EVERETT — The 2021 general election reached the finish line Tuesday.
Well, not quite for everyone.
The Snohomish County Canvassing Board certified the results of the Nov. 2 election in which voters chose new mayors in Snohomish, Mukilteo and Lynnwood, re-elected three Snohomish County Council members, and filled a bunch of seats on city councils, school boards, and port, fire and hospital commissions.
Then the elections panel launched the process for recounting ballots by machine in contests for seats on the Mill Creek and Stanwood city councils, and by hand for a position on the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District Commission. Final results are expected to be posted at 3 p.m. Dec. 10.
In Mill Creek, City Councilman Brian Holtzclaw holds a 15-vote advantage over Eric Cooke. The margin between them is 0.31%, which is in the range for an automatic machine recount.
Holtzclaw, who also serves as mayor, led by 18 on election night then fell behind by seven the next day, then moved back in front Nov. 4. He’s led after every release of updated results since.
“I would rather be ahead going into the recount than behind,” Holtzclaw said Tuesday. “It emphasizes how every vote counts. If I am fortunate to win the election, I will go back for four more years and give it my all, as I have the last eight years.”
Cooke, a first-time candidate, acknowledged it will be hard to find 15 votes.
“I don’t think I am going to come back. But it’s been great,” he said. “Ultimately I am thankful for the voters that considered me. They didn’t have to and they did.”
Under state law, an automatic hand recount of ballots is triggered when the final margin between two candidates is less than 0.25%, and a machine recount is mandated for margins between 0.25% and 0.5%.
In Stanwood, a machine recount will determine if Tim Schmitt unseated incumbent City Councilwoman Judy Williams.
Schmitt is the unofficial winner by five votes, 826 to 821. He finished with 47.09% to Williams’ 46.81%, a margin of 0.28% that just exceeds the demand for a hand recount.
“I’m excited by the results so far. I’m not taking anything for granted,” said Schmitt, a first-time candidate who’s been an outspoken citizen activist. “I’ve been patient the last four years, so I can be patient for another three weeks.”
In a second Stanwood council contest, Dani Gaumond beat Councilman Rob Johnson by 14 votes, 880-866, a margin of 0.80% — not close enough for a recount.
“I look forward to having a healthy working relationship with each City Council member,” Gaumond wrote in an email. “In my first month I would like to introduce myself to as many people in the community and local businesses. I’d like to hear their concerns and what direction that they want to see our city go in.”
Johnson, who was seeking a third term, will continue serving on the North County Regional Fire Commission.
Meanwhile, the Stanwood City Council will soon need to fill a vacancy after Councilman Sid Roberts was elected mayor in this month’s election. He was sworn into office Tuesday.
Johnson thinks either Schmitt or Williams should get the nod. He informed fellow council members of that at a meeting Monday.
The reason, he explained, is that there were 107 write-in votes — roughly 10 times the total of other council races — even though no one campaigned as a write-in candidate. He and Schmitt said one of the city’s conservative influencers mailed out a voter guide urging write-ins for someone other than the candidates.
“It was so tight and so muddied by the write-ins, whoever loses deserves the appointment,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a matter of fairness.”
Schmitt said he’ll apply if he doesn’t win. Williams could not be reached for comment.
A duel for a seat on the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District Commission wound up the election’s closest by percentage.
Donna Cross, a commissioner since 1992, leads Patrick Leonetti by 59 votes, 19,538 to 19,479. The difference is 0.15%, triggering another tally of ballots by hand.
Meanwhile, the canvassing board did not act on a request from Doug Roulstone, the chairman of the Snohomish County Republican Party, to not certify Sherry Weersing as the winner of the District 3 seat on the Marysville School District Board of Directors. The canvassing board is comprised of county Auditor Garth Fell; Jason Cummings, the county’s chief civil deputy prosecutor; and County Councilmember Megan Dunn.
Weersing was the only name on the ballot. Keira Atchley, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year, ran as an official write-in. Weersing collected 80.3% of the vote. Write-ins totaled 19.7%.
Earlier this year, Weersing halted her campaign amid health issues that she said she thought could prevent her from serving. She said she informed the state Public Disclosure Commission. Roulstone, in his written request, said Weersing emailed Atchley in August to say she had withdrawn from the race.
But Weersing said Monday that her health improved and she determined she could carry out the duties. She attended a conference of district directors last week, where she met those with whom she’ll be serving.
Weersing, 70, is a retired special education teacher. She said she worked in the Edmonds School District and plans to bring a student-centered approach to her decision-making.
“I will do what I think is the right thing to do for the kids,” she said. “It is not about the adults. It is about what the kids need.”
Overall, 182,331 voters participated, a turnout of 35.9% of the Snohomish County electorate. That’s 4% higher than in 2017, the last odd-year general election following a presidential election. The average turnout in the county is 41% since 2009.
“When I look at it, I think we have a bit more engaged electorate,” said the auditor, Fell, citing carryover energy from last year’s presidential campaign combined with a surge of local media coverage in the three weeks preceding this election.
Turnout reached nearly 53% in Mukilteo, where incumbent Mayor Jennifer Gregerson lost to Joe Marine, the man she unseated from the job eight years ago.
And it topped 51% in Snohomish, where City Council president Linda Redmon beat incumbent Mayor John Kartak in a high-profile contest.
A majority of ballots, 106,072, were returned via designated drop box, with 79,385 returned by mail. Of the total, 1,556 did not get tallied because they arrived too late, and another 1,242 had a signature that did not match the one on file for the voter. There were 144 ballots that had no signature.