Early election counts showed both Whatcom County incumbents for the state House leading their races Tuesday, Aug. 2, with each set to face political newcomers in November.
Freshman state Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, will face off against Democrat Sharlaine LaClair in the general election for 42nd Legislative District, Position 1.
Initial counts released after 8 p.m. Tuesday showed Van Werven led the four-candidate race with 51 percent of the vote, while LaClair took 41 percent.
“I’m pleased that the voters of Whatcom County put their faith in me to give me a clear majority moving on into the November election,” Van Werven said. “I am really looking forward to the fall where we’re going to be able to meet the voters at the forums and that I will have an opportunity to talk more about my positions, where I stand, and how I plan to represent Whatcom County’s 42nd District for the next two years.”
LaClair has worked on both the Lummi Nation budget committee and on the tribe’s planning commission. She recently finished her master’s degree in public administration at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
“I’m really excited about the results,” LaClair said. “It looks like people are excited about my candidacy and the issues that are important to me: making sure that our children and college students receive a good education and have equitable opportunities to thrive academically, working on family wage jobs, and building our economy in ways that are sustainable and consistent with our values.”
The other two competitors lagged far behind, with independent Doug Karlberg taking 5 percent of the early count and Libertarian Jacob Lamont taking 3 percent.
In the race for Position 2 in the 42nd, which covers most of Whatcom County except for south Bellingham, state Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, will face Democrat Tracy Atwood.
Buys was leading with 54 percent of the count Tuesday night, according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office, while Atwood had 35 percent. Independent Dale Dickson (10 percent) and Libertarian Jerry Burns (2 percent) will not move on after the top-two primary.
“Obviously, we’re excited about being ahead in the primary,” Buys said. “The interesting thing will be to see where the independent and the Libertarian votes fall in the general. It’s about what I expected in a split district like Whatcom County. Having a ‘D’ by your name gets you about 40 percent automatically, regardless of whether you’re running or not.”
Atwood’s message in the voters’ guide had some readers confused, as he said he wasn’t actively campaigning, but he clarified in an interview with The Bellingham Herald that he was indeed planning to stay in the race.
Atwood is a personal trainer and life coach who lives in North Bellingham. He has experience working as operations manager for a local technical support company.
Another vote count is scheduled to be released Wednesday evening, and the election results will be certified on Aug. 16.