Topaz tops Conn for seat on St. Helens council
The St. Helens City Council will welcome a new face in Position 3 after a tight race between incumbent Susan Conn and challenger Stephen Topaz following Tuesday's election.
With two seats up for reelection on the City Council, voters Tuesday cast their ballots to determine if the long-serving councilors Doug Morten and Conn would remain on the council. Morten, who was running against two others, was reelected to Position 1, while Conn narrowly lost, according to unofficial vote counts as of Wednesday, Nov. 7.
When ballots were counted Tuesday night, Topaz and Conn were locked neck-and-neck. Unofficial vote totals as of Wednesday afternoon showed that Topaz took 49.9 percent of the vote, followed by Conn who took 49.06 percent. The margin is 42 votes.
Topaz did not respond to requests for comment by the Spotlight's press deadline Thursday, but he published a brief comment on his political Facebook page Wednesday morning with a screenshot of the vote totals following his victory.
"Thank you for your support! I will work hard to try to make St. Helens better for all of us," his post stated, in part.
An automatic recount of tight races can take place if votes are separated by less than .2 percent of the vote, according to state law. If an automatic recount is not triggered, candidates can request one in tight races.
Conn said Wednesday, however, that she would not request a recount of the votes and would "accept the decision of the community."
"I'm very disappointed of course, but I've been working for my community for many years and I will continue to work in whatever capacity I can," Conn said.
Conn had served on the City Council since 2012.
Morten, the incumbent for Position 1, took an early lead over his opponents, political newcomers Maggie Clayton and Mark Griffith, but as the ballots continued to be counted, the gap between Morten and Clayton tightened.
As of Wednesday, Morten had secured 41.8 percent of the vote, followed by Clayton who received 38.4 percent. Griffith took 19.1 percent.
Morten has served on the City Council since 2007 and currently serves as council president. He will now serve another four-year term on the council starting in January.
Morten said he was especially pleased with the way he ran his campaign and the way his opponents participated in the election in a civil manner.
"I can tell you that, what I liked about this campaign, there wasn't any mudslinging. I felt really fortunate about my particular race with Maggie. What a great person and respectful person she is," Morten said.
Morten added that he is looking forward to continuing to work on the city's waterfront redevelopment, pursuing grant opportunities and continuing to push the city's urban renewal district forward.
Griffith and Clayton did not respond to requests for comment by the Spotlight's press time Thursday.