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If more Whatcom ballots are counted, it appears that Democrats are holding the lead


Whatcom County Democrats maintained leads in the 42nd House and Senate races as they neared a historic swing in the traditionally conservative region after runoff results were announced Wednesday night, Nov. 9.

The 42nd District, which includes most of downtown Bellingham, the northern parts of the city and the rest of northern and eastern Whatcom County, was closely watched in the midterm elections.

Republicans sought to regain seats in the House of Representatives and keep the Senate in a traditionally red district that has become bluer in recent election cycles.

In the 42nd Senate race, state Rep. Sharon Shawmake, D-Bellingham, still led state Sen. Simon Sefzik, R-Ferndale, 51 percent to 49 percent, but Sefzik was up a few hundred votes.

But both Sefzik and Shemeik told The Bellingham Herald that the race is still too close to declare a winner.

“The comeback still looks good! Of course, all voters deserve to be heard,” Shewmak said in a text message.

Sefzik said recent voter trends at the local level have proven difficult to read.

“We narrowed it down a bit. You never know what’s going to happen with those later returns,” he said.

There were ballots the calculation takes more time in the general election because of a last-minute stampede of voters and the lingering effects of last week’s storm, which knocked out power and damaged fiber optic lines critical to the ballot verification process, Whatcom County Auditor Diana Bradrick said.

The results, released around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, include ballots from official drop boxes on Tuesday evening and those that arrived in the mail on Wednesday.

Ballots received on or after Thursday, November 10th will be counted if they are placed by 8pm on Tuesday. November 8.

The next release of general ballots was scheduled for about 5 p.m. Thursday, and the auditor’s office website said 23,200 ballots still needed to be counted.

Whatcom County voters line up to vote in person at the Whatcom County Courthouse on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Bellingham. Rachel Showalter The Bellingham Herald

Turnout at the elections

About 106,324 ballots had been returned by 5 p.m. Wednesday in Whatcom County, for a 66 percent turnout, according to the websites of the Washington Secretary of State’s office and the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office.

The turnout across the country was 56%.

Whatcom County had 157,634 people active registered voters, according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office.

On the ballot in Whatcom County were elections for the United States Congress and state Legislature, Secretary of State, State Supreme Court and statewide advisory measures, two local tax initiatives, district court judges and other local offices and measures.

US House of Representatives and Senate

Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray defeated Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley 57% to 43% statewide to win a sixth 6-year term.

U.S. Democrat Rick Larsen defeated Republican challenger Dan Matthews 61% to 38% in the 2nd Congressional District. After new maps were recently drawn, the district now includes all of Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties, as well as western Snohomish County.

Larsen thanked his supporters in an emailed statement on Wednesday, November 9.

“Thanks to you, I will be able to continue to protect and build on the successes of the current Congress: lowering prescription drug costs for seniors and providing lower co-pays for seniors who use insulin; to protect social security and medical care; fund law enforcement and expect accountability; fight climate change; and making sure the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act helps us build a cleaner, greener transportation system for everyone,” Larsen said.

40th Legislative District

Only two House members were on the ballot in the 40th Legislative District, which includes the southern half of Bellingham and the rest of southwestern Whatcom County, western Skagit County and all of San Juan County. The term of stay in the Chamber of Deputies is two years.

In the House No. 1 race, state Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, defeated Shannon Perks, R-Skagit County, 72 percent to 28 percent.

In the race for Seat 2, state Rep. Alex Rummel defeated union official Trevor Smith 76% to 21%. Both are Democrats from Bellingham.

Romel announced the victory in an emailed statement Tuesday evening.

A volunteer hands an “I Voted” sticker to a voter who drops their ballot into the official drop box outside the Whatcom County Courthouse on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Bellingham. Rachel Showalter The Bellingham Herald

42nd Legislative District

Both House and Senate seats were up for grabs in the 42nd District.

State Representative Sharon Shawmake edged out State Senator Simon Sefzik 51% to 49% for the four-year state Senate seat.

Rep. Alicia Ruhl, D-Blaine, beat GOP challenger Tausha Dykstra Thompson of Linden, 52% to 48% for seat of the House of Representatives 1, two-year term.

Bellingham Democrat Joe Timmons edged Republican Dan Johnson of Laurel 51% to 49% for the second two-year House seat.

Child care tax

Proposition 5, a countywide property tax measure to fund child care, preschool and other programs and services for children and families, failed 49% to 51%, up slightly from election night. A simple majority was required for approval.

EMS tax

Recommendation 6 to renew the existing countywide property tax levy for emergency medical services carried 64% to 36%. A simple majority is required for approval.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, a vote center and official ballot drop box are set up at the Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. Rachel Showalter The Bellingham Herald


Prosecutor Eric Ritchie met no resistance. Ritchie won 96% of the vote.

District court judge

Circuit Court Judge Angela Anderson was unopposed for the 1st District Court Judgeship of Whatcom County. Anderson won 98% of the vote.

Jonathan Rands defeated Gordon Jenkins 62% to 37% for Whatcom County District Court Judge No. 2.

Communal district 1

Jaime Arnett edged Eric Davidson for the Municipal District #1 seat, 52% to 48%.

This story was originally published November 9, 2022 at 5:33 p.m.

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Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with high housing costs for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he is also a volunteer firefighter with the South Whatcom Fire Department.

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