With less than 350 votes separating them, the unofficial election results Wednesday show Tom Handy defeating Dean Kinzer in the Whitman County Commissioner District 2 race.

All of the remaining ballots have been counted according to the Whitman County Auditor’s Office website. The county canvas board will certify the election Nov. 24.

Handy, with 9,687 votes, bested Kinzer by 342 votes, or less than 2 percent of the 19,130 total votes cast in the race.

“I’m excited to get this opportunity to serve the residents of Whitman County,” Handy said Wednesday.

The race was tight throughout, with Kinzer even leading Handy at one point in the days following the initial ballot count on Nov. 3.

Handy, owner of Paradise Creek Brewery in Pullman, ran as an independent and has said he wants to bring a fresh voice to the Board of Commissioners. Improving economic development in the county is one of his stated priorities.

He spent 15 years as a broadcast engineer at Washington State University before switching careers in 2000 to become a small-business entrepreneur.

Among other volunteer positions, Handy is a past president of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce and former board member for the Pullman United Way. He is also a founding board member and current president of the Downtown Pullman Association.

Kinzer, who was running for a third term in office, led Handy in most precincts outside Pullman. Handy garnered the most Pullman votes and also in Palouse.

Handy said he will work to gain the trust of the voters who didn’t vote for him and he is “just excited to get started.”

Commissioner Art Swannack ran unopposed for the District 1 seat.

The voter turnout for the overall General Election in Whitman County was 85.8 percent.

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