Voters are returning the incumbents to the Kent City Council.
Les Thomas, Bill Boyce and Marli Larimer are defeating their challengers, according to results released Tuesday night by King County Elections. In the only race without a incumbent, Zandria Michaud easily leads Awale Farah.
Thomas, in his 16th year on council, has 55.68 percent (6,310 votes) while challenger Hira Singh Bhullar tallied 44.06 percent (4,993). Thomas barely beat Bhullar in the August primary but racked up the votes in the general election.
“I’m feeling much better,” Thomas said in a phone interview after seeing the results. “I was kind of surprised. I thought it would be very, very close and I was not sure which way it would go.”
Bhullar raised more than $73,000 for his campaign compared to less than $5,000 raised by Thomas, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Bhullar also lost a 2015 council race to Tina Budell.
“I looked at the PDC and saw $73,000 and I thought, ‘are you kidding me?’ ” said Thomas, who received congratulatory calls from his son, Mayor Dana Ralph and others. “I didn’t even spend $5,000. I was like little David against Goliath.”
Thomas said his fifth term will be his last.
“Twenty years is plenty,” he said. “I just have to live that long.”
Bhullar said on Tuesday he hasn’t given up yet despite trailing.
“I was expecting more but there are still a lot of votes to count,” Bhullar said.
Boyce, the council president, racked up 67.25 percent (7,570 votes) to defeat challenger Mizan Rahman with 32.5 percent (3,658). Boyce, first elected in 2011, will start his third term in January. Rahman raised more than $47,000 compared to $22,ooo by Boyce.
“It was a pretty good showing,” Boyce said. “People appreciate what I am doing. I’m very excited about that.”
Boyce also appreciates the other incumbents winning.
“I’m glad,” he said. “It’s the same people coming back to work as a team. I’m glad to see the team coming back. We have a lot of work to do. It’s time to get going again.”
Larimer had 55.67 percent (6,111) to lead challenger Todd Minor with 44.06 percent (4,837). The council appointed Larimer last year to replace Budell, who moved to Chicago for a new job. Minor raised $15,000 and Larimer $13,000.
“I was honored when the City Council appointed me to serve but it’s an even greater honor to have the residents of Kent validate that decision with their trust and confidence,” Larimer said in an email. “Tonight’s (Tuesday) results are truly humbling and I am so grateful to serve the residents of Kent for the next four years. I look forward to hearing residents thoughts, input and vision for the city and delivering real results. Together, we will continue to move Kent forward.”
Michaud racked up 59.3 percent (6,445 votes) to knock off Farah with 40.04 percent (4,352). Farah won the four-person primary with 36 percent of the vote compared to 24 percent for Michaud.
“I’m super thankful,” Michaud said in a phone interview. “I feel Kent voters recognized the hard work I put in.”
Michaud will replace Dennis Higgins, who was appointed by the council to finish out now-Mayor Ralph’s term, but decided not to run. Because Michaud will replace an appointed council member, she actually will take office after King County certifies the election on Nov. 26.
Farah raised more than $55,000 compared to $8,000 by Michaud.
Michaud said voters recognized her work as a member of the Kent Parks and Recreation board and the fact she attended council meetings to learn about how the city is run.
“I think they saw my advocacy meant more than being able to fundraise,” she said.
Positions on the council are considered part-time jobs and pay $15,564 a year.
The city of Kent has 64,645 registered voters, and 16,361 returned ballots as of 6 p.m. Tuesday for a participation rate of 25 percent, according to King County Elections. More ballots will be counted over the next couple of weeks. A total of 17,195 ballots were returned in the August primary.
Kent School Board
Michele Greenwood Bettinger, of Renton, defeated David Canterbury, also of Renton, in the only Kent School Board race. Bettinger had 66.15 percent (10,627 votes) while Canterbury tallied 33.35 percent (5,358) for the District 2 director spot.
Leah Bowen, of Kent, ran unopposed for District 1 and Leslie Hamada, of Covington, ran unopposed for director District 3.
None of the three incumbents whose terms are up ran for the seats on the five-member board.
The Kent School District stretches into Covington and Renton.