Jon Tunheim was leading Victor Minjares in the race for Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney in early returns.
Tuesday night’s ballot count gave Tunheim 55 percent of the vote so far, not including write-in votes.
This is the first time in 20 years there has been a contested race for prosecutor in Thurston County. It is between two Democrats, one who has spent decades in the county’s court system and one who wants to shake up the office.
Tunheim has spent entire legal career in the prosecutor’s office, which he was elected to lead in 2010. He told The Olympian he worked to modernized the office in his first two terms.
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“This is a job I have loved, ever since I started 30 years ago in the office. It’s going to be disappointing if it doesn’t go my way,” Tunheim told The Olympian before the polls closed. “I just feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to lead that group over the last eight years.”
But Minjares, who spent 15 years as a deputy prosecutor in Los Angeles, campaigned on reforming the office.
A 2017 report by the National Center for State Courts faulted Thurston County Superior Court for “troublesome delays, system inefficiencies, and productivity problems,” and Minjares has called those delays a waste of taxpayer dollars that punish defendants and their families.
Minjares also worked at the state Attorney General’s Office. He has been in private practice since 2014.
Voter turnout in Thurston County as of Tuesday night was 48 percent.