OLYMPIA — Republicans are losing another member of their caucus in the state House.
Republican Rep. Dave Hayes conceded Friday morning to Democrat Dave Paul in a hard-fought contest in the 10th Legislative District.
Paul, who led in every round of ballot counts since the Nov. 6 election, had 50.4 percent of the vote and a 560-vote advantage on Hayes as of Friday evening.
He will begin a two-year term in January representing Island County and portions of Snohomish and Skagit counties.
“It feels great,” Paul said. “We worked hard over eight months to connect directly with voters. We ran a positive campaign and focused on the issues.”
Paul, 50, of Oak Harbor, works as a vice president at Skagit Valley College. This is his first run for legislative office.
He focused on education, jobs and protecting the environment. While campaigning, he said voters educated him on challenges in the district that need addressing, such as opioid addiction, a lack of affordable housing and a shortage of mental health services.
“I learned a lot from the voters,” he said.
Hayes is the third incumbent in the Snohomish County delegation to be unseated in this election. The others were Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, who lost to Democrat Jared Mead of Mill Creek in the 44th District, and Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, defeated by Democrat Jesse Salomon of Shoreline in the 32nd District.
The delegation in the state House will now consist of 11 Democrats and three Republicans. In the Senate, five Democrats and two Republicans will represent residents of the state’s third-most-populous county.
“It’s very disappointing,” Hayes said Friday. “I am still going to be very involved in my community.”
The 52-year-old Camano Island resident is a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. He won his seat in 2012 and was seeking a fourth term. He is part of the House Republican Caucus leadership team.
During his tenure, he’s succeeded in advancing policies to improve public safety and traffic safety.
This year he authored a bill that resulted in Snohomish County receiving $800,000 for a new diversion center, which helps homeless men and women obtain mental health services and substance abuse treatment. The program aims to help them re-establish their footing in society.
Another bill that Hayes authored spawned changes in oversight and curriculum for driver education and traffic safety programs in high schools.
“I am very proud of having been able to push policy through from the minority,” he said. “It feels good.”
The outcome in this race was undecided for many days, mostly because of a snag in Skagit County that slowed vote counting.
Ballots there were larger than usual due to a high number of local races. When they were printed and folded, some had a crease running through vote boxes for several contests — although not this particular legislative race.
As a result, when those ballots were scanned, the computer read each box affected by the crease as having been marked with a vote. The remedy has been to process each affected ballot by hand, county officials explained.
All counties must certify election results on or before Nov. 27.