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Homola on way to upset victory in Island County commissioner race

Democrat Angie Homola is on her way to an upset win of 16-year incumbent Mac McDowell for the District 2 seat on the board of Island County commissioners.

Homola, who trailed McDowell in the primary by 13 points, rebounded as the race moved to voters throughout Island County.

Homola was leading McDowell, 14,749 votes to 13,900 in early vote returns.

About 6,500 ballots remain to be counted.

"Certainly I would rather be on the other side. But the counts not over yet," McDowell said.

"The climb out of this will be difficult," he added.

Homola could not be reached for comment on election night.

It was a bruising race for both candidates.

Homola, 49, is an Oak Harbor architect taking her first shot at elected office. A former county employee, she was dogged by media reports of a troublesome work history while a plans examiner trainee in the Island County planning department.

She promised to change the way the planning department does business if she was elected. But she also accused McDowell of "strong-arm tactics" to keep committee members for Ebey's Landing reserve in line, and "gerrymandering" district boundaries in 2001 to keep his two waterfront "Mac mansions" in his district. McDowell disputed both the claims.

McDowell, 62, ran on his record.

He pointed to his statesman-like demeanor during the campaign, and highlighted recent county success stories such as its rewrite of regulations that cover development on environmentally sensitive lands — work that was lauded as a potential model for other counties.

He also recounted his efforts to keep jobs here, recalling his work in keeping Naval Air Station Whidbey Island off the federal closure list, and his push to bring more jobs to Island County.

Homola raised $42,157 in contributions and spent $33,662 during the race; $3,181 in cash contributions came in after critical news stories were published about her work history with Island County.

McDowell raised $36,871 and spent $30,508, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

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