The closest general election outcome in Pierce County was found in Buckley, where a razor-thin difference in a City Council race forced a recount by the Pierce County Elections Department.
The Nov. 7 election was certified 21 days later and, after 909 ballots had been counted, the race for the Position 3 showed Luke Wilbanks with a one-vote lead over Chuck Helmer. The tally sat at 455-454 with four write-in votes.
Given the narrow margin, the Elections Department was charged with counting all ballots again, this time by hand. If a margin between candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent, a “machine recount” is justified; if the margin is less than one-fourth of 1 percent, a hand recount is needed.
An Elections Department representative reported the recount started Monday and results were to be published by tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday).
Wilbanks and Helmer were chasing a seat that will become vacant with the end of the year. It is presently occupied by Marvin Sundstrom, who opted against a re-election bid, instead running for mayor against incumbent Pat Johnson.
That race was close as well, but Johnson won a third term by taking 50.25 percent of the vote. She had a 12-vote advantage, 501 to 489.
Buckley voters made their feelings known in a pair of City Council races where incumbents were ousted by large margins. Ron Smith outpolled Nora (Lyn) Rose 607 to 329 to win the Position 1 race; for Position 2, Connie Bender received 614 votes and will replace Christi Boyle Barrett, who earned 278 votes.