Politics & Government

Recount will decide Young-Flemming race for Pierce County Council

The race for a Pierce County Council seat between Derek Young and Stan Flemming will require a recount, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson said Friday.

It will be the only mandatory recount in Pierce County this election season, Anderson said.

As of Friday, Young led Flemming by 95 votes in ballot tallies from the Nov. 4 election. That margin falls within the range for a mandatory hand recount.

But that difference could still increase and slip into the margin for a mandatory mechanical recount, Anderson said.

Officials won’t know which type of recount will be required until the election is certified Tuesday. Any challenged ballots will be resolved by then, and the cutoff for receiving military ballots will have passed.

The recount will be held Dec. 1-3. Results will be released each day but won’t be final until the recount is certified Dec. 4, Anderson said.

Pierce County must pay for the cost of the manual or mechanical recount. The cost is the same: from $40,000 to $50,000, Anderson said.

By law, a hand recount is mandatory for a non-statewide race when the difference is:

• Fewer than 150 votes and

• Less than one-quarter of 1 percent (.0025) of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

In the Young-Flemming race, the margin of difference is currently .0023. That’s out of a combined 41,509 ballots for the two candidates.

Young, a Democrat, has held a slight lead over Flemming, the incumbent and a Republican, since the first returns on election night.

The two Gig Harbor residents are vying for a four-year seat on the council representing the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas and portions of Tacoma. The position pays $107,602 a year.

If Young wins, it will reduce the extent of the council’s majority power. The council currently has five Republicans — enough to approve measures requiring a supermajority — and two Democrats. Most tax increases require a supermajority, as does the override of a county executiive’s veto.

Young, 38, who runs his own graphic design business, was on the Gig Harbor City Council for 16 years.

Flemming, 61, is a former state legislator and was a University Place city councilman for 14 years, serving as the city’s first mayor.