With three of the five Clark County Council offices on the ballot this year, many voters are paying close attention to the outcome of the District 1, District 2 and District 5 races.
Many of the candidates are political newcomers hoping to bring fresh ideas and fresh faces to the mostly Republican council. District 1 incumbent Temple Lentz and District 2 incumbent Julie Olson each announced in April they would not seek reelection. District 5 Councilor Richard Rylander Jr., who was appointed in May by Gov. Jay Inslee, is hoping to win his first full term in office.
This is the first election for the council offices since voters approved a ballot measure in November 2021 making all county officers, including councilor, treasurer, auditor, assessor, clerk and prosecuting attorney, nonpartisan positions.
According to Tuesday’s preliminary election returns, the top two candidates in the District 1 race are Glen Yung and Hector Hinojosa. Yung received 4,490 votes, or 45.73 percent of votes cast. Hinojosa received 3,081 votes, or 31.38 percent of votes cast.
As it stands now, Doug Coop is in third place with 2,247 votes, or 22.89 percent of votes.
Vancouver resident Yung spent his career in finance before starting a home remodeling business with his wife. Yung has placed housing affordability, homelessness and public safety at the top of his priorities.
“I think it’s fantastic. I’ve had a ton of help,” he said. “It’s a great position to be in but I still have my work cut out for me.”
Yung said he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the early election results.
“The best way that I can gauge how people are feeling is to get out there and knock on doors,” he said. “I did get a good reception when knocking on doors so I was hopeful.”
Hinojosa, of Vancouver, helped found the Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens. He said as a county councilor he will focus on identifying and implementing solutions for the homelessness crisis, protecting the county’s agricultural lands, helping the county’s economically disadvantaged residents and climate change.
“I kind of figured I’d be in second to start with,” he said.
Hinojosa said he’s optimistic he won’t lose any ground as further election numbers come in throughout the week.
“I’m feeling pretty good about that. I was fairly certain I would get through the primary,” Hinojosa said.
According to Tuesday’s preliminary election returns, the top two candidates in the District 2 race are Michelle Belkot and Chartisha Roberts. Belkot received 5,152 votes, or 43.81 percent of votes cast. Roberts received 4,086 votes, or 34.74 percent.
Kim Hamlik is in third place with 2,522 votes, or 21.5 percent.
A U.S. Navy veteran and working mom, Belkot is also focused on homelessness and public safety but has also put transportation — especially the proposed replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge — at the top of her list.
Belkot was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
For Roberts, also from Vancouver, the list of priorities is a little longer. In addition to those identified by her competitors, Roberts said the county needs better collaboration and leadership.
“I can breathe for a second,” Roberts said. “It’s very exciting … Everyone ran a good, decent campaign.”
Roberts said if the early results hold, she still has a long way to go for the general election.
According to Tuesday’s preliminary election returns, the top two candidates in the District 5 race are Sue Marshall and Don Benton. Marshall received 4,682 votes, or 32.93 percent of votes cast. Benton received 3,745 votes, or 26.34 percent.
Coming in third is Rick Torres with 3,597 votes, or 25.30 percent. Current District 5 councilor Rylander has received the fewest votes so far, with 2,196 votes, or 15.44 percent.
As a rural Ridgefield farm owner, it’s not surprising that Marshall has put land use among her top priorities. Marshall got involved in how the council operates during the last update to the comprehensive plan and decided now was the time to run.
“I’m delighted. You work really hard, then today there was nothing I could do but wait,” Marshall said.
Marshall said she’s hopeful her lead in the election will continue as more ballots are counted in the coming days. However, she wasn’t really surprised by the results.
“I thought I had a shot at it, because we’ve been in the community for so very long, because we’re farmers. I think there’s an inherent trust among the rural community, for people with that kind of background.”
Marshall said concerns specific to rural communities, like surface mining and the 179th Street development projects, are the same concerns she has.
Benton, a former state senator and representative for the 17th Legislative District, is perhaps the most well-known of the candidates. Benton said he chose to run because, “the council appears to be in need of some leadership skills. I believe I can provide that.”
Benton did not return calls for comment Tuesday evening.