Initial election results for Vancouver City Council showed that Sarah Fox prevailed over Jeanne Stewart in the race for Position 6, and that incumbents will retain the three other seats up for re-election Tuesday.
As of 8:30 p.m., Fox had earned 67.3 percent of the vote to Stewart’s 32.7 percent, a wide margin for the city council’s only open seat this year.
An estimated 25,000 ballots in Clark County had yet to be counted following the initial tally, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s office.
The results bucked the outcome of the primary election, when the two candidates virtually tied in the seven-way race — Fox beat Stewart by just over 100 votes in August, compared to her 6,748-vote lead Tuesday evening.
Fox, an urban planner for the city of Camas and a U.S. Army veteran, has sought a seat on the Vancouver City Council four times in two years, twice through appointment and twice through election.
Speaking from the Clark County Public Service Center just after the results were announced, Fox thanked her team of campaign volunteers. Her victory was “the culmination of a lot of hard work,” she said.
“There was a lot of people who started out in this race,” Fox said. “When (voters are) voting for me, they’re choosing that Vancouver local. They’re choosing that military veteran. They’re choosing a person that has really strong roots with local businesses. That’s a really clear indication of what our community values.”
Stewart has been a mainstay in local politics for two decades. She previously sat on the city council for 12 years before serving a term on the Clark County Council. She did not return The Columbian’s request for comment on Tuesday.
The other three Vancouver City Council seats up for election Tuesday saw similarly conclusive victories, all in favor of sitting city councilors.
Position 5 City Councilor Ty Stober defended his seat against his challenger, bail bondsman David Regan, with 64.9 percent of the vote to Regan’s 35.1 percent.
The incumbent’s victory came after an exceptionally expensive race. Stober spent nearly $47,000 this election cycle, and Regan spent just over $25,000.
Stober said he wasn’t surprised by the election’s outcome — he’d expected to win with about 60 or 65 percent of the vote. He believes his victory indicates that Vancouver voters largely approve of where their local government is headed, he added.
“I think my race, more than anybody’s, was a referendum on the direction of the council, and I think our residents really embraced where we’re going,” Stober said.
In a written statement, Regan said Tuesday evening he was holding out hope that the remaining uncounted ballots could turn the tide in his favor.
“My opponent has run an excellent campaign, but we are remaining hopeful for the full count of ballots,” Regan wrote. “The level of support in the community has been overwhelming. I want to thank each and every person who participated in this year’s election. This race is not over and neither is my commitment to serve every individual in our amazing city.”
Position 2 Councilor Erik Paulsen won in a landslide against Maureen McGoldrick, a former lawyer who ran a low-profile campaign. Paulsen won his re-election with 74 percent of the vote, overtaking McGoldrick, who took home 26 percent.
“The margins are a bit of a surprise, for sure,” Paulsen said. “I’m just grateful for the voters of Vancouver, and ready to get to work.”
McGoldrick did not return a request for comment.
Perhaps the least surprising result of the night was the victory of Mayor Pro Tem Bart Hansen, who ran unopposed to defend his Position 4 city council seat and garnered 100 percent of the vote.
Hansen said that he was excited to have four more years on the city council, where he’s sat since 2010.
“Vancouver right now is on the verge of doing things it has not had the opportunity to do in the past,” Hansen said. “Homelessness and affordable housing are definitely the two key issues that I would be working on for the next four years, along with maintaining our core, central services.”