Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Weller takes city council seat in close race; Incumbent was defeated by nine votes and has requested a manual recount"

From the November 30 edition of the Daily Evergreen
Challenger Nathan Weller defeated incumbent Al Sorenson for a seat on the Pullman City Council.

“I feel really humbled [and] thankful to all the voters,” Weller said. “Right now it’s all just kind of sinking in.” The race for the Ward 2 seat, which remained too close to call for several weeks, was decided by 9 votes, according to information released by Whitman County election officials Wednesday. Weller received 279 votes, versus 270 votes for Sorenson.

Due to the close results, Sorenson said he has requested a manual recount of the ballots at his own personal expense. If the recount does not change the results, it will cost Sorenson 25 cents per ballot.

“There’s a lot going on in Pullman, and I enjoy being a part of that,” he said. “Pullman is on a really good track in regards to bringing in new business, and we’re … working really hard to improve the quality of life in Pullman. I’ve been on the city council for two years, and I was not ready to leave.” Sorenson said he requested a recount on Wednesday after talking with friends and supporters, who suggested he make sure there were no counting errors and that “everything was on the up-and-up.” The recount is expected to occur on Dec. 5.

“I am hopeful it will change things,” Sorenson said. “Am I looking at it realistically? I don’t know.” Sorensen was appointed to the city council in 2005 as a replacement for Sue Hinz.

If the recount does not change the results, Weller’s four- year term will begin in January. Should a recount reverse the results, Weller said he is unsure what he would do next.

“I think the auditor’s office has done a great job, and only time will tell [who wins],” he said. “I feel fairly confident, but again I support Al Sorenson’s feeling that he wants every vote to count. It’s important that he feels good about the result as well.” Weller, who is endorsed by Whitman County Democrats, is a 25-year-old employee of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman. As a 2005 WSU graduate, Weller said one of his main goals is to better include students in the Pullman community.

“My big feeling throughout the entire process was that I wanted to unify all of Pullman, the students and the long-term residents,” Weller said. “Right now we have a kind of disjointed feeling, and a lot of people feel there are two separate communities. Being an alum of WSU, and a long-term Pullman resident as well, I’ve seen both sides of the story.” To that end, Weller aimed much of his campaign toward students in the Ward 2 district, which includes many student apartments and homes, such as Campus Commons North and Campus Commons South. Although Weller said many city council members feel they have a good relationship with students through ASWSU, he said many in the district do not share that feeling.

“Many of the people [in Ward 2] have felt they are not a part of the community … and feel many of the ordinances passed in last year, and ones looking to be past this year, seem to be targeting the students,” Weller said. “It is important to bridge the gap and show them their voice counts and that, together, we can make Pullman a better place for everyone.”

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