Transit wins; Enell and Jerome battle for port spot in November

With 2,000 votes left to count in Island County — the next update is 5 p.m. today, Aug. 19 — Island Transit has won its bid for a three-tenths of 1 percent increase in the county's sales tax with a 54.7 percent margin.

In the close race for South Whidbey port commissioner representing Langley, Dean Enell (513 votes) has a slim lead over Chris Jerome (466) and Herb Helsel (400), but no one is declaring victory or defeat quite yet.

Though cautiously optimistic a half-hour after the results were posted, transit director Martha Rose said she wants to wait until the final tally before letting out a big "Yippee!"

"At this point, I'm just really excited for the employees who won't be losing their jobs and passengers not losing their rides," Rose said.

Enell said that, regardless of the final count, he plans to continue to discuss the issues with the people of the South End.

"I want to listen closely to those with ideas on how the port can act as a catalyst for a more self-sustaining community and less of a bedroom community," he said.

Jerome said he's looking forward to a constructive campaign and welcomes the idea of debates with Enell before the Nov. 3 general election.

"I've been posting some ideas on my Web site and, when appropriate, contributing to the discussions on the Langley Community Forum," Jerome said. "The more people I can talk with, the better understanding I have of what their concerns are. It's important to listen carefully."

Jerome added that the debate the community needs to have is how to best move forward.

Though he wouldn't concede defeat, Helsel spent the morning taking down his campaign signs at his clock shop in Langley and at the marina.

"I'm getting tired of looking at them," he said. "I think it's all over for me but I'm going to wait until after 5 p.m. before I say any more."

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