Election confusion continues for McCleary mayoral race

Schiller leads, Berken overtakes Dent

Following a second round of primary ballot counts in Grays Harbor County, questions remain regarding the race for Mayor of McCleary.

Incumbent Mayor Brent Schiller, who was appointed to the position in 2015, taking over for one of his challengers, Gary Dent, is well ahead of the pack, with 181 votes for nearly 65 percent of the total cast. As it stands, he would face Jared Berken in November. Berken holds a 13-vote lead over Dent’s 43. Berken is the law enforcement officer whose eligibility was called into question because there is some doubt whether he has lived in McCleary long enough to qualify for the position.

The Grays Harbor County Auditor completed the second count of primary votes on Aug. 4. So far they have counted 6,472 ballots, which puts voter turnout for the county at just more than 25 percent. A final count and certification is set for Aug. 15.

In the primary, the two candidates receiving the most votes for each office move on to the general election. Only those races with three or more candidates were on the primary ballot, as those with two or fewer automatically move on to the general election ballot in November.

With Berken’s candidacy questioned, it remains uncertain how that race will move forward into the general election. If he is not eligible, will he still be on general election ballots if he earns more votes than Dent? If Berken is dropped from ballots, will Dent be placed on ballots?

In the past, candidates have died before the general election, and their names remained on general election ballots and the third-place primary candidate was not added.

As of Friday, Aug. 5, Grays Harbor County Auditor Vern Spatz said he had received no formal complaints or phone calls regarding the race.

“No one has filed or said anything,” Spatz said. “I’m surprised — I expected a phone call at least.”

In anticipation of the potential controversy, Spatz said he has been researching the issue and he has concluded that the issue is ultimately up to the city to solve.

“The city statutes are the ones that require the one year residency,” Spatz said. “I’ll let (McCleary city attorney) Dan Glenn figure that out.”

Ultimately, however, Spatz noted on Monday, Aug. 7, that he and Glenn and the county prosecutor’s office would work together to decide the best course of action.

The situation could change by the time the election is certified.

“It’s all conjecture,” Spatz said on Aug. 5. “Nothing is official until we certify on Aug. 15. At that point, that’s when I expect something more official to happen.”

East County results:

Hospital District 1 Board position 1

Otis Leathers, 112, 10 percent

Georgette Beerbower Hiles, 604, 53.9 percent

Carolyn Wescott, 404, 36.1 percent

City of Elma Proposition 1 — Levy to partially fund police services for 2018

Yes, 322, 82.3 percent

No, 69, 17.7 percent

City of McCleary Mayor

Jared Berken, 56, 20 percent

Donald Gary Dent, 43, 15.4 percent

Brent Schiller, 181, 64.6 percent

City of McCleary, Council position 3

Jaron Heller, 118, 47.6 percent

Eric J. Hart, 85, 34.3 percent

Odd DeBakker, 45, 18.1 percent

Fire District 5, Director Position 1

Lisa Mayberry, 104, 22 percent

Dave Hauge, 167, 35 percent

Eric L Patton, 201, 43 percent