Lovick holds solid lead over Eslick for county executive job

EVERETT — John Lovick looks ready to shed his title as an appointed leader.

Tuesday’s election results showed the Snohomish County executive on his way to winning a special one-year term in office.

Lovick, a Democrat, was beating Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, a Republican, by 11,178 votes. That gave him nearly 56 percent of the total to Eslick’s 43.8 percent.

“I feel very, very good about it and I’m excited beyond words,” Lovick said from a downtown Everett election party with other candidates.

“Carolyn did a very good job, she ran a very positive campaign,” he said.

Eslick could not be reached by phone Tuesday night.

The county auditor plans to update vote totals at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Tuesday’s results included just over 23 percent of the 416,389 ballots mailed out. Final turnout is expected to exceed 50 percent.

The executive’s job pays $161,114 per year. As the county’s top administrator, the executive oversees nearly 2,800 employees and an operating budget that’s likely to be about $230 million next year. The airport, as well as the planning and public works departments, are some of the areas that fall directly under the executive’s authority.

Lovick, 63, has been in the job since June 2013, when local Democrats and the County Council chose him to replace former Executive Aaron Reardon.

A retired state trooper, Lovick left his job as county sheriff to take the reins of the county administration. In addition to twice being elected sheriff, he served in the state Legislature for nine years and on the Mill Creek City Council for five years.

In his latest role, Lovick’s friendly demeanor and pledges to restore government integrity made him immensely popular — at least at first.

His administration also helped lead the response to the county’s deadliest natural disaster, the March 22 Oso mudslide that claimed 43 lives and temporarily knocked out the main highway to Darrington.

More recently, Lovick has weathered criticism over 10 percent raises his administration awarded some of its highest-paid managers. A majority of the County Council has challenged Lovick’s spending proposals for next year’s budget.

Eslick, 64, has hammered away at fiscal issues during her campaign, saying Lovick hasn’t been careful enough with taxpayer money. She also questioned Lovick’s management of the jail while sheriff. More than a dozen inmates have died there since 2010.

Fundraising, name recognition and the county’s Democratic leanings all put her at a tremendous disadvantage.

Lovick’s campaign reported raising $123,577.45, and Eslick $23,841.92, the state Public Disclosure Commission reported.

Eslick has served as Sultan’s mayor since 2008 and was on the City Council from 1995 to 2001. She ran the Dutch Cup restaurant in Sultan for more than 20 years, helped start the local chamber of commerce and founded a nonprofit to grow local businesses.

Both candidates have said they intend to compete again in next year’s election for a full four-year term.

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

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