New choice for Mabton Council seat

Ballots being mailed this week statewide


Mark Gourneau

— Washington’s 2017 general election voting period has started, with local races and measures dominating ballots. 

No race has been more interesting than the one for City Council Seat No. 1 in this community.

The two original candidates are no longer seeking the position.

Challenger Diana Castaneda dropped out because of illness, and incumbent Oping Hutson succumbed Monday to the ravages of cancer.

That left the voters with no choice for that seat. Until yesterday, that is.

Mark Gourneau, who is about to finish his second term in another council seat, has announced a write-in campaign for seat No. 1.

He gave up his current seat to run for mayor against incumbent Mario Martinez.

He finished third behind another challenger, Laura Vazquez, and found himself outside of city government, and out of office

Then Castaneda and Hutson became ill and dropped out, and Hutson died.

“Very sad,” Gourneau said. “She was a wonderful woman. She did a lot for this community, It’s a big loss for all of us.”

Knowing the seat was wide open, and wanting to be in city government, Gourneau decided on a write-in campaign. He has nearly eight years of experience.

“I’m going to go out there and do some campaigning,” he said.

The only challenge now is that Hutson’s and Castaneda’s names will be on the ballot.

All of these circumstances occurred after the deadline for officially dropping out.

Hutson and Castaneda could both get votes.

The Yakima County Elections Office said yesterday that Gourneau would have to get the highest number of votes to win the seat.

If either Hutson or Castaneda come out ahead, the seat will be declared open, and the council will have to appoint someone.

According to Secretary of State Kim Wyman, more than 4.2 million ballots will be mailed out across Washington this week. 

The deadline for voters to return ballots is Nov. 7.

Ballots submitted via ballot drop box need to be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Ballots that are mailed back must be postmarked on or before Nov. 7.

In this year’s general election, there are 3,738 candidates in 2,868 races, distributed across 1,390 voting jurisdictions.

There is a Superior Court race Yakima County.

There is a total of 146 ballot measures, including three advisory votes.

The advisory measures ask voters if the three tax increases imposed by the Legislature should be maintained or repealed, Wyman said.

There were 4,266,246 Washington residents registered to vote as of Oct. 17. About 81,490 military and overseas ballots were mailed Sept. 23.


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