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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Dec. 7, 2023

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Low turnout marks Clark County primary, special election

Few races on ballot; levy lid lift in Fire District 3 losing

By , Columbian staff writer

Early election results for the Aug. 1 primary election posted Tuesday showed an unusually low number of voters casting ballots. As of Tuesday, turnout was at 14.85 percent of the 91,067 eligible voters.

County Auditor Greg Kimsey said while Clark County’s voter turnout was lower than most other parts of the state, he was optimistic it would improve as more ballots are counted. Elections staff had counted 13,525 ballots by Tuesday evening with another 4,500 estimated left to count.

“We think it will get to 22 percent,” Kimsey said Tuesday. “That’s not too far off from our historical numbers.”

Both the 2019 and 2021 primary elections saw a nearly 25 percent voter turnout.

The limited number of races on the primary ballot may have contributed to the low turnout. Ballots went only to voters in the cities of Woodland and Battle Ground and Clark County Fire districts 3 and 5.

The two candidates to receive the most votes in the primary will move on to the Nov. 7 general election.

Three of Battle Ground’s seven city council seats were on the primary ballot.

Incumbent Shane Bowman, who is seeking his fourth term in office, received 1,155 votes, or 56.18 percent of votes cast in the race for the Position 2 seat.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Bowman said Tuesday night. “It lets us know where we stand. I still need to get out and knock on doors and let people know what my plans are if I get reelected.”

Challenger Josh VanGelder, who previously ran for a Battle Ground City Council seat in 2019 and 2021, received 797 votes, or 38.76 percent of votes cast.

A third candidate, local pastor C.R. Wiley, received 92 votes or 4.47 percent.

In the race for Battle Ground’s Position 3 council seat, incumbent Daniel Dingman was in second place behind challenger Victoria Ferrer.

Ferrer received 1,217 votes, or 59.39 percent of votes cast. Dingman, who was appointed to the council in June, received 761 votes, or 37.14 percent of votes cast.

A third candidate, Craig Wigginton, unofficially dropped out of the race last month. However, it was too late to have his name removed from the ballot. Wigginton received 68 votes, or 3.32 percent of votes cast.

The Battle Ground City Council Position 7 race also saw a candidate unofficially drop out. Clark County employee Max Booth dropped out in late June but was also too late to have his name removed from the ballot. Running against Booth are political newcomers Josie Calderon and Eric Overholser.

Overholser took the early lead with 1,086 votes, or 52.77 percent of votes cast.

Calderon, who previously ran for a seat on the council in 2021, received 897 votes, or 43.59 percent of votes cast.

Booth said family commitments and a busy work schedule wouldn’t leave him with enough time to serve on the council. Booth received 68 votes, or 3.30 percent of votes cast.

Woodland Mayor Will Finn is facing off against challengers Janna Lovejoy and Todd Dinehart. Dinehart was in the clear lead with 462 votes, or 54.16 percent of votes cast in Cowlitz and Clark counties.

Finn was in second place with 267 votes, or 31.3 percent of votes cast.

Lovejoy received 118 votes, or 13.83 percent of votes cast.

Clark County Fire Protection District 5 saw three candidates running for the Position 1 commissioner seat: incumbent Mike Lyons, Craig Hancock and Christopher Justice.

Lyons was leading by a landslide with 6,852 votes, or 88.16 percent of votes cast compared to 679 votes, or 8.74 percent, for Hancock and 203 votes, or 2.61 percent, for Justice.

Fire Protect District 3 had the only measure on the primary ballot, a levy lid lift allowing the district to increase the maximum property tax levy rate to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation beginning in 2024. The “no” votes led with 3,009 votes against, or 53.09 percent of votes cast. There were 2,659 votes in favor, or 46.91 percent.

Updated elections results will be posted at approximately 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday at https://clark.wa.gov/elections/results.

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