Burnett leads Mulenga in tightest Auburn City Council race; Baggett and Jeyaraj confident

Ryan Burnett and Robyn Mulenga. COURTESY PHOTOS

Ryan Burnett and Robyn Mulenga. COURTESY PHOTOS

With the numbers bound to change after each new count, what can be said in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s general election in Auburn is that Robyn Mulenga and Ryan Burnett’s race for Auburn City Council open Position 5 is tight, and poised to capture most of the drama in the coming days.

Also, that incumbent Robert Baggett is sitting on a comfortable lead over challenger Vera Orlandic-Hodak in the contest for Position 7, and that James Jeyaraj had built a comfortable margin between himself and Ken Pearson in the contest for the open Position 3 seat.

According to the combined King and Pierce County election results, Burnett ended the evening with 3,565 votes, or 50.96 percent, to Mulenga’s 3,470 votes, or 48.37 percent.

Political newcomer Chris Stearns was unopposed in his bid for Position 1.

Burnett said he had expected a tight race.

“The difference is very slim. My gut feeling was that it would be close. She is also a good candidate and a smart woman. Obviously, I’m very excited to be in the lead at this point. We will see how it goes over the next few days,” Burnett said.

“Not sure where it’s at right now, but I’m hopeful,” said Mulenga, an Auburn School Board member, as she and her son, Jonathan, checked the numbers on her cellphone at 8:25 p.m. at an election-night gathering in the back room of Oddfellas Pub and Eatery on West Main Street.

In the contest for the second of three open council seats, Jeyaraj was all smiles, with 3,795 votes in the bag, 52.97 percent, to Pearson’s 3,327, or 46.44 percent.

“You know, kinda expected it. We just had to do a lot of work is all it was, and it looks like the work is paying off,” Jeyaraj said.

Pearson was unavailable for comment.

Baggett was pleased with his comfortable lead over Orlandic-Hodak, having garnered 3,835 votes or 53.03 percent to the challenger’s 3,347 votes or 46.28 percent.

“I was a little jittery at first, but I’m very confident. I’ve got a lot of people that were supporting me, and I really can’t thank them enough,”Baggett said.

Orlandic-Hodak was unavailable for comment.

In the lone contested race for Auburn School Board, Chris Grames was leading Arlista Holman with 4,300 votes, or 51.53 percent, to Holman’s 3,983 votes, 47.73 percent.

School Board Director Laura Theimer ran uncontested.

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