Updated: Incumbents still ruling the day for local office

Transportation – ‘yes,’ Criminal Justice – ‘no’

UPDATE: Even after the second vote count all incumbents for office, except Lael Duncan for North Valley Hospital Commissioner, have been returned to their previous posts. In fact, as of last Friday’s vote count, Teresa Hughes has gained in her run for the  NVH Commissioner Position 5 seat. Dick Larson, in Position 4 for the Hospital Board maintained his lead against challenger Rosa Snyder.

Oroville Mayor Chuck Spieth and Councilmen Jon Neal and Tony Koepke will also retain their seats in the non-partisan general election held on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The ballot is still considered unofficial until certified on Nov. 26, according to election officials with the Okanogan County Auditor’s Office.

For updated vote counts see: http://vote.wa.gov/results/current/okanogan/

NORTH COUNTY – Unless everyone waited until the last minute to return their ballots, it looks as if incumbents ruled the day, with one exception, in today’s general election.

Teresa Hughes
Teresa Hughes

That exception is the race for Commissioner Position 5 for North Valley Hospital where at this point it appears to have been won by challenger Teresa Hughes from Tonasket. This, according to the unofficial tally of votes cast counted by the Okanogan County Auditor’s office last Tuesday evening. Hughes received 1005 votes over incumbent Lael Duncan who garnered 411.

Lael Duncan
Lael Duncan

According to election officials, 6068 ballots were counted at 8:43 p.m. on Tuesday and an estimated 2285 ballots remain uncounted, not including any ballots that may be received in the next few days that were postmarked on or before election day.

So, there are still enough remaining ballots that could change the results in some elections, however, not all the uncounted ballots include the hospital district.

In the other seat up for election at NVH, Position 4, favors incumbent Dick Larson from Oroville in what is currently a much closer race with challenger Rosa Snider. Larson had 791 votes cast for his return to office, while Snider had 659.

Chuck Spieth
Chuck Spieth

The Oroville Mayor’s race and seats on the Oroville City Council were the only other challenged races in the North County, with the electorate seemingly happy with the current slate of officials. Chuck Spieth is leading in the mayor’s race by a comfortable margin at this time. He earned 159 votes for a return to office over challenger Chris Allen who received 89 votes for a change in the

Chris Allen
Chris Allen

top spot. Jon Neal and Tony Koepke also have big leads over their challengers for seats on the council. Neal had 184 votes in his favor, while Russell W. Rounds had 66 for Position 1 and Koepke had 150 votes to Paul E. Bouchard’s 92 for Position 2.

While county-wide voters gave a narrow majority to the Okanogan County Transportation District 1 request for a four-tenths increase to the sales tax, Tonasket’s request for help for Criminal Justice Funding looks to be unpopular amongst the city’s voters. As of election day, the Transportation Proposition had 2,986 votes, or 55.98 percent for approval, while 2,348, or 44.02 percent, went against. Tonasket’s Proposition had 71 votes, or 60.68 percent, rejecting the measure, to 46 or 39.32 percent, approving.

Okanogan County voters were asked to fund a transportation district through a special sales and use tax levy. The transportation ballot measure, Special Elections – Proposition 1, proposes giving the Okanogan County Transit Authority (OCTA) the ability to impose a four-tenths of one percent tax on all taxable purchases made within the county. The tax is the equivalent of four cents on every $10 of taxable purchases made. The money will fund “the operation, maintenance equipment and facilities for a public transportation district within the boundaries of the Transit Authority.” The OCTA includes Okanogan County except the southeastern precincts and the town of Nespelem.

The Tonasket measured asked the voters to approve a sales and use tax of 0.1 percent. One-third of the tax was to be used for criminal justice purposes or fire protection, or both, effective April 1, 2014.

County-wide voters are also supporting a return to office of John Smith for the Seventh District Senate position. He is leading fellow Republican Brian Dansel by 137 votes in Okanogan County. However, Smith is trailing by 1745 votes when all Seventh District votes were tallied Tuesday. Unlike the state voters, county voters like I-517. However, county and state voters both agreed to reject I-522. County voters voted for repeal on all three advisory measures on the ballot. The state said repeal one, keep the other and are deadlocked on the third.

The next ballot count for Okanogan County is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m. in the county auditor’s office. The election will not be certified until Tuesday, Nov. 26, according to election officials.

Returning to Office

In Tonasket it was a walk in the park for the four incumbents looking for a return to city government positions. Mayor Patrick Plumb, Position 1 Councilman Dennis Brown, Position 3 Councilwoman Jill Vugteveen and Position 4 Councilwoman Jean E. Ramsey will all be returned to office. Claire Jeffko, a recent appointee, is running for Council Position 5. All ran unopposed.

Two members who have served on the Tonasket School Board for several years – Lloyd E. Caton Jr. for Director Position 1 and Ernesto Cerrillo for Director Position 4, were also unopposed, and were returned to office Tuesday.

For Oroville School Board there were two unopposed incumbents — Todd Hill was returned to Director Position 1 for the two-year unexpired term and Travis Loudon for Director Position 4 for a full four-year term. No one filed for the seat vacated by David Nutt who moved from the area. A volunteer has yet to come forward to fill the open position.