Election puts two new faces on park board | Updated

Two newcomers have been elected to the Vashon Park District board of commissioners. As of Thursday, Nov. 14, incumbent Lu-Ann Branch also held on to a lead in the closely watched park district races.

Results released this week by King County Elections showed that economics professor Doug Ostrom has apparently won his bid for position 4 on the park board — a spot vacated by David Hackett. Ostrom garnered 58.1 percent of the vote with 2,242 votes. His opponent, Robin Magonegil, received 41.6 percent with 1,605 votes.

Scott Harvey, a small business advisor and lender has ousted incumbent John Hopkins in the race for position 5. Harvey received 61.6 percent of the vote with 2,244 votes. Hopkins garnered 38.0 percent with 1,386 votes.

In the race for position 2 on the board, incumbent Branch, who joined the board in 2010, held a 200-vote lead on Thursday over challenger Stephen Evans. Branch, who has maintained her lead since the first results were announced on Nov. 5, had garnered 52.4 percent of the vote on Friday with 1,977 votes. Evans, a patent lawyer whose campaign has included the promotion of a website and a flashing sign on Vashon Highway, had 47.3 percent with 1,785 votes. According to King County Elections, there are about 450 Vashon ballots left to be counted in the Nov. 5 election.

Last week, Branch said she was feeling good about the results, but she wouldn’t celebrate a victory until the final votes come in.

“I don’t think I’m ready to claim victory until we get a better spread or more ballots counted,” she said.

Branch said she thought the close race “showed the intensity with which people felt about the park district.”

Both Ostrom and Harvey said last week that they were eager to take their spots on the board this January, but also anticipated the tough jobs ahead of them.

Ostrom, who has a doctoral degree in economics and ran for the board after learning of the district’s financial struggles, said he plans to work to balance the district’s priorities while completing any obligations left at the VES Fields project.

“I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be simple. There are a bunch of trade-offs involved,” he said. “People aren’t going to be happy no matter what we decide.”

Harvey, who has been on the VES Fields Oversight Committee, also called joining the board a challenge and said he hopes commissioners will work to regain trust of the public, which he called “very dissatisfied” with how the district handled the fields project.

“We have to reestablish their confidence in the park district so they can feel they can trust the park district to make good decisions,” he said.

Both men said they hope the situation won’t be adversarial and they expect they can learn from the institutional knowledge of current board members.

“Bill (Ameling) has an unbelievable wealth of knowledge,” Harvey said. “I’m looking forward to learning from him about the park district, and hopefully he will learn from me about fiscal responsibility.”

In another close race, Jenny Bell appears to have won a seat on the board of Water District 19, Vashon’s largest water purveyor. As of Thursday, Nov. 14, Bell, who owns a water consulting business, had 54.7 percent of the vote with 540 votes, and her opponent Mark Graham, a Burton Water Company employee, had 44.7 percent with 442 votes. About 1,250 votes have been counted in the Water District 19 race; there are about 2,250 registered voters in the water district.

On Friday, Bell, who has master’s degrees in business and architecture, seemed pleased but said she was not claiming a victory yet.

“I look forward to the opportunity to serve the District should the current trend continue and I be elected to the position,” she said in an email to The Beachcomber.

In the race for position 1 on the board of Vashon’s cemetery district, Jay Hanson, who was appointed to the board last year, appears to have retained his seat with 56.6 percent of the vote. Challenger John Kimble, an arborist and senior gardener with Seattle Parks and Recreation, garnered 43.3 percent.

A county levy that brings significant funding to Vashon’s fire department passed with a wide margin last week. The King County Medic One renewal levy, which funds emergency response services throughout King County and provides half of Vashon Island Fire & Rescue’s budget, passed with an overwhelming 84-percent approval rate. About 16 percent of King County voters rejected the levy.

Election results will be finalized and certified on Nov. 26.



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