Early results are in for primary elections in Walla Walla and Columbia counties. Though ballots cast on voting day, Aug. 3, remain to be counted, several of the races have clear pairs of winner who will advance to the general election in November.
In our area’s contested primaries, Adam Kirtley (703 votes for 62.43%) and Brian Casey (353 votes for 31.35%) move on for the November Walla Walla City Council Position 2 race, while Burl Wallace (63 votes for 5.60%) is eliminated.
Gustavo Reyna (2,073 votes for 46.96%) and M. Rick Phillips (1,534 votes for 34.75%) move on for the November Walla Walla City Council Position 3 race, while Sharon Kay Schiller (749 votes for 15.97%) is eliminated.
Terri Trick (2,775 votes for 46.96%) and James Stovall (1,607 votes for 28.64%) take the lead to move on for the Walla Walla School Board Position 2 race, while Becky Waggoner-Schwartz (1,180 votes for 21.03%) is trailing.
And in Columbia County, Jack Miller (177 votes for 42.96%) and Johnny Watts (164 votes for 39.81%) move on for the Port of Columbia commissioner race, while Sean C. Milligan (69 votes for 16.75%) is eliminated.
Other positions up for election in both counties skip the primary and move straight to the general election because two or fewer candidates are in the running.
Early election returns show low turnout numbers in Walla Walla and Columbia counties compared to the last odd-year primary in 2019. Not all ballots are accounted for yet, so the turnout number will change as mail-in ballots — which are accepted as long as they were postmarked on Tuesday, Aug. 3, or earlier — are counted.
In Walla Walla County, the Auditor’s Office is reporting 5,630 ballots compared to 7,824 in 2019. There are 24,791 registered voters in the county.
In Columbia County, the Auditor’s Office is reporting 414 ballots compared to 823 in 2019. There are an estimated 26 ballots remaining to be counted. There are 1,626 registered voters in the county.
In Washington, odd-numbered year elections are heavy on local politics and lighter on state and national races. In our area, voters are asked this year to choose new city council members, port commissioners, school board directors and other local positions.
Washington uses a top-two primary system, meaning the top two candidates in the primary election, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election on Nov. 2.
This allows two candidates from the same party to advance to the general election