With a handful of ballots left to count in the Tacoma District 3 council race, Justin Leighton conceded to second-place candidate Keith Blocker Thursday.
Blocker said he is excited to continue his campaign.
“(Leighton) congratulated me on a well-run campaign,” Blocker said of the win.
He said Leighton also appreciated an opponent who was not willing to sling mud.
Leighton, a government relations officer for Pierce Transit, was ahead by 29 votes on Tuesday, election day. But new vote counts Wednesday and Thursday eliminated that lead.
By Thursday, Blocker was ahead by 21 votes in what was a seven-way race for the seat that represents the Hilltop, Tacoma Mall area and Central Tacoma.
Blocker is a director of middle school programs for Peace Community Center and a Hilltop resident. He will face the leader of the contest, Tom McCarthy, in the November general election.
Leighton sent a letter to his volunteers and supporters shortly after the call to Blocker. It reads, in part:
“Just moments ago I got off the phone with Mr. Blocker congratulating him on advancing on to the general election. I wished him the best of luck.
In today’s latest ballot count, we find ourselves down by 21 votes with only a handful of ballots left to count. It is time to move forward with yet another civic lesson that every vote truly does count.
There is not enough gratitude I can offer to so many of you who gave your money, time and vote to this campaign. It truly is a humbling experience to run for office and I honestly can say I can walk away with no regrets and a much better person.
I personally want to thank two important individuals that have helped me from day one. First, to my partner Benson Shum for always encouraging my service to our community in the various capacities over the years, including this campaign. Secondly, to my very good friend Jessica Gavre who has donated countless hours and opened her home to the campaign. You cannot ask for a better partner than Benson and a better friend than Jessica.
In closing — I am not going anywhere. I still remain active with the YWCA Pierce County’s Associate Board and the Emergency Food Network. I still co-chair our city’s Transportation Commission and work to advocate for the strong progressive values we share. I still adopt the traffic circle down the street and frankly I may just start a neighborhood block watch group to help fight back increased crime and violence happening in the neighborhood. There is much work to be done because Tacoma can do better.”