The neck-and-neck race between Sunnyside City Council incumbent Mike Farmer and challenger Bruce Epps took a turn late Friday as Epps grabbed his first lead in ballots counted from the Nov. 8 general election.
Farmer's advantage had ranged from seven to 17 votes in ballot counts last week. But on Friday, Nov. 11, the lead went to Epps by a margin of 19 votes-763 to 744.
"Based on statistics from the primary I felt that once we hit the 1400-vote mark we should take the lead," said Epps.
Epps based that figure on the Sept. 19 primary when he and fellow challenger Joe Resendez combined to gain nearly 200 more votes than Farmer.
Though he was confident he could take Farmer in a close race, Epps isn't counting on anything just yet.
"It's just a matter of wait and see now," he said. "We'll just hope the lead stands up."
When early counts showed Epps losing by less than a dozen votes, he pledged he would not seek a recount if the narrow margin held up. Farmer could not be reached this morning (Monday) for comment on whether he will contest the race if Epps' small lead holds.
All other outcomes from the Nov. 8 general election are unchanged.
A couple of Lower Valley races have tightened, however.
Mark Meyer's lead in the Grandview School Board's District 2 race has shrunk from a high of 59 votes to 30 as of Friday afternoon. The Mabton City Council race between Angel Reyna and Sophie Guiterrez-Sotelo remains the closest of all Lower Valley contests as Reyna's lead stands at just nine votes-90-81.
Approximately 48 percent of all ballots had been counted as of 4:21 p.m. Friday. The county auditor's office will continue counting ballots every day. The election is scheduled to be certified on Nov. 29.