Gael Tarleton declared victory Wednesday in her race against incumbent Bob Edwards for Seattle Port Commission, while the seesawing contest...
Gael Tarleton declared victory Wednesday in her race against incumbent Bob Edwards for Seattle Port Commission, while the seesawing contest between Bill Bryant and incumbent Alec Fisken remained too close to call.
King County election officials said they have roughly 150,000 ballots on hand to count and more may still be coming through the mail.
Edwards called Tarleton to concede Wednesday evening after the latest results showed Tarleton’s lead growing to 11,054 votes with more than 260,000 ballots counted. He congratulated Tarleton on a well-executed campaign in her first run for office.
“I hope she turns out to be an exemplary commissioner. I think I leave the Port in better shape today than when I joined it,” said Edwards, a two-term commissioner.
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Tarleton thanked Edwards for his years of public service. “I will do everything in my ability to deliver Port reform because that is what King County voters have asked me to do,” said Tarleton, who works at the University of Washington’s Office of Global Affairs.
The race between Bryant and Fisken took a dramatic turn Wednesday.
Fisken held a slim lead through Tuesday-night returns. But when almost 50,000 ballots were counted Wednesday, Fisken’s lead vanished and Bryant vaulted to a 3,705-vote advantage.
Fisken was not ready to concede, nor was Bryant claiming victory. “I’m not ecstatic, but it’s too early to call one way or another,” Fisken said.
“We’re super-happy with the trend. It’s moving in the right direction and our lead is expanding but it’s still too early,” added Sally Poliak, Bryant’s campaign manager.
Bryant ran an aggressive campaign that depicted Fisken — who has agitated for sweeping change at the Port — as divisive and ineffective. Bryant accused the commission of being dysfunctional, a point that seemed to resonate with voters, Poliak said.
Bryant, an international-trade consultant, raised $277,892 in contributions, almost double Fisken’s total of $152,897.
Poliak credited Bryant’s surge to a late flurry of radio ads, phone calls and e-mails. Bryant beat Fisken by 18 percentage points in the Aug. 21 primary.
“I think a lot of people were making up their minds in the last week. That’s our assumption,” Poliak said.
With both incumbents trailing in the latest returns, Poliak said voters appeared to want changes at the Port commission.
“I think that’s the message. They want better leadership at the Port. That’s what we were talking about the whole time,” she said.
In her well-funded campaign, Tarleton hammered away at the need for Port reform. The Port’s reputation has been sullied by controversies over a proposed $340,000 severance package for former Port chief Mic Dinsmore and over revelations that Port police circulated sexually explicit e-mails.
She was supported by major Democratic and environmental organizations in the nonpartisan contest. She raised $231,313 in contributions, while Edwards amassed $198,895, including $113,000 of his own money.
The Port of Seattle is a countywide agency that runs Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and owns the cargo terminals on Elliott Bay. The five Port commissioners serve four-year terms and are paid $6,000 a year to oversee policy and hire a chief executive.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or firstname.lastname@example.org