Dale Washam, Pierce County assessor-treasurer, is a one-termer.
Washam, 74, finished a distant fourth in Tuesday’s primary election returns. The result knocks him off the ballot for November’s general election and guarantees a new assessor next year.
Former Tacoma City Councilman Mike Lonergan held a substantial lead in early returns, exceeding his own goal.
“My goal was 30 percent,” Lonergan said. “In a five-way race that’s considered good – so I guess 40 percent is outstanding. It is an honor and it’s humbling. I look forward to the race.”
The race for second and a spot on the general election ballot was closer. Political newcomer Billie O’Brien, administrative manager at the assessor’s office, was leading Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell.
She came out ahead despite being outraised and outspent by Farrell, who campaigned for two years, raised the most money and enjoyed the backing of Pierce County Democratic leaders.
“I’m thrilled,” O’Brien said. “Absolutely thrilled. This is what we were hoping for. We’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m really thrilled with where we’re at right now.
Tuesday’s tallies leave some wiggle room. At the end of the evening, elections workers had counted more than 71,500 ballots in the assessor’s race. The number of remaining ballots is unclear.
“Let’s wait for the final count and see what happens,” Farrell said.
Washam did not respond to a request for comment sent to his personal e-mail account Tuesday evening. The results mark the beginning of the end of his stormy tenure, which has seen multiple internal investigations and damage claims that cost the county more than $1.5 million in settlement payouts and legal costs over the past two years.
The assessor earns an annual salary of $126,221, according to county records.
Tuesday’s outcome sets up a race between Lonergan, a political veteran, and O’Brien, who is making her first run for office.
During his campaign Lonergan alluded to the long-running controversy at the assessor’s office with a simple slogan: “Let’s fix this.” He touts his City Council experience and his past leadership of the Tacoma Rescue Mission as qualifications to lead the office.
O’Brien, backed by many employees and co-workers at the assessor’s office, presents herself as the candidate who already knows the job and the technical duties it entails. As administrative manager, she runs the treasurer section, which handles tax-collection and accounting.