Candidates breathe quick sigh of relief

Once the primary election concluded on Tuesday, most candidates took a brief sigh of relief then settled in for the long haul toward the Nov. 4 election.

The primary whittled down the candidates for two Bremerton City Council seats and three seats on the Bremerton School District Board of Directors.

As of press time, there had been 45,056 ballots counted, which represented 43.3 percent of the registered voters, said Dolores Gilmore, elections manager for Kitsap County.

The following will be going on to the November election:

City of Bremerton Council District 1: Brad Gehring, 254 votes or 36.88 percent and incumbent Wayne Olsen, with 246 votes, or 35 percent.

City of Bremerton Council District 6: Dianne Robinson, with 384 votes, or 57 percent and Robert McConkey, with 222 votes or 31 percent.

Bremerton School District Director Position 1: Pat Jones, with 3,838 votes, or 52 percent and Michelle White, with 2,417 votes or 33.5 percent.

Bremerton School District Director Position 2: Louis Mitchell, with 2,329 votes, or 45 percent and Beverly Buster, with 2,009 votes or 28 percent.

Bremerton School District Director Position 3: Vicki Collins, with 2,826 votes or 41 percent, and Kathy Sorenson with 2,556 votes or 37 percent.

In addition, Bremerton voters have decided to extend the Emergency Medical Services Levy to continue paying for the Bremerton Fire Department’s paramedics. Voters approved the extension with 4,094 yes votes, or by 71 percent.

Gilmore was still anticipating more ballots to come in the mail on Thursday, and said as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday, the ballots would count for the primary.

Whether or not the anticipated ballots were going to change the outcome of the election was difficult to determine, she said.

“It just depends on whether there is a close race,” Gilmore said. “In a close race, yes, it can be affected depending on how many ballots come in. But looking at the races, there weren’t that many that were close.”

After the ballots come in the mail, each one is verified by a campaign worker who checks the ballot against the signature on the voter’s registration card. Then the campaign workers inspect the ballot to make sure it is not damaged in a way that will interfere with the optical scanner being able to read it, Gilmore said.

If the ballot is damaged, it is assigned a number and the information is transferred to a clean ballot, which is assigned the same number. The damaged ballot is kept for verification purposes.

“It’s a tedious proceess to make sure each ballot is done accurately,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore anticipated on Thursday afternoon that the ballots would all be counted by Friday afternoon and that by the weekend, there would be total tally. The election results will be certified on Sept. 26.

That’s when the real work begins for the candidates, said city council incumbent Wayne Olsen.

“I’m happy now that we’re over the first hurdle and again, it’s time to put my and work hard to tell people in my district I’m the person they should elect.”

He also said he was waiting until all the ballots were counted before campaigning for November.

“I’ve seen elections change overnight. I hope I’m still in the primary,” Olsen said.

School board candidate Vicki Collins is pleased with both the outcome of the primary but is stumped about what comes next.

“Everybody wants to win,” Collins said. “Because I’m no politician, I don’t know what to do from here other than to go out there , get visible and get noticed.”

Her approach to the next phase of the election will mirror the first half of the effort.

“I’ll do a little doorbelling, put up some more signs, go to the forums, and like I’ve said before, I’ll leave it to the voters,” she said.

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