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(Troy Wayrynen/The Columbian)
Vancouver voters returned Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilman Jack Burkman to office, while replacing three-term Councilwoman Jeanne Stewart with political newcomer Alishia Topper, according to preliminary returns in Tuesday’s election.
Each of the apparent winners garnered about 53 percent of the vote.
In the fourth city council race, retired math teacher and neighborhood leader Anne McEnerny-Ogle held the strongest margin, with 3,049 more votes than opponent Frank Decker. Both had outpolled incumbent Jeanne Harris in the August primary.
Tuesday’s apparent winners say the voters spoke clearly against negative campaigning and for progressive views.
“I’m extremely pleased with the results,” said an exuberant Leavitt. Supporters rushed to offer hugs and congratulations at his party at Beaches Restaurant. “Given all the rhetoric out there, this is a nice mandate for our community.”
Apt or not, incumbent Stewart and hopefuls Bill Turlay, Micheline Doan and Decker were dubbed “the Madore 4.” Republican county commissioner and self-made millionaire David Madore has earned a reputation for underwriting the political campaigns of candidates who oppose light rail and tolls on a proposed replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge.
Stewart, Turlay, Doan and Decker received support from a PAC called Vancouver Vitality, which raised about $116,000, according to the most recent figures from the state Public Disclosure Commission. Madore is not listed among the contributors.
The apparent winners all said they ran their campaigns independently, not as part of a slate. But all four received support of Forward Vancouver, a PAC that raised about $55,000 to support them. Ed Lynch, a retired construction executive and civic leader, was a leading contributor.
“This year, there were two very distinct sets of philosophies,” Burkman said.
He describes himself and the other apparent winners as “looking to the future, progressive, and willing to take bold steps.”
After studying returns, “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “Strange things happen in politics, but the numbers look really good.” He and Topper both led their opponents by about 1,100 votes.
Turlay, an incumbent city councilor who will retain his seat despite losing the mayoral race, was not ready to concede, in spite of Leavitt’s 1,406-vote lead.
“My supporters were out there getting the last-minute votes,” Turlay said.
Stewart declined to comment when reached by phone. Decker and Doan did not answer calls.
McEnerny-Ogle was comfortable enough in her lead to claim victory. “We know there’s a lot of work to be done,” she said. She’s eager to get to work on the city’s budget, in particular to try to leverage city money with grants for public safety and transportation.
About 10,000 ballots from Vancouver remain to be counted, Auditor Greg Kimsey. The ballot, a modern record in length, included a list of advisory votes and freeholder candidates, which caused voters to hold out “until the last minute,” he said.