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Frey Wins Fourth Term; Sets Record

Incumbents win across the board in county

The votes are counted and the results are now clear: Incumbents throughout Klickitat County -- and indeed all across the nation -- did extremely well.

There were five contested races going on in this election cycle, and the incumbents captured all of them.

The race with the highest profile in the county was for County Commissioner, where three-term incumbent Joan Frey, Republican, won easily over her Democratic Party challenger, Chris Connolly.

Updated vote totals show Frey winning with nearly 64 percent of the vote to Connolly's 36 percent.

Frey said she was glad the long campaign was done.

"I'm feeling a little comfortable and less stressed now," she said.

Frey added that she appreciated the strong show of support from county residents.

"I really needed to hear from the voters as to how they felt," she explained. "A narrow margin is one message, this margin is quite another. I got a message from the citizens: They approve of the direction that we, the county, and me, Joan, are leading in. Resounding approval."

As to what her priorities would be, Commissioner Frey said she planned "to continue on the course we're on."

She did not rule out running again in another four years.

"I'll know more in a year or two," she said. "There is so much I want to do right now. I'm not looking that far, but not discounting that possibility."

Frey, who won a fourth term, has apparently already set a record for longevity as a County Commissioner in Klickitat County. The only candidate who has come close in recent history is Glen "Buzz" Claussen, a Democrat from Goldendale who was elected to three terms. Claussen served from 1976 to 1989.

"I'm just getting the hang of this," Frey joked.

For her part, Connolly said she was depressed by the wide margin of her defeat.

"It was shocking," Connolly said. "The national trend may have been part of it. We're looking at two more years of the same, and I don't know if the people of Klickitat County know what they are in for."

Despite the loss, Connolly said she would remain involved in the public process.

"I certainly haven't lost any interest," she said. "I'm going to try to mobilize and build a fire under the Democratic Party. The goals for the party need to be to get information out, and get out the need to vote."

Connolly will continue to serve on the Snowden Community Council.

Other incumbents winning were Tim O'Neill (R) for Prosecuting Attorney, Diana Housden (D) for Auditor, and Van Vandenberg (R) for Assessor.

All captured fresh four-year terms.

"I'm elated," O'Neill said. "I appreciate everybody's vote and support. It really helped, and I'm especially gratified with the support since I've only been living here about three and a half years."

Incumbent Sheriff Chris Mace also handily withstood a late write-in campaign from former Undersheriff Joe Merry. Mace will serve for the next four years.

Mace finished with over 79 percent of the vote, while write-ins took just over 20 percent. Most of the write-ins were for Merry.

Dan Gunkel, incumbent Klickitat Public Utility District commissioner, won big over his opponent, Jim Riley, by about a 60 percent-40 percent margin.

Klickitat County mirrored statewide trends in the way the five ballot measures were decided. Local voters overwhelmingly supported Initiative 776 with a 61 percent Yes vote (I-776 passed statewide); strongly rejected Initiative 790 with 56 percent No (it failed); massively said No to Referendum 53 and Referendum, 51 (73 percent and 79 percent respectively, and both failed statewide); and supported House Joint Resolution 4220 by a 64 percent-36 percent margin (Washington voters approved the measure).

Overall turnout for the general election in the county was pegged at 52.9 percent. That was a big improvement over the Sept. 17 primary, when only 32 percent of registered voters participated.

There was a wide disparity in voter turnout in precincts throughout the county. The highest turnout in Klickitat County came in the Alder Creek precinct, where 85.7 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Two other precincts that reflected high voter interest were Roosevelt (80.0 percent voted) and Columbus (71.7 percent).

Conversely, the lightest turnout was in Trout Lake, where only 16.2 percent of registered voters bothered to participate. Other poor showings came in Wishram (20.2 percent turnout), Lyle (21.3 percent), and Bingen (36.6 percent).

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