Eliana Macias is the apparent winner of the Yakima City Council District 1 race, meaning the council will not be without Latino representation.
Macias, who trailed opponent Kenton Gartrell by 71 votes on Election Day Nov. 5, saw her deficit shrink to four votes before the weekend as counting continued. She took an 11-vote lead Tuesday when counting resumed.
That lead grew to 26 votes Wednesday afternoon.
All ballots for the Yakima Council District 1 race are now in and accounted for, Yakima County Auditor Charles Ross said Wednesday, adding that six ballots are still “challenged” because of signatures not matching up with voter registration records, or ballots that were not signed by voters. But even if all six ended up going to Gartrell, the margin between the two would remain wide enough that it would not trigger a recount, Ross said.
The election will be certified on Nov. 26.
Macias was not immediately available for comment late Wednesday afternoon. Her victory will make her the sole Latina council member. Had she lost, the Council would have been without Latino representation for the first time since 2015, when a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit forced the city to change its elections to better represent the city’s Latino population.
Three Latina councilwoman were elected in 2015. One, Avina Gutierrez, lost a reelection bid in 2017. The two others, Carmen Mendez and Dulce Gutierrez, declined to seek reelection this year. Prior to 2015, Yakima had never elected a Latino council member. Sonia Rodriguez-True, who was appointed to fill a council vacancy in December 2008, lost that seat in a close election the next year.
Gartrell, who said he might run again, was a controversial figure this election cycle. He made headlines for knocking a phone out of a Macias supporter’s hand at a downtown bar on the night of the August primary as she shot video of him. No charges were filed in the incident.
On Wednesday, he credited Macias with running a positive campaign but expressed frustration with the actions of her supporters and with how the race was covered by this newspaper.
“I don’t think my opponent did anything that was negative or wrong,” Gartrell said.
He also said he was pleased with the turnout. Voters in District 1 cast 733 ballots in the race, compared to 549 when Dulce Gutierrez won the seat in 2015.
“I’m pretty happy, ironically,” Gartrell said Wednesday. “I did what I set out to do.”
Union Gap race tied
In other election developments, Wednesday’s counting ended with the Union Gap City Council Position 5 race between David Hansen and three-term incumbent David Matson deadlocked at 300 votes apiece. There are still ballots in play for that race, Ross said, so it should be determined when counting resumes Thursday.