Vancouver residents will have to wait a few more weeks to see exactly what the city’s new leadership will look like as one seat is officially heading to a recount.

Elections officials on Tuesday finalized the results of the November election. Candidates John Blom and Kim Harless finished 55 votes apart, a 0.16% percent differential of the nearly 34,000 votes cast. The margin automatically triggers a recount under Washington law.

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Harless, who works at a paint recycling nonprofit, held the lead over Blom, a real estate broker. Harless currently holds an elected position reviewing the county charter. Blom is a former Clark County councilor.

Vancouver City Hall

Vancouver City Hall

Molly Solomon / OPB

Elections officials said the result could be finalized in the first two weeks of December.

The two candidates generally shared likeminded views on pressing issues, such as helping the community’s unhoused population and keeping housing prices affordable. Blom stressed fixing infrastructure to help the city’s growth. Harless underscored a need for Vancouver to participate in curbing climate change.

Harless and her supporters billed her as new blood in city leadership. Her Indigenous ancestry and first-hand experiences with poverty, she said, will provide a new voice on City Council as it sets policies.

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“The status quo is not reaching the everyday person in Vancouver,” Harless said.

Blom had considerable benefactors in the race. He raised $44,696 directly, while the National Association of Realtors and a Washington Realtors Political Action Committee spent $250,000 combined to bolster his campaign.

Harless’ campaign was paltry by comparison. She raised $27,850 directly and notched $2,443 in independent expenditures.

Blom for years has tried to establish himself as a moderating politician. In his tenure in Clark County, he was a Republican often willing to go places fellow conservatives wouldn’t, such as raising property taxes to fund services. He ultimately dropped his Republican affiliation, then lost re-election in 2020.

In an interview, Blom said he has tried to distract himself from the neck-and-neck race. He initially led when polls first opened Nov. 3, but his lead disappeared as more ballots were processed.

If he loses, Blom said he doesn’t envision he’ll embark on another political campaign anytime soon.

“Officially, I would step away from it for awhile. It was a rough year. I’m ready to just kind of move on and focus on family and career,” Blom said.

Both candidates expressed confidence in the recount. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said the process is underway to collect specific ballots that need to be recounted. Staff will conduct a ballot recount by hand.

“The best test of the integrity of an elections administration process is a recount,” Kimsey said. “We’re looking forward to this recount to reaffirm to voters that our process has an extremely high level of integrity, transparency and accountability.”

Observers are welcome, Kimsey said. Typically, the Democratic and Republican parties both send observers to watch the recount, as does the local chapter of the League of Women Voters.

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