A man who withdrew from a West Richland City Council race has increased his lead since the first ballots were counted Tuesday.
Jay Bowman collected 982 votes, or 50.36 percent, just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Benton County Auditor's Office. That's 14 votes ahead of fellow challenger Johan Curtiss who has 968 votes, or 49.64 percent. The two were previously only separated by three votes in the race for Position 1 on the council.
Bowman announced in mid-October that he was dropping out of the race for personal reasons. Elections officials said he contacted them about his withdrawal but it was past the deadline to take his name off the ballot.
If Bowman ends up winning the election, there are a few possible options if he doesn't want to take office, said Stuart Holmes, Benton County election supervisor.
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One option is to do nothing. Newly elected officials are required to take the oath of office, typically no later than the first meeting of their term. If Bowman does not take the oath, the council can move to appoint a replacement.
Bowman also could take the oath of office and then immediately resign, Holmes said.
In making an appointment in these circumstances, most elected bodies select the person who came in second in the election, Holmes said. However, there is no obligation for the council to appoint Curtiss in this circumstance, he said.