– The Thurston County Auditor’s Office released election results at approximately 8:15pm this evening, which demonstrated that Yelm’s contested races are too close to call, with approximately 200 more expected votes to be tallied in the coming weeks.
City of Yelm Mayor
Joe DePinto 345
JW Foster 389
Difference = 44 votes
Total Votes (not including write-ins) 734
City of Yelm City Council, Position No. 3
Cody Colt 334
Russ Hendrickson 336
Difference = 2 votes
Total Votes (not including write-ins) 670
City of Yelm City Council, Position No. 7
James C. Blair 317
Terry Kaminski 388
Difference = 71 votes
Total Votes (not including write-ins) 705
Uncontested Council positions all received less than 550 votes each:
Pos. 1, EJ Curry 529
Pos. 3, Tad Stillwell 546
Pos. 4, Tracey Wood 533
– Editor’s note:
* That this city’s contested offices have received under 800 votes total each is pathetic!
* Less than 10% of the population elected the contested offices,
* Less than 6% of the population elected uncontested positions.
* The winners certainly can assume no mandate from their voters’ apathy in not voting.
* Old Guard candidates strongly challenged, almost half of voters no longer wanted them!
While the Nisqually Valley News declared Foster the winner, DePinto told his supporters gathered at the Yelm Community Center, “I am not conceding [in this race] yet. I believe there is still a path to victory and I will update everyone tomorrow after the new results are in. I appreciate everyone who took the time to fill out their ballot and voted in this election.”
Less than 10% of Yelm’s population voted for mayor. As example, the last contested Yelm mayor race was in 2005, which garnered a total of 1,076 votes with a population of 4,492. In 2017, there will be under 1,000 votes cast for the same position, yet with a doubling of the population to almost 9,000. The apathy in lack of voter turn-out is deplorable, as Yelm residents are on the threshold of some major issues that will affect their wallets at the hands of their elected officials! Those that did not vote have no right to complain what will soon be coming in their mailboxes the way of increased taxes, fees, bond requests.
– Election Notes:
Very visible was the nastiness of the Foster campaign, from signs displacement of his opponent, downright pressuring of residents that had DePinto signs to change to Foster signs, to unchallenged attacks of DePinto and his supporters on Foster’s social media pages. More on this will be listed here once the election is certified.
Foster spent more than $12,000 in funds and in-kind expenditures for his almost 400 votes, which equates to spending $30 per vote, an unusually high sum spent per-vote in a local election. As an example, if the usual 25-30% of voters would have cast their ballots, Foster would have spent $10-$15 per vote cast. And even being an incumbent in this position, plus having a prodigious amount of endorsements, employing undignified political tactics, and high spending per vote cast, Foster is currently just slightly ahead in the vote tally. Foster said he was “confident” on Facebook prior to the release of the results, expecting a slam dunk, so these close results had to be startling for his campaign. The close contest is indicative those constituents that did vote were wary of Foster as mayor for 4 more years. What has resonated was that Foster rarely stood-up for constituents with few comments, yet was a complicit councilor voting on Harding’s policies for over 4 years that negatively impacted Yelm residents in taxes, fees, and bond commitments.
DePinto vowed to not go negative the entire campaign, a commitment he kept. While a healthy debate is required in a Constitutional Republic where divergent ideas are expressed, which DePinto pointedly raised, the community did not witness his campaign tampering with his opponent’s sign and what amounted to bullying by Foster and his campaign on local constituents’ when they placed DePinto signs on their property or supported him on Facebook. Very nice to see these city officials walk across the street after the council’s study session to the open-to-the-public DePinto/Colt/Blair Yelm Community Center gathering: Department heads Grant Beck, Chief Todd Stancil, Joe Wolf, Chad Bedlington, City Administrator Michael Grayum, City Clerk/HR/Public Records Officer Lori Mossman, and Councilor Tad Stillwell, though conspicuously absent were Councilors EJ Curry, Molly Carmody, Tracey Wood, and Russ Hendrickson. City Staff left at 8pm to go to Foster’s private campaign party in supporter Margaret Clapp’s Prairie Hotel.
However, for the first time since 2004, Pastor Jeff Adams was finally not a factor in this election since I filed a formal complaint with the IRS a year ago about using his church status, title, and newspaper column to interfere in previous Yelm elections, against non-profit status rules. If Adams now decides post-election to cross that line, the IRS will receive another formal complaint on him. Read more
Stay tuned for regular election results updates.