness to racism in Monroe schools and get Justin Blasko to resign as superintendent. Whitfield has taken issue with same-sex marriage and is the third generation in his family to serve on the school board there.

Other races on the ballot there were technically contested, but challengers had stopped campaigning.

Nothing is certain except taxes

Levy lid lifts to fund transportation projects and emergency services succeeded across the county.

This comes after two emergency service levy lid lifts, in Mukilteo and the Arlington area, failed on the August ballot.

In Monroe, as of Tuesday, nearly 60% of voters approved a continuation of a sales tax to fund road repaving and other transportation projects.

And in Sultan, Granite Falls and Bothell, voters easily passed levies to ensure emergency services run smoothly. Voters covered by Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue also approved a similar measure.

A mandate?

Facing two Republican challengers, county Executive Dave Somers and County Council member Megan Dunn, both Democrats, cruised to reelection.

And for Dunn, it meant stretching her margin further from her previous win in 2019, when she defeated Anna Rohrbough with 54.8% of the vote. As of Tuesday, she garnered 63.4% this time around.

Dunn’s win ensures the County Council will keep its leftward tilt, with three Democrats and two Republicans. But the question will be if county progressives are emboldened by the results and see it as a mandate from voters to get more aggressive.

Somers was unopposed in 2019 and had 61.4% of the vote Tuesday.

Meanwhile, incumbent Auditor Garth Fell, who billed himself as a nonpartisan candidate, was leading Cindy Gobel, a Democrat, by nearly 20% in a rematch of four years ago.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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