Margin in Pierce County Council primary narrows

Posted on August 5th, 2022 By:

Just 84 votes separate the second- and third-place finishers in the Pierce County Council District 7 primary election, according to results posted Friday morning.

Paula Lonergan has 5,498 votes (12.07 percent), while Josh Harris has 5,414 (11.89 percent). One of those two Republicans will advance to a general election contest against Democrat Robyn Denson, who won 26,351 votes (57.86 percent) in the primary.

How many ballots remain?

It is unknown how many ballots from District 7 remain to be counted.

Kyle Haugh, elections supervisor with the Pierce County Auditor’s Office, estimated that about 200 ballots remain countywide. But it’s impossible to know for sure.

Some of those may have been postmarked on or before election day, Aug. 2, but still not delivered to the Auditor’s Office.

Voters also sometimes mistakenly drop ballots in another county’s drop box, especially in South King or South Kitsap counties. Those ballots are valid, but must be delivered to Pierce County.

Haugh pointed out that there are also about 1,000 challenged ballots, which must go through a review process. Again, it’s impossible to know how many of those might be from Council District 7.

The next vote count is scheduled to be posted on Tuesday, Aug. 9. The election will be certified on Aug. 16.

Background on the candidates

The Pierce County Council is responsible for passing legislation, setting county policy, adopting the county’s budget and holding government meetings. The salary is $120,285.

Lonergan, 69, worked for 30 years as a state government human resource manager and program manager before retiring. The wife of Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan, she has been appointed to serve as a Tacoma Human Rights Commissioner and Washington State Affordable Housing Advisory Board member. Currently she chairs the Pierce County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board. The Air Force brought her to the area, and she lives in the Proctor District of North Tacoma.

Harris, 47, owns a construction company and has been active in many civic organizations.

Harris gained notoriety by paying $300,000 to bail out three Tacoma police officers involved in the March 3, 2020, death of Manuel Ellis. Ellis, a Black man, died when police attempted to arrest him for allegedly trying to open car doors of occupied vehicles.

Most recently, Harris on May 30 went to a homeless camp near Cheney Stadium to retrieve stolen tools and other items. A man drove at him in a car and Harris shot him in the head and hand. The man was injured but survived and prosecutors said he would be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Prosecutors did not charge Harris with any crimes. An investigation found he fired in self-defense.

Harris has twice been charged with theft in Pierce County, according to Superior Court records from 2008 and before.