Transit measure vote reveals familiar split between North Whidbey and South End

Voters in Central and South Whidbey pushed Island Transit’s sales-tax measure to victory, according to an analysis of early precinct results by the Record.

Turnout was key, as the Island Transit proposal exposed familiar fault lines between voters on Whidbey.

On the historically conservative North End of Whidbey, a majority of voters rejected the tax-increase proposal. On the South End and in Central Whidbey, traditionally progressive-leaning precincts approved the Island Transit measure by a substantial margin in many precincts.

Though the proposed sales-tax increase for Island Transit won countywide, pulling in 55 percent of the “yes” vote, it fell to defeat in all 10 North Whidbey precincts.

The rejection rate there was the strongest in the Polnell Precinct, the area just east of Crescent Harbor.

In Oak Harbor and nearby precincts, the measure found mixed support. It was rejected in 13 of 24 precincts, with the strongest opposition — a 70-percent “no” vote — in the Fort Nugent Precinct.

It passed in 10 precincts, and drew a tie in the Penn Cove Precinct. The winning precincts included the Oak Harbor 9 Precinct on the Seaplane Base, and nearly every precinct between the SE Regatta Drive and Highway 20. Those precincts include the historic downtown.

In North End and Oak Harbor-area precincts, turnout was low compared to Central and South Whidbey, however. Turnout of active voters was 48 percent.

It was even worse in Whidbey’s largest city and Oak Harbor-area precincts: 43 percent. In nine Oak Harbor-area precincts, it was less than 40 percent.

Island Transit truly has Central and South Whidbey to thank for the passage of its tax-increase measure.

On Central Whidbey, turnout was 60 percent, and the proposal passed in all 11 precincts. It hit 71-percent approval in Lagoon Point, and won 73 percent of the vote in the Coupeville 1 Precinct.

While turnout was lower on the South End — 48 percent of active voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary — the total number of votes and the high approval margins helped seal the win.

More people voted on the South End than in any other voting area in Island County. This week’s preliminary results showed 5,652 people casting ballots on the transit measure. (By comparison, 4,193 ballots were cast in the race on Central Whidbey; 5,116 in Oak Harbor-area precincts; 2,928 on North Whidbey; and 5,578 on Camano Island.)

On South Whidbey, the measure was approved in all 20 precincts. In eight precincts, the approval rate was 70 percent or better (Freeland, 71 percent; Glendale, 71 percent; Saratoga 1, 70 percent; Bush Point 1, 75 percent; Coles, 70 percent; Saratoga 2, 72 percent; Langley 1, 82 percent; Langley 2, 76 percent).

Camano Island also split along the well-known north-vs.-south divide that characterizes Whidbey Island. But less so this election.

Overall, the proposal passed in 12 of Camano’s 18 precincts, including the north-end precincts of Sunset 1, Sunset 2 and Utsalady 2.

Camano approved the measure with a “yes” vote of 50.9 percent. Turnout was 51 percent.

On North Whidbey, the proposal was rejected by a 60-percent “no” vote. In Oak Harbor and surrounding precincts, overall opposition hit 52 percent.

On Central Whidbey, 62 percent of voters said yes to the increase. On South Whidbey, it was passed by an overall “yes” vote of 66 percent.

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