WALLA WALLA -- A three-time candidate for the Port of Walla Walla Commission District 2 seat was the runaway leader in Tuesday's primary election, leaving the incumbent and another challenger in a too-close-to-call race to advance to November's general election.
Real estate investor Barlow Corkrum captured 41.33 percent of the 2,446 votes counted, according to election night results reported by the Walla Walla County Elections Office.
Only 11 votes separated incumbent Mike Fredrickson and challenger Rich Monacelli. Elections officials said this morning the race was too close to determine who will advance against Corkrum.
Only residents of the district were able to vote in the primary. This includes residents in the eastern third of the city of Walla Walla, Dixie, Waitsburg and Prescott. All registered voters in Walla Walla County will be able to vote on the race in the Nov. 8 general election.
Though a swell of ballots postmarked Tuesday is in hand, officials won't tabulate again until Friday, when the results are updated.
Fredrickson, an appraiser and co-owner of Associated Appraisers of Walla Walla, garnered 29.56 percent -- or 723 votes -- compared to 29.11 percent -- or 712 votes -- for challenger Monacelli, a business educator and consultant who ran the now-closed Walla Walla Area Small Business Development Center for 17 years.
Fredrickson said this morning he wasn't certain whether voters were sending a message about dissatisfaction with the job he's done. The results, he pointed out, are reminiscent of the primary election six years ago. In 2005 Corkrum captured 41.54 percent of the primary votes to Fredrickson's 33.23 percent.
"I thought (the numbers) would be a little different," he said of Tuesday's results. "But looking back it's almost the same as six years ago."
He said he was, however, hoping for more voter turnout. With the primary held in August, he said, many voters are busy with vacations, family time and school preparations and aren't as attentive to the election.
"We're going to have to find a way to get the average person to fill out the ballot, do the civic duty and put the 44-cent stamp on it," he said.
Results of the race should be determined by the remaining ballots Friday, Walla Walla County Auditor Karen Martin said this morning.
The winner of the general election will serve a six-year term for the area's lead economic development agency.
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8321.