Voters served by West Pierce Fire and Rescue were supporting the district’s funding measure Tuesday, but low voter turnout may still doom its chances.
Meanwhile, the fields were narrowed to two candidates in races for mayors, city and town council members, and school boards all around the South Sound.
And adding to the suspense in a pair of local communities, candidates were locked in tied votes after early returns in DuPont and Wilkeson.
A strong majority of voters in the West Pierce fire district were supporting Proposition No. 1, but not enough total ballots have been received so far in this low-turnout primary election to validate the measure.
The Pierce County Auditor’s Office reported 9,356 ballots were needed in the Lakewood and University Place-based district, but only 7,558 had been received so far.
“We’ll see what tomorrow’s mail brings,” the office tweeted.
West Pierce Deputy Chief Mitch Sagers said he was “overjoyed” by the strong voter support but knew it would be a tall order to validate given the short ballot.
“We’re still confident that there’s votes to be counted,” he said.
If the current measure doesn’t validate, Sagers said, the district plans to run the same levy request in November when validation is less of a concern due to stronger voter turnout.
The levy, which would cost property owners about $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed value, funds more than 35 percent of the Lakewood-based district’s operations and is expected to bring in an estimated $11 million both in 2014 and 2015.
The district already collects a regular levy of $1.50 per $1,000 and a levy specifically for emergency medical response of 50 cents per $1,000.
Also in Lakewood, John Simpson and Bryan Thomas will likely face off during the November election to fill the open seat on the City Council.
Both men would bring name recognition to the fall race. Simpson, a photojournalist and history teacher at Pierce College, was temporarily appointed to the council in 2003. Thomas, a former airline human resources manager, is the son of long-time Lakewood city councilwoman Claudia Thomas.
In DuPont, incumbent Councilman John Ehrenreich was likely advancing to the general election but his challenger is unknown. Laurie Fait and Michael Gorski, who have both been critical of the city’s management, each received 272 votes.
In Bonney Lake, incumbent Mayor Neil Johnson and City Council member James Rackley appeared to be ahead in the race for mayor in the plateau city.
Johnson, who’s running for his third term, led a failed effort to create a parks taxing district during April’s special election — an issue that drew much scrutiny.
Rackley, who has served on the City Council for 14 years, said he was prompted to run for mayor after Johnson and the city “wasted” $28,000 on the parks measure that 80 percent of voters opposed. Johnson has noted that Rackley initially supported putting the measure on the ballot.
In Eatonville, Gordon B. Bowman and Mike Schaub appeared to be leading the field of four candidates vying to replace one-term Mayor Ray Harper, who is running for a Town Council seat in November.
All the mayoral candidates want to improve the financial health of the Mount Rainier foothills community.
Schaub, who has served six years as elected town treasurer, has said his experience in government finance can help move Eatonville forward.
Bowman, who served on Town Council since 2009, has said he hopes to promote Eatonville as a destination for new businesses.
The small town of Wilkeson saw an unusual scenario in early returns: Two of the three candidates for mayor were tied.
Former council member Robert Walker was leading with the most votes, but tallies for David Wright and Doug Paulson were tied with 13 apiece.
All three candidates are vying to replace Mayor Donna Hogerhuis in the town of about 500 on the west-central edge of Mount Rainier.
In Sumner, Planning Commission member Earle Stuard and incumbent City Councilman Ed Hannus were leading Melony Pederson and Jody T. Wilkins in the race for City Council Position 1.
Hannus, who is seeking a second full term, trailed Stuard by a large spread Tuesday night.
The Puyallup School District was the largest of a handful of local school districts with primaries Tuesday.
Kathy Yang and Karen Edwards appeared to be the top two vote-getters in the lone Puyallup schools race, with Margie Silver trailing.
All candidates say the School Board must convince Puyallup voters to support a bond measure to address overcrowding in schools. A $279.6 million bond was defeated in April.