May 4, 1998

Front Page

Kenmore voters choose first City Council


Andrew Walgamott/staff photo

Tika Esler and Elodie Morse smile at Kenmore election results last Tuesday nights. While Esler's lead was still holding by the end of the week, Morse's had shrunk to 45 votes.

     By Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   KENMORE--Elodie Morse twisted in her chair at the Kenmore fire hall last Tuesday night, fretting about three things as she talked with two supporters. The 55-year-old Kenmore Interim City Council candidate was locked in an almost dead heat with her opponent, Lyle Sellards; her house, a mile or so away, was full of partygoers and, she may have mailed in her own ballot incorrectly. "This is nerve wracking," Morse lamented. "Look," she said as Sellards walked into the room, "he's smiling and I'm a nervous wreck!"
   It was the beginning of a long night for Morse and Sellards at that point. Only four votes separated the two as the first numbers came in from King County Elections' website. "It's nip and tuck just like it was in the primary," Sellards noted. In fending off two other candidates then, the pair came within four percentage points of each other to make it to the general election. They spent part of election night with 11 of the 14 candidates as well as members of the Kenmore Incorporation Committee and the media. While most of the races appeared to be decided early, Morse vs. Sellards had everyone's attention.
   "You guys have a great race," fellow candidate Steven Gimurtu commented. "This will be interesting." Gimurtu was counting on absentee ballots to bring him back from a 300 vote deficit in his race against Steven Colwell at the time. But as new results came in at 9:30 p.m., Colwell's lead expanded to almost 500 votes.
   Allen Goumas saw Deborah Chase take a commanding 1,056 vote lead in their race. If there were hard feelings, however, they were hidden. The two exchanged hugs and handshakes.
   Chip Davidson was all smiles with his 600 vote lead over Mark Knutson, the 22-year-old U.W. biology student.
   Dick Taylor made an appearance. He and opponent Patrick O'Brien scanned copies of vote tallies before Taylor left to attend a party at his house.
   Back in Morse's camp, the race flip-flopped as Morse took an eight vote lead over Sellards. If anything, that made her more nervous. "This is recount territory," Colwell told Morse. Then came the decisive 10:30 p.m. posting from Elections' website. Morse saw her lead crawl to nearly 100 votes as Tika Esler's margin over John Phelps inched to 270. Esler and Morse stood grinning arm-in-arm as the new numbers were marked on a blackboard.
   Chase's lead mushroomed to 1,200, and Jack Crawford was topping Richard Clement's by almost 600. That was about it for half the candidates. The new figures and the long campaign did those on the losing end in. Morse left to check on her party. With his race pretty much in hand, Davidson confidently said, "I think we're going to end up with a sound-looking council." If there was any weakness, it was lack of government experience, Davidson said. "Government doesn't work like business, it doesn't work like schools. It has its own formula," the former Northshore Utility District commissioner said. "The selection of a city manager to help take this group forward from candidates to a good, working council will be the most important step." He said a city manager will be hired May 8.
   With 100 percent of polls reporting, and most absentee ballots counted, results looked like this:
   Position 1: Taylor 1,386 (59%), O'Brien 961 (41%); Position 2: Colwell 1,519 (65%) Gimurtu 819 (35%); Position 3: Chase 1,900 (81%) Goumas 445 (19%); Position 4: Davidson 1,629 (70%) Knutson 702 (30%); Position 5: Esler 1,354 (57%) Phelps 1,026 (43%); Position 6; Morse 1,193 (51%) Sellards 1,148 (49%); Position 7: Crawford 1,496 (64%) Clements 822 (35%)
   The council will be sworn in May 8 at the Aqua Club, 18512 58th Ave. N.E. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with actual swearing-in at 6:30 p.m. The celebration is an open house, though reservations are appreciated. Call 486-1245 for more information.