In early returns Tuesday night, the race for Vancouver City Council Position 6 was too close to call, but showed incumbent Councilor Pat Campbell to be in early trouble.
In the only council race that garnered enough candidates for a primary runoff, challenger Bill Turlay led the pack with 34.4 percent, while Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Campbell held 33.6 percent and 31.1 percent of the votes, respectively.
Campbell — a first-term councilor who unseated longtime incumbent Dan Tonkovich in 2007 — may find himself in a similar upset. But his challengers said Tuesday night that it was still too close to call, and said they were surprised to have the lead.
Turlay, who led McEnerny-Ogle by 5,038 votes to 4,916, said the tight race is a sign of a split electorate.
“It’s interesting to me because there’s several issues where we’re together and other issues where we’re miles apart,” Turlay said. “It tells me the city is divided on the issues.”
Turlay, 75, is retired from the U.S. Navy and business. A frequent critic of the city council, he has also been opposed to light rail and the Columbia River Crossing project. He named the city’s $10 million in debt payments and the need to reprioritize Vancouver’s services as the most important things in his campaign. He’s had endorsements from Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver; Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke; and David and Donna Madore.
McEnerny-Ogle, 57, is a retired public school mathematics teacher and college instructor and also serves as the chairwoman of the Shumway Neighborhood Association. The tight results Tuesday mean that November will likely be a tough fight between the top two candidates, she said.
About her and Turlay placing ahead of Campbell, she said: “I’m absolutely surprised. I don’t know what people were looking for in him, and I hope I’m able to provide what they need as they are looking for a replacement for him. I think the voice of the community is what they’re hoping to find from me. They didn’t have that from him.”
A former planning commission member, McEnerny-Ogle has said public safety and transportation are her top two issues for Vancouver. She has the backing of the Vancouver police and firefighters’ unions, along with endorsements from the National Women’s Political Caucus and Friends of Fire Station 6.
Campbell did not return calls for comment Tuesday night. He ran a very low-key campaign, posting no campaign signs and refusing both campaign donations and endorsements. When he won his seat, the retired community corrections officer said he was interested in serving just one four-year term on the city council. But when he filed again, Campbell said he’s since found his job isn’t yet done. Winning a voter-approved bond for new and upgraded fire stations — many of which are far below seismic standards or are in the wrong location — and continuing to pare down and refine the city’s budget are among the work he hopes to complete.
Though Campbell is the incumbent, both Turlay and McEnerny-Ogle are veterans of prior campaigns. Turlay ran for city council in 2009, defeating now-City Councilor Bart Hansen and candidate John Jenkins in the primary, but losing in the general election to Jack Burkman. McEnerny-Ogle ran for city council in the same year, but was defeated by incumbent Councilor Jeanne Harris.
Council members in Vancouver are elected at large, rather than by district. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in a primary election, he or she must still face off against the second-highest vote earner. The general election is Nov. 8.
Two other Vancouver City Council seats are also up this fall: Councilor Larry Smith will face Cory Barnes for Position 5 and Hansen will face Josephine Wentzel for Position 4.
In the city of Washougal, advancers to the November city council election are incumbent Rodney P. Morris and Caryn Plinski, position 2; incumbent Jennifer McDaniel and Niki Anderson, position 5; and incumbent Molly Coston and Connie Jo Freeman, Position 7.
The North County EMS levy was passing with a 78.4 percent yes margin. It continues the current ambulance service for three years in a vast, thinly populated area including Yacolt and Amboy.
In the Camas-Washougal port district race, Bill Ward captured 62.9 percent of the votes for a commissioner’s seat. Neil T. Cahoon also advances.
In Woodland, where voters will choose a new mayor this fall, the leaders are John “JJ” Burke and Grover Laseke. In the council races, Marshall Allen and Tony Brentin are tied at 205 votes each for one seat, while Robert Ripp earned a majority of the votes in the other race. Scott Perry finished second there.
In Ridgefield, Joe Vance and Wendi Morris were two votes apart for a school board seat, easily defeating Brad Bauges.
Almost 22,000 ballots were received and processed at the elections office Tuesday. Late ballots will be counted in days to come and can change the outcome of close races.
Election results for Clark County are attached to the story. Note they do not include results from Cowlitz County, in the case of Woodland races, or Skamania County, which is part of the Mount Pleasant School District levy.