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Sept. 18, 2021

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McEnerny-Ogle has big lead in early returns for Vancouver mayor

Voters whittle down candidates for city council races

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
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Diana H.
Diana H. Perez and David Gellatly were leading in vote totals in the primary for Vancouver City Council, Position 3, on election night. Photo Gallery

Vancouver voters whittled down the hopefuls for mayor and city council Tuesday night, selecting opposing candidates that will pose clear ideological contrasts in November’s general election.

In the three-person mayor’s race, incumbent Anne McEnerny-Ogle sailed through with 68.93 percent of the vote. Challenger Earl Bowerman, formerly the chair of the Clark County Republican Party, will likely join her on the general election ballot with 18.2 percent of the vote.

Political newcomer Doug Coop is unlikely to catch up, with 12.87 percent.

“Thank you. My gosh. I know the turnout was pretty low,” McEnerny-Ogle said after hearing the results. “But I hope people know how very important voting is, and that they will stay involved, keep going, keep working on this.”

Bowerman did not respond to The Columbian’s request for comment Tuesday night.

The four-way race for Vancouver City Council’s Position 1 seat proved the closest of the night, with each candidate winning over a significant chunk of voters. But it was Kim Harless, an environmental scientist and Clark County Charter Review commissioner, who took the lead with 36.59 percent. She’ll likely face off in November against former Clark County Councilor John Blom, who earned 27.27 percent.

Fellow challengers Justin Forsman (20.2 percent) and Mike Pond (15.94 percent) trailed. It seems unlikely that either will overtake Blom as additional ballots are tallied.

“I’m just super thankful and humbled by this community, and feel really inspired that the value of this campaign is what is resonating with the community. I feel like the community is ready for that campaign,” Harless said. “We still have a lot to do up until November.”

Blom said he’s pleased that he pulled far enough ahead to earn a spot in the general election.

“I’m happy with the result. Any time there are multiple candidates in a race, you never quite know how it’s going to turn out,” he said.

Blom, who previously served as a Republican on the Clark County Council before dropping his party affiliation to run as an independent, added that he thinks he has a good chance of picking up Pond and Forsman voters in the general election.

“I think voters are going to have a really clear choice between someone who’s pretty extreme in their views and someone who’s pretty moderate,” Blom said.

In the race for the Vancouver City Council Position 3 seat, forest biologist Diana Perez enjoys a comfortable lead with 51.14 percent of the vote.

“To receive over 50 percent — I am just beside myself and processing,” Perez said. “(It) says a lot about the residents here, the voters here, what they want. And I’m going to deliver.”

Perez ran for city council in 2019 but was narrowly eliminated in the primary. Her success this year feels like a culmination of that campaign, she said, along with the work she’s done with groups like the Stronger Vancouver advisory committee and the city’s Community Task Force on Council Representation.

“We worked really hard in 2019 as well, and my involvement for the last 10 years in community advocacy certainly helped,” Perez said.

Her challenger in November will likely be David Gellatly, who served as Clark County GOP chair prior to Bowerman. Gellatly earned 26.96 percent of the vote. The third candidate, Glen Yung, trailed with 21.89 percent.

Like Blom, Gellatly said he’s confident in his chances of picking up voters who had originally cast their primary ballots for Yung.

“I’m happy with the results, and I look forward to running the general campaign,” Gellatly said. “I would expect that I would get the support of everybody who voted for Glen, and that would put us very, very close.”

The fourth Vancouver race, for city council Position 2, showed voters strongly favoring incumbent Erik Paulsen. Paulsen received 76.77 percent of the vote.

“It’s never over till it’s over, and it’s always important to let the community know what you stand for and what your vision is,” Paulsen said. “My hope is that these results are indicative of the fact that I was successfully able to do that, and through my service on council so far demonstrate who I am.”

Challenger Kara Tess appears on track to advance to the general election with 13.26 percent.

“I am so excited to be running in the general election,” she wrote in an email.

Tess added that she aligns with the current city council on most major issues.

“My stance is that I may not know all of the answers, I may not be the most polished speaker — but I can assure you that I am great at two things: listening and researching,” she wrote.

The third candidate, Tami Martin, received 9.98 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout

As in past odd-year primaries, voter turnout was low — just 18.27 percent of the county’s 297,841 eligible voters participated.

Tuesday night’s results are preliminary. Around 10 percent, or 5,289 ballots out of 54,404 submitted, still need to be counted.

The Clark County Elections Office is expected to update the results late Wednesday afternoon and several more times before the final results are certified Aug. 17.

Columbian staff writer
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