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A mandatory recount Wednesday confirmed that former Wahkiakum County Sheriff Eugene “Gene” Strong won a close race for county commissioner.

Strong defeated incumbent Commissioner Blair Brady by two votes, 1,189 to 1,187. The Canvassing Board certified the results of the recount Wednesday afternoon, with no changes to the final count taken on Nov. 27.

The state requires a manual recount in non-statewide races where the difference between the top two candidates is fewer than 150 votes and less than 0.25 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

Strong, 69, retired was sheriff in 2002 after serving five terms. The Rosburg Independent said he’s thankful to all the people who voted for him and supported him.

“It shows that your vote does matter,” Strong said of the narrow victory margin.

Strong said it was a test of patience waiting for the outcome to be confirmed, but it was worth it.

Brady, 65, said he is glad that the process is over, and that going back into retirement is not a bad thing. The Rosburg Democrat served three four-year terms as commissioner.

Brady said he will still try to help the county and plans to lobby in Olympia as a citizen for legislation beneficial to Wahkiakum County.

Strong said he is looking forward to working with other commissioners and other elected officials again. During his 20 years as sheriff, Strong said he had great relationships with other county officials.

“That’s what it’s about, having good relationships and good communications,” Strong said. “It doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but the biggest thing is to keep this a good place to live and work.”

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