Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci denied King County Councilmember Jane Hague a seventh term. Also, State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles had a strong lead over Rufe Orr for an open seat on the council.

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Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci’s message of effective leadership was carrying her to a surprising victory over six-term incumbent Jane Hague in the race to represent the Eastside on the Metropolitan King County Council. Balducci had 59 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s returns to 41 percent for Hague.

Balducci’s campaign touted her leadership in guiding a fractious Bellevue City Council to support bringing light rail to the Eastside and her policy experience on county issues including transportation and a planned new juvenile justice facility.

Balducci said Tuesday night that she was surprised at the margin of victory.

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“What I heard from voters was that the Eastside was changing and they thought it was time for a change in leadership,” she said.

Hague made a brief appearance at a Kirkland campaign party and thanked her supporters. She said the voters are always right and that they had decided it was “time for someone new.”

While always respectful in campaign appearances, Balducci called out Hague for what she argued was Hague’s lack of engagement on important issues. She noted that Hague had missed more council meetings and votes in the past two years than any other member.

Balducci has been deeply involved in regional transportation issues during her 15 years on the Puget Sound Regional Council transportation policy board — the past five as chairwoman — and five years on the Sound Transit board.

Hague, who was first elected in 1993, pointed to more than two decades of service to constituents and demonstrated her skill at retail politics, including an energetic presence on the campaign trail. A moderate Republican, she outraised Democrat Balducci $450,000 to $165,000 in the race for the nominally nonpartisan council, and picked up endorsements from unions and women’s groups, which traditionally endorse Democrats.

In other County Council races, State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles was leading Rufe Orr by a wide margin. Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Joe McDermott were unopposed in their re-election bids.

Four vying for two district seats:
Dist. Candidate Pct.
4 Jeanne Kohl-Welles 83%
4 Rufus Orr 16%
6 Claudia Balducci 59%
6 Jane Hague 41%
Results as of 8:15 p.m. Tuesday