Mielke to face Tanner for county commission seat

Incumbent is top primary vote-getter in District 1 contest

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Preliminary election results released Tuesday evening showed Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke and Joe Tanner with comfortable leads in District 1, with three other challengers splitting 28 percent of the vote.

Mielke, a Battle Ground Republican, received 40 percent of the vote and Tanner, a Ridgefield Democrat, received 31 percent.

They will run countywide in the Nov. 6 general election.

District 1 covers north county and reaches as far south as parts of Orchards and Hazel Dell.

Mielke, 70, spent four terms representing the 18th Legislative District before winning a seat on the Board of Clark County Commissioners on his third attempt.

“It looks pretty good,” Mielke said Tuesday evening. He said his low-key campaign will be stepped up for the general election, including sending out mailers.

“Oh, absolutely,” Mielke said. “We have a different strategy, a different campaign.”

Tanner, 65, who represented the 18th Legislative District as both as representative and a senator in the 1980s, was the first president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

Most recently, Tanner was senior vice president and chief operating officer of Texas-based Zeno Corp., which was sold this year.

Tanner said Tuesday evening that he’s “exceedingly happy with the result.”

In 2008, Mielke beat Democrat Pam Brokaw in the general election by approximately 300 votes.

Tanner said he’s confident heading into the next phase of the campaign.

“I truly believe we are right where I want to be,” Tanner said.

Tanner has raised $81,878, including $26,000 of his own money, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. That amount ranks Tanner second statewide, behind Vancouver Republican David Madore, among candidates for local office. Mielke has raised $15,850, including $2,750 of his own money.

The candidates who were eliminated Tuesday included a county employee.

Darren Wertz, 65, serves on the Ridgefield City Council and works as the clerk for the Clark County Board of Equalization. Wertz, a Republican, earned 10 percent of the vote.

Ron Barca, 57, works as a lean practitioner at Boeing Commercial Aircraft in Gresham, Ore., and has spent 13 years on the Clark County Planning Commission, an advisory group. Barca, a Battle Ground Democrat, received 13 percent of the vote.

Battle Ground resident Bob Freund, 57, works as a self-employed general contractor. He ran as an independent and picked up 5 percent of the vote.

Neither Wertz nor Freund raised any money. Barca raised $7,869, according to the PDC.

Commissioners currently earn $102,228 a year.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.