The latest count of ballots for county government races have newcomers as front-runners for Clark County Council seats, while a high-ranking sheriff’s office deputy is set to take the helm of the department.
As of the Saturday count of ballots, sheriff’s chief criminal deputy John Horch had the lead in the race to replace retiring Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins. Horch garnered about 55.7% of the vote, while Vancouver Police Cpl. Rey Reynolds has 45% of voters.
As the results came in last week, Horch said he felt “overwhelmed by the support” he received, both in the amount of votes he brought in and at his election night party. Though he thought he would win, he said the initial numbers came in higher than what he expected.
“I said two things at the beginning of the campaign: I’m going to give it my all, and we’re going to do it the right, honorable way, and I can look in the mirror today and know that that happened without a doubt,” Horch said.
He said after a short respite with his wife he is “ready to get to work.”
“I’m ready for some changes, good changes,” Horch said.
When the election is certified, Horch said he will lay out his plans for the department to the public. Part of that effort includes putting together an executive team to handle the biggest issues the department faces like rising crime and dwindling staff numbers.
“I’m going to be a sheriff for all,” Horch said. “I built a coalition of a lot of different community members, a wide spread of support from all different types of walks of life and political backgrounds, because you’re going to need that to tackle these issues.”He said engagement with the office’s employees and the community at large will be an important aspect of his tenure.
“The main thing is the engagement with the employees and the community, having a sheriff that will be there and speak up in good times and bad times,” Horch said. “When you take care of our people, (they) will in turn take care of the public.”
Clark County Council
For the three Clark County Council races this year, District 5 candidate Sue Marshall is likely to represent North Clark County constituents. Marshall had about 51.4% of the vote on Saturday, with fellow candidate Don Benton taking about 48.3% of votes.
Marshall said her initial tally of 56.7% on Nov. 8 exceeded her expectations. Based on the results in the August primary, she anticipated her lead would likely decrease as more ballots were counted.
She said the nonpartisan nature of the race likely played in her favor since Marshall has never been involved in partisan politics in the county. Her opponent, Benton, spent years in the Washington State Legislature as a Republican and served in the Trump administration as head of the Selective Service System.
“For the most part, people were kind of relieved that it wasn’t a partisan (race),” Marshall said.
She believed her experience as a farmer in the county also resonated with voters.
“I live in the rural area. (My) occupation is a rural (one),” Marshall said.
She stressed the importance of talking directly to people, something she undertook as she knocked on doors and hosted town halls during her campaign.
“I’m a pragmatic person. I listen to all sides of an issue,” Marshall said. “I think that people can count on me to listen and do my best to address concerns that they have.”
With an upcoming update to the county’s comprehensive growth management plan, Marshall said balancing the property rights of all residents would be key in making any changes.
“These decisions are riddled with conflict, and you have to find some common ground and a way forward,” Marshall said.
The contest for the council’s District 1 seat had the largest lead. As of Saturday, Glen Yung led with about 57.3% of the vote to Hector Hinojosa’s roughly 41.8%.
Yung said he is honored that voters considered him for the job.
“I’m very happy. I feel like we worked really, really hard to get here,” Yung said.
Yung’s sizable lead seemed to back up what he saw while he campaigned.
“You’re always surprised because you never know for sure, but from what I was experiencing out in the community, it felt about right,” Yung said.
Yung feels his message about the importance of supporting public safety and a message of unity helped him get the majority vote.
“I’m not supported or endorsed by either party and I’m not running to further the agenda of either party. I’m running to further the agenda of people that live in Clark County,” Yung said.
He said the council’s recent change to nonpartisan positions following a voter-approved amendment to the county charter is a positive shift.
“I think people are just ready to move on from the partisanship and want people that are going to work together to bring productive results forward,” Yung said.
He said addressing crime and homelessness will require a multifaceted approach. He noted the county will need to have strong relationships with state lawmakers to see success on those fronts.
“I want to ensure our police, our fire (protection) are properly funded, properly trained and very effective,” Yung said.
The council’s District 2 race featured the closest contest, though a clear front-runner emerged. As of Saturday, Michelle Belkot had about 55.6% of the vote to Chartisha Roberts’ roughly 45%.
Clark County auditor and PUD commissioner
Of the elected county executive seats up for election, the only one with an actual contest showed the incumbent with a strong lead. As of Saturday, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey had about 66.8% of the vote to challenger Brett Simpson’s roughly 32.8%.
Kimsey was pleased with the results. It was the first time he has had a challenger on the ballot for his position since 2002.
“I believed my history of service was going to be recognized by the voters,” Kimsey said.
Kimsey faced challengers in his first election in 1998 and then again in his re-election campaign in 2002. This year the competition was more fierce, as Simpson went after Kimsey on claims of election fraud.
Simpson filed a lawsuit in county court and was a party in a federal suit, both of which were dismissed in their respective jurisdictions.
“I would say my challenger went a lot further than questioning my integrity,” Kimsey said. “He accused me of committing crimes, accused me of being corrupt, accused me of cheating.”
Kimsey said he was honored the voters didn’t believe the accusations and helped him secure a sound victory in the polls.
Another incumbent was able to retain her position with the county’s public utility district. As of Saturday, Clark Public Utility District commissioner for District 2, Nancy Barnes, had about 65.9% of the vote, while her challenger Don Steinke received about 33.6% of votes.