LONG BEACH Surprisingly animated races for Long Beach City Council and North Beach Water Commission will make the results of next weeks off-year election more interesting than usual.
In order to be counted by the Pacific County Auditors Office, ballots in the all-mail election must be postmarked by close of business Tuesday, Nov. 5. A preliminary vote count will be released online soon after 8 p.m. that day, with late-arriving ballots tallied on Friday, Nov. 8.
Also attracting attention are a contested race for Ilwaco Port Commission and a heavily advertised fight over Initiative 522, which requires labeling some products containing ingredients made from genetically modified organisms (GMO).
In the Long Beach City Council race, two-term incumbent Gerald Jerry Phillips is seeking re-election versus challenger Tom Werner. Phillips handles risk management for the Bank of the Pacific, while Werner is a city planning commissioner whose resume features managerial experience at aluminum companies.
Natalie Hanson, an active Peninsula volunteer, is running unopposed for the other Long Beach council seat available this year.
The Phillips-Werner race has been most notable for a series of strongly worded letters to the editor, in which Phillips fellow City Councilman Mark Perez and his allies have favored Werner. On the flip side, Phillips has seen strong support from several prominent retired city leaders.
In the same vein, the North Beach Water race pits system co-founder RD Williams versus challenger Glenn Ripley, who attends commission meetings and reports on them in the form of letters to the editor.
The publicly-owned water system replaced earlier private water companies, significantly upgrading the delivery system and other infrastructure, but also ushering in higher rates. Ripley previously ran unsuccessfully versus water board member Gwen Brake in 2011.
In the Port of Ilwaco race, cranberry grower Bob Hamilton is vying with contractor Steve Newell for the spot on the board previously held by Dick Siefert. Newell was appointed to the vacancy in June. Charter-fishing operator Butch Smith is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Les Swensen.
In Chinook, Edgar Wilson is running unopposed for a seat on the local port board.
Besides contested races, I-522 is the other main subject of interest on this years ballot. The measure has attracted huge out-of-state spending for TV advertisements, many funded by multinational corporations that want to avoid potential marketing complications and consumer backlash over using genetically engineered products.
Supporters have largely focused on the tactics of agribusiness giant Monsanto, which vigorously protects rights to its patented seeds that can withstand its Roundup herbicide, used to kill competing weeds.
Most other races in Pacific County are unopposed, including those for Ilwaco mayor and city council. Mike Cassinelli is assured re-election to another four-year term as mayor.
The other statewide ballot initiative, I-517, is supported by professional initiative sponsorer Tim Eyman and aims to make it easier to place measures on future ballots.