Blush, Stearns win City Council seats
McDowell ousted after eight years
November 9, 2023
In three Shelton City Council races on Tuesday's ballot, the longest-serving member was handily defeated by a fellow lifelong Shelton resident, a downtown businessman was elected after losing a council race two years ago by five votes, and a third contest was too close to call on the initial count.
Results from the second ballot count were released by the Mason County Auditor's Office at 5 p.m. Wednesday, after the Journal went to press. Updates are available on the Journal's website.
Melissa Stearns, a Realtor and lifelong resident Shelton, defeated eight-year incumbent Kathy McDowell for a four-year term as council member 2. On the first ballot count, Stearns had 549 votes for 58.10%, and McDowell 392 votes for 41.48%. Four write-in candidates received votes.
McDowell was the last remaining member of the three-person Shelton City Commission. Voters in November 2017 expanded the governing body to a seven-member council.
George Blush, the owner of Nita's Koffee Shop in downtown Shelton and the nonprofit 5XL Shelton Pet Food Bank that provides pet food to people in need, won a four-year term as council member 1 with 557 votes for 57.30%. Tristen Smith, who moved with her family from Olympia to Shelton six years ago, garnered 410 votes for 42.18%. Five write-in candidates received votes.
"I want to thank God, my amazing and supportive wife and kids, the people who supported me and the city of Shelton for your vote of confidence," Blush wrote to the Journal. "I look forward to working with the other council members to make Shelton a cleaner, safer place for us all to be proud to call home."
On the initial ballot count, only 28 votes separated Mark Frazier and Tom Gilmore for a four-year term as council member 5. Gilmore, a tax policy specialist with the state, had 480 votes for 51.23%. Frazier, a lieutenant/paramedic for Central Mason Fire and EMS, had 452 votes for 48.24%. Five people received write-in votes.
In an email to the Journal, Frazier said he didn't want to comment on the initial results. "We're in a very close race," he wrote.