Dana, Little still neck-and-neck in County Council race

Snohomish County Council candidate Steve Dana spent Wednesday managing his family restaurant in Snohomish, just like any other typical day.

Vern Little, another candidate, also kept up his normal routine. He divided his time between his day job at the Boeing Co. and his duties as Lake Stevens mayor.

It was business as usual, even though the two Republicans were awaiting news to see who would challenge Democratic incumbent, Dave Somers, in the fall.

Another day of vote tallies from Tuesday’s primary failed to make things much clearer in 5th District council race.

Dana’s 3,446 votes gave him a 95-vote lead over Little compared to 88 a day earlier. Somers maintained a comfortable lead with 9,105 votes counted so far — about 52 percent of the total. The next highest vote-getter will face him in the Nov. 3 election.

About 25 percent of the ballots had been returned for the district as of Wednesday afternoon. The county Auditor’s Office will certify the results Sept. 2.

Since some votes in the all-mail election were sent Tuesday, more are likely to trickle in for days to come. That means that the race for second place is too close to call, with only a half-percentage point currently separating Dana and Little.

“I’m not happy the percentage is as small as it is, but I’m happy that I’m ahead,” Dana said. “We’re good waiters; that’s what we do in the restaurant business, is we wait.”

Little learned about the still-close totals after returning home from the dedication of new U.S. Navy housing in Lake Stevens.

“We’ll just sit back and wait,” he said. “I’m sure there are people who mailed (ballots) for Dave, who mailed them for Steve and mailed them for me.”

Under state law, any race will be recounted by machine when the candidates are separated by less than 2,000 votes and less than one-half of 1 percent.

In Snohomish County, races are recounted by hand if the difference between the candidates is less than 150 votes and less than one-fourth of 1 percent.

Also, a candidate or another interested party can request a recount, but they have to pay a deposit. The cost is 15 cents per vote in a machine recount, or 25 cents per votes by hand. The deposit is returned if the recount changes the outcome.

The key to winning the election in November, regardless of who advances, will be meeting constituents in person, said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens.

Hobbs would know. Somers beat him out in the 2005 primary for the council seat. Now, he’s a Somers supporter.

“It’s going to come down to a field campaign, who can doorbell the most, sign-waving … a lot of retail politics,” he said. “Dave goes out there and works. He doorbells. It’s tough. It’s going to help him in this election.”

Maltby activist Greg Stephens managed to get nearly 8 percent of the primary vote, even though he withdrew from the race earlier this month as a past felony charge surfaced.

That came as no surprise to Paul Elvig, who served as Snohomish County Republican Party chairman in the 1990s.

“A lot of people aren’t even aware there’s a race,” he said. “August is no time for primaries.”

Elvig had some advice for Somers’ eventual challenger. He would ask: “What has Dave Somers done for business?”

“If he has, it’s the best-kept secret,” he said. “That and the election.”

The 5th District was the only County Council race with more than two primary candidates. In the 1st and 4th districts, both candidates automatically advance.

On Wednesday, percentages remained about the same. Two incumbents, Republican John Koster of Arlington and Democrat Dave Gossett of Mountlake Terrace, maintained almost 59 percent of the vote in their respective districts. Koster’s challenger, Democrat Ellen Hiatt Watson of the Lake Howard area, and Gossett’s, Republican Bob Meador of Mill Creek, had nearly 41 percent each.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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