For many Americans, Election Day serves as the collective voice of the people to signal their feelings about their country, state, or local municipality politics. Through the constitutional right to vote, people across the country will decide the next elected body of leadership for thousands of public offices on Nov. 8.
Although much of the mainstream attention will be focused on federal races, given the tightly contested U.S House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, the races and propositions below could have the biggest impact on the day-to-day lives of Grays Harbor County residents.
County Commissioner District 3
Arguably the most heated contest in Grays Harbor belongs to no other than the race for County Commissioner District 3. Incumbent nonpartisan candidate Vickie Raines is vying to secure her third term as commissioner against Republican challenger Lisa Zaborac.
Raines, who won over 46% of the Aug. 2 primary election vote, has been adamant to disprove negative claims made by Zaborac, who received nearly 32% of the primary vote, relating to her job performance as commissioner going as far as showing tax levy and road levy rates decreasing over the course of her last two terms. Raines has been a notable figure in Grays Harbor County, serving as a councilwoman and mayor of Cosmopolis before being elected as a county commissioner in 2014.
Zaborac, the current chairwoman of the Grays Harbor Republican Party, is running on the platform that change is needed in leadership, citing issues facing the Harbor such as homelessness and infrastructure. Although Zaborac has never held a public office in her career, she cites her nearly three decades as a business owner as to why she should hold the position.
Grays Harbor County Assessor
The race for Grays Harbor County Assessor features two individuals with experience in the position. Incumbent Democrat Dan Lindgren, who received nearly 54% of the primary vote, is seeking his third term as an assessor against Republican challenger Rick Hole, who obtained nearly 46% of the primary vote and served as the Grays Harbor County Assessor from 2011 through 2014.
Lindgren and Hole were both adamant at a Sept. 27 Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. candidate’s forum that political preference has nothing to do with the valuation of property or a building. Their main arguments centered around who has done better in the position, a point Lindgren has noted by talking about the improvements his office has made to better serve the public once he took over after Hole’s term.
Both candidates have felt pressure to address the increasing number of building purchases, many of which remain unused and abandoned, by Oregon businessman Terry Emmert in downtown Aberdeen and Hoquiam.
Grays Harbor County Sheriff
As police activity continues to be a focal point not only in Washington state but across the country, the race for Grays Harbor County Sheriff looks to be one-sided. With current County Sheriff Rick Scott not running for re-election, the race has come down to Darrin Wallace, the chief investigations deputy for the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, and Michael Catlett, the former Brier police chief.
Wallace, who secured over 71% of the primary election vote, has gained the endorsement of a plethora of law enforcement officers including Scott. Wallace has been adamant in addressing the limitations that police nationwide have endured due to recent legislation.
“Change is good. It’s good to get new blood in there and have people with new ideas come up with new strategies on how to run an agency,” Wallace said at a Sept. 27 candidate’s forum. “We need our officers to be able to have some of the actions that allow us to keep communities safe available.”
However, one of the endorsements for Wallace has prompted Catlett, who received nearly 28% of the primary vote, to believe that there is a “concerted effort to prevent him from being elected,” according to documents sent by a law firm to the city of Elma that was obtained by The Daily World through a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to the documents, Catlett is threatening litigation against the city following allegations that the Elma Police Chief Susan Shultz used her public office, specifically her city email, to endorse Wallace.
Grays Harbor Coroner
In the only race that didn’t feature an incumbent winning the majority of the primary vote, the Grays Harbor Coroner will feature incumbent Democrat Bob Kegel and his nonpartisan challenger George J. Kelly. Kelly received over 56% of the vote while Kegel received nearly 43%. Kegel, in a phone interview after the primary election vote was tabulated, believes the only reason he is trailing is due to not submitting information into the voter’s pamphlet, something he said he would do for the general election. Kegel served nearly four decades in the Aberdeen Police Department before being elected as coroner.
Republican Joe MacLean (Auditor), Democrat Kym Foster (Clerk), Democrat Norma Tillotson (Prosecutor), and Democrat Kenneth Albert (Treasurer) are all running unopposed heading into the general election.
Washington Secretary of State
In what is set to be a special election for Washington Secretary of State, Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee following outgoing Secretary of State Kim Wyman taking a position in the Biden Administration, will face Independent candidate Julie Anderson.
Hobbs, who received 39% of the primary vote statewide is vying to become the first Democrat to be duly elected to the Secretary of State in nearly 60 years, said his military experience in the National Security Agency makes him the perfect candidate for a position that he said is crucial to our democracy. Hobbs noted that his cybersecurity training is an asset that Anderson doesn’t possess and is extremely important in combating misinformation and disinformation about our elections.
Anderson, the current Pierce County Auditor, overcame a plethora of Republican challengers in the primary election to secure one of the top two spots by getting nearly 13% of the statewide vote. Anderson has been adamant to point out she is the only candidate on the ballot to have election administering experience for the second-biggest county in Washington. She said her goal is to make election processing more transparent for voters and to take partisanship out of elections. Anderson is vying to become the first Independent Secretary of State in Washington state history.
Legislative District 19 and Legislative District 24
Residents of Grays Harbor will get the opportunity to vote for state representatives in Legislative District 19 or Legislative District 24.
District 19 Republicans Jim Walsh (Position 1) and Joel McEntire (Position 2), who received 61% and 60% of the primary vote, respectively, are seeking re-election and will face Democrat challengers Kelli Hughes-Ham and Cara Cusack in their respective races. Hughes-Ham and Cusack received 38% and 30% of the primary vote, respectively.
District 24 Democrats Mike Chapman (Position 1) and Steve Tharinger (Position 2) are vying for re-election against Republican challengers Sue Forde and Brian Pruiett. Tharinger is facing the prospect of a close race after receiving nearly 51% of the primary vote compared to the more than 42% of the vote Pruiett won. Chapman won over 57% of the vote compared to Forde who received nearly 29%
In a race that could have implications in which party earns the majority in the U.S Senate, Incumbent Democrat Patty Murray will face Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley.
Murray, who is vying for her sixth term in the Senate, is the third highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate after spending nearly 30 years in Congress and received over 52% of the statewide primary vote. Murray, the first woman senator in Washington state history, has been adamant in her support of women’s reproductive rights, something she claims Smiley would endanger if elected.
Smiley, a political outsider, separated herself from a field of 18 candidates to receive nearly 34% of the primary vote. She has been vocal in her position that a change of leadership is needed in the state of Washington. Smiley has advocated that more needs to be done to support American soldiers at home and has backed the idea of term limits for politicians.
Congressional District 6
In another federal contest that could determine control of the U.S House of Representatives, incumbent Democrat Derek Kilmer will face Republican challenger Elizabeth Kreiselmaier in the Congressional District 6 race. This will be the second consecutive general election that Kilmer, who won over 50% of the primary vote, will face Kreiselmaier in. She received more than 23% of the Aug. 2 primary vote.
Kilmer, who is vying for his sixth term in office, has been adamant in his desire to help people in the community, claiming that much of the suffering his constituents are dealing with is because of the actions of former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Kreiselmaier, a former Precinct Committee Officer, has built her platform on combating homelessness, addressing crime and rebuilding the economy by lowering taxes and debt. She claims that these problems have only been exacerbated by Democrats. Kreiselmaier was defeated by Kilmer in the 2020 general election by nearly 19 percentage points.
Advisory Votes / Propositions
Voters will also have the chance to vote on advisory votes and propositions in their community, such as whether they wish to maintain or repeal tax increases as well as support or oppose levies for school districts and law enforcement. In Grays Harbor, propositions for levies concerning McCleary School District, North Beach School District, Fire Protection District 17 and Ocean Shore Police Department will be available for voters.
According to MacLean, the process of mailing out 47,800 ballots to registered voters across Grays Harbor County will begin on Sunday, Oct 16. People should start seeing their ballots arrive by Oct. 21. MacLean said don’t wait too long if your ballot doesn’t show up since ballots must be in the ballot box before 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.
“If people have not received their ballot by the 28th (of October), they need to call the Grays Harbor County Auditor Office immediately to get a replacement ballot. They can also come into our office and fill out a ballot there,” MacLean explained.