Tice, who was behind, now leads race to retain city council seat; Pacific County counts absenteesGEARHART - It's up in the air.

Carol Brenneman was ahead on election night when votes were tallied for a Gearhart City Council position held by incumbent Ed Tice. It was the closest local race.

But Clatsop County Elections staff reported this morning that some North Coast ballots were turned in to other counties. These have been forwarded to Clatsop County and may change the result.

Now the latest count shows Tice, a teacher at Seaside High School, with 304 votes to Brenneman's 303. There were four write-in votes on the election night tally.

If the race is within two votes, the ballots will be recounted. The Wednesday morning count was 299 for Brenneman and 294 for Tice, and a later tally showed it had moved to 303 to 300 in her favor.

Tice and Brenneman, who owns Country Bungalow in Seaside, were not available for comment this morning. The other incumbent, John Pincetich, won by a larger margin Tuesday and Mayor Kent Smith was unopposed for another term.

Meanwhile in Pacific County, absentee ballots are being counted today, but two Democratic county commissioners are holding on to their jobs against challenges from Republicans.

The latest count shows Jon Kaino polled 4,896 votes to Republican Jamie Webber's 3,618 while Bud Cuffel is leading the GOP's Rudy DeSwart 4,731 to 3,452. Both Democrats polled 57 percent.

Pacific County Auditor Pat Gardner said this morning that there are 1,219 absentee ballots being counted today, and 983 still out. The election must be certified by Nov. 17. Pacific County has 13,171 registered voters, meaning the turnout stands at 70 percent and likely will top 80 percent when the absentees are counted. If so it won't beat the record.

The other contested local race featured the nonpartisan Pacific County Public Utility District No. 2 board. For District 3, incumbent Ron Hatfield is defeating challenger KC Brown 4,632 to 2,146. In District 2, Paul Cole was unopposed on the ballot.

In other races, U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, of Vancouver, Wash., whose district includes Pacific County, easily won a fourth two-year term. He beat Republican candidate Thomas Crowson, a retired firefighter and homebuilder.

For the state Legislature, no Republicans filed for District 19, which includes Pacific County, giving the three Democratic incumbents a free ride. The lawmakers are state Sen. Mark Doumit, who was appointed when Sid Snyder retired, and state Reps. Brian Hatfield and Brian Blake.

Pacific County Superior Court Judge Joel Penoyar was unopposed for re-election again.

As Washington votes were counted to determine the governor's race, which was still in the balance as The Daily Astorian went to press late this morning, Pacific County's tally reflected the divided state. So far, 4,618 peninsula voters have pledged support for Democrat Christine Gregoire while 4,070 are backing Republican Dino Rossi.

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