Snohomish County Council candidates are (from left) Nate Nehring, Ray Miller, Terry Ryan, Marcus Barton, Sam Low and Kristin Kelly.

Snohomish County Council candidates are (from left) Nate Nehring, Ray Miller, Terry Ryan, Marcus Barton, Sam Low and Kristin Kelly.

First returns show incumbents holding County Council seats

As of Tuesday, Nehring had 59.1 percent, Ryan had 62.9 percent and Low had 57.6 percent.

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s two newest council members appeared in good shape to stay in office for another four years, based on initial returns from Tuesday’s election.

Councilman Nate Nehring, a Republican who was appointed in January, had 59.1 percent of the vote against Democrat Ray Miller in Council District 1.

“I’m very excited and really humbled by the trust that the voters have placed in me,” Nehring said, as he celebrated with a small group of friends and family.

Councilman Sam Low, a Republican elected to a special one-year term last year, was leading with 57.6 percent against Democrat Kristin Kelly in Council District 5. Low is eager to get to work on the top concern he heard on the campaign trail.

“I’m going to make sure we get our traffic needs addressed in east county,” Low said.

Councilman Terry Ryan also was headed toward re-election. The Democrat, who is seeking a second term in Council District 4, was leading Republican Marcus Barton with 62.9 percent of the vote.

Updated election totals are expected around 5 p.m. Wednesday. As of Tuesday, elections officials had counted just under 17 percent of the ballots issued countywide. They projected turnout would reach about 30 percent.

Nehring, 22, of Stanwood, had been in his first year teaching middle school science when he was appointed to the County Council.

In the August primary, two other Republicans attacked his limited work history and political connections, as the son of Jon Nehring, Marysville’s nonpartisan mayor. Nate Nehring still pulled in nearly 40 percent of the primary vote. Miller, a Marysville resident, came in second with about 35 percent.

District 1 covers north Snohomish County, except for Tulalip. Voters there have favored Republicans, making it a tough contest for Miller to win. An Air Force veteran who is retired from a career in drug and alcohol counseling, Miller said he was well-equipped to help combat opioid abuse and related problems facing the community.

Nehring in September sponsored an emergency ban on safe drug-injection sites in unincorporated Snohomish County, the kind under consideration in King County. The Snohomish County Council passed Nehring’s proposal unanimously. Miller said he supported the ban in concept, but considered it unnecessary in the absence of serious plans to create local safe-injection sites.

In District 5, Low won a short term in office last year by beating Hans Dunshee, a longtime Democratic state lawmaker appointed to the job in early 2016. Low previously served on the Lake Stevens City Council and ran his own painting business.

Kelly’s campaign against Low highlighted her experience on land-use issues. She sought to promote growth policies that would help protect the environment and safeguard existing residents from subsidizing additional development. As executive director of the Pilchuck Audubon Society, and before that a local director for the nonprofit Futurewise, those issues have defined much of her life’s work.

District 5 covers Lake Stevens, unincorporated southeast Everett and the U.S. 2 corridor, from Snohomish out east. It also takes in unincorporated Maltby and other nearby areas where homeowners have complained of being pinched by development.

The political wing of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties spent $29,000 in late October on mailers supporting Low’s campaign and a similar amount on mailers for Nehring.

In Council District 4, Ryan won his first term in 2013. He formerly served 17 years on the Mill Creek City Council. He has worked in commercial real estate and still holds an active broker’s license.

Barton, a U.S. Army veteran with a background in logistics, lives in Bothell. His campaign attempted to highlight shortcomings in the county’s approach to development and the influence of the building industry in local politics.

District 4 mostly covers areas east of I-5. It includes Mountlake Terrace, Mill Creek, Brier and parts of Bothell, as well as the unincorporated North Creek area where development has boomed during the past few years.

The salary for a County Council member will rise to $120,472 in 2018.

To see a chart with Tuesday’s local races and ballot measures, go to Page A10. Or go to

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Snohomish County

County Council District 1

Nate Nehring (R) 9,402 59.10%
Ray Miller (D) 6,451 40.55%

County Council District 4

Terry Ryan (D) 8,238 62.90%
Marcus Barton (R) 4,826 36.85%

County Council District 5

Sam Low (R) 9,209 57.60%
Kristin Kelly (D) 6,728 42.08%

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