LONG BEACH, Wash. - Pacific County's attempt to fight back against methamphetamine is failing at the polls today.

Voters - by the latest count - are failing to support a proposed property tax levy to fund extra law enforcement.

The result of Tuesday's election may be subject to change when absentee voters are counted, but right now there are 1436 votes against and 1,228 in favor. The results must be certified by Sept. 24. Under Washington law, the property tax increase needed a

60-percent "yes" vote to validate.

Norma Stevens of Ocean Park failed in her bid to unseat incumbent County Commissioner Bud Cuffel in the Democratic primary. Cuffel and GOP candidate Rudy DeSwart will contest the Nov. 2 general election. Incumbent Democrat Jon Kaino and GOP challenger Jamie Webber will contest the other county commission seat.

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, whose congressional district includes Pacific County, easily overcame Democrat challenger Cheryl Crist (gaining 87 percent of the Pacific County vote and 53 percent of the vote throughout District 3) and advances to face GOP winner Thomas Crowson in November. Baird garnered 44,019 votes districtwide, more than the combined total of the three others on the ballot.

Pacific County followed most statewide trends, supporting Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican former Congressman George Nethercutt to advance in the governor's race. Voters also supported Democrat Deborah Senn and GOP contender Ron McKenna to advance to the general election, Both seek the state attorney general position that Gregoire is leaving.

In the nonpartisan Superintendent of Public Instruction race, Pacific County voters also reflected state trends and advanced incumbent Terry Bergeson and Judith Billings to the Nov. 2 ballot. Billings, the former superintendent attempting a comeback, garnered 10 more county votes than Bergeson and was slightly ahead statewide.

Pacific County has 12,711 registered voters. Tuesday's election, which returned a 38 percent turnout, featured a new format in which voters had to select one party instead of being able to cherry-pick candidates from different parties.

Pacific County Auditor Pat Gardner reported today that there are 3,889 absentee ballots out. The next count will be Friday.

Some 3,345 of the 7,234 absentees issued were counted already and there were 400 still to be counted in the elections office this morning.

She said the countywide turnout of 38 percent was "about average" for a primary and there were no reported problems with the new color-coded ballot process.


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