Mortgage broker Amanda McKinney now will represent District 1 on the Yakima County Commission, according to preliminary election results Tuesday night.

McKinney gathered 54.38% of votes, or 20,396, compared to Vicki Baker’s 16,406, the results showed.

She was pleasantly surprised.

“I’m grateful, I’m just so grateful,” the 42-year-old McKinney said Tuesday night. “I really think I had a positive message about communication and transparency. I think that was a message that really resonated across the county.”

The results mirror the primary election in August, when McKinney won 47% of the votes in a three-way primary race, compared to Baker’s nearly 35%.

Baker, 54, was appointed to the position in January when Commissioner Mike Leita retired with a year left on his term.

Weighing heavily on the county is how to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered many small businesses.

But the county also faces other challenges. There’s a lawsuit filed by the immigrant rights group OneAmerica alleging the county’s election system disenfranchises Latinos, a violation of the Washington Voting Rights Act.

Concerns over groundwater contamination in the Lower Valley continue, and there’s a growing homeless problem.

ELECTION 2020: Complete coverage

ELECTION 2020: Complete coverage

For all of the Yakima Herald-Republic’s 2020 election coverage, click here. For more information about how we are covering the 2020 election, click here. For more information on how to vote, click here or call 509-574-1340.

McKinney said she plans to begin by improving communication by setting up social media platforms to give the public better access to commissioners.

She also said she will establish a digital calendar so people with issues or concerns can immediately schedule meetings with commissioners.

“If someone wants to meet with me and sees me on the street, I’ll make an appointment with them right then and there,” McKinney said.

Baker campaigned on her continued efforts to guide the county’s business community through the pandemic.

She teamed with Yakima Mayor Patricia Byers and local business owners in devising plans to reopen safely. The county moved into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-part reopening plan Oct. 13.

McKinney, however, has been critical of the county’s initial pandemic response, saying the commission didn’t inform the public early enough about the severity of the virus or the need to mask up, delaying progress in the county’s reopening plan.

Commissioners are paid $107,052 a year and oversee the county’s $263 million overall annual operating budget.

Commissioner Ron Anderson ran unopposed in District 2.

Reach Phil Ferolito at pferolito@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @philipferolito