The second round of primary election results released by the Pierce County auditor’s office on Wednesday afternoon didn’t do much to move the needle on any of the Tacoma races or the race for a seat on the Port of Tacoma commission.
Under the state’s top-two primary system, only the top two vote-getters advance to the November ballot. All those who looked to have the votes to advance on Tuesday night remained safe as of Wednesday.
In the race to be the next mayor of Tacoma, the gap between architect Jim Merritt and former councilwoman Victoria Woodards closed slightly as of Wednesday’s results posting.
Merritt now leads Woodards by about 4.5 points — fewer than 1,000 votes in the very low-turnout primary. Merritt has 40.8 percent of the vote and Woodards has 36.34 percent, with third candidate Evelyn Lopez, an attorney, trailing far behind at about 23 percent.
The citywide race for at-large District 6 essentially stayed the same, with longtime educator Lillian Hunter maintaining a wide lead over urban planner Meredith Neal. Trailing far behind them were the three other candidates — the Rev. Gregory Christopher held onto third place, followed by socialist Sarah Morken and University of Washington Tacoma student Maria Johnson (who announced in a recent Facebook post that she was ending her campaign).
The District 6 seat was vacated by Woodards in December when she announced she’d be running for mayor. It’s been temporarily filled by Lauren Walker Lee, a former two-term councilwoman who was appointed to serve the last year of Woodards’ second term.
On the Eastside of Tacoma, the three-way race for the District 4 seat stayed much the same.
Tacoma Public Schools board president Catherine Ushka kept her large lead over commercial real estate broker and developer Kevin Grossman. Insurance professional Shalisa Hayes, the driving force behind the planned Eastside Community Center, remained far behind in third place.
The five-way race for the District 5 seat also appeared unchanged by updated election returns, except that the gap between Tacoma planning commission chairman Chris Beale and insurance agent Brian Arnold narrowed slightly. Each have more than 30 percent of the vote. Janis Clark, a 60-year-old former Army officer who was dismissed from the service after being convicted by a military court-martial of cocaine use, is running at a distant third, followed by Justin Van Dyk and Joanne Babic.
In the race for Position 1 on the Port of Tacoma commission, former Pierce County Superior Court Judge John McCarthy maintained a wide lead, with nearly 49 percent of the vote as of Wednesday. He and former port security director Eric Holdeman looked to be advancing to November’s general election.
Jim Jensen, who said he was withdrawing from the port race after screenshots of racist, misogynistic and offensive tweets he wrote surfaced, remains a distant third. He missed the deadline to have his name removed from the ballot, and doing so after the deadline would have required a court order.
As of Wednesday 74,614 ballots had been counted and elections officials estimated there were roughly 16,000 still to count, according to the auditor’s office.