Matt Driscoll

Five things we learned from Pierce County primary election results Tuesday night

I think we’ll all remember where we were on Pierce County Primary Election Night 2019.

Like the moon landing or the birth of a child, some things just stay with you.

For better or worse.

Here are a few things we learned, or might have learned, and a few story lines to watch into November:

Mixed night for anti-LNG crowd

If the current results hold, Kristin Ang will finish second to Dave Bryant in the Port of Tacoma, Position 7 race, with both moving on to November. As of Tuesday night, fewer than 1,000 votes separated the two, with Shelly Schlumpf comfortably in third place.

In the Port of Tacoma race for Position 3, meanwhile, Justin Camarata was well behind Frank Boykin and Deanna Keller.

As Port of Tacoma candidates, Aing and Camarata took strong, vocal anti-liquefied natural gas stances.

Now one of them is gone, and the other likely faces an uphill challenge in November.

Another TNT alum ahead in Fircrest

There are seven Fircrest city council members. How do I know this? Because there are seven fir trees featured in Fircrest’s city logo, and I recently learned each of them represents a council member.

It’s pretty deep stuff.

Anyway, since 2012, one of those fir trees — so to speak — has been former News Tribune editor and current Metro Parks chief communications and public affairs officer Hunter George.

For the last two years, George has even been mayor. During his storied tenure, the city voted to build a new pool and recreation center, painted the city’s water tower and continued to not be University Place or Tacoma. It’s been a good run, which might be why George is unopposed this year in seeking his third term.

Meanwhile, Joe Barrentine, a former TNT photographer, looked poised Tuesday night to launch his own political career, likely to move on to November and face off against Jason Medley.

Can Fircrest handle all that former TNT influence? Only voters can decide.

Barrentine was even running in first place Tuesday night, ten whole votes up on Medley.

In Fircrest, that can easily be the difference between the best cul-de-sac cookout of the season and an average one.

August primaries are stupid

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Voting in early August is absurd. People are predictable, and summer takes priority over civic engagement nine times out of 10 — especially when we’re talking about school board positions and city council seats.

We live in a state with all-mail voting and paid postage — which is about as easy as it gets. Filling out a ballot took me less than ten minutes, sitting down.

Still, as of Tuesday night, turnout was hovering at just above 14 percent. The Pierce County Auditor’s Office, meanwhile, was projecting final turnout to be in the 18 to 20 percent range by the time the dust settles.

Both numbers are depressing and slightly below average for an odd-year election.

Bad night for Clean Up Puyallup?

I can’t go that far. Or won’t go that far. Those people terrify me.

What I do know is that, as of Tuesday night, Matt Cuyle — a Clean Up Puyallup favorite and man barred from stepping foot on the premise of New Hope Resource Center — was in third place behind the solidly backed Curtis Thiel.

Incumbent Robin Farris was well ahead of both men, with just over 40 percent of the vote.

There’s plenty of intrigue left in this one, however. As of Tuesday night, Thiel was up on Cuyle by just three votes.

In Cuyle’s Puyallup that can easily be the difference between the best armed lawn-chair recover effort of the season and an average one.

It probably remains to be seen how vulnerable Farris is come November.

Voters like Enrique Leon

In 2018, Enrique Leon was appointed to fill Catherine Ushka’s seat on the Tacoma School board.

On Tuesday night, he appeared well on his way to being elected by the people, securing more than 63-percent of the vote.

Kristopher Kerns was running in second place, with roughly 26-percent of the vote, more than 6,000 votes behind.

For Leon it was a dominant showing.

Speaking of domination …

Conor McCarthy is poised to fulfill his familial destiny and be elected to a second term on the Tacoma City Council. That’s probably for the best. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get to go to Thanksgiving if he loses. That’s just the way the McCarthy family works.

Luckily for Conor, he doubled the vote totals of each of his challengers Tuesday night.

The real question at this point is whether Brett Johnson hangs on to second place over Courtney Love.

Among more important things, the result will determine how many bad ‘90s jokes are made between now and November.

Matt Driscoll is a reporter and The News Tribune’s metro news columnist. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Driscoll lives in Central Tacoma with his wife and three children. He’s passionate about the City of Destiny and strives to tell stories that might otherwise go untold.