Larsen receives highest primary vote count in auditor's race

Jim and Mary Angell
Staff Writer

A former school administrator garnered more votes for auditor in Stevens County’s primary election last week than the long-standing incumbent. 
Lori Larsen, a Republican, is the first person in at least 20 years to oppose Democratic incumbent Tim Gray, who has served as county auditor for nearly 26 years.  As of close of business on Friday, Larsen had received  7,683 votes — just over 59 percent —  to Gray’s 5,287, about 40 percent of the vote. Both candidates will be on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 6.
Currently a member of the Chewelah School District Board of Directors, Larsen was an administrator in the Valley School District and has served several leadership positions within the Stevens County Republican Party.  During her primary campaign, she criticized Gray’s financial reports and stressed the need for the auditor’s office to modernize systems and improve employee training. 
According to its website, the Stevens County Election Department has 1,600 votes yet to count.  Its next ballot count is scheduled for Wednesday.
Leading in the five-way race for Stevens County Commission District No. 2 were Republican incumbent Don Dashiell with 1,851 votes (42.5 percent) and Jeffery Charvet, an Independent, with 868 (19.9 percent).  Dashiell has served on the board of commissioners for eight years and received the endorsement of the Stevens County Republican Party, the Washington State Farm Bureau and the Stevens County Farm Bureau. Charvet has 30 years’ experience as project manager and director of operations for a recycling plant in Alaska and 10 years in emergency management. 
The remainder of Stevens County’s primary races brought no surprises, as several county races consisted of only two candidates, with the incumbents collecting the most votes. Two other races consisted of one candidate running unopposed. 
In the race for county assessor, incumbent John Olson, Republican, earned 7,101 votes (64 percent).  His only opponent in the primary, Rick Johnson, also a Republican, received 3,989 votes (35.9 percent) and will face Olson in the general election. 
For the position of county coroner, incumbent Lorrie Sampson, Republican, was opposed by volunteer firefighter Brent Hellie, also Republican.  Sampson earned 7,872 votes (69.6 percent), while Hellie received 3,432 (30 percent).
The races for treasurer and sheriff were closer than those for other county offices.  
Incumbent treasurer Leslie Valz, Republican, received 5,410 votes (48.9 percent) in the primary, while her only opponent, Trina R. Cox, also Republican, received  5,649 (51 percent).  
Two candidates — both Republicans — are vying for Stevens County Sheriff:  Brad Manke and Mike Berry.  In the primary, Manke received 5,925 votes (50 percent), while Berry collected 5,738 (49 percent).
Incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Tim Rasmussen a Republican, is running unopposed.  He received 9,038 votes in the primary. 
Likewise, Republican Julie C. James, Republican, is the only candidate for the office of county clerk.  She garnered  9,709 votes.
The Fire District No. 13 Annexation Area Proposition 1 passed by a considerable margin:  66 votes in favor to 34  votes opposed, but as of Friday’s tallies, only 100 votes were cast on the measure.  The proposition would expand the boundaries of Stevens County Fire District #13 to increase tax income and broaden fire coverage.