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41st District House race continues to tighten

Poll worker Gary Spak, of Mercer Island, at right, assists a voter with submitting a completed ballot at Island Park Elementary School on Mercer Island, Tuesday afternoon. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Poll worker Gary Spak, of Mercer Island, at right, assists a voter with submitting a completed ballot at Island Park Elementary School on Mercer Island, Tuesday afternoon.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The number of votes separating a Democrat ahead in a close race for the 41st Legislative District continues to shrink with each count.

As of the tally released Thursday afternoon, Republican candidate and current Mercer Island City Councilmember Steve Litzow only trailed by 548 votes. At one point last Wednesday, Litzow was behind by as many as 4,000 votes, but several small gains since late last week have allowed him to creep closer and closer toward a tie. On Thursday the percentage difference was 50.4 in favor of Maxwell to 49.5 for Litzow.

Based on the estimated turnout by Secretary of State Sam Reed, there may be as many as 1,700 votes left from the 41st. Voter turnout in the district has passed 81 percent. The election won't be officially certified until Nov. 25.

A trio of Democrats were still ahead in the counts. Judy Clibborn and Fred Jarrett looked to have sealed their victories. Litzow's Democrat opponent, a Renton resident and School Boardmember Marcie Maxwell, has been ahead since polls closed last Tuesday. Percentages for most contests and initiatives — both local and statewide — remained mostly unchanged since the initial counts on Tuesday.

The results of other local and statewide measures were not as close. Sound Transit's proposal to bring light rail to the Eastside and across I-90 with a stop on Mercer Island also received strong support. There was about a 57 percent of the vote in favor of expanding the regional light rail system. Jarrett, who will begin his first term in the state senate in January, said he was glad light rail was approved and I-985 — the carpool lane initiative — failed.

"I am pleased at those two votes," said Jarrett. "It's nice to get the decision behind us that we are going to do transit. Of course we have a lot of work now to do it right but to have the ability to move on instead of arguing roads versus transit."

Approval of Initiative 985 would have opened car pool lanes to single-occupancy vehicles outside of rush hour and divert general fund dollars to transportation projects. Jarrett complemented statewide voters for rejecting it.

"That was one of the great votes so far this century," Jarrett said. "That was a very, very bad initiative and we got it rejected without having to spend millions [of dollars]. That should give us great faith in our democracy and our voters."

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