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UPDATE: Challenger Brian Decker conceded the race Tuesday night as Barton leads by more than 10 points.

COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY - Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton starts with a clear lead against challenger Brian Decker in the May 17 primary election.Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton has turned back a challenge from Brian Decker in the Tuesday, May 17, election, unofficial results show.

The incumbent Barton received 55.2% of the votes, with challenger Decker at 44.5%, unofficial results as of Friday, May 20, show.

Barton told Pamplin Media Group that he is proud to be able to continue as DA for his community.

"I said when I ran that I thought this race would be a referendum on public safety, not just in Washington County, but for the state. And I think that the results have shown that in fact, it is," Barton said. "I think that voters in Washington County have spoken that it's important to be able to live, work and raise your family in a safe community."

Challenger Decker posted on Twitter at 9:18 p.m. Tuesday, saying he called Barton to congratulate his win. Even though voters chose his competitor, the voters who cast their ballots for Decker — more than 46,000 of them, as of Friday's results — "sent the message that the status quo is not OK," he posted.

"Despite the ballot counts, I am even surer today than I was in September that this community has the compassion, the decency, and the determination to remake our justice system," Decker tweeted.

Barton was first elected as the county's top prosecutor in 2018 in the most expensive DA race in state history. He took office that summer, succeeding longtime DA Bob Hermann.

Although the DA race in Washington County is nonpartisan, voters had a clear choice between Decker, who identified as the progressive candidate, and Barton, a pro-prosecution and by-the-books DA.

Barton even told Pamplin Media Group in a past interview that he and the challenger were "nothing alike — at all."

And voters have so far made their choice, as Barton has received over half the votes based on initial reports on election night.

The incumbent said he thinks his campaign message resonated with people, and that is why voters chose him over Decker.

"It's about feeling safe and knowing that you know you're in a community where safety is a priority," Barton said, "so that we can focus on all the other things that we want to focus on in our lives"

Barton ran his campaign this year with an emphasis on safety in Washington County. He cited lower crime rates than in Multnomah County, and in a Q&A response to Pamplin Media Group, he said Washington County needs to address "increased crime from Portland."

Barton also told Pamplin that he doesn't think Washington County residents want to be "experimenting" with the "irresponsible" reforms promoted by his challenger. Barton said his work on specialty courts and programs in the DA's office are the "responsible reforms" residents want to see.COURTESY - Washington County District Attorney candidate Brian Decker appears to be losing the election to incumbent Kevin Barton, who began election night with over 56% of votes.

On his campaign site, Barton lists his other priorities for his continued role as DA, which include seeking justice for all, protecting victims and the community, smart policies, engaging the community and "keeping politics out of the courthouse."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the vote tally as of Friday, May 20, as well as to correct typographic errors. Kevin Barton is Washington County district attorney. He took office in 2018.

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