Former Elma businessman Pat Miller has beaten incumbent Elma Councilman Jim Taylor.
Meantime, Elma Councilman David Blackett has been re-elected, silencing efforts by former mayor Earl Hari to stake a political comeback.
Miller’s upset over Taylor, a two-time councilman, is the big news in Elma. Miller received 69.28 percent of the vote or 345 votes to Taylor’s 153 votes. In addition, 59 other people who turned in ballots chose not to vote in the race in Elma, 1,504 ballots were sent to voters for a turnout in the city of about 37 percent.
Blackett received 315 votes (62.38 percent) to Hari’s 190 votes.
The next vote tally is set for Friday afternoon.
Dr. Blackett owns a dental office in Elma and has spoken out quite a bit about the need for the city to invest more in its roads and infrastructure.
Hari served on the City Council before for five of six years in the 1990s. From 2000 to 2004 he served a term as mayor. Today, he works for the Squaxin Island Tribe and has an office at the Little Creek Casino.
Taylor has been on the council for eight years. He retired from CalFire, one of the largest fire agencies in the state of California, where he served as a firefighter and rose through the ranks to become a fire captain.
Miller was a member of the volunteer Elma Fire Department for more than 25 years. He was also a business owner in Elma, operating the Elma Disposal Co.
“I did a lot of campaigning, put out a lot of signs and just had a lot of support,” Miller said. “I’ve been here my whole life. I owned a business here. My dad owned a business here. I’m proud of the way I ran my campaign. Councilman Taylor has been an amazing guy and I made the campaign about me. It’s a huge turn off to me to slam your opponents. I’ve never appreciated that.”
Taylor called up Miller Tuesday night to concede and wish him the best.
“I told him, I’d much rather lose to somebody I like than somebody I don’t like. I think he’s a good man and I think he’ll do a good job.”
Miller says he plans to start going to council meeting and will need to get up to speed with the city’s budget issues. Taylor says he plans to work just as hard to finish off his second term.