A veteran state lawmaker had a commanding lead Tuesday over a local school district official in the race for an open Benton County commissioner seat.
Jerome Delvin, a state senator representing the 8th Legislative District, was getting 30,390 votes, or about 64 percent, while Richland School Board President Rick Jansons trailed with 16,921 votes, or 35 percent.
"I'm humbled the voters trusted me again to fill this new position," Delvin said Tuesday night after the initial round of returns was released. He said his experience in Olympia will be an asset as a commissioner and he's ready to "jump right in" on issues from transportation to finances.
Jansons acknowledged Tuesday that Delvin's lead appears wide enough to hold. "One of the things I liked most about this race is that we stuck to talking about issues. I got to know (Delvin) and respect him," Jansons said. "I look forward to working with him in the future."
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In the other commission race, incumbent Jim Beaver easily was fending off challenger Edgar Cousineau with about 77 percent of the vote.
The results aren't yet final; they include ballots processed through Monday, plus some turned in on Election Day. County elections officials project about 20,000 are left to count.
Another round of results is to be released today. County election results will be certified Nov. 27.
Delvin and Jansons faced off to replace veteran Commissioner Leo Bowman, who announced earlier this year he wouldn't seek re-election.
Both District 1 candidates touted their government and community leadership in the ramp-up to the election, and listed similar priorities, including pushing for more transparency in county government and addressing the need for local mental health services.
Delvin, 56, said Tuesday that he'll give up his state Senate seat to become a commissioner. The Republican has spent 18 years in the state Legislature, including eight in the Senate.
Jansons, 48, also a Republican, has logged 11 years on the Richland School Board and about a year on the Richland Public Facilities Board.
Delvin had the fundraising edge, with $28,672 in contributions, according to state Public Disclosure Commission records. Jansons raised $19,420.
Commissioners serve four-year terms, each making about $101,500 annually.
w In the District 3 race, Beaver had 35,816 votes, with challenger Cousineau collecting 10,185 votes, or about 22 percent.
Beaver, 52, took office in 2009 and before that spent 18 years on the Kennewick City Council, including 12 years as mayor.
He said he expects "the new team" -- including Delvin and County Commissioner Shon Small, who holds the District 2 seat -- to work together well.
In the coming months, "We'll talk about the future of the county and how we're going to operate the next 10 to 15 years, and really address the shrinking of revenues," he said.
Cousineau, a newcomer to local politics, couldn't be reached Tuesday night.
Benton County has more than 97,800 registered voters, and turnout was hovering around 56 percent based on returns released Tuesday night.
County Auditor Brenda Chilton predicts turnout will reach 85 to 90 percent.
County turnout in the last presidential election in 2008 was 85 percent.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org