Eileen Quiring narrowly, but conclusively, won the race for Clark County Council chair following weeks of uncertainty following the Nov. 6 general election.
The final ballot count shows Quiring, a Republican county councilor, with 94,601 votes to Democrat Eric Holt’s 93,615 votes. Less than a thousand votes separate the candidates.
Although Holt held the lead on election night, he steadily saw it decrease as later vote counts put Quiring ahead. Holt, however, refused to concede. He launched an effort to reach out to voters with unresolved signature issues with their ballots to help make sure they were resolved and their votes counted. Quiring said that she also reached out to voters with unresolved ballot issues after the election.
“The last three weeks have been a lot of waiting,” said Quiring. “But, you know, I’m just so grateful for all the support and help to make it happen.”
Despite his efforts, Holt wasn’t able to recapture his lead nor meet the threshold for a recount. Holt conceded the race on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. He said that with the election results so close, there’s no political mandate. Holt also indicated on Facebook that he would continue to be engaged in county politics.
“It’s important that we keep this council honest and hold their feet to the fire for the next four years, and that’s what we’ll be working on,” said Holt.
He hinted at a second run, writing “Onwards to 2022.”
Quiring said that she will work for the benefit of all residents.
“That’s really my goal, that everybody really thrives here and they have a good qualify of life and can live peacefully and happily,” said Quiring.
According to Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, there were 3,044 ballot affidavit envelopes that had a mismatch or missing signature; he said 1,391 of these were resolved, or “cured,” by voters. He said that after the Nov. 6 election, Clark County Elections continued to count valid ballots that came in. The Canvassing Board certified the election Tuesday afternoon.
The November general election saw particularly high voter turnout, with 69 percent of eligible voters in Clark County casting ballots. That’s up from the 2014 election when about half of Clark County voters cast ballots. In Washington, 71 percent cast ballots in the 2018 general election.
The council chair race remained the only unsettled contest from the election. With it settled, Temple Lentz will be the only Democrat on the Clark County Council after she beat Republican county Councilor Jeanne Stewart with 60 percent of the vote.
The election results mean Quiring will vacate her seat on the county council, triggering a process to replace her. Under state law, Quiring’s replacement must be from the same district and the same political party. The central committee of the Clark County Republican Party will nominate three candidates that the county council will pick from.
In other races, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, won a fifth term after beating Democrat Carolyn Long with 52.67 percent of the vote. With the exception of the west Vancouver-based 49th Legislative District, Republicans swept legislative races in Clark County. Every incumbent Clark County Republican legislator on the ballot was re-elected. Newcomer Larry Hoff was able to stave off a strong challenge from Democrat Kathy Gillespie and keep the seat of retiring state Rep. Liz Pike in Republican control.
Republican Clark County Clerk Scott Weber beat Democratic challenger Barbara Melton with 52.8 percent of the vote. Republican county Assessor Peter Van Nortwick was re-elected over fellow Republican Darren Wertz with 58.2 percent of the vote.
Vancouver City Council member Alishia Topper, running unaffiliated, was elected to succeed long-time county Treasurer Doug Lasher with 68.6 percent over challenger Robert Hinds.