Benton County voters have returned Commissioner Shon Small to the county commission for a third term.
With 85 percent of ballots counted Tuesday night, Small, a Prosser Republican, was defeating Benton PUD Commissioner Lori Sanders, a Kennewick Republican.
Small had 25,731 votes to 18,076 for Sanders — or 59 percent to 41 percent.
District 2 extends from Prosser to western Kennewick.
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Small, a former Benton County sheriff’s deputy, ran on a record that includes challenging his fellow commissioners, Jerome Delvin and Jim Beaver, neither up for election this cycle.
While he’s often on the losing end of 2-1 votes, Small said he’s successfully persuaded his colleagues to reverse their positions on how to spend the surplus public safety sales tax, to fund the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force and a detective to investigate internet child sex predators.
He was widely supported by local law enforcements, winning endorsements from all Tri-City police chiefs and sheriffs.
Sanders, who owns an energy consulting business and serves on the Energy Northwest executive board, ran on a platform to bring a fresh approach to governance to Benton County.
The race was generally genial, with the candidates disagreeing on how they approach overseeing complicated organizations rather that on core issues.
She said a series of crises centering on marijuana licenses, an unexpected rent hike at the Benton County Fairgrounds, the public safety sales tax surplus and a wrongful termination lawsuit by a former employee signaled a need for stronger governance and better communication.
The county’s three elected commissioners oversee a biennial budget of $300 million.
Commissioners are paid about $108,000, plus benefits, including a vehicle.
The Benton County Auditor reports voter turnout was 50 percent. Results will be updated Wednesday evening.