With 450 ballots left, Snohomish mayor change barely failing

SNOHOMISH — A bid to change Snohomish to a strong-mayor form of government is failing by the narrowest of margins — just eight voters out of more than 4,000 cast.

That’s not even enough people for a regulation basketball game.

Proposition 2 recommended a change from the current council-manager form of government to a council-mayor form. The most current election results showed 49.90 percent supporting the measure and 50.10 percent against. It needs a simple majority to pass.

One week after the election, about 450 ballots have yet to be counted, said Garth Fell, elections and recording manager at the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office. Voting results are expected to be finalized Nov. 29.

Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak spoke out regarding her opposition to Prop. 2. The squishy lead makes her nervous.

“They say patience is a virtue. I’m trying to be as virtuous as I can under the circumstances,” she said.

During her time working with Snohomish city government, she said she has observed a well-run and successful system. She does not see the need for a change.

John Kartak, a member of the committee advocating for Prop. 2, says his primary goal has been accomplished. He wanted people in Snohomish to have a say in their local government.

“No matter how this goes, Snohomish wins. Snohomish has had their voice and that was our biggest goal,” Kartak said.

The City Council planned Tuesday evening to discuss the steps that would need to be taken if Prop. 2 passes. The council was expected to consider how to stage the special election that would be required to pick a new mayor, how to pay for it, and the legal work that goes into restructuring a local government. But none of that would happen if the measure continues to narrowly fail.

Guzak said the city will be prepared for the transition if the measure passes.

Local measures such as Prop. 2 are not subject to an automatic recount if the final tally is close. Instead, the committees supporting and opposing the measure will have the opportunity to request a recount once the votes are certified, Fell said.

The recount cost would be on the requester’s dime if the outcome does not change, Fell said. Last year’s recount of the Lynnwood City Council race cost about $2,500. Fell expects a recount of Prop. 2 would cost more because there are simply more ballots to review.

Auditor Carolyn Weikel said recounts on local measures are rare.

Both Guzak and Kartak said they are waiting for the final results before making any decisions.

Kartak is looking forward to the end of the election. Once the results are finalized, he said it is time to redirect the city’s focus to other important tasks.

“It’s going to be a time when maybe some of the hurt relationships can be healed,” Kartak said. “The next thing the city needs to focus on is the four council member positions coming up for election.”

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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