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Challenger Leads Medical Lake Mayor Last Count Puts Hill Ahead By 34 Votes; Recount Paid For

Thu., Nov. 20, 1997

The last count of ballots from Medical Lake on Wednesday pushed challenger Jim Hill ahead of incumbent Mayor Sharie Stearns.

“I’m very elated, and I am looking forward to a good four years,” said Hill, a Washington State Patrol trooper.

Hill’s election gives all three cities on the West Plains, as well as Spokane, new mayors.

Amy Jo Sooy won over former mayor Tom Trulove in Cheney. Brian Grady unseated incumbent Mayor Don Harmon in Airway Heights.

“There’s a message there,” said Hill. “It’s time for a change.”

The Spokane County elections office reported that Hill had 451 votes to 417 for Stearns in the final count.

Stearns paid a deposit Wednesday for a recount.

She led in the election night results and in a subsequent count of late-arriving absentee ballots last Friday.

Stearns said she was told last week that nearly all of the ballots had been counted, including a batch of 58 votes held out of the election night results because they included write-in votes.

Elections Supervisor Tom Wilbur said it appears the ballot cards attached to the write-ins were not counted until Wednesday.

Write-in candidate Joe Hixson received 57 votes for council position No. 4, and lost to Judy Abbott. But his supporters apparently favored Hill over Stearns because Hill and Hixson ran as a slate for political change.

Stearns said she fears the write-in ballots may have been counted twice. “I just want to make sure,” she said.

Stearns complained after the Nov. 4 balloting that Hill mounted a negative campaign against her. She pointed to a cable television ad for Hill sponsored by “Citizens to Elect Somebody Who Actually Has a Brain.”

Hill said he had nothing to do with the ad aired by Davis Communications of Cheney.

“I felt it was in super bad taste,” Hill said.

A representative of the cable company confirmed that Hill did not purchase the ad, and the buyer did not want to disclose his identity.

, DataTimes

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