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Whidbey's far north dooms hospital bond
A large turnout on North Whidbey and in Oak Harbor — and lackluster support on Central Whidbey — appears to have doomed a $50 million expansion measure for Whidbey General Hospital, according to an analysis of early precinct returns in the May 17 special election.
Island County elections officials released the first vote tally in the special election shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The hospital expansion bond was falling to defeat with a 55.5 percent "yes" vote; the proposal needs a 60 percent supermajority to pass.
An examination of unofficial precinct returns shows more voters cast ballots on North Whidbey and in Oak Harbor than on all of South Whidbey, where the expansion proposal for the Coupeville hospital found its greatest support.
A total of 7,114 ballots have been counted for voters in the 10 North Whidbey precincts, the 17 in-city Oak Harbor precincts, and the seven Oak Harbor-area precincts.
A total of 5,413 ballots have been counted for South Whidbey voters, and another 3,772 ballots have been tallied for voters on Central Whidbey.
Unofficial vote tallies show the bond measure was strongly opposed on North Whidbey, where voters gave a 61 percent "no" to the proposal. The greatest rejection rate was in Soundview, the island's second-most northern precinct that lies just south of Lam's Golf Links. Soundview voters gave the hospital measure a 71 percent "no" vote.
Little support for the proposed tax increase — a 26-year bond measure which would have raised homeowners' taxes 34 cents per $1,000 assessed property value in its first year — was also found in the Dugualla (31 percent "yes"), Hillcrest (34 percent), Countryside (36), Cornet (37) and Polnell (38) precincts.
The only other precinct on Whidbey outside the far north end of the island where support was less than 40 percent was found in Hastie Lake (35).
There were, however, pockets of "yes" voters on North Whidbey.
Voters in four in-city precincts in Oak Harbor approved the bond measure. In Oak Harbor 9, the precinct that includes Skagit Valley College's Oak Harbor campus, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's Seaplane Base and the neighborhoods south of East Crescent Harbor Road, gave the ballot measure a 70 percent "yes" vote.
The hospital bond also got a supermajority of the votes cast in the precincts of Oak Harbor 5 (the area north of Windjammer Park and Southeast Pioneer Way, and between Highway 20 and Ireland Street), Oak Harbor 8 (the area along Southwest Scenic Heights Road, and north to Southwest Sixth Avenue), and Oak Harbor 16 (the area between Heller Street and Fairhaven Drive that runs south to Southwest Swantown Avenue).
While the bond measure received a majority vote on Central Whidbey, the supermajority requirement means support was not strong enough to help the measure pass in the precincts that include and surround the hospital.
Coupeville voters cast ballots 68 percent for approval, but voter support was below 60 percent in all but three of Central Whidbey's 11 precincts (Coupeville 1, Coupeville 2 and North Bluff).
Generally speaking, more voters on the South End than those north of Classic Road were supportive of the bond measure.
The proposal was approved by 51 percent of voters in all combined precincts on Central Whidbey, Oak Harbor and its surrounding area, and North Whidbey.
Across all South Whidbey precincts, the measure received a 64 percent "yes" vote.
The greatest support for the bond measure was in Langley — where WGH closed its clinic in October — and voters in the Village by the Sea's two precincts gave it a 76 percent "yes" vote.
Other precincts with an approval rate above 70 percent on the South End were Coles (73 percent) and Saratoga 2 (71). Coles and Saratoga 2 are the precincts directly west of Langley.
Although voters in all 20 South Whidbey precincts gave the measure a "yes" vote of 50 percent or above, the proposal did not meet the supermajority requirement in the precincts of Bush Point 2 (56 percent "yes"), Double Bluff (56 percent), Clinton (50) and Possession (58).
Voters were split on the proposal in Clinton, where 114 voted "yes" and the same number voted "no," according to the first vote tally.
Westview voters also split 50-50, with 89 votes for, and 89 votes against.
The vote was also close in the Scenic Heights Precinct (78 "yes" votes, 75 "no"), Swantown (140 "yes," 141 "no"), Oak Harbor 6 (52 "yes," 49 "no"), Oak Harbor 10 (72 "yes," 70 "no") and Oak Harbor 11 (103 "yes," 102 "no.")
The expansion proposal received a supermajority vote in 24 out of 65 precincts on Whidbey.