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Unofficial results show Dahl beats Jabusch in Cowlitz County District 3 commissioner race

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Cowlitz County Auditor Carolyn Fundingsland discusses counting ballots on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.

The Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners is on track to have three Republican members for the first time in decades, as Rick Dahl secured his lead over appointed incumbent John Jabusch, according to Friday’s unofficial results.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, Dahl had a 1,335-vote lead over Jabusch, capturing 51.5% of the vote to Jabusch’s 48.3%. The Cowlitz County Elections Office had an estimated 2,300 ballots left to count, with the next update expected Monday.

“I’m going to congratulate Rick Dahl, he appears to be the winner,” Jabusch said Friday.

Jabusch, an independent, took a narrow lead election night, but Dahl was ahead since Wednesday.

“On the initial night, we felt votes would swing our way because traditionally more conservative voters hold on to them later,” Dahl said. “We’re feeling real positive about it. I think it’s going to get certified our way.”

Cowlitz County Election 2022

Dahl, 66, a Castle Rock resident who retired as senior vice president of Fibre Federal Credit Union early this year, said his message of being a voice for residents who don’t feel represented resonated with voters.

“I try to stress that this isn’t Rick Dahl’s chair, this is your chair, I’ll be honored to sit in it for you,” he said. “It’s my job to represent you the best I can in our government, that was really our message from day one.”

Rose Valley resident Jabusch, 62, owner of Pro Caliber Motorsports, said he still has his day job, and in his time remaining he is “not going to go against the voters.”

“I honestly didn’t have any motivation other than doing what was best for Cowlitz County,” he said. “That was my only motivation and the voters decided that they would prefer Rick Dahl over me, and I got to live with that.”

In the August primary, Jabusch received 44.4% of the vote and Dahl got 35.8%, beating out Republican Christie Masters. But only voters in District 3 — West Longview, Rose Valley, Castle Rock, Toutle, Ryderwood and rural northern Cowlitz County — cast ballots in the primary race. All Cowlitz County voters saw the commissioner race on their general election ballot.

In September 2021, former commissioner Joe Gardner, an independent, stepped down from the position, leaving about 15 months in his second term. Seven people applied for the position and the board interviewed the top three, including Dahl and Masters.

Rick Dahl

Rick Dahl

The commissioners remained split on who to appoint until their Nov. 2 deadline, with Arne Mortensen supporting Dahl and Dennis Weber supporting Masters. The decision was forwarded to Gov. Jay Inslee, who appointed Jabusch in early December after he applied directly to the governor’s office.

Under state law, because Jabusch was appointed, Dahl will be sworn in after results are certified on Nov. 29, rather than at the beginning of the year.

John Jabusch

John Jabusch

Dahl regularly attends commissioner meetings, but said he will be “doing some homework” over the next few weeks.

The commissioners’ meetings next week were canceled because of lack of quorum. The next regular Tuesday meeting is Nov. 22.


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