Ahrenius, Ghatan, Schwinge post wins in contested races; I-522 backed by local voters, but fails statewide

Ghatan, Schwinge post election wins - Contributed photos
Ghatan, Schwinge post election wins
— image credit: Contributed photos

Mike Ahrenius won reelection to the Port of Friday Harbor Commission with 83.5 percent of 2,869 votes cast, the largest election margin ever in a contested port commission race.

Ahrenius commented on the election: “I believe this is a vote of confidence in everyone at the Port of Friday Harbor. I sincerely thank you for your support.”

Amending the county charter was rejected by 66 percent of county voters, leaving intact the requirement that voting districts can only be altered by a Charter Review Commission, not by the initiative process.

In the only Friday Harbor Town Council race with more than one competitor, Farhad Ghatan won the election with 335 votes, or 57 percent of ballots cast. Matt Shildneck, his opponent, garnered 253 votes, or 43 percent.

Ghatan thanked the voters and said he was thrilled to join the town council. “I appreciate that the voters selected me to represent them on the town council,” Ghatan said. “This was my first run for office and I learned that I have to consider other people’s opinions, which I will.”

Friday Harbor Mayor Carrie Lacher and council member Anna Maria de Freitas were unopposed.

In something of an upset in the election for San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 Commissioner, newcomer Mark Schwinge bested veteran lawmaker and candidate Howie Rosenfeld with 58 percent of the vote. Rosenfeld, who had previously served the county as a member of the board of health, Friday Harbor councilman and San Juan County councilman, tallied just under 42 percent.

Voter turnout totaled 61 percent, a little below average for general elections, but close to the 2009 and 2011 off-year election turnouts. County elections supervisor Doris Schaller said the elections department encountered no problems in receiving or tallying the votes and that she and Auditor Milene Henley, manager of local elections, were pleased the tally exceeded 60 percent.

County voters continued to register their concern with genetically modified foods, as they did last year when voters approved a measure banning use of genetically-modified seeds in the county.

Unlike the rest of the state, San Juan County voters approved Initiative to the Legislature 522, which would have required disclosure on food labels if the food was the result of genetic engineering. Almost 65 percent of county voters supported the measure. Statewide, I-522 was rejected by 56 percent of the voters.

County voters and state voters were both negative on the lastest Tim Eyman initiative, Initiative to the Legislature 517, concerning initiative signature-gathering and related rules. County voters voted against the initiative, 67 percent to 33 percent.

In the contested Fire Protection District No. 4 election (Lopez Island), Rebecca Smith took 73 percent to 27 percent for Richard Bangsund. Scott Zehner easily won reelection as commissioner of the San Juan Island Park and Recreation District with 87 percent of the vote.

In the only contested Orcas Island School District director election, incumbent Tony Ghazel won with 68 percent of the vote to Justin Paulsen’s 32 percent.

On Lopez Island, the one-year levy to fund local solid waste activities passed overwhelmingly with nearly 80 percent of the vote.

All four Lopez Island school board positions were contested. Winners were John Helding with 57 percent, Clive Prout with 68 percent, Del Guenther with 55 percent and Dixie Budke with 62 percent.

Dan Post outpolled Bob Porter for Port of Lopez Commissioner, 62.4 percent to 37.6 percent.

Countywide, 7,340 ballots were counted. The number of registered voters in the county on election day was 12,011.


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