Snohomish County Executive John Lovick held a strong lead over two challengers in Tuesday night’s primary returns, his first test among voters since being appointed to the position last year.

Lovick, a Democrat, and Carolyn Eslick, the Republican mayor of Sultan, appear headed to the November general election. This is a special election to fill out the remainder of former County Executive Aaron Reardon’s term, which would have ended next year.

Reardon resigned amid allegations that he’d had an affair with a county worker and that records requests by his staff were politically motivated. An election for a full four-year term for executive will be held in 2015.

Lovick, 63, a former county sheriff and state representative, received 47 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s count, while Eslick received 39 percent.

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James Robert Deal, 67, an attorney and anti-fluoride advocate, was trailing in third place, with 13 percent.

The county executive later this year will receive recommendations from an independent commission on how to best avoid and respond to incidents such as the Oso landslide, which killed 43 people in March.

Lovick has said he’s focused on finding a billion dollars for 17 transportation projects he says the county needs.

Eslick, 64, in her second term as mayor, has said she wants to find places to cut the county budget and bring down large government salaries.

Joseph O’Sullivan: 360-236-8268 or