BELLINGHAM - Dan Robbins pulled ahead of Renata Kowalczyk in one of two Port of Bellingham commission races after the Wednesday, Nov. 6, tally of votes was released.
The Wednesday tally showed Robbins with about 51 percent, to 49 percent for Kowalczyk, who had a narrow lead over Robbins in the first round of vote-counting on Tuesday.
In the other port commission race, incumbent Mike McAuley was still ahead, but challenger Ken Bell closed the gap on Wednesday. McAuley's lead shrunk to 51 percent to Bell's 49.
Robbins said he thinks both he and Bell still have a chance.
"Things are looking better," Robbins said. "I sure hope Ken Bell gets in there."
Robbins said the more conservative trend in the later ballots may reflect late voting in precincts outside Bellingham, and the large number of ballots from county drop-boxes that arrived at the County Courthouse too late to make Tuesday's first count.
Asked if he thought his reelection bid was in trouble, McAuley could only laugh.
"I have no idea," McAuley said. "I don't know anything about this stuff. I'm just going to sit at home and eat pizza."
McAuley and Kowalczyk drew significant support from longtime port critics who have been calling for new leadership and new perspectives at the port. While both McAuley and Kowalczyk promised to do their best to stimulate the economy and create jobs, they also advocated for broader priorities that include environmental and social considerations.
McAuley and Kowalczyk were endorsed by Whatcom County Democrats and got big contributions from the Whatcom Commercial Fishermans Association.
Bell and Robbins stressed a traditional focus on jobs and economic growth, and drew much of their support from developers. Both were endorsed by Whatcom County Republicans.