Friendly duel in Mukilteo: Candidates await vote recount

And in Lynnwood, a hand recount will decide whether a councilman or ex-mayor advances to the fall election.

Carolyn “Dode” Carlson with Alex Crocco, who is ahead by seven votes for second place for a seat on the Mukilteo City Council in the general election. (Contributed photo)

Carolyn “Dode” Carlson with Alex Crocco, who is ahead by seven votes for second place for a seat on the Mukilteo City Council in the general election. (Contributed photo)

MUKILTEO — Carolyn “Dode” Carlson and Alex Crocco are better friends than foes.

They both sought the same seat on the Mukilteo City Council in this month’s primary. He beat her by seven votes to earn a place on the November ballot.

“He has Mukilteo’s best interest at heart,” she said. “He’s a nice guy.”

“She has been fantastic,” he said.

In the end, they dueled for second place. He got 1,370 votes, she got 1,363 in results certified Tuesday. That’s close enough to automatically trigger a recount.

The winner will face Steve Schmalz, a former two-term council member who won with 2,195 votes. A fourth candidate, Tim Ellis, finished with 797. There were 19 write-in votes.

That duel in Mukilteo is one of two requiring a recount to determine a second-place finisher.

In Lynnwood, only three votes separate City Councilman Patrick Decker and former mayor Don Gough, who are vying for runner-up spot in the contest for Position 2.

Naz Lashgari, former leader of the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, won the primary with 2,080 votes.

Decker, appointed in May following the resignation of Councilman Ian Cotton, finished second with 1,920 votes followed by Gough with 1,917. Those results will be counted again by hand.

‘I chose the wrong race’

Crocco and Carlson live in the same Mukilteo neighborhood. They met over a year ago when he stopped to admire her lilacs. She gave him a bouquet to take home to his wife.

Little did he know that some day he’d be competing with the lilac lady.

“When someone told me she was named Mukilteo Citizen of the Year last year I was thinking, ‘Wow, I chose the wrong race,’” he said.

This is Crocco’s first time seeking office. He asked Carlson for advice. She helped him with signage and ads.

In 2011, Carlson ran against then-incumbent council member Jennifer Gregerson, who helped her out. Carlson was happy to carry on a tradition of rivals helping rivals.

“She did the same thing for me that I did for Alex,” Carlson said.

She had a head start: “I used the same signs from 2011. I have T-shirts, too,” Carlson said.

Her neighbor is his good friend and had signs in the yard for her and for him.

Over the weekend, Carlson and Crocco were chummy at an outdoor community beach concert at Lighthouse Park.

A recount won’t change that.

“I’m good whatever the outcome,” Carlson said.

“I think if she wins it will be fantastic for the town,” Crocco said.

Recounts by next week

With election results certified, Snohomish County Auditor Garth Fell can formally notify the candidates involved in the two recounts.

Any candidate in any race may request a recount. They have until 5 p.m. Thursday to do so, Fell said. However, they will have to pay the costs of conducting the recount unless it leads to a different outcome, he said.

Both recounts will be done next week. Work will begin Friday, when ballots for those contests will be pulled out and set aside. The recount will be carried out Tuesday and the results brought to the county Canvassing Board for certification next Thursday..

Meanwhile, two sitting office-holders are not advancing to the general election.

Edmonds City Councilman Luke Distelhorst finished third behind Janelle Cass and Will Chen in the race for Position 2. Cass won the primary with 31.8% and in the general election will face Chen, who had 28.5%. Distelhorst, appointed in January 2020, had 23.7%, with Lora Petso, a former City Council member, collecting 15.9%.

And Lake Stevens School Board member Brian Kesler will not get a chance to retain his seat in District 4.

Nina Kim Hanson won the primary with 39.4% and will face Brett Rogers, who was second with 33.1%, in the general election. Kesler, a retired teacher appointed last fall, finished with 27%.

The Aug. 3 primary drew an overall turnout of 27%. It varied by community. In Edmonds, 41.5% cast ballots for a pair of City Council seats, while in Everett only 23.4% voted in the mayor’s race.

Overall, the figure would have been slightly higher had everyone signed their ballot correctly or got it in on time. But they didn’t. There were 759 ballots rejected because they were not signed or the signature did not match the one on file for the voter. Another 1,467 did not get counted because they arrived too late.

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623 @dospueblos

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