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Island voter turnout is huge | Maxwell wins

Island voters cast a total of 14,735 ballots in the Nov. 4 election with a turnout of nearly 88 percent, according to the final count published on the county’s Web site. A total of 73,568 votes were cast from the 41st District, representing Mercer Island as well as parts of Renton and Bellevue, which had a total turnout of more than 85 percent.

The third and final race to represent Islanders in Olympia was also decided last Tuesday as the county certified the Nov. 4 general election results. The official canvassing report will be released on Friday, Dec. 5, and the Reporter will review the information to determine how Islanders voted in 2008.

Democrat Marcie Maxwell, a Renton resident, beat Mercer Island City Councilmember Steve Litzow by 748 votes, or 50.5 to 49 percent. Maxwell will join a duo of Islanders to represent the 41st. Democrats Fred Jarrett and Judy Clibborn also won this year. Jarrett was elected to a four-year Senate term after serving eight years in the House. Clibborn ran unopposed and was elected to her fourth two-year term in the House.

Maxwell said that she was not nervous, but maybe just a little anxious as the election results unfolded over a three-week period. “When you work on an election for 11 months and you have a three-week extension...” she said, her voice trailing off.

However, she expected a “very competitive race. The 41st District is certainly a desirable place to live and do business.”

The race was expensive, and because it was an open House seat, both political parties and their supporters targeted it with their attention and money. The race drew more than $500,000 in contributions, with Litzow outraising Maxwell by about $83,000.

“We worked hard to run a good, clean campaign,” Maxwell said.

Even though the results were still uncertain after Nov. 4, Maxwell began her prep work in anticipation of taking a seat in the House. She interrupted a week’s vacation after the election to fly up for a session on preparing for the Legislature.

“It was important to make sure I was starting out ahead of the game,” she said.

Next up, she will turn her attention to hiring a legislative aide. She has a busy schedule planned for December, meeting with organizations and businesses.

According to state legislative records, it is the first time since the Great Depression that the 41st elected Democrats to all three positions. It is also the first time in several years that one of the elected candidates is not an Islander. While Clibborn and Jarrett have been working together in Olympia since January 2003, Jarrett said that he was pleased to have Maxwell join the team.

“Someone from Renton is really going to help our team,” said Jarrett. “It’s a different community and having somebody that can bring that diversity to the legislature will be a real advantage.”

Litzow, who was elected to his second term on the City Council last year running unopposed, said that he called Maxwell on Monday to congratulate her on a successful campaign and he looks forward to working with her as a City Councilmember on issues that affect Islanders.

While many other races were clearly decided moments after the polls closed on Tuesday, Nov. 4, the race between Litzow and Maxwell got closer and closer, and at one point almost met the state threshold for an automatic recount. Litzow originally trailed by about 4,000 votes after the initial tally, but made steady gains as absentee ballots were counted in the weeks after the election. Last week, the margin of victory hovered around 500 votes and looked to be approaching a recount.

According to state statutes, a recount is conducted if the difference is less than 150 votes and less than .25 percent. The contest between Litzow and Maxwell was the only legislative race in King County near recount levels.

Dean Radford, editor of the Renton Reporter, contributed to this story.

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