Alicia Rule ahead in close 42nd district race

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After initial election returns were posted on election night, Blaine councilwoman Alicia Rule, a Democrat, led incumbent Luanne Van Werven for the 42nd Legislative District Position 1 seat. She was up by 2,523 votes (51 percent to 48 percent), according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office. Van Werven has held the Position 1 seat since 2014.

“I expected it was going to be really close. I actually expected it would be closer than this, but this was a tough race,” Rule said. “I’m looking forward to being able to serve the people of Whatcom County. I think people are really ready to move past partisanship and I think the vote reflected that.”

Rule believes she could still serve on Blaine City Council and said she hasn’t yet decided if she will.

For the 42nd Legislative District Position 2 seat, incumbent Democrat Sharon Shewmake led Republican Jennifer Sefzik 52 percent to 48 percent. If both Shewmake and Rule are elected, it would be the first time since 1998 that both 42nd district House seats were won by Democrats.

County-wide, 61 percent voted for Joe Biden and 36 percent voted for Donald Trump in the presidential race. Though that race was too close to call the morning after Election Day, the results to most local races were a little clearer due to record early turnout and a large number of ballots being processed before Election Day.

By 8 p.m. on Election Day, about 95 percent of the 134,765 ballots the county received had been counted. The auditor’s office had an estimated 5,125 ballots left to count, but that did not include ballots that had not yet been received. “Ballot signature cures and overseas ballots are not included and can be received up until the day before certification,” a statement on the auditor’s office website reads. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, but can be received after. 

Nearly 81 percent of the 158,733 registered voters in Whatcom County returned their ballots as of Election Day. With mail-in ballots trickling in and signatures being verified, the total is likely to match or surpass that of the last presidential election, when turnout reached 82.7 percent by the time the election was certified three weeks after Election Day.

Whatcom County voted roughly in-line with the statewide vote in most races and initiatives. Statewide, voters were rejecting Senate Joint Resolution 8212, which would allow public money held in a fund for long-term care services to be invested by governments in private stocks, by 53 percent to 47 percent. Whatcom County voters, however, voted in favor of that resolution 59 percent to 41 percent.

Other races where Whatcom County voters broke from the state, at least as of the initial returns, include:

– U.S. Representative District 1. County voters voted for Jeffrey Beeler, Sr., over Suzan DelBene 54 percent to 46 percent. Statewide, Suzan DelBene was leading that race 60 percent to 39 percent.

– Washington State Secretary of State, where Republican incumbent Kim Wyman led 52 percent to 48 percent over Democrat Gael Tarleton. In Whatcom County, those percentages were reversed.

Both local and state auditor’s offices will release updated preliminary results daily. The Election will be certified (officially verified by election offices) on November 24, 2020.

Statewide election results can be tracked at the secretary of state’s election results page: bit.ly/2GQlQp9. Local results can be tracked at the county auditor’s website, at co.whatcom.wa.us/199/auditor. Click on “Elections” and then “Current Election” in the bar on the left side of the page.

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