Eileen Quiring holds lead over Eric Holt for Council Chair

Peter Van Nortwick holds onto his position as Clark County Assessor, after challenge from Darren Wertz

Eileen Quiring and Eric Holt

The Clark County Chair race still remains a tight one, but it’s becoming much less likely that Eric Holt will pull out a miracle.

As of Nov. 13, Holt trailed District 4 Councilor Eileen Quiring by 1,567 votes.

The evening of Nov. 8, Holt said their campaign was prepared to push for a recount if the margin remained as close as it was.

Quiring, who trailed Holt by more than 1,200 votes on election night, said she attended an event at Cathedral Tapatia put on by 17th District Representative Vicki Kraft whose opponent, Tanisha Harris, conceded the close race on the night of Nov. 8.

“We have a lot of the same supporters,” says Quiring of Kraft, a Republican, before adding, “once I saw the first results I thought ‘bye-bye.’”

But later that evening, Quiring says she got a boost of morale from a few people who said history was on her side.

“I got a couple calls … that said ‘Eileen, you know, you just need to know the history. It will trend your way when they start counting more votes, and later votes,’” Quiring tells ClarkCountyToday.com.

One example she was given was 2008 when Republican Tom Mielke beat Pam Brokaw by just over 200 votes, after trailing by 4,500 votes on election night.

“That wasn’t the way it was for me in Oregon,” says Quiring, referring to her time in the state legislature there.

State law in Washington calls for a mandatory recount if the difference between two candidates is less than one-half of one percent and also less than 2,000 votes.

If the final tally is outside of the mandatory recount margin, the losing campaign could request a recount, but would be required to pay for the recount. That would include a deposit of 25 cents per ballot cast, for a manual recount, or 15 cents for a machine recount. If the results of the election were overturned, the county would refund the campaign for the cost of the recount.

Clark County Assessor Race

In another local race, current Clark County assessor Peter Van Nortwick held onto his position after being challenged by Darren Wertz. As of Nov. 13, Van Nortwick held 92,910 (58.28 percent) of the votes, while Wertz had 62,456 (39.18 percent).

Here is a quick recap of some of the other local races.

17th Legislative District, Position 1 – Rep. Vicki Kraft (R) and Tanisha Harris (D):

Close races are nothing new to Kraft, who won her seat in 2016 by just over three percent after Lynda Wilson left to become a state senator. This time she leads Harris, a political newcomer, by just 1,047 votes as of Nov. 13.

“This is the 17th District,” said Harris on election night. “We have close races, and it usually comes down to that last day when the ballots are being counted to determine a winner.”

Kraft expressed optimism that, historically, later votes in Clark County tend to lean republican. Results from Nov. 13 would seem to bear that out, but the race is still too close to call.

17th Legislative District, Position 2 – Rep. Paul Harris (R) and Damion Jiles, Sr. (D):

Harris is heading back to Olympia for a fifth term as Representative from the 17th District’s second seat. The republican defeated Jiles, Sr., a political newcomer. As of Nov. 13 Harris had a lead of nearly 9,000 votes.

“I just work across the aisle a lot,” said Harris, “listen to constituents, vote what I think my constituents want, and I think I have, and I will continue to represent them well.”

Harris was instrumental in helping to negotiate what became the McCleary funding fix, but said he’s disappointed with the bill that was ultimately approved at the end of the last session. While he said McCleary is done, the legislature will need to make changes to avoid a new school funding crisis.

Meanwhile he hopes to tackle issues with how the state deals with people in a mental health crisis, as well as expanding reimbursements for Medicare in order to increase access to care for people in Washington.

18th Legislative District, Position 1 – Rep. Brandon Vick (R) and Chris Thobaben (D):

This race looks sure to remain in republican hands, as of Nov. 13 Vick’s lead widened to more than 8,000 votes. Vick will be entering his fourth term representing the 18th District.

“Campaigns are about doing the work right?” said Vick. “When tonight’s over, campaigns are over, it’s time to do the work. Regardless of who’s in charge, regardless of what the margins are, we all got to get down to work for the people of Washington and that’s what I plan on doing.”

Thobaben ran a spirited race, but says he felt like they got too late of a start to get his message out. The political newcomer said he’s hoping to run for the seat again, and will start his campaign at least a year before the next election in 2020.

18th Legislative District, Position 2 – Kathy Gillespie (D) and Larry Hoff (R):

In the August primary election, Gillespie and Hoff were the only people on the ballot. In that race, the democrat won by just over three percentage points. As of the night of Nov. 9, those primary results had more than flipped, with Hoff pulling ahead. While the 4,000-vote lead is not insurmountable, it appears the 18th LD-2 seat will remain in republican hands after Rep. Liz Pike decided to step away from politics.

“Anytime you enter any kind of competition, you have to know you may emerge victorious or you may fall short,” Gillespie said on election night. “For me personally, I’m just feeling really proud of what we’ve done, and as the coming days and weeks pass by we’ll figure out what’s next.”

Gillespie stepped down as chair of the Vancouver School Board in order to fully commit to running this race, after coming up short against Pike in 2016, and appeared to have much of the momentum coming out of the primary.

“We’re excited,” Hoff says. “It’s been a lot of work and to tell you the truth I’m already a winner. Getting to meet all the folks in the 18th district was an absolute win for me.”

Hoff ran primarily on a business-friendly platform, and said he will push for the conversation around the area’s transportation issues to focus on a third bridge across the river. The former credit union CEO says he’s excited to potentially move on to this next chapter — though he said it’s premature to say whether he hopes to remain in Olympia on a long term basis.