Brown beating Burlingame in Kitsap commissioner race

From the Central Kitsap Reporter

Democratic County Commissioner Josh Brown is leading Republican Abby Burlingame by 5 percent of the vote, according to early results released Tuesday night.

With 57,843 votes counted, Brown led 52.44 percent to 47.38 percent, or 30,330 ballots to 27,405 ballots.

After reviewing results, Brown said he was honored to lead in the polls and confident he would ultimately win.

Brown said he believed a record of accomplishment and fiscal responsibility resonated with voters.

"This election proves that people are more interested in elected officials who are focused on getting things done for the community rather than running against people with a negative campaign," he said.

Burlingame did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The Kitsap County Auditor's Office issued 144,283 ballots for the mail-in election, and late estimates put turnout at up to 75 percent.

Brown, elected in 2006, is the longest-serving commissioner on the all-Democrat commission.

Commissioner Steve Bauer, who represents the North Kitsap commissioner district, said a Brown victory would ensure continuity on the board.

However, he said if Brown ultimately wins it would be a mandate not necessarily of the commissioner as a group, but for Brown individually.

"I certainly think that will be recognition of the work he's done and certainly support for him to continue," Bauer said.

The initial results showing a 5 percent margin conflict with a lopsided fundraising season, where Brown outpaced Burlingame's spending more than 2-1.

Brown spent about $71,430 through Oct. 25, while Burlingame spent about $33,000, according to Public Disclosure Commission reports.

Candidates have until Dec. 10 to show all fundraising through the end of November, said board of commissioners spokeswoman Lori Anderson.

However, turnout for the election exceeded expectations.

Last month state Secretary of State Sam Reed predicted a statewide turnout of 66 percent, a 40-year high for a midterm election.

Fiercely contested races and ballot measures, plus heavy television advertising and grassroots activism led to the prediction, Reed said in a statement.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, Kitsap was on track to exceed the state prediction with a turnout as high as 75 percent.

"Right now, that is what we are on target for," said Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore said, predicting a turnout of "at least" 70 percent.

"We're great voters," she said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the office had about 20,000 ballots on hand. Those will need to be verified, sorted, reviewed and readied to be counted.

The office will release new count figures at 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

As of the end of the workday Monday, the office had 671 challenged ballots, mostly because of irregularities in the signature or the signature was missing altogether, Gilmore said.

"People get in a hurry," she said. "We always have some where they forget to sign."

Also, voters sometimes tend to be more precise when signing their voter application than the ballot envelope, she said, which leads to questions about the signature.

Notices will be sent to voters with challenged ballots.

If the voter does not respond, the ballot will be sent the county's canvassing board, which will meet Nov. 22 and make final determination on challenged and unresolved ballots and certify the election Nov. 23.

Because the officials who are the members of the three-person panel are all up for election, alternates have been appointed.

South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido will take the place of Brown, Auditor's Office Chief Deputy Winnie Flores-Logan will take the place of Auditor Walt Washington and Shelley Kneip from the Prosecutor's Office will take the place of Prosecutor Russ Hauge.

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