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Voters deal Decker into Ward 5

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

Dan Decker's reaction to the first numbers on election night was a surprise. He may not have been the only one.

The early returns came in at 8:40 p.m. Nov. 6 giving the 60-year-old Decker 128 votes to 82 for the 14-year incumbent Phil DeLeo in the Ward 5 race for City Council.

The voters made a clear statement. There will be a change in the City Council Ward 5 seat.

The totals as of Monday morning, while still unofficial, had Decker leading with 266 votes, about 57 percent and 194 for DeLeo, nearly 42 percent.

“I'm happy, surprised and pleased,” Decker said Sunday evening during a phone interview. “In the primary it was three days before I went ahead and then I was just hoping (to come in) No. 2, but I wanted to be No. 1 in the general.”

The 61-year-old DeLeo said he thought Decker's grassroots campaigning had made the difference in the election.

“I guess the message is it pays to go door-to-door,” DeLeo said. “But I've really enjoyed my time on the council and I'm still involved in many things.”

DeLeo said he had no current plans to run again, but would concentrate on other civic activities.

Decker has been an outspoken critic of the city and the council over the past several years. During the public comment period of the City Council meetings, Decker would often skewer what he saw as the wrong doing of the city officials.

He was vocal critic of former Mayor Bob Young. Decker ran an unsuccessful campaign for the mayor's office in 2005, losing in the primary to Mayor Neil Johnson and Councilman Jim Rackley.

Now Decker will be speaking from the other side of podium, but he said his message will be the same.

“I'm not going to change the way I think,” Decker said. “This is me. But my job is to do the bidding of my ward. I'm not critical of the City Council. We get along. It's the actions that occurred I was criticizing, not the people. Being on the City Council is hard job.”

Decker said he wants “things to happen for the people. This is not I, but weŠ. I'm only interested in making the city a better place. I've been here for 47 years.”

In the other City Council races, Mark Hamilton appears to have won the at-large No. 2 seat for a second term with 1,364 votes, nearly 62 percent. The challenger Tom Watson picked up 810 votes, 37 percent.

Hamilton said in a second term he would like to be appointed to the Public Safety Committee and concentrate on school security.

Laurie Carter will also be joining the City Council taking the Ward 3 seat vacated by Cheryle Noble.

Carter has 397 votes, 87 percent and the write-in candidate, Lynda Dabson 59 votes, about 13 percent.

Carter said parks, trails and sidewalks will be high priorities during her four-year term on the council.

Jim Rackley was unopposed for a third term in the Ward 2 seat. He picked up 324 votes, about 96 percent.

In statewide issues, the roads and Sound transit tax measure, Proposition No. 1, was losing. The regional transportation half of the measure was going down by about 56 percent to 44 percent across the state and the Sound transit side was losing by nearly 56 percent.

The simple majority for school district taxes was too close to call with the measure behind by 2,620 votes, less than one percent.

The election will be certified Nov. 27.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.

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