MONTESANO — McCleary Mayor Gary Dent is heading for a sixth term in office, despite opposition from former City Councilman Chris Vessey and write-in challenger Joseph Chiaravalloti.
Dent is receiving 54 percent to Vessey’s 44 percent and Chiaravalloti’s 2 percent.
Breaking down the votes, Dent received 150 ballots, Vessey received 123 ballots and Chiaravalloti received just eight write-in ballots. The numbers show that 19 people chose not to vote for any of them.
Election figures released by the Grays Harbor Auditor’s Office show that McCleary residents received just 819 ballots. That puts voter turnout from the city of McCleary so far in this election at about 35 percent. The next ballot count will be on Friday.
“I am really happy to win a sixth term,” Dent said. “I don’t think any other mayor in this county has won six terms.”
Dent said he wanted to “stay modest,” and thanked his friends and supporters, who participated in an election party at his house Tuesday night.
“My job now is to continue to do what’s best for McCleary and work to bring a $200 million industry to this city,” Dent said, hinting at a potential steel pipe manufacturing plant that purchased land in McCleary last year and has said it wants to start a company in the city.
Chiaravalloti, a technology specialist, decided to try his luck as a write-in candidate, but he registered as an official candidate. That allowed the Auditor’s Office to specifically flag his name as they tallied up the ballots. He goes by the name “Joseph Chevy” — and elections officials say that name was allowed to be written in as well as any reasonable spelling error for Chiaravalloti’s last name. That’s the value of paying a filing fee to register as an official write-in candidate.
Mayor Dent has been mayor five times since 1976. After 40 years, he retired as a teacher, his last posting at McCleary School. He’s been involved with the Grays Harbor Transit Board, the E-911 Administrative Board and the Grays Harbor Council of Governments.
Vessey moved to McCleary in 1993 with his wife, who is from the area. He’s made his campaign about increasing transparency. Vessey spent 46 years as a logger and involved in heavy construction. He’s a cousin to the Vessey logging family.
Chiaravalloti has lived in the McCleary area for two years and has worked as a computer technician for the Olympia School District for seven years. He’s 42 years old and has a girlfriend and no kids.