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Sunnyside mayor losing race to political newcomer Gehlen

Sunnyside voters ushered out the last remnants of the old guard yesterday, as political newcomer Thomas Gehlen has apparently defeated long-time Councilman Ed Prilucik.

Thus far, the challenger Gehlen has garnered 457 votes for 52.95 percent in the race for position No. 7 on the city council, while Prilucik got 398 votes, or 46.12 percent.

"I'm pleasantly surprised," said Gehlen. "I think (the people) want some change, a little bit more recognition of the public."

He added that during his door to door campaign, it appeared as though locals didn't feel they were in contact with the city as much as they'd like to be.

Gehlen said he believes the community is concerned with the budget and how the city's money is being spent.

Gehlen said that when he takes office in January, he plans on keeping an open ear to the public and will seek more community involvement, including the Hispanic community.

His other priority, he said, is keeping an eye on the 2008 budget. "We're going to have to stay on top of that all the way through. The budget doesn't have leeway."

Prilucik could not be reached this morning for comment. A nearly 16-year veteran of the council who has served as mayor for nearly a decade, Prilucik was seeking his fifth consecutive term in office.

Paul Garcia and James Restucci ran unopposed for Sunnyside city council seats.

In Grandview, Mayor Norm Childress ran unopposed and will continue to fill his seat come January, as will Councilwoman Jan McDonald, who squared off against Larry Bolan to retain her seat.

"I think it's great," McDonald said of the election results. "I think what the voters responded to was the actual truth of what really is happening in city council, as opposed to what was said in (Bolan's) campaign."

Bolan, however, isn't ready to concede. "It's kind of early yet, I'm not giving up yet, not conceding."

McDonald has garnered roughly 58 percent of the votes as of the initial count, while Bolan received close to 41 percent.

McDonald said her priorities for her new term in office include economic development, public safety and a better quality of life in Grandview.

Mike Bren and Jesse Palacios ran unopposed for their Grandview City Council seats.

Bill Moore and Councilman Javier Rodriguez are vying for position number five on the Grandview Council, and Moore currently has the lead after receiving close to 68 percent of the votes.

Neither Moore nor Rodriguez could be reached for comment.

Mabton City Council members Mario Martinez and Vera Zavala ran unopposed and will retain their seats.

Sandra Alaniz is trailing Rafael Sagrero for the Mabton School Board director seat both sought. Sagrero is in the lead at 55 percent, while Alaniz has roughly 44 percent of the votes.

Blanche Tobin ran unopposed for Mabton School Board position two and will start her term in January. David Rodriguez also ran unopposed for the number two, at-large Mabton School Board position.

In Sunnyside, Rocky Simmons, Stephen Carpenter and Miguel Puente all ran unopposed for school board positions.

Lydia Moreno, Alfonso Contreras and Tim Grow all ran unopposed for their school board positions in Grandview.

Yakima county voters overwhelmingly rejected an advisory proposition to pay an additional $20 vehicle license fee, in which funds would have been used for transportation improvements.

Also rejected county-wide was a resolution that would have allowed school district tax levies to pass by a majority vote, as opposed to a super-majority vote.

County voters did approve Measure 960, which applies to an existing requirement that any action taken by the legislature that raises taxes must be approved by a two-thirds legislative vote.

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