Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus receives a congratulatory hug from her daughter, Lucky, at an election-night campaign gathering at The Longhorn Barbecue on Tuesday. Backus jumped out to a big lead over challenger Largo Wales from early returns. RACHEL CIAMPI, Auburn Reporter

Backus holds big lead over Wales in early returns of Auburn mayoral race

It was 8:10 p.m. Tuesday, and at Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus’ crowded, election-night party at The Longhorn Barbecue, her daughter, Lucky, had just announced the news as it lit up her cellphone.

Backus had just roared out of the gate with 55.63 percent of the vote to Deputy Mayor Largo Wales’ 44.37 percent, or 4,371 votes to 3,486 votes in King and Pierce counties. Backus, elected the city’s first female mayor in 2013, was on her way to winning a second term.

Lucky hurried to her mother, whispered in her ear, the two embraced, and friends, family and supporters responded to the positive results with delighted whoops and happy hollers.

“So far, it’s feeling really, really good,” Backus said, adding in a note of caution, “but we still have additional counts to go every day.”

The first “additional count,” which King County released at 3:47 p.m. Wednesday, displaying the will of 25.03 percent of Auburn’s 33,860 registered voters, showed Backus’ holding what appears to be an insurmountable lead of 54.78 percent to Wales 44.87 percent.

Supporters were all smiles.

“I told the mayor I’m very happy she’s going to be there another four years, and that together we’re going to continue to move this city forward,” said Auburn School District board member Ray Vefik.

“I’m excited, and I’m very pleased that Nancy ran such a positive campaign. That tells a lot right there,” said former City Councilwoman and current Planning Commission Chair Judi Roland.

“We have a healing process to go through, and that starts tomorrow,” Backus said of the long, often bitter, campaign.

Of course, the mood across town at Wales’ gathering at CRFT Brewery was more subdued.

A large deficit to make up, Wales’ contingent agreed, though most of them appeared unwilling to throw in the towel.

Wales herself had “no comment,” other than to turn and walk away from the question.

“It’s not over,” said Auburn City Councilwoman Yolanda Trout.

Meanwhile, considering his early but commanding, cross-county lead of 63.54 percent to 36.46 percent over Mike Kahler in the race for Position 6 on the City Council, Larry Brown was all a-beam.

“I’m just gratified that all the support I had has translated into a really nice lead at this point. I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the ballots fall, but just very tickled,” said Brown.

In Wednesday’s count, Brown kept his monster lead, 63.15 percent to Kahler’s 36.41 percent.

Auburn City Councilmembers Claude DaCorsi and Yolanda Trout ran unopposed.

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