ELECTIONS: Valley Medical Center board race is a tight heat
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
November 6, 2009 · Updated 4:58 PM
Incumbent Mike Miller and challenger Aaron Heide are locked in a tight race for Commissioner Position No. 4 on the Valley Medical Center Public Hospital District 1 board.
As of Friday evening, Heide had 20,592 votes (52.15 percent) and Miller had 18,786 (47.57 percent). King County election officials will continue to release results at 4:30 p.m. each weekday until final results are posted on Nov. 24.
Located in Renton, Valley Medical Center's service area includes the cities of Kent, Renton, two-thirds of Tukwila, and portions of Auburn, Black Diamond, Covington, Federal Way, Maple Valley, Newcastle and South Seattle.
"I was a little disappointed," Miller said in a phone interview Wednesday of the Tuesday returns. "My guess is there are still about 15,000 votes to be counted."
It could be as late as next week before the margin of votes between Miller and Heide is enough to determine a winner.
"I'm still confident I can get this turned around," said Miller, of Kent. "Twelve years ago I trailed by 1,000 votes on election night and later won by 53-47 percent."
Miller, a senior vice president of Valley Bank in Kent, has served on the Valley Medical Center board since 1996.
Heide did not return phone messages Wednesday for comments about the election.
Heide, of Kent, is a neurologist at Washington's Center for Health & Wellness in Renton and former head of Valley Medical Center’s Stroke Center. This is his first run for an elected office.
"I will check the (county election) Web site daily," Miller said. "I am cautiously optimistic that I can get this turned around by next week."
Miller raised $67,000 for the race, according to the latest Public Disclosure Commission reports. Heide raised $11,000.
During the campaign, Heide questioned the amount of money raised by Miller for a position that pays just a small stipend to board members for attending meetings. Heide said he has an issue with that kind of sum, for a position with little in the way of financial returns.
Heide also works a neurologist and a stroke specialist at Auburn Regional Medical Center. Miller argued during the campaign that Heide's work with the Auburn hospital as a potential conflict of interest.
Heide denied there was a conflict.
Heide pursued voters who wanted a new face on the board.
"If people want a change, they'll get a change," Heide said. "If they like how things are, they'll vote for my opponent."
The winning candidate will serve a six-year term on the five-member board that governs Public Hospital District No. 1.
Public Hospital District 1 Results
Commissioner Position No. 4
Mike Miller 18,786 votes (47.57 percent)
Aaron Heide 20,592 votes (52.15 percent)
Write-in 111 votes (0.28 percent)Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.