It wasn't definite until the final absentee votes were tallied, but the incumbent, Harold "Van" Vandenberg, can now officially claim victory in the election for Klickitat County Assessor.
In a close finish, Vandenberg, who lives in the White Salmon area, topped challenger Ronee' Bothamley of Goldendale in the Republican Party primary, which was held on Sept. 18.
Vandenberg's winning margin was 47 votes. He had 1,640 votes, 50.4 percent, while Bothamley had 1,593 votes for 48.9 percent.
"I'm relieved," Vandenberg said after the vote was certified. "Anytime you're victorious, you have to be happy and satisfied. Now it's time to get to work."
No Democratic Party candidates filed for the Assessor's Office this year, so Vandenberg will appear unopposed on the general election ballot in November.
Although disappointed in defeat, Bothamley said she was keeping a positive attitude.
"I believe things work out for the best," she said. "It seems like I was running so hard, I should have done better. But I feel good about the race I ran."
The 2001 election was necessary to fill out the final year of the term vacated when Alan Shipp resigned last year. An election to determine who will serve for a full four-year term will be held in 2002.
Vandenberg said he anticipates that he will run next year.
"I probably will," he said. "The plan at this point is to run."
Bothamley, who has worked as an appraiser in the Assessor's Office for the past seven years, said she was bolstered by the closeness of the vote this year. She indicated she plans to run again next year as well.
"Absolutely. Full bore," she said. "This (working in the Assessor's Office) is what I'm meant to do, and this is what I love to do."
She added that she was disappointed by the low voter turnout.
"Maybe if more people had voted, it would have been different," Bothamley said. "You expect a lower turnout with an off-year election, and there wasn't a lot on the ballot, but it was surprisingly low. There was a lot of mud in the air, and maybe people couldn't wade through it so they just didn't vote."
Vandenberg said that now that the election is over, both candidates need to work together.
"I don't anticipate any problems," he said. "We have to be professional about it. We both have jobs to do. I'll do mine and hopefully she'll do hers."
Bothamley said she felt the same way.
"I love my job, and I'm going to continue to do it to the best of my abilities. I assume, as boss, that that's the type of employee he's looking for," she said.