Port of Olympia Commission District 3 candidate E.J. Zita’s lead over candidate Jerry Farmer increased to 215 votes after an updated ballot count Monday.
Out of 52,373 votes cast, Zita has captured 26,294 votes, or 50.2 percent. Farmer has captured 26,079 votes, or 49.8 percent.
“It’s looking good,” Zita said of the results.
Zita, who attended Monday’s Port Commission meeting, said that her lead is now big enough that a hand recount would not be necessary, but it is still within the range to require a machine recount.
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A hand recount takes place if candidates are within 0.25 percent and 150 votes. A machine recount takes place if candidates are within 0.5 percent and 2,000 votes.
The Thurston County Auditor’s Office also has to verify signatures on a number of ballots, but after checking with the Auditor’s Office, Zita said “that number is smaller than my margin.”
Auditor Mary Hall said last week that any necessary recount would take place the week after the election is certified Nov. 24.
It’s been a reversal of fortune for Farmer since election night. He initially led Zita by about 600 votes, but as more ballots came in, Zita cut that lead in half, then followed it with leads of 21 votes, 124 votes and now 215 votes.
Farmer couldn’t be reached Monday night, but he commented on the race in an earlier voicemail.
“It really goes to show how important it is that each and every person votes,” Farmer said of the 37 percent voter turnout. “You occasionally need an election like this to prove that point.”
Farmer is co-owner of radio station KRXY 94.5-FM. Zita is a physicist who teaches at The Evergreen State College. There was no incumbent in the race because Sue Gunn resigned from the commission earlier in the year. Her seat was temporarily filled by Michelle Morris, who did not run for election.
Whoever wins the District 3 seat will join District 2 Commissioner Bill McGregor and District 1 Commissioner Joe Downing. Downing defeated two-term incumbent George Barner last week. Port commissioners serve four-year terms.
The next vote count is set for 6 p.m. Thursday.