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Election: Recount coming in Lopez/Shaw County Council race; Orcas Rec funding measure fails
Lopez and Shaw island residents won't know who their representative on the San Juan County Council will be until after Thanksgiving.
Updated election results Wednesday put Lopez Port Commissioner Jamie Stephens two votes ahead of County Councilman Bob Myhr, 834 to 832, triggering a mandatory recount. Elections Supervisor Doris Schaller said the recount will take place after all ballots are certified Nov. 23.
And on Orcas Island, a measure to fund the recreation district created by voters in 2009 failed to get the super-majority required for passage. Voters approved the measure 1,270 to 993. But that's 56.12 percent approval, short of the 60 percent required. County Auditor F. Milene Henley said she didn't expect that result to be affected by mailed ballots that might trickle in this week.
Schaller said all drop-box ballots from Lopez/Shaw have been counted but that some mailed ballots could still trickle in. An updated ballot total is scheduled to be posted Friday.
Myhr held a slight lead election night, 628 to 610, but that lead evaporated by the next day. Myhr and Stephens last ran against each other in 2005.
Council terms are for four years and begin Jan. 10 (an earlier story incorrectly stated that they begin Jan. 1). Council members receive $35,000 a year and full benefits. Among other things, they adopt the annual budget, appoint committees, approve laws and set policy. The county administrator, who oversees the daily operations of county government, reports to the council.
Myhr was elected to the old County Commission in 2005 and served as the first council chairman under the county charter established in 2007. He and his wife Joyce have lived on Lopez Island for more than 25 years.
"One of the big differences in this election is that I've expressed where I stand on a variety of issues, and my opponent's statements remain very general," Myhr said in an earlier interview with the Sounder. "I think that's a major difference between the two of us."
Myhr worked as a business and non-profit consultant from 2002-05. Prior to that, he served as executive director of the San Juan Preservation Trust. During his 17-year tenure, he negotiated with property owners to preserve more than 8,750 acres of San Juan County farmland, shoreline and woodlands.
Earlier, Myhr taught political science at the University of Washington and managed an international group at Weyerhaeuser. He was also a Fulbright Scholar, earning his B.A. in economics from Amherst College, an MIA in international affairs and economics, and a Ph.D. in public law and government from Columbia University.
Stephens is property manager for Ledger Investments, LLC. He and his wife Lauren have lived on Lopez Island for 14 years and owned the Edenwild Inn from 2002-05. They have children in college.
In an earlier interview, Stephens said updating the Critical Areas Ordinance would be a priority for him if elected. "Part of the reason I'm running is that I feel that issues like the CAO, which were issues five years ago, have just been kicked down the road," Stephens told The Islands' Sounder. "No one's going to be totally happy when it's put together. It's going to take a stiff back to put something into action that's defensible."
— With reporting by Colleen Smith Armstrong and Meredith Griffith of The Islands' Sounder.